Posted October 9th, 2019.
Labor and Employment – US National
Sanford Heisler Sharp is among the top tier plaintiff firms serving employees in labor and employment lawsuits across the nation. Practitioners on the management side routinely regard the firm as “top tier”. One nationally recognized peer says, “They’re ahead of the curve. They [have] very, very sharp lawyers [and] very skilled litigators.” Several clients have described their experiences with the firm’s communication and commitment to the cases they work on. “Firm was excellent. From [the] first contact with [the] legal aide, all the way through mediated settlement agreement. I received clear legal counsel (they always explained everything fully), as well as both professional and sympathetic support for me as an individual trying to do the right thing and feeling punished and vulnerable because of it,” describes a client seeking the firm’s assistance in a gender discrimination dispute. Another says, “This law firm is amazing. Their clients come first and foremost. They keep you constantly updated on what is developing on your case. In my case there could be no improvements made. Just [an] amazing firm.”
District of Columbia partner and chairman of the firm David Sanford is lauded for his work in the space by a peer who says, “I think he’s an important one – exceptional as a thinker [and] as a creative lawyer, really.” Sanford is the lead partner in a case against labor and employment law firm, Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart, representing Tracy Warren and other similarly situated current or former female attorneys. The complaint alleges gender discrimination and it was filed under the California Private Attorneys General Act. His current cases also include representing plaintiffs in cases against prestigious and top-tier universities in the US. Sanford and New York partner Alexandra Harwin are lead lawyers on the team that represents Enrichetta Ravina against Columbia University in post-trial motions after the jury awarded the former Assistant Professor of Finance of $750,000 in compensatory and $500,000 in punitive damages. Judge Abrams, however, recently reduced the award to $500,000 in compensatory and $250,000 in punitive damages. District of Columbia partner H. Vincent McKnight has also been involved in obtaining the successful result for the client.
The firm has gained attention of prominent lawyers, emerging as a leader in filing gender equality lawsuits against law firms nationwide. “I’m always watching them – class actions against law firms,” admits one lawyer, while another practitioner comments, “The quality of work they do and the cutting edge work they do in the gender discrimination area is pretty remarkable.” Most notably, Sanford, Deborah Marcuse and Russell Kornblith are the lead lawyers representing female associates in a class and collective action alleging gender, pregnancy and maternity discrimination claims against Jones Day. In another lawsuit, Marcuse is leading the charge against Morrison & Foerster, representing seven Jane Doe plaintiffs in the class and collection lawsuit filed in the Northern District of California. The case particularly focuses on the law firm’s alleged pattern or practice of placing female attorneys with children on a “mommy track.” California’s Ed Chapin is also involved in the case. Marcuse is also lead partner handling a gender and age discrimination case against the new post-merger Cushman & Wakefield. The plaintiff is the former Head of Research for the Americas at the company, is seeking $40 million in damages. The Maryland-based partner has garnered the recognition of a California lawyer who states, “I never had a case against her but she seems extremely bright to me. I can see why she’s getting the cases she’s getting. She was very impressive talking to her.” New York’s Kornblith was recently also co-lead lawyer in a collective action under the Equal Pay Act against Merck. The District Court for the District of New Jersey granted conditional certification of the collective, which included 672 opt-in plaintiffs. The action settled favorably in October of 2018.
Michael Palmer and Marcuse co-led the team, consisting of fellow stars Jeremy Heisler and Kate Mueting, in representing a class of former sales representatives against Forest Laboratories. The gender discrimination lawsuit resulted in a $4 million class settlement, approved June 2018. Palmer is currently leading several wage and hour class and collective actions in California. He is handling two separate wage and hour lawsuits against Oracle in California. One case is a commission-based lawsuit alleging a series of California Labor Code violations under PAGA. The team has recently completed phase one of the trial. The plaintiff in the other case is seeking to arbitrate her claims against the company, and in March of this year, the 9th circuit ruled in favor of the client, allowing the arbitration to proceed. Palmer’s practice has expanded to Alaska where he handles a class action filed under the FLSA and Alaska Wage and Hour Act. The plaintiffs allege that Alaska Communications Systems Group misclassified the sales employees and are therefore owed unpaid overtime compensation. The 74-person class was certified in August of last year and the case is ongoing.
Nashville’s Kevin Sharp is a former judge for the US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. He joined the firm in 2017 after serving as the Chief Judge as well. Sharp is leading the team against Volkswagen on behalf of client and plaintiff Jonathan Manlove as well as others similarly situated. Sharp, along with NY labor and employment star Andrew Melzer, is seeking injunctive relief against the defendant’s company-wide policy of age discrimination.