Deborah K. Marcuse is the Managing Partner of Sanford Heisler Sharp’s Baltimore, Maryland office. She received her law degree from Yale Law School in 2008.
After suffering years of gender discrimination, enduring a hostile work environment and arguing for equal pay, my law firm attempted to turn the tables on me, even filing suit against me to silence me, when they realized that I was pursuing legal action against them. I was devastated after decades of excellent performance and loyalty to the firm, and oh so very vulnerable and feeling all alone. Words will never fully capture how grateful I am to Deborah Marcuse, who saw the injustice and unfairness and recognized the extreme impact it was having on me and my young family, for taking on my complicated case at a time when I know that she was beyond busy and for turning the tables back on the bad actors.
The entire team, Deborah, Saba, Ryan, Lucy and Carol, worked tirelessly on my behalf. They are an incredibly effective team and obtained a good result for me in mediation, but, most importantly, they were beyond compassionate. Thanks to Saba and Ryan for the amazing brief they submitted in response to the ridiculous lawsuit and handling the preliminary negotiations. Lucy and Carol, thank you for keeping me in the loop and staying on top of everything. You made mediation so much more bearable. And Deborah, you have no idea how much you did for me – not only did you achieve a great result, you helped me at a time when I needed it most, and there wasn’t a single moment that you didn’t fully understand exactly how I was feeling. You helped me get my life back, and I will never forget that.
If you find yourself in need of employment counsel, I highly recommend Sanford Heisler Sharp. They are excellent lawyers; defendants respect them, and they will help you navigate through the intense emotional experience so that you always know that you are not alone. Am Law 100 Partner
I just want to take this opportunity to thank you for your time with my class on February 14! You two were just phenomenal! You can’t imagine how much of a treat it is to get lawyers to come into the classroom and talk to students about actual cases. And, truth be told, it is not uncommon for lawyers just show up and start sharing war stories with no real prepared agenda. NOT true for you! It was absolutely clear to me that you two discussed the issues in advance and prepared a strong agenda designed to effectively teach my students (in 75 minutes or less--LOL) about the world of gender bias in employment. Your examples of some of the complexities in trying these cases and your thoughts about the challenges with the law were illuminating. Your execution was informative, engaging, flawless, and entertaining (Deborah you are really funny!!!). Students are still talking about your presentation! You gave us a gift that my students will never forget. Kimberly Norwood
Thank you Deborah, David, and Alec so much for all of the time, advice, and legal expertise you have provided. The care you have taken to date has been outstanding and second to none! It has been truly valued and appreciated. Female Partner at AmLaw 100 Firm
Sanford Heisler Sharp, and, particularly, Deborah Marcuse, can be compared to a first rate physician: the client is treated not just for the ailment, but the attention and service encompasses the entire body. No issue is too mundane for Deborah and she is available 24/7 no matter the issue. Suzy Reingold, Commercial Real Estate
Sanford Heisler Sharp unites a passion for justice for employees with uncommon legal skill. It produces a superb work product even under extremely challenging time constraints. We found Sanford Heisler Sharp to be very responsive, able, and swift. We recommend them to anyone. Deborah Marcuse is a subtle negotiator with excellent judgment and a wide knowledge of the courts, the experts, and the law. Legal Momentum, The Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund
In 2019, Deborah was named an Employment Lawyer MVP by Law360 for her work leading the groundbreaking Title IX class action against Dartmouth College, as well as gender discrimination cases against Jones Day and Morrison & Foerster. She has also been recognized as a Benchmark Litigation Labor & Employment Star since 2018 and by Super Lawyers in 2018 (Rising Star) and 2020.
Deborah is currently Lead Counsel in Tolton et al v. Jones Day (DDC) a gender, pregnancy and maternity discrimination class action on behalf of female attorneys at the BigLaw behemoth. She also represents Plaintiffs Sherry William and Joshua Ashley Klayman in their lawsuit alleging that Morrison & Foerster engaged in a pattern and practice of gender, pregnancy and maternity-based discrimination against female attorneys, as well as retaliation against the Plaintiffs for reporting these unlawful practices.
Among her individual employment cases, Deborah represents the former Head of Americas Research at Cushman & Wakefield in a lawsuit alleging age and gender discrimination and retaliation by the commercial real estate behemoth. She also represents current and former female partners and associates at several of the most prominent law firms around the country in their individual and class claims of gender discrimination and retaliation against their employers.
As part of the firm’s Criminal/Sexual Violence practice, Deborah also represents students and professors at secondary schools and universities who have been victims of sexual harassment, sexual assault, other forms of gender discrimination and retaliation, in violation of Title IX and other federal and state laws. Deborah is Lead Counsel representing seven female scientists in their landmark Title IX class action lawsuit against Dartmouth College in New Hampshire federal court. Brought on behalf of current and former female graduate students and undergraduates in Dartmouth’s Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences (“PBS”), the lawsuit alleges that Dartmouth willfully ignored more than a decade of widespread sexual harassment and gender discrimination by tenured professors in the department. The proposed $14 million settlement in the case, which also includes programmatic relief valued at $1.5 million, was preliminarily approved by the Court on January 29, 2020.
Deborah regularly speaks on issues relating to employment discrimination and class action practice, including pay equity and the particular challenges faced by women in the legal industry. She is actively involved in the National Employment Lawyers’ Association, where she serves as Co-Chair of the Class and Collective Action Practice Group. Deborah has co-authored Supreme Court amicus briefs on behalf of women’s rights organizations and individuals in Mach Mining v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and on behalf of LGBT student organizations at undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools in Obergefell v. Hodges.
Prior to joining Sanford Heisler Sharp, Deborah was the founding head of the City of New Haven’s Reentry Initiative as an Arthur Liman Public Interest Fellow. She was awarded the Frances Wayland Prize for her work with the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School, where she represented incarcerated individuals and persons in immigration detention. Before becoming a lawyer, Deborah studied religion and moral regulation at Duke University, where she received a Ph.D. in Religion.
- J.D., Yale Law School, 2008
- Ph.D. Duke University, 2005
- B.A., Yale University, 1997, cum laude
- Student Director, Prison Legal Services Clinic – Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization, Yale Law School
- Complex Federal Litigation Clinic – Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization, Yale Law School
- Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic – Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization, Yale Law School
- Connecticut, 2008
- District of Columbia, 2010
- Maryland, 2018
- New York, 2010
- Pennsylvania, 2016
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
- U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
- U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut
Memberships & Activities
- American Bar Association Employee Rights and Responsibilities Committee
- National Employment Lawyers’ Association (Co-Chair, Class Action Practice Group)
- Fellow of the American Bar Association
Mr. Yasti, a former employee of Nagan Construction, alleged that Nagan systematically failed to comply with the terms of its construction contracts with the federal and New York State Governments that required the company to pay its workers the prevailing wage under the Davis-Bacon Act and related laws.
The complaint details how the Big Law firm’s culture harms female associates in compensation and partnership decisions.
The Complaint, which is filed on behalf of three female associates currently employed at MoFo, alleges the international law firm practices systemic gender discrimination against female lawyers, particularly those who are pregnant or have children.
The complaint alleges that the shocking decision to terminate Ms. Sicola and promote Mr. Thorpe in her place was the culmination of years of unlawful discrimination based on gender and age to which C&W’s all male global leadership team subjects women over 40.
The Complaint alleges that Dartmouth willfully ignored more than a decade of widespread sexual harassment by tenured professors Todd Heatherton, William Kelley, and Paul Whalen, who formed a private “predators club” and treated the PBS Department like a “21st Century Animal House.”
According to the Complaint, Ms. Urquhart-Bradley’s career advancement repeatedly faced discriminatory roadblocks despite her objectively outstanding performance.
In July 2012, Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP filed a $100 million class action lawsuit against Forest Laboratories, Inc., and Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Forest”) in federal court in New York, alleging, among other claims, that Forest discriminates against its female Sales Representatives by paying them less than their male counterparts. The Plaintiffs also allege claims of failure to promote, discrimination based on pregnancy and maternity leave, sexual harassment, and retaliation. In 2014, the Court denied Forest’s attempt to dismiss the Plaintiffs’ claims, and in 2015 the Court conditionally certified a class under the Equal Pay Act (EPA).
This gender discrimination class action against pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., Inc. was originally filed by Plaintiff Kelli Smith in May 2013 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. In January 2014, four additional class representatives from around the country joined the suit as plaintiffs alleging pay, promotion and pregnancy discrimination against the company.
- Judge grants preliminary approval of $14 million lawsuit settlement
- Judge likely to OK settlement in Dartmouth sexual harassment case
- New York-Based Company Nagan Construction Settles False Claims Act Suit With Federal and New York State Government
- MVP: Sanford Heisler’s Deborah Marcuse
- Law360 MVP Awards Go To Top Attorneys From 76 Firms
- Sanford Heisler Sharp
- Under proposed settlement, plaintiffs in Dartmouth College lawsuit will each receive at least $75,000
- Jones Day Says Edits To Sex Bias Suit Beyond The Pale
- Why lawyers shouldn’t use pseudonyms to sue their law firms
- Gender Discrimination in Biglaw
- 2019 Law360 Employment MVP
- 2019 Lawdragon 500 Plaintiff Employment Lawyer
- 2019 Benchmark Litigation Labor & Employment Star - Northeast in the practice area of Labor & Employment
- 2018 Benchmark Litigation Labor & Employment Star - Northeast in the practice area of Labor & Employment
- Maryland Rising Star Super Lawyer, 2018
- September 13, 2018, Panelist/Speaker
Practising Law Institute, Cutting-Edge Employment Law Issues 2018: The California Difference, "Pay Equity in Law Practice"
- August 16, 2018, Panelist/Speaker
Federal Bar Association - San Diego Chapter, Equality in the Law Conference, "Solutions Panel - Combating Inequality in Our Community"
- July 12, 2018, Panelist/Speaker
ABA Labor and Employment Employee Benefits Committee Webinar, "Masterpiece Cake Shop: Intersection Between Religious and Moral Liberty and Benefits"
- February 16, 2018, Panelist/Speaker
Impact Fund 16th Annual Class Action Conference, "Managing the Haystack: How to Get the Most Out of Electronic Discovery"
- February 8, 2018, Panelist/Speaker
ABA Labor & Employment Section, Employee Benefits Committee Midwinter Meeting, "Intersection Between Religion and Moral Liberty and Benefits"
- June 22, 2017, Moderator/Speaker
National Employment Lawyers’ Association (NELA) Annual Conference, "Title VII & The Equal Pay Act: Dynamic Duo When Challenging Sex Discrimination In Compensation"
- March 18, 2016, Panelist/Speaker
ABA Labor and Employment Section, Employee Rights & Responsibilities Committee Midwinter Conference, "Big Data and Wearable Technology in the Workplace: If the Fit Bit Fits, Wear It"
- Brief of Amici Curiae LGBT Student Organizations at Undergraduate, Graduate, and Professional Schools in Support of Petitioners, Obergefell v. Hodges, March 6, 2015.
- Brief of Amici Curiae Women’s Rights Organizations and Individuals in Support of Respondent, Mach Mining, LLC v. EEOC, November 3, 2014.