Melinda Koster

Melinda Koster
New York Partner

(646) 402-5669

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Melinda Koster represents employees with a wide range of claims, including discrimination on the basis of gender, pregnancy, and age, in both public litigation and privately negotiated settlements. She received her law degree from Stanford Law School in 2012.

A heartfelt thank you to Sanford Heisler Sharp for the successful resolution of my pregnancy discrimination case. Everyone I worked with at Sanford Heisler Sharp was excellent. In particular, I wanted to call out Melinda Koster who was absolutely outstanding to work with - brilliant, thoughtful, sincere, thorough yet efficient, responsive; there really aren't enough superlatives to describe her. Any firm would be so fortunate to have such a high caliber employee, and I hope to read someday about how far she has gone in the legal field. Female Financial Services Professional

When I contacted Sanford Heisler Sharp, I expected to be represented by an intelligent, accomplished, and dedicated attorney. I got that and much more with Melinda Koster. My case was far from simple, yet, Melinda spent the necessary time and asked the right questions to fully understand my situation and craft a powerful and compelling story. She demonstrated compassion and understanding during a very difficult time for me. Melinda clearly explained the pros and cons of every decision and enabled me to make the right decisions, taking into consideration my overall well-being. Melinda truly wanted the best possible outcome for me and worked tirelessly on my case. There is no better person to have in your corner than Melinda Koster. A Human Resources Executive

Thank you to Melinda, David and the Sanford Heisler Sharp team for your outstanding and winning counsel, powerful support and true humanity. It was a real privilege to work with such a professional and caring group of people. I am particularly grateful for Melinda’s hard work, sharp mind and empathy throughout the process during a very difficult time. Former Marketing Executive

Ms. Koster managed my case from the firm’s New York office. Words have power only when they are crafted to make a compelling story and Ms. Koster is a master of this. It takes more than just putting words on paper – to get the story to be powerful it takes an attorney who asks the right questions to get the information needed to organize the facts in the most forceful and emphatic manner. I could not have had a better representation for my case. A Former Client

Dear Melinda, It was a pleasure working with you. I was always impressed with your professionalism and responsiveness. Although I am confident that you had many other clients to tend to while working on my matter, you always made me feel like I was your only client. You did a great job in keeping me informed and in securing an outcome that exceeded my expectations. I enthusiastically recommend Melinda Koster and her firm, Sanford Heisler Sharp, to anyone facing employment discrimination. A Former Client

Melinda is wonderful—well organized, professional, and understanding. Her responsive work-style reassured me that my case was important, even in the context of other priorities. A Former Client

Melinda Koster is a Partner in the New York office of Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP, a national law firm with offices in the District of Columbia, New York, California, Tennessee, and Maryland. She received her J.D. from Stanford Law School and her B.A. summa cum laude from Pomona College.

Melinda represents employees with a wide range of claims, including discrimination on the basis of gender, pregnancy, and age, in both public litigation and privately negotiated settlements.


Prior to joining Sanford Heisler Sharp, Melinda clerked for the Honorable Julio M. Fuentes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and for the Honorable Esther Salas of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. She also served as a Law Fellow at Phillips & Cohen LLP, where she worked primarily on qui tam and SEC whistleblower matters.

At Stanford Law School, Melinda served as a Notes Editor for the Stanford Law Review and was the recipient of the Gerald Gunther Prize for Outstanding Performance in Employment Law. She served as the Co-President of the Stanford Public Interest Law Foundation and the Co-Chair of Stanford’s Law Students for Reproductive Justice chapter.

Melinda also participated in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Stanford Law School, where she represented a client facing removal proceedings and won a motion to terminate the proceedings. As a clinic student, Melinda worked on a long-term advocacy project involving the treatment of immigrant youth in the juvenile justice system. Additionally, Melinda participated in Stanford’s Criminal Defense Clinic, where she represented indigent clients facing misdemeanor charges at various stages of their criminal proceedings.

Before law school, Ms. Koster served as a corps member of AVODAH: The Jewish Services Corps. She worked as a legal assistant at CASA de Maryland, where she helped lawyers provide direct legal services to day laborers and domestic workers and delivered know-your-rights presentations.


  • J.D., Stanford Law School, 2012
  • B.A., Pomona College, 2006, summa cum laude


  • Stanford Law School: Immigrants’ Rights Clinic; Criminal Defense Clinic


  • Honorable Julio M. Fuentes, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • Honorable Esther Salas, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey

Bar Admissions

  • New York 2013

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Virginia Land Improvement Wage and Hour Class Action

According to the complaint, Defendants regularly failed to compensate the Virginia truck drivers for both straight time and overtime during weeks in which they worked over 40 hours

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MetLife Overtime Pay Violation Class Action

The lawsuit seeks unpaid overtime wages for Claim Specialists who worked on long term disability insurance claims (“LTD Claim Specialists”) for MetLife and two of its subsidiaries, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and MetLife Insurance Company USA.

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Alaska Communications Wage and Hour Class Action

Sanford Heisler Sharp represents sales employees on a class and collective action complaint in U.S. District Court in Anchorage against Alaska Communications Systems Group, Inc., and Alaska Communications Systems Holdings, Inc. (Alaska Communications). Plaintiffs allege that Alaska Communications failed to pay sales employees overtime in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Alaska Wage and Hour Act (AWHA). In December 2014, the court granted conditional certification of the collective action and authorized notice to the class under the FLSA.

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Cushman & Wakefield Gender and Race Discrimination Suit

According to the Complaint, Ms. Urquhart-Bradley’s career advancement repeatedly faced discriminatory roadblocks despite her objectively outstanding performance.

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Forest Laboratories Gender Discrimination Class Action – $4 Million Settlement

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).

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Columbia University Sexual Harassment Case – $1.25 Jury Verdict

The complaint provides extensive details regarding how the senior leadership of Columbia – including the Provost of the University and the Dean of Columbia Business School – allowed one of Columbia’s senior, tenured professors to sexually harass and obstruct the work of a female junior faculty member, plaintiff Enrichetta Ravina. Read More

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Anti-Retaliation Protections for Former Employees

Retaliation can rear its ugly head in a variety of contexts, including after employees separate from their employers. Fortunately, several anti-retaliation laws protect former employees who experience post-employment retaliation for complaining about discrimination. In two critical retaliation cases analyzing the breadth of Title VII’s protections—Robinson v. Shell Oil Company and Burlington Northern & Santa Fe […]

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Sexual Harassment Training: Mandatory in Several States and Critical Nationwide

As of October 9, 2018, New York State employers are now required to provide sexual harassment training pursuant to the State’s recently enacted sexual harassment prevention legislation, Section 201-g of the New York State Labor Law. This new law requires that all employers within New York, both private and public, provide annual anti-harassment training to […]

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Accent Discrimination: An Overview

According to new Census data, a record 21.5% of U.S. residents speak a foreign language at home, including 45% of California residents and 31% of New York and New Jersey residents. In Tennessee, foreign language speakers more than quadrupled in the last twenty-five years. Are these individuals protected under the law if they encounter accent […]

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Gender Bias in Performance Reviews

In the landmark gender discrimination case, Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989), the Supreme Court recognized that discrimination based on an employee’s failure to conform to gender role stereotypes is prohibited under Title VII. As the Supreme Court reasoned, “an employer who acts on the basis of a belief that a woman cannot […]

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Pumping on the Job -The Rights of Breastfeeding Employees

Breastfeeding employees frequently encounter barriers in the workplace that impede their ability to pump on the job. Horror stories abound of women who are denied a clean, private space to pump or who are shamed and penalized for pumping at work. Thanks to the advent of federal and state legislation and an emerging body of […]

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Nice Nails, Awful Jobs: Part 2

Nail salons may offer a dose of beauty, glamor, and pampering to their customers. However, by and large, nail salons take on a much uglier look once you scrape away the polished facade and examine the experiences of the largely female, immigrant workforce that toils away there. Last year, the New York Times ran a […]

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Bias in the Hiring Process

Last month, I wrote about how gender bias in job descriptions can dissuade women from applying for positions. Not surprisingly, bias infects later stages of the hiring process as well. Numerous studies have demonstrated that gender and racial biases can dramatically affect how employers assess candidates’ application materials, leading employers to favor white, male applicants […]

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Gender Bias in Job Postings

What do the words “ninja,” “rock star,” and “badass” have in common? It turns out that these words, when listed in job descriptions, are major deterrents for women job seekers.  Social science research has called attention to the role of job descriptions in perpetuating gender inequality.  For example, a 2011 study entitled “Evidence That Gendered […]

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Contraception Before the Supreme Court . . . Again!

The Supreme Court recently agreed to hear yet another challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage rule, this time from religiously-affiliated non-profit organizations who argue that even the Obama administration’s accommodation for religious institutions infringes on their religious freedom. Under the accommodation, religious non-profits can opt out of providing contraceptive coverage to their employees […]

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