Ms. Wiitala represents employees in a wide range of disputes, including claims of unlawful termination, unlawful denials of promotions, unequal pay, and hostile work environment, related to race, gender, pregnancy, protected leave, and disability.
A huge thank you to you and your team for your expertise, persistence and care in resolving my legal issues. As legal issues inevitably involve the unexpected and often times significant delays, your strategic and personal approach always made me feel that I was in absolutely “the best hands.” A Former Client
Nicole Wiitala is an Associate in the New York office of Sanford Heisler Sharp who works primarily in the Employment and Criminal/Sexual Violence practice group. She represents employees in a wide range of disputes, including claims of unlawful termination, unlawful denials of promotions, unequal pay, and hostile work environment, related to race, gender, pregnancy, protected leave, and disability.
As part of the firm’s Criminal/Sexual Violence practice, Nicole represents students and professors at 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. Nicole currently represents 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.
Nicole also represents employees in a wide range of disputes, including claims of unlawful termination, unlawful denials of promotions, unequal pay, hostile work environment, and wage and hour violations. She is class counsel in a nationwide gender discrimination lawsuit against Merck & Co., Inc. filed on behalf of thousands of female pharmaceutical sales representatives nationwide. She is also class counsel in a wage and hour class action against Alaska Communications Systems in which Sanford Heisler Sharp won class certification on behalf of employees suing for unpaid overtime.
Nicole has also successfully represented individuals in a broad range of individual discrimination claims, including discrimination on the basis of gender, pregnancy, age, and national origin, including claims brought by in-house counsel, executives in financial services, physicians, and advertising industries, among others. Among her individual employment cases, Nicole represents the former Vice President for Legal Affairs at Giorgio Armani Corporation in a $75 million lawsuit alleging national origin discrimination, disability discrimination, and retaliation. Nicole also represents the former Head of Americas Research at Cushman & Wakefield in a lawsuit alleging age and gender discrimination and retaliation.
Nicole represents clients both in litigation matters and in confidential negotiations. She frequently negotiates severance packages and settlement agreements for employees with claims of discrimination and retaliation.
Nicole began at Sanford Heisler Sharp as a law clerk in September 2015. While at Pace Law School, Nicole served as Editor-in-Chief of Pace Law Review. She worked as a judicial extern for the Honorable Edgardo Ramos in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and interned in the Litigation Bureau at the Office of the Attorney General of the State of New York.
- J.D., Pace University School of Law, 2016, cum laude
- Editor-in-Chief, Pace Law Review
- B.A., Pace University, 2013, cum laude
- New York, 2017
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
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.”
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.
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).
In 2015, Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP filed a $40 million lawsuit against Zara USA, Inc., the flagship brand for the largest fashion retailer in the world, Inditex Group. The lawsuit alleges that Zara discriminated against and then fired its in-house counsel, Ian Jack Miller, because he is Jewish, American, and gay. The case seeks damages for creating a hostile work environment, pay discrimination, and unlawful and retaliatory termination based on Mr. Miller’s nationality, religion, and sexual orientation.
According to his complaint, during his tenure at Giorgio Armani Corporation, the company’s Chief Financial Officer informed General Counsel Fabio Silva he did not trust Mexicans, and thereafter subjected Mr. Silva to increased scrutiny and discriminatory treatment. When General Counsel Silva reported this treatment to Chief Operations Officer, Giorgio Fornari, and Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Lucinda Rosso, General Counsel Silva was berated for complaining. General Counsel Silva was then denied a raise for reporting the discrimination.
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.
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.
- Students say Dartmouth ignored professors’ sexual harassment in lawsuit that alleges ‘hot tub parties,’ cocaine in class
- Sanford Heisler Sharp Files $70 Million Sexual Assault and Gender Discrimination Class Action Against Dartmouth College
- Forest Laboratories Agrees to $4M Gender Discrimination Settlement
- December 6, 2018, Panelist/Speaker
The American Association For Justice – Class Action Seminar, Emerging Cases: Litigation Updates and Trends to Watch, “Defeating Goliath—Sex Abuse Class Action Cases”
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure generally require that a publicly filed lawsuit name all the parties involved. However, under certain circumstances, plaintiffs can avoid disclosing their name by filing a lawsuit using a pseudonym (such as “Jane Doe” or “John Doe”). Although the use of a pseudonym commonly arises in sexual harassment cases, some […]
The Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act takes effect on July 1, 2018, giving New Jersey one of the strongest equal pay laws in the country and permitting plaintiffs in employment discrimination cases to recover substantial damages. The Act is not limited to gender, but protects all employees from pay discrimination based on that individual’s […]
Sexual harassment is all over the news. Harvey Weinstein, the cinematic giant, has been exposed as a loathsome lothario, a serial abuser of women, and a poster child of male privilege and abuse in the movie industry. Weinstein and sexual harassment are now inextricably linked in the public imagination, and, it seems, never the twain […]
Under NYC’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act, Freelance Workers Can Recover for Late/Unpaid Wages and Retaliation
On May 15, 2017, the Freelance Isn’t Free Act went into effect in New York City, providing freelance workers with a statutory basis to recover in court for late or unpaid wages, retaliation, or other violations of the Act. Subject to a few exceptions, the Act applies to any individual (regardless of immigration status) who […]