Nicole Wiitala

Nicole Wiitala
Nicole Wiitala
Associate

(646) 603-6782

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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.

Based upon Sanford Heisler’s reputation, I expected outstanding legal service. However, I cannot express how much I respect and appreciate the skill and compassion David, Russell, and Nicole demonstrated every single day. With their expert guidance and attention, they made an otherwise very difficult process tolerable. The Sanford Heisler team always made me believe the fight was worthwhile! Thank you all so much! General Counsel

Hi Nicole, I wanted to update you that I received my share of the settlement in the mail today. I will be forever grateful for your work and help during this process. I hope you truly know how appreciated you are and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You've made a big difference in my life. A Former Class Member

I wanted to take advantage of the close of the year to thank you for allowing me to walk away from a difficult professional situation with the satisfaction that I did everything in my power to fight the unfair process. Thank you for being available and efficient. ALN (A Former Client)

Nicole Wiitala did a terrific job on my case that involved employment discrimination and retaliation within the finance industry. From the start of our work together, Nicole synthesized the information I gave her into well-reasoned legal arguments on my behalf. She also quickly learned the nuances of my industry’s compensation structures and leveraged that information to further strengthen my case. Finally, Nicole consistently delivered high-quality work in a timely fashion which shortened the duration of time before I could formally separate from my former firm. I highly recommend both Nicole and Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP to anyone in a similar situation that requires an attorney. A Former Client

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, LLP, a national law firm with offices in the District of Columbia, New York, California, Tennessee, and Maryland. She received her J.D. cum laude from Pace University and her B.A. cum laude from Pace University.

Nicole works primarily in the firm’s Title VII and Criminal/Sexual Violence practice areas. 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 was class counsel in a landmark Title IX class action lawsuit against Dartmouth College brought on behalf of current and former female graduate students and undergraduates in Dartmouth’s Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences.  The $14 million settlement, which also includes programmatic relief valued at an additional $1.5 million, was approved by the Court on July 10, 2020.

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 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.  She is also class counsel in a nationwide gender discrimination and sexual harassment class action filed against Schlumberger Technology Corporation on behalf of women who work on oil rigs in the United States.  Nicole was also class counsel in Merck & Co., Inc. and Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc., two nationwide gender discrimination class action lawsuits filed on behalf of thousands of female pharmaceutical sales representatives.

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.  She also represents a former Senior Vice President at JUUL Labs, Inc. in his whistleblower retaliation and wrongful termination claims.

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.

Education

  • J.D., Pace University School of Law, 2016, cum laude
  • Editor-in-Chief, Pace Law Review
  • B.A., Pace University, 2013, cum laude

Bar Admissions

  • New York, 2017

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Schlumberger Technology Corporation Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Class Action

The Complaint documents a longstanding pattern of abuse in which Schlumberger knowingly permits women who work on male-dominated oil rigs to be sexually harassed, assaulted, and discriminated against by their male colleagues.

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JUUL Labs, Inc. Whistleblower Retaliation/Wrongful Termination Case

Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP represents Siddharth Breja in his whistleblower retaliation and wrongful termination claims against JUUL Labs, Inc.

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EXL Service Holdings, Inc. Gender Discrimination and Retaliation Lawsuit

The complaint alleges that when Ms. Saltzman complained to EXL Board Member Clyde Ostler about the discrimination that she was personally experiencing, the company fired her.

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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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Maria Sicola v. Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.

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.

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Ian Jack Miller v. Zara USA, Inc. et al.

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.

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Dartmouth College Gender Discrimination/Title IX Class Action

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.”

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Fabio Silva v. Giorgio Armani Corp., Et. Al.

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.

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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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Merck Gender Pay, Promotion and Pregnancy Discrimination Class Action

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.

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  • 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”

Statute of Limitations Under Title IX

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits colleges, universities, and schools that receive federal funding from engaging in sex discrimination.  Like all legal claims, there are strict time limitations (the “statute of limitations”) within which a Title IX claim must be filed.  Because Title IX does not explicitly set a statute of limitations, […]

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Filing a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Under a Pseudonym

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 […]

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New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act is One of the Strongest Equal Pay Laws in the Country

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 […]

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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: An Overview

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 […]

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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 […]

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