By Scott Flander
August 1, 2007
The following list was prepared exclusively for Human Resource Executive® by Lawdragon, a Los Angeles-based networking site for lawyers and clients. The attorneys were selected on the basis of curriculum-vitae analyses, evaluations by clients and peers, and reporting by the Lawdragon staff.
Partner, McGuinn Hillsman & Palefsky, San Francisco
Education and Affiliations: J.D., Georgetown (1977); B.A., State University of New York, Buffalo (1974); Co-founder, National Employment Lawyers Association.
Key Cases: Palefsky won the first major wrongful termination verdict, struck down the most onerous mandatory arbitration clauses and is taking on companies that deny compensation and that force employees to litigate in corporate-friendly states. He equally works the legislative process, securing a San Francisco law against random drug testing and lifestyle discrimination, and working on the federal level to secure workers’ rights.
Partner, Bernabei & Wachtel, Washington
Education and Affiliations: J.D., Harvard Law School (1977); B.A., Harvard University (1972); Member, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, National Employment Lawyers Association, American Trial Lawyers Association, Trial Lawyers for Public Justice.
Key Cases: Bernabei is representing a quartet of whistleblowers, including an FBI agent allegedly forced to resign for complaining about a bungled terrorism investigation, two Los Alamos employees who reported unlawful billing and an Afghan immigrant who says she was discriminated against in her role as a consultant to a government contractor.
Hal “Rattlesnake” Gillespie
Partner, Gillespie Rozen Watsky Motley & Jones, Dallas
Education and Affiliations: J.D., University of Texas (1972); B.A., University of Texas (1969); Fellow, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers; Associate, American Board of Trial Advocates.
Key Cases: Gillespie is known for representing a whistleblower against Texas energy company TXU and a former employee of Lance Armstrong, who claimed mental distress. He forced Dallas’ transit system to live up to its grievance procedures and vindicated an employee of Spencer Gifts who had been discriminated against.
Debra S. Katz
Partner, Katz Marshall & Banks, Washington
Education and Affiliations: J.D., University of Wisconsin (1984); B.A., Union College (1980); Member, National Employment Lawyers Association.
Key Cases: Clients love Katz, who is tough as nails when it comes to protecting employees who have blown the whistle or been discriminated against. She represented a Fannie Mae whistleblower, whose testimony led to the agency’s overhaul, as well as former employees of Scott Bloch, who runs the Office of Special Counsel and is alleged to have pushed aside longtime employees and stifled dissent.
Jeffrey L. Liddle
Partner, Liddle & Robinson, New York
Education and Affiliations: J.D., New York University (1976); B.S., Cornell University (1971).
Key Cases: He’s “Mr. Millions” to employees harmed by Wall Street misconduct and conflicts of interest. He is lead counsel for 40 former Robertson Stephens investment bankers who claim they’re owed $500 million. He has won some of history’s largest defamation claims and reached a multimillion-dollar settlement for 39 wrongly fired employees of Credit Suisse First Boston’s municipal finance department.
Ellen J. Messing
Partner, Messing, Rudavsky & Weliky, Boston
Education and Affiliations: J.D., Boston University School of Law (1977); A.B., Harvard University (1973); Board Member, National Employment Lawyers Association; Fellow, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.
Key Cases: In a case against Harvard College’s president, Messing won a huge victory for Massachusetts employee plaintiffs by persuading a court to allow plaintiffs’ lawyers to interview other employees outside the presence of a company lawyer. She also blocked a Massachusetts biotech company from preventing one of its former executives from pursuing new work.
Partner, Outten & Golden, New York
Education and Affiliations: J.D., New York University (1974); B.S., Drexel University (1970); Founding Member and Executive Board, National Employment Lawyers Association; Founder, NELA New York; Governor, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers; Co-founder, Workplace Fairness.
Key Cases: The lawyer of choice for Wall Streeters and corporate executives, Outten has handled countless employment and settlement agreements. With the EEOC, he secured a $12 million settlement for a female executive who sued Morgan Stanley for sex bias. He and his team also brought home $18 million for two Wall Street bankers who were fired by Deutsche Bank rather than being paid their due compensation.
Executive Director, The Impact Fund, Berkeley, Calif.
Education and Affiliations: J.D., Hastings College of the Law (1978); B.A., Sonoma State University (1975).
Key Cases: Seligman is noted for taking huge winnings from years in private practice and funding The Impact Fund, a Berkeley nonprofit that underwrites class-action civil rights, poverty and environment lawsuits. Seligman is lead counsel in the nation’s largest class-action against a private employer in the discrimination case brought by millions of female employees against Wal-Mart, the gender discrimination class-action against Costco and the recent $61 million settlement with the U.S. Postal Service.
Mary Anne Sedey
Partner, Sedey Harper, St. Louis
Education and Affiliations: J.D., Saint Louis University (1975); B.S., Webster College (1970); Member, Former President, National Employment Lawyers Association; Former President, Workplace Fairness; Fellow, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.
Key Cases: Female employees have a friend in Sedey, who won $34 million from Mitsubishi for sexual harassment, which she topped with a $47 million settlement against Rent-A-Center, accused of harassing and discriminating against female employees.
Joseph M. Sellers
Partner and Head of Civil Rights & Employment Practice, Cohen Milstein Hausfeld & Toll, Washington
Education and Affiliations: J.D., Case Western Reserve School of Law (1979); B.A., Brown University (1975); President, Washington Council of Lawyers; Head, Employment Discrimination Project, Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.
Key Cases: Sellers handles some of the most influential cases involving discrimination and wage-and-hour claims, including those of more than 1.6 million women working at Wal-Mart, 28,000 female Boeing employees, all African-American FBI agents and female undercover CIA officers, and 14,000 chicken-processing workers at Perdue Farms.