David Sanford is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP, a national law firm with offices in Washington, DC, New York, San Francisco, and San Diego. He received his law degree from Stanford Law School in 1995.
David Sanford has recovered more than one billion dollars for individual clients and the United States government since 2004. Mr. Sanford has represented CEOs, CFOs, and COOs, as well as non-managerial, hourly employees throughout the United States. Mr. Sanford has served as lead counsel in more than 50 class actions and numerous qui tam fraud cases around the United States. David has represented over 50 General Counsels and attorneys (in house and outside counsel) in contract disputes, employment matters, and severance packages.
Mr. Sanford has been recognized as a leading litigation and trial attorney by numerous publications, including the National Law Journal and the Washington, D.C. and New York Super Lawyers list.
Mr. Sanford is listed among the top 100 trial lawyers in America by the National Trial Lawyers. In 2014, American Law Media recognized Mr. Sanford as an “Elite Trial Lawyer.” Also in 2014, Employment Law 360 designated Mr. Sanford as an “MVP” and as a “Titan of the Plaintiffs’ Bar.”
Since 2006, Mr. Sanford has been AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating given to an attorney by judges and attorneys throughout the United States.
Largest Employment Verdict in United States History
Mr. Sanford served as lead counsel representing approximately 7,000 female employees in Velez v. Novartis. The presiding federal judge described the case as having been “brilliantly tried.” After a seven-week trial, Mr. Sanford secured the largest employment verdict ($253 million) in United States history. He obtained a court-approved settlement of $175 million on behalf of the class that the judge described as “extraordinary” and “one of a kind.”
Presentation at the United Nations
In July 2011, Mr. Sanford gave an address on women’s rights at the United Nations. The United Nations recognized the Novartis case as among the top 10 cases in the world advancing women’s rights, and is the only case from the United States so recognized by the UN. (1-hour video clip of UN event).
One of Largest Wage Settlements in United States History
Mr. Sanford served as lead counsel in a wage and hour case against Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation. The case settled for $99 million on behalf of sales representatives who were not paid overtime wages.
Lead Counsel In False Claims Act (Qui Tam) Cases
Mr. Sanford has served as lead counsel in numerous fraud matters brought by individuals on behalf of the United States government.
Among his successful False Claims Act (qui tam) matters, Mr. Sanford was lead counsel for a relator in a case against Amgen that the United States government settled for $762 million to resolve criminal liability and False Claims Act allegations. Mr. Sanford was the lead counsel in a case against Smith & Nephew, which was the first whistleblower settlement involving false country of origin claims for medical devices. The case settled for $11 million. Mr. Sanford was also lead counsel in a case against Medtronic, which settled for $23.5 million.
Historic Settlement Against Cracker Barrel
Mr. Sanford was lead counsel in a race discrimination class action against the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain, which was the only race discrimination case intervened in by the George W. Bush administration. Mr. Sanford represented the NAACP, as well as Cracker Barrel employees and customers. The case settled for more than $8 million.
Television and Radio Appearances
Mr. Sanford has appeared on most major television networks and cable news shows, including “Good Morning America,” “NBC News with Brian Williams,” “20/20,” Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, NPR, and Voice of America. Mr. Sanford appeared on the Forbes Radio Channel in a “Special Tribute to America’s Best Lawyers,” and has been quoted in major newspapers and journals throughout America on pending matters of importance in the law.
Mr. Sanford speaks throughout the United States on complex litigation matters. He has recently addressed the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee of the American Bar Association; the National Employment Lawyers Association; the American Conference Institute; the National ABA Conference; the Pennsylvania Bar’s Employment Law Institute; the New York County Lawyers’ Association; the ABA National Institute on Class Actions; the District Director/Regional Attorney Conference of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; and a group of judges and attorneys at a New York/Chicago JAMS Conference.
Mr. Sanford sits on the Board of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem; the Board of Corps Africa; and the Board of the Center for WorkLife Law. Mr. Sanford is also an advisory board member of FAIR (Foundation for Advocacy, Inclusion and Resources), which is a non-profit designed to increase diversity in the plaintiffs’ employment bar and to raise public consciousness about workers’ rights.
Prior to Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP
Before founding his firm in 2004, Mr. Sanford opened and was the managing partner of the Washington, D.C. office of a civil rights firm from 1998 through 2003. He also worked with David Boies on antitrust matters and commercial litigation, and worked in the appellate division of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, drafting petitions of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court.
Mr. Sanford served as a law clerk for the Honorable Gladys Kessler of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia; as a law clerk in the White House Counsel’s Office under President Clinton; and as a summer law clerk for the Honorable Dorothy Nelson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Before law school, Mr. Sanford was a professor of philosophy at Williams College, and taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Oberlin College.
J.D. Stanford Law School 1995
ABD UNC, Chapel Hill 1985
M.A. UNC, Chapel Hill 1984
B.A. Vassar College 1980
Honorable Gladys Kessler, United States District Court for the District of Columbia
District of Columbia 1998
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
U.S. District Court Central District of Illinois
U.S. District Court Northern District of Florida
U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia
U.S. District Court District of Maryland
NOVARTIS PHARMACEUTICAL GENDER DISCRIMINATION CLASS ACTION – $253 MILLION JURY VERDICT; $175 MILLION SETTLEMENT
In the largest gender discrimination case to ever go to trial, Sanford Heisler successfully represented a class of 5,600 female sales representatives of Novartis Pharmaceutical Company in their gender pay and promotion and pregnancy discrimination claims. A unanimous decision by a jury of nine found Novartis liable for gender discrimination in pay and promotion and pregnancy-related matters and awarded 12 former Novartis sales reps $3.36 million in compensatory damages and the class of 5,600 women an additional $250 million in punitive damages In addition, the verdict from the jury meant that the remaining 5,600 women in the class were also entitled to additional awards of backpay and to seek compensatory damage awards up to $300,000 each. The verdict and the resulting monetary awards was the largest ever in the U.S in an employment discrimination case. Read More
CRACKER BARREL RACE DISCRIMINATION CLASS ACTION – $8.7 MILLION SETTLEMENT
David Sanford was lead counsel in a race discrimination class action suit against Cracker Barrel restaurants. The case concerned discrimination in pay and promotion, and also involved discrimination against African-American customers. The United States Department of Justice intervened in the case after five years of litigation and the suit settled for $8.7 million.
NOVARTIS PHARMACEUTICAL WAGE & HOUR CLASS ACTION – $99 MILLION SETTLEMENT
In 2012, Sanford Heisler Kimpel reached a $99 million settlement with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation (”Novartis”) to resolve a nation-wide class and collective action brought on behalf of thousands of Novartis sales representatives. The settlement ranks among the largest wage and hour settlements. Read More
WILMERHALE GENDER, AGE AND FMLA DISCRIMINATION CASE
Sanford Heisler LLP has filed suit today in Superior Court for the District of Columbia against Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP (WilmerHale). The complaint asserts WilmerHale terminated Pamela Levinson while she was on adoption leave, and denied her the salary increases and bonuses she had earned as an attorney at the multinational law firm. A resident of Bethesda, Ms. Levinson worked at WilmerHale for seven years before the firm fired her in February 2012. During her time at the firm, she was a member of the Intellectual Property Litigation group, the Business Litigation group and Investigations and Criminal Litigation group. Prior to joining WilmerHale, Ms. Levinson graduated first in her class at the University of Miami Law School in 2001. After graduation, she clerked for a federal judge for a year and became an associate in the Miami offices of Akerman Senterfitt LLP in 2002. Read More
US MARSHALS SERVICE RACE DISCRIMINATION CLASS ACTIONS
In July 2012, David Sanford, a partner and founder at Sanford Heisler, a leading national public interest law firm, received a decision from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on a class action appeal filed in 2007. The decision gives the green light for certification of a class complaint originally filed in July 1994, asserting that African-Americans are systematically discriminated against based on race by the U.S. Marshall’s Service (USMS). Read More
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. Read More
GENERAL ELECTRIC RACE DISCRIMINATION ACTION
Sanford Heisler represented Marc Thomas, President and CEO of General Electric Aviation Materials, in his suit on behalf of himself and other African-American executives at GE. Mr. Thomas alleged racial discrimination in pay and promotions at the highest levels of the GE Corporate structures. Sanford Heisler settled the case for undisclosed terms.
IAN JACK MILLER v. ZARA USA, INC. ET AL.
Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP today 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. Read More
NOVARTIS/ALCON GENDER DISCRIMINATION AND EQUAL PAY ACT COLLECTIVE ACTION
In March 2015, Plaintiffs Elyse Dickerson and Dr. Susan Orr filed a Title VII and Equal Pay Act case against the pharma giant Novartis and its Alcon division in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The lawsuit seeks $110 million, company-wide changes to redress gender discrimination, and individual relief. Read More
SMITH & NEPHEW RACE DISCRIMINATION IN HIRING, PAY AND PROMOTION CLASS ACTION – $4 MILLION SETTLEMENT
Sanford Heisler represented a class of African-Americans in race discrimination claims against Smith & Nephew, an international medical devices corporation. Our clients suffered discrimination in hiring, pay and promotions. The Court approved a $4 million class settlement in November 2009. In addition to the $4M award, the Court approved extensive non-monetary, systemic changes at Smith & Nephew.
FAIRFIELD RESORTS GENDER DISCRIMINATION & SEXUAL HARASSMENT CLASS ACTION – $5 MILLION SETTLEMENT
Sanford Heisler represented a class of women in a sexual harassment and gender discrimination claims against Fairfield Resorts Incorporated, a major resort and timeshare company. The case was settled on behalf of all female employees at Fairfield’s Nashville, Tennessee facility in 2006, with over five million dollars in damages and significant modifications to Fairfield’s internal policies and procedures. Read More
FOUR SEASONS RACE AND PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION MATTER
Sanford Heisler LLP, one of the nation’s leading civil rights law firms, today filed a suit in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia detailing discriminatory actions and civil rights violations by the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. The complaint details the Georgetown hotel’s race and pregnancy discrimination against Lisa White, a popular and high-performing female African-American esthetician who worked in the hotel’s spa. Read More
BARRETT, ET AL, v. FOREST LABORATORIES, INC., ET AL.
In July 2012, Sanford Heisler Kimpel, 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). Read More
COSTCO WAGE AND HOUR CLASS ACTION LITIGATION
Sanford Heisler Kimpel represents employees who worked at Costco Wholesale warehouses and were subjected to unpaid security “lockdowns” as a routine part of their work day. In December 2010, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California certified their suit as a state class action in California and a federal conditional collective action nationwide. The court later decertified the action and the case is on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On appeal, plaintiffs claim that the court misapplied the law and deprived employees of any opportunity for relief from Costco’s wage violations. Read More
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. Read More
PUBLICIS GROUPE AND MSL GENDER PAY, PROMOTION AND PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION CLASS ACTION
Sanford Heisler filed a class action gender discrimination lawsuit on behalf of women working at Publicis Group and MSLGroup since 2008 alleging pay and promotion discrimination. The suit also alleges discriminatory terminations, demotions and job reassignments of female employees following maternity leave. Read More
PENDERGRASS v. CITY GEAR, LLC, A.K.A. SHELMAR RETAIL PARTNERS, LLC AND MARTY’S INC
Sanford Heisler Kimpel represented a class of approximately 300 Store Managers and Assistant Managers who were improperly classified as ineligible for overtime pay. The company categorized these workers as salaried managerial employees but failed to pay them on a true salary basis. If the employees failed to work a particular number of hours per week, City Gear did not pay them their full salaries; instead, the company took pay deductions premised on an hourly rate of pay. The employees alleged that the company could not have it both ways and must pay them for their overtime. The case settled on a class basis in 2014. Read More
CIGNA HEALTH CARE GENDER DISCRIMINATION CASE
Gender discrimination in the form of a hostile work environment and differential treatment of males and females occurs company-wide at CIGNA Health Care Inc., according to a class action complaint filed by a female CIGNA employee in the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts today. Read More
GENERAL ELECTRIC GENDER DISCRIMINATION MATTER
Sanford Heisler represented Lorene Schaefer, former General Counsel of GE Transportation, and a class of executive female employees and a class of female attorneys. General Electric Company and Lorene Schaefer announced they settled the lawsuit in May 2007. During their settlement discussions, GE and Ms. Schaefer along with Kim Conklin, Margaret Harding and Jeana Quintana, reviewed policies and practices that are effective in building and sustaining an inclusive culture. These discussions will contribute to GE’s programs focused on developing women in its executive ranks. The terms of the settlement are confidential. Read More.
NBA GENDER DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT
Sanford Heisler, LLP, a leading national civil rights law firm, today filed a gender discrimination suit seeking $3 million on behalf of a Senior Account Manager against the National Basketball Association, Inc., NBA Entertainment, Inc., and NBA Properties, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The Complaint details the NBA’s unlawful treatment of Plaintiff Brynn Cohn, a longtime employee who was underpaid, under-promoted and ultimately pushed out of the organization because of her gender, pregnancy, and infant caregiving responsibilities. Read More
QUEST DIAGNOSTICS GENDER DISCRIMINATION CASE
Attorneys at Sanford Heisler filed a $100 million gender discrimination employment class action complaint against Quest Diagnostics (NYSE: DGX), Inc. and AmeriPath, Inc., (collectively known as “Quest”) in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The complaint details the systemic discriminatory treatment of female sales representatives company-wide by the self-proclaimed “world leader in diagnostic testing, information and services.” Read More
TOSHIBA GENDER DISCRIMINATION CASE
An Accounting Manager of Toshiba Machine Company America (TMCA) filed a class action employment lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in an effort to end systemic, companywide gender discrimination against herself and other female employees by TMCA and its parent corporation, Toshiba Machine Company, LTD. Read More
AUDRY URDA v. PETSMART, INC. AND MATTHEW GIRARD
PetSmart, Inc., (NASDAQ: PETM) was barking up the wrong tree when it subjected its employee Audrey Urda to a hostile work environment, sexual harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, and other intentional torts in not one but two of its stores. Ms. Urda filed a civil suit today against the multi-billion dollar specialty pet retailer and one of its managers in US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond, VA. The complaint provides explicit details of the sexually degrading and humiliating verbal taunts and the provocative and threatening behavior to which Ms. Urda was consistently subjected during her five-year tenure as a Pet Care Specialist in two PetSmart locations – the first in New York, the later in Virginia. Read More
- The National Law Journal, November 19, 2015 – ALM’s The National Law Journal Announces Elite Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame 2015 Class
- Corporate Counsel, September 15, 2015 – Just in Time for Fashion Week, Ousted Armani GC Sues Company
- Click here to hear Mr. Sanford’s opinion on the recent Ellen Pao Gender Discrimination Suit in Silicon Valley
- Employment MVP: Sanford Heisler’s David Sanford
- Law Firm Leaders Q&A: Sanford Heisler’s David Sanford
- Elite Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame 2015 Inductee, The National Law Journal
- Top Rated Employment Lawyer by the American Lawyer
- Top Rated Employment Lawyer by Corporate Counsel
- 2014-15 Employment MVP by Law360
- Employment Advisory Board by Law360
- Law360’s Titan of the Plaintiffs Bar
- Top Rated Employment Lawyer by National Law Journal
- Martindale-Hubbell Top Rated Lawyer
- DC and NY Super Lawyer