Katherine Kimpel - Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP

Katherine Kimpel
Katherine M. Kimpel

DC Managing Partner


icon_social_linkedin Phone: (202) 499-5202

Katherine M. Kimpel is a member of the Executive Board and serves as the Managing Partner of the Washington, DC Office of Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP, a national law firm with offices in Washington, DC, New York, San Francisco, and San Diego. She received her law degree from Yale Law School.

Ms. Kimpel has dedicated her career to helping individuals realize the justice that our laws promise.  She serves as Lead Counsel in numerous class action and individual matters enforcing federal and state anti-discrimination and wage and hour laws. Ms. Kimpel also negotiates exit packages and transitional plans on behalf of professionals at the highest levels in their fields, including Senior HR executives, COOs, General Counsel and attorneys.

Having secured hundreds of millions of dollars for her clients, Ms. Kimpel has garnered significant recognition from the legal community.  The National Law Journal named her office as Washington DC’s Employment Litigation Department of the year in 2013 and named Ms. Kimpel one of the 75 most accomplished female attorneys working in the legal professions today  and one of DC’s 40 under 40.  She was selected for DC’s Super Lawyers list (a rating service of outstanding lawyers maintained by Thompson Reuters); and was identified as a “female powerbroker” and one of five employment lawyers who are Rising Stars in the field by Law360.

Ms. Kimpel devotes extensive time on cases designed to shatter the glass ceilings still in place across industries.  Ms. Kimpel authors amicus briefs, including the amicus brief on behalf of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce in Dukes v. Wal-Mart and the amicus brief on behalf of health care practitioners in Young v. U.P.S.  She is the Senior Editor for Shattering the Ceiling and is often asked to write for national news outlets, legal publications, and for women’s organizations.  She currently serves as Lead Counsel in Kassman et. al. v. KPMG, a class action on behalf of women working as Associates up through Managing Directors. Approximately 1,300 women have joined the class and are standing together to shed light on the unfair working conditions at the Big Four accounting firm.  She also represents Nicole Watson, who was Vice President of Business Process and Integration at the privately-held international defense contractor Garda, until she was subjected to gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and was forced out of the Company.

Ms. Kimpel has helped usher nationwide class actions to successful settlement. For example, in In re Novartis, current and former Novartis Sales Representatives who were not paid overtime wages were the beneficiaries of a $99 million settlement approved by Judge Crotty of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in May 2012. Ms. Kimpel also served as Lead Counsel representing approximately 6,000 female employees in their gender and pregnancy discrimination claims in Velez v. Novartis.  After a seven-week trial, the Firm secured the largest employment discrimination verdict ($253 million) in United States history. The presiding federal judge described the case as having been “brilliantly tried.” The Firm obtained a court-approved settlement of $175 million on behalf of the class that the judge described as “extraordinary” and “one of a kind.” The United Nations has 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.

Ms. Kimpel, along with a team of lawyers at Squire Sanders, is proud to represent “the Angola 3” in their civil suit challenging the constitutionality of the Louisiana Department of Correction’s use of indefinite solitary confinement since 1972.  Their plight has been highlighted by national and international press and is a subject of an Amnesty International Report. The case is slated for trial in November 2015.

Ms. Kimpel often speaks on class litigation, gender discrimination, wage and hour laws, and antidiscrimination efforts in this country, and Ms. Kimpel teaches a course on Antidiscrimination Law at Yale Law School.  Ms. Kimpel has presented to the District Directors and Regional Attorneys at a National Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Training; the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee of the American Bar Association, the National Employment Lawyers Association, the Searle Center at Northwestern Law School, the Pennsylvania Bar Employment Law Institute, and on various panels organized and hosted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, women’s bar associations, and other women’s groups.   She has served as an expert on gender and pregnancy discrimination for national news and radio.

Ms. Kimpel regularly focuses on what employees can do to protect themselves from discrimination and on what employers can do to structure legal and equitable workplaces, drawing from her experience negotiating systemic reform packages for major national and international corporations.  Ms. Kimpel also provides training and coaching to corporations and non-profits seeking to proactively create and maintain diverse, collaborative and equitable work environments.


Before joining Sanford Heisler Kimpel in 2007, Ms. Kimpel served as Special Counsel to Senator Russell Feingold on the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she handled criminal justice and other civil rights issues for the Senator. Ms. Kimpel also worked for the Commission on Safety and Abuse for America’s Prisons, and as a fourth grade teacher for DC Public Schools.

During her time at Yale Law School, Ms. Kimpel served as the Chair of the Student Board for the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization and as the Student Director for clinics (1) providing civil legal services to the Latino and immigrant community in Fair Haven and (2) representing students seeking improved financing for Connecticut public schools. Upon graduation, Ms. Kimpel was the recipient of the Stephen J. Massey Prize for best exemplifying the values of the Yale clinical program.


J.D. Yale Law School, 2006
Managing Editor, Yale Journal of Law and Feminism
B.A. Vassar College, 2000


Chair, Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization
Founder and Student Director, Education Adequacy Project
Student Director, Community Legal Services at Junta


District of Columbia 2008
Wisconsin 2007


U.S. Federal District Court for the District of Columbia
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
U.S. Supreme Court


    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


    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

  • ANGOLA 3

    In June 2013, Sanford Heisler Kimpel LLP joined Squire Sanders in representing Herman Wallace, Robert King Wilkerson, and Albert Woodfox in their civil suit against the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana. Known as the “Angola 3,” the Plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of being held in solitary confinement for more than four decades (since 1972). Read More


    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


    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.


    The six Class Representatives Victoria Barghout, Jennifer Christiansen, Barbara Feringa, Jennifer Musumeci, Laura Reilly, and Karen Salomon filed the complaint on behalf of themselves and a class of female employees in the United States under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and New Jersey law. The document details a pattern and practice of discrimination in pay, promotions, and the treatment of pregnant women and mothers by the multinational corporation. Read More


    In June 2011, Class Representative Donna Kassman filed a lawsuit against KPMG to remedy KPMG’s systemic discrimination in pay and promotion, discrimination based on pregnancy, and chronic failure to properly investigate and resolve complaints of discrimination and harassment. Later that same year, the lawsuit was amended to add Named Plaintiffs from around the country who had experienced discrimination similar to what Ms. Kassman had suffered. Read More


    In February 2015, former Vice President of Business Process and Integration Nicole Watson filed a complaint alleging gender discrimination and sexual harassment against Garda, a company that provides armored trucks throughout the United States and touts itself as being a “global leader in comprehensive security and risk management.” The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.  Read More


    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.


    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

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Katherine Kimpel Sanford Heisler Kimpel

“Working with Kate and her team at Sanford Heisler Kimpel is an empowering, validating experience. Their professionalism and humanity, coupled with their passion for fairness and transparency, are at the core of their success. Whether working with individual clients or getting justice for groups of women who have been limited by gender bias in their careers, they are making a big contribution to women's equality in the work place.”

Senior VP and Global Head in Cancer Research


“The SHK team's hard work brought me and my fellow colleagues resolution on a very difficult matter. I deeply appreciated not only their astute legal counsel, but also the understanding, human touch they used at every turn during the sometimes fraught process. As a lawyer myself, I felt privileged to have gotten the chance to work with them. They are making a difference in the world for the betterment of working women's rights.”

Female Law Partner