Litigation Department of the Year: Employment

The firm focuses primarily on Title VII discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but also prosecutes labor and wage violations, predatory lending, whistleblower, fraud and qui tam work.

Fewer still labor and employment firms do it as well as Sanford Heisler.

“The $99 million settlement in the Novartis wage case was the right result, both for our clients and for Novartis,” Sanford said. “Novartis at the time was facing over $1 billion of exposure and it paid out about 10 cents on the dollar in a settlement.” The recovery came just in time for the class — a few weeks later, the Supreme Court ruled that drug company representatives were ineligible for overtime pay because they are outside salespersons.

At the same time he filed separate class claims with the EEOC. In 2007, the agency dismissed the complaint and denied class certification.  “Out of the blue, the EEOC issued an opinion which not only said, ‘We are reinstating the class charges,’ but certified the class for the U.S. marshals,” Sanford said. “There were real-life consequences for the agency to dismiss the charges without providing notice about their rights and obligations.”

“How you win generally is with a lot of hard work with dedicated people who know how to write,” Sanford said. “In order to make the case, you need to conceptualize the issues and write about it in a meaningful way.”

“Hire attorneys and legal assistants who write exceptionally well, exercise keen judgment, and listen carefully.”

“Maintain core values.”

“Be tenacious, but never compromise your ethical compass.”

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