Ms. Medina represents executives and employees in confidential negotiations and complex litigation and has successfully obtained results for her clients at all stages of litigation.
I contacted Felicia because she has a stellar reputation as a champion for workplace gender equality. Upon taking my case, it became clear that that reputation is well-deserved; she is a deft negotiator, a veracious advocate, and - most importantly - she knows how to get results. Through her counsel, I achieved a settlement that allowed me to get out of a toxic, discriminatory work environment. We sent a strong message to the company that such unequal treatment of women will not be tolerated in this day and age. Former client and VP of a major technology company
Felicia and Sanford Heisler have taken the pharmaceutical industry by storm. They are shattering the glass ceiling imposed on women by pharma's old boys' club. Sanford Heisler is steadfastly committed not just to its clients, but to the cause of women's equality. That dedication, combined with their remarkable knowledge and skill, allows them to attain the momentous verdicts and results that set Sanford Heisler apart from other firms. Jacqueline Pena, Named Plaintiff in Wellens et. al. v. Daiichi Sankyo, Inc.
Felicia Medina is the Managing Partner of our San Francisco office and the Chair of the firm’s Title VII practice. Ms. Medina leads some of the country’s most significant class action and individual employment discrimination cases relating to race, gender, sexual orientation, and other protected classifications, as well as wage and hour collective actions. Since opening the SF office in 2011, Felicia has managed and mastered all aspects of litigation, including pre-suit settlement, discovery, summary judgment, and trial in a variety of discrimination and wage and hour matters.
Ms. Medina has dedicated her career to advancing justice in the workplace. She has negotiated and secured significant monetary awards and changes in corporate practices for clients from all walks of life, including C-Suite executives, attorneys/in-house counsel, service employees, engineers, sales representatives, and working mothers with discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination claims in a variety of industries, including, STEM, pharmaceutical, finance, defense, manufacturing, retail, and professional services.
Within her first four years as a plaintiff lawyer, Ms. Medina quickly stood out as top in the field by helping secure the largest employment gender discrimination verdict in U.S. history in Velez v. Novartis. The presiding federal judge described the case as having been “brilliantly tried.” After the seven-week trial and historic verdict, the Firm obtained a court-approved settlement of $175 million on behalf of 6,000 women that the judge described as “extraordinary” and “one of a kind.”
Since then, Ms. Medina has continued to succeed, having been involved in hundreds of settlements and more than ten Title VII class actions. In July 2016, Felicia secured a rare $19.5M pre-suit gender discrimination class action settlement with Qualcomm, a leading global technology company. In addition to significant monetary relief on behalf of women in STEM, Felicia successfully negotiated comprehensive programmatic reform within the Company to increase equal employment opportunities for Qualcomm women going forward. The settlement is currently pending court approval.
The year prior, in Wellens et al. v. Daiichi Sankyo, Ms. Medina represented a class of approximately 1,600 sales professionals with alleged gender and pregnancy discrimination claims. After securing conditional certification under the Federal Equal Pay Act, the first case within the Ninth Circuit, Felicia secured court approval of an $8.2M settlement that included substantial programmatic change within the Company. This $8.2M settlement was named as 2015’s fifth highest settlement of a private plaintiff employment discrimination class action lawsuit in Seyfarth Shaw’s “12th Annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report.”
Ms. Medina also maintains a robust appellate practice. Specifically, in Sandquist et al. v. Lebo Automotive et al., she represented a former Sales Manager in a class action that alleges that race discrimination permeates John Elway’s Manhattan Beach Toyota. However, before the court addressed Mr. Sandquist’s claims, the litigation became focused on the interpretation of the company’s arbitration agreement. In 2014, Felicia won a reversal of the trial court’s 2012 order dismissing Sandquist’s class claims with prejudice. Defendants appealed and in July 2016, the Supreme Court of California sided with Felicia’s team after oral arguments were presented to the Supreme Court of California. Ms. Medina has also successfully argued a sixth circuit appeal in Barrett v. Whirlpool, a race harassment case.
Ms. Medina currently represents a class of contract employees in Ha et al. v. Google Inc. et al., a class and collective action that alleges that the Silicon Valley giant denied contract recruiters compensation for all overtime worked, failed to pay owed wages upon separation from employment and did not furnish accurate wage statements. She is also currently Co-Lead Counsel in Peterson et al. v. Alaska Communication Sys. Grp. Inc., a statewide misclassification matter filed on behalf of sales and marketing employees.
As one of the few queer women of color in a leadership position in a national firm, Ms. Medina is a fierce advocate for diversity and inclusion within the legal profession. She serves as a board member for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), the Bar Association of San Francisco Justice and Diversity Center (JDC), the Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center (LAS-ELC), and the Foundation for Advocacy, Inclusion, and Resources (FAIR), a non-profit working to increase diversity in the plaintiffs’ employment bar. Through the JDC’s “Law Academy” program, Felicia offered an internship to an underserved and minority high school student at her firm’s San Francisco office. In conjunction with FAIR and the LAS-ELC, Ms. Medina launched the Sanford Heisler Public Interest Diversity Fellowship in 2013, and has participated in the recruitment and selection of its initial three fellows.
Ms. Medina is also a former board member of Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF), the nation’s oldest and largest association of LGBT persons in the field of law. As Chair of BALIF’s Young Lawyers Committee, Felicia organized various networking events for young lawyers in the LGBT community, chaired BALIF’s mentorship program and served as a mentor to two law students herself. Felicia has also lectured and participated in several panels addressing LGBT topics, including “LGBT People of Color in the Legal Profession” and “Celebrating Pride at the 50th Anniversary Of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Perspectives on Title VII and LGBT Employment Rights.”
Prior to Sanford Heisler, LLP
Before joining Sanford Heisler in January 2009, Ms. Medina was an Associate at Morrison & Foerster, LLP. She was on the board of the Tom Homann Law Association, a LGBT lawyers’ organization. She graduated from Yale Law School in 2006. While at Yale Law School, Felicia was involved with the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization and provided civil legal services to Latino and immigrant communities in Fair Haven, Connecticut. Prior to attending Yale Law School, Ms. Medina was a political consultant and a public school teacher.
- J.D. ,Yale Law School, 2006
- Editor, Yale Journal of Law and Feminism
- B.A., USC, Los Angeles, 2000
- Student Supervisor, Community Legal Services
- California 2008
- The United States District Court - District of Nevada as of August 4, 2010
- The United States District Court - Middle District of Tennessee as of September 17, 2010
- The United States District Court - Southern District of New York as of January 22, 2010
- The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit as of October 7, 2009
- The United States District Court - Central District of California as of June 24, 2009
Sanford Heisler has filed claims that through the use of a long and confusing set of Terms and Conditions issued to each sales representative with his or her compensation plan, Oracle unlawfully and retroactively reduced the commissions of sales representatives based on grounds, criteria, and methods not defined in a signed commission contract. The case is currently in discovery and continuing investigation.
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.
In addition to monetary relief, the settlement requires Qualcomm to institute comprehensive programmatic relief, which will ensure that female employees working, for example, in STEM and related positions will enjoy equal job opportunities at the company. The settlement on behalf of a class of approximately 3300 women was reached before Plaintiffs filed suit.
Daiichi Sankyo Gender Pay, Promotion and Pregnancy Discrimination Class Action – $8.2 Million Settlement
In February 2013, six current and former female pharmaceutical sales professionals filed a $100 million class and collective action gender discrimination lawsuit against Daiichi Sankyo in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging discrimination in pay, promotion and other terms and conditions of employment based on gender, pregnancy and family responsibilities. The case was settled for $8.2 million in 2016.
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.
Case Description Case Type: Race Discrimination Company: John Elway’s Manhattan Beach Toyota Timothy Sandquist is an African-American male, who was a knowledgeable, high-performing, and hardworking employee at John Elway’s Manhattan Beach Toyota for more than 10 years. He started at the dealership as a Sales Representative in 2000 and worked his way up to Sales […]
In March 2015, class representatives Denise Fretter and Maria Korsgaard filed a $50 million nationwide class and collective action against the Valencia, CA-based medical device manufacturer, Boston Scientific Neuromodulation Corporation (BSNC), in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The Plaintiffs allege systemic violations of the Equal Pay Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act stemming from the company’s treatment of women who worked in its sales force hierarchy.
Former Google contract employee Tymuoi Ha filed the complaint in Santa Clara Superior Court against Google, Inc. and Urpan Technologies (UrpanTech), one of the many staffing agencies through which Google acquires temporary and contract workers. The complaint alleges that Defendants violated the California Labor Code by denying employees compensation for all overtime worked, failing to pay owed wages upon separation from employment and not furnishing accurate wage statements.
The employees allege that Ma Labs engaged in pervasive time-shaving, whereby it wrote off and refused to pay employees’ pre-shift and post-shift overtime. The company also allegedly failed to provide its employees off-duty, uninterrupted rest and meal periods, as required by California law. The workers are mostly Chinese and Latino immigrants. The court granted class certification in October 2014.
Sanford Heisler 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.
- Law360, August 2, 2016 – Sexual Orientation Bias Destined For High Court, If Not Capitol
- Yahoo Finance, July 26, 2016 – Sanford Heisler And Tech Giant Qualcomm Agree To $19.5 Million Gender Discrimination Settlement
- National LGBT Bar Association, June 22, 2016 – National LGBT Bar Association Announces Their 2016 “Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40”
- Law360, April 6, 2016 – Rising Star: Sanford Heisler’s Felicia Medina
- Law360, March 30, 2016 – Law360 Names Top Attorneys Under 40
- Law360, August 31, 2015 – Daiichi Sankyo Shells Out $8.2M In Sex Bias Settlement
- Law360, April 23, 2015 – Rising Star: Sanford Heisler’s Felicia Medina
- The Recorder, April 1, 2015 – Employment Lawyers Brace for ‘Pao Effect’
- Fortune, March 25, 2015 – UPS loses Supreme Court pregnancy discrimination case
- The Daily Journal, March 19, 2015 – Trio of major suits allege rampant workplace discrimination
- 2016 National LGBT Bar Association “Best LGBT Lawyer Under 40”
- 2016 SuperLawyers Northern California “Rising Star”
- 2016 Law360 “Rising Star”
- 2015 National Diversity Council “Most Powerful and Influential Woman”
- 2015 Law360 “Rising Star”
- 2015 Super Lawyers Northern California “Rising Star”
- 2014 Law360 “Minority Power Broker”