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Nicole Wiitala is a Senior Litigation Counsel and Co-Ombudsperson at Sanford Heisler Sharp. Since joining Sanford Heisler Sharp, Nicole has been recognized in the legal community as 2021 New York Metro Super Lawyer Rising Star.

At Sanford Heisler Sharp, Nicole’s practice has focused on discrimination and harassment and criminal/sexual violence matters, representing both individuals and classes. Nicole’s representations have included:

  • Litigating a landmark Title IX class action lawsuit against Dartmouth College brought on behalf of current and former female graduate students and undergraduates in Dartmouth’s Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences, culminating in a $14 million Court-approved settlement that also included programmatic relief valued at an additional $1.5 million
  • Litigating a nationwide gender discrimination and sexual harassment class action filed against Schlumberger Technology Corporation on behalf of women who work on oil rigs in the U.S.
  • Litigating a nationwide gender discrimination class action lawsuit Merck & Co., Inc. on behalf of female pharmaceutical sales representatives, culminating in a $6.2 million Court-approved settlement
  • Litigating a nationwide gender discrimination class action lawsuit against Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc. on behalf of female pharmaceutical sales representatives, culminating in a $4 million Court-approved settlement
  • Litigating a wage and hour class action against Alaska Communications Systems in which Sanford Heisler Sharp won class certification on behalf of employees suing for unpaid overtime
  • Litigating individual discrimination and retaliation cases on behalf of attorneys, including the former Vice President for Legal Affairs at Giorgio Armani Corporation, the former in-house counsel at Zara, and the former General Counsel and Executive Vice President at EXL Service Holdings, Inc.
  • Litigating an age discrimination, gender discrimination, and retaliation case on behalf of the former Head of Americas Research at Cushman & Wakefield
  • Representing the former Senior Vice President at JUUL Labs, Inc. in his whistleblower retaliation and wrongful termination claims currently in arbitration
  • Negotiating settlements on behalf of individuals alleging a broad range of claims, including discrimination on the basis of gender, pregnancy, age, and national origin, including claims brought by in-house counsel, executives in financial services, physicians, and advertising industries

Nicole received her law degree cum laude from Pace University School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts from Pace University. While at Pace Law School, Nicole served as Editor-in-Chief of Pace Law Review. She worked as a judicial extern for the Honorable Edgardo Ramos in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and interned in the Litigation Bureau at the Office of the Attorney General of the State of New York.

A member of the New York bar, Nicole has presented at conferences on sex abuse class action cases.

Education

  • B.A., Pace University

  • J.D., Pace University School of Law, cum laude

    • Editor-in-Chief, Pace Law Review

      B.A., Pace University, cum laude

Bar Admissions

  • New York, 2017

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Outstanding legal service.

Based upon Sanford Heisler’s reputation, I expected outstanding legal service. However, I cannot express how much I respect and appreciate the skill and compassion DavidRussell, and Nicole demonstrated every single day. With their expert guidance and attention, they made an otherwise very difficult process tolerable. The Sanford Heisler team always made me believe the fight was worthwhile! Thank you all so much! 
– General Counsel

Forever grateful.

"Hi Nicole, I wanted to update you that I received my share of the settlement in the mail today. I will be forever grateful for your work and help during this process. I hope you truly know how appreciated you are and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You've made a big difference in my life." 
– Former Class Member

High-quality work.

"Nicole Wiitala did a terrific job on my case that involved employment discrimination and retaliation within the finance industry. From the start of our work together, Nicole synthesized the information I gave her into well-reasoned legal arguments on my behalf. She also quickly learned the nuances of my industry’s compensation structures and leveraged that information to further strengthen my case. Finally, Nicole consistently delivered high-quality work in a timely fashion which shortened the duration of time before I could formally separate from my former firm. I highly recommend both Nicole and Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP to anyone in a similar situation that requires an attorney." 
– Former Client

Support and sensitivity.

"You probably hear this all the time but thank you so much, this is indeed closure. I appreciate very much the results (which is more than I expected) but more the support and sensitivity Rebecca, Nicole, Jeremy and your firm have shown." 
– Former Client

A huge thank you to you and your team for your expertise, persistence and care.

“A huge thank you to Nicole (and the Sanford Heisler team) for your expertise, persistence and care in resolving my discrimination case. As legal issues inevitably involve the unexpected and often times significant delays, your strategic and personal approach always made me feel that I was in absolutely ‘the best hands.’”
Former Client

Schlumberger Technology Corporation Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Class Action

The Complaint documents a longstanding pattern of abuse in which Schlumberger knowingly permits women who work on male-dominated oil rigs to be sexually harassed, assaulted, and discriminated against by their male colleagues.

JUUL Labs, Inc. Whistleblower Retaliation/Wrongful Termination Case

Sanford Heisler Sharp represents Siddharth Breja in his whistleblower retaliation and wrongful termination claims against JUUL Labs, Inc.

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.

EXL Service Holdings, Inc. Gender Discrimination and Retaliation Lawsuit

The complaint alleges that when Ms. Saltzman complained to EXL Board Member Clyde Ostler about the discrimination that she was personally experiencing, the company fired her.

Alaska Communications Wage and Hour Class Action

Sanford Heisler Sharp 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.

Maria Sicola v. Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.

The complaint alleges that the shocking decision to terminate Ms. Sicola and promote Mr. Thorpe in her place was the culmination of years of unlawful discrimination based on gender and age to which C&W’s all male global leadership team subjects women over 40.

Ian Jack Miller v. Zara USA, Inc. et al.

In 2015, Sanford Heisler Sharp 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.

Dartmouth College Gender Discrimination/Title IX Class Action

The Complaint alleges that Dartmouth willfully ignored more than a decade of widespread sexual harassment by tenured professors Todd Heatherton, William Kelley, and Paul Whalen, who formed a private “predators club” and treated the PBS Department like a “21st Century Animal House.”

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.

Forest Laboratories Gender Discrimination Class Action – $4 Million Settlement

In July 2012, Sanford Heisler Sharp 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).

Presentations

  • December 6, 2018, Panelist/Speaker
    The American Association For Justice – Class Action Seminar, Emerging Cases: Litigation Updates and Trends to Watch, “Defeating Goliath—Sex Abuse Class Action Cases”

Blog

Nicole Wiitala Photo

Nicole Wiitala

Senior Litigation Counsel and Co-Ombudsperson

Client Testimonials

  • “A huge thank you to Nicole (and the Sanford Heisler team) for your expertise, persistence and care in resolving my discrimination case. As legal issues inevitably involve the unexpected and often ...”

    - Former Client
  • “Based upon Sanford Heisler’s reputation, I expected outstanding legal service.”

    - General Counsel
  • “This was an experience I never anticipated going through and, not surprisingly, a personal as well as a professional challenge. I'm so glad I had the expertise --and wisdom-- of you and your team to count on.”

    - An Attorney Client
  • “Hi Nicole, I wanted to update you that I received my share of the settlement in the mail today. I will be forever grateful for your work and help during this process.”

    - A Former Class Member
  • “I wanted to take advantage of the close of the year to thank you for allowing me to walk away from a difficult professional situation with the satisfaction that I did everything in my power to fight the unfair process.”

    - ALN (A Former Client)
  • “Nicole consistently delivered high-quality work in a timely fashion which shortened the duration of time before I could formally separate from my former firm. I highly recommend both Nicole and Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP to anyone in a similar situation th”

    - Former Client
  • “As legal issues inevitably involve the unexpected and often times significant delays, your strategic and personal approach always made me feel that I was in absolutely “the best hands.”

    - Former Client