Partner Reflection: Kate Mueting

By Kate Mueting, Firm Administrative Partner | February 2024

“I help bring about institutional and societal change through class action impact litigation.” – Kate Mueting

Several friends have commented that I am the only happy lawyer they know. I think that is the result of spending more than a decade at a firm where I can do work that I enjoy and that is consistent with my values. I get to help people every day. I help individuals who need to leave a discriminatory workplace and who want their employer to face consequences for unlawfulness. I help bring about institutional and societal change through class action impact litigation. And I help train and mentor the next generation of lawyers passionate about civil rights work.

Advocating For Equality And Pressing For Accountability

First, the vast majority of people who come to me never file a lawsuit or even an administrative charge because we are able to achieve relief for them through negotiated settlements. Through this work, I have the opportunity to help individuals who have experienced discrimination or harassment on the basis of their gender or pregnancy or race. Many are female professionals who were applauded in their careers until they had a child—at which point their supervisors were consistently questioning their commitment and demanding that they prove themselves. Many high-level female executives did not face discrimination or bias until they rose to leadership positions, at which point the leadership skills that men are praised for earn them criticism for being “not a team player,” “bossy,” or worse.

Many individuals I represent are Black female professionals who are denied opportunities that have been handed to their white male counterparts, and then labeled with “attitude” or “tone” issues when they question this. I represented one very senior Big Law Partner who teared up during a mediation as her law firm was making offers to resolve her claims. She said that she had been treated unfairly and undervalued her entire career but this was the first time it was being acknowledged. These clients seek legal help because they want out of these awful situations but also want help raising their hands and pressing for accountability and consequences, so that things can be better for all who come after them.

It is an honor to represent these brave individuals. I love working with these clients and their employers to explain why their mistreatment is unlawful and to seek a resolution that will have consequences for the employer and also enable clients to move on with their lives.

Public Litigation And Employee Rights

Second, I love the opportunity to work on high-profile public litigation such as class action race and gender discrimination cases and financial mismanagement cases. These cases allow me and those at our firm to be part of the national conversations fighting against issues such as gender pay inequities, pregnancy discrimination, race discrimination, and employer fraud and mismanagement.

Through these cases, we publicly work to hold employers accountable and help to raise awareness about the rights of employees and what employees can do when they are violated. I have heard from many clients that it was not until they read about one of our cases and saw their own experiences shared by the employees in the lawsuit, that they were able to identify the discrimination and bias they were facing. I have heard from many clients that they spent far too long blaming themselves and their work performance for their mistreatment and it was not until one of our cases explained their own experiences as discriminatory that they realized they were not themselves at fault.

Mentoring The Next Generation

Third, I love mentoring the next generation of civil rights and social justice lawyers through our firm’s legal assistant and fellowship programs. I have worked with dozens of these aspiring and junior lawyers. They are all passionate about public interest law, and I love helping them realize how they might want to build their own practice so it is consistent with those values.

So, from this happy lawyer I say thank you to the law firm that has enabled me to spend my career helping people and working toward social justice.

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