Advancing Workers’ Rights

The Institute engages in projects that help achieve our nation’s promise of equal employment opportunity for all. We conduct research, develop resources, and educate judges, policymakers, advocates, and the general public in our quest to protect and promote workers’ rights by influencing the broad, macro conversations that shape employment law.

Symposium: Enhancing Anti-Discrimination Laws In Employment & Education

In November of 2021, the Institute partnered with the American University Washington College of Law’s Journal of Gender, Social Policy, and the Law to gather practitioners, scholars, workers’ rights advocates, and law students to explore ways in which anti-discrimination laws may be used to advance diversity and equity in workplaces and educational institutions. The Symposium, Enhancing Anti-Discrimination Laws in Education & Employment, hosted panel discussions on government intervention in workplace discrimination; Title IX in schools ranging from kindergarten to the collegiate level; how seminal case law has affected real outcomes for workers; and the future and possibilities in employment law. The Keynote Address was a dynamic and transformational talk given by Professor Vicki Schultz, an expert on social science, the workplace, and discrimination. The Institute engaged with over 400 advocates during this virtual symposium to analyze and discuss these important, complex, and ever-evolving legal issues.

This Symposium is dedicated to the memory of Paul H. Tobias, founder of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA). Paul was a warm and charismatic visionary with tremendous compassion for working people. Paul leaves a legacy that drives us all to work harder for equity and justice in the workplace. And with a generous gift from his estate to the National Institute for Workers’ Rights, Paul made this Symposium a reality.

Towards Effective Governmental Intervention: Ending Discrimination in the Workplace
Moderator: Patrick O. Patterson
Panelists: Hnin Khaing, Victoria A. Lipnic, Carol R. Miaskoff

Moderator Paper: Reclaiming EEOC’s Mission, By Patrick O. Patterson

Unreported: Shortcomings of Title IX
Moderator: Dean Lisa Taylor
Panelists: Leslie Annexstein, Elizabeth Kristen, Professor Natasha Martin

Symposium Keynote: Professor Vicki Schultz

Severe or Pervasive: Towards Empowering Workers
Moderator: Allegra L. Fishel
Panelists: Professor Ann C. McGinley, Alexis Ronickher, Joseph M. Sellers, Bernice Yeung

The Future of Employment Law
Moderator: Karla Gilbride
Panelists: Professor Marcia L. McCormick, Professor Stephen M. Rich, Professor Michael Selmi, Geraldine Sumter


Allegra L. Fishel
Gender Equality Law Center (GELC)

Allegra Fishel (she/her/hers) is the Founder and Executive Director of the Gender Equality Law Center. She has been a civil rights lawyer for over 25 years with a focus on advocating for the rights of women and the LGBTQ community. Before founding GELC, Allegra was a plaintiff-side employment lawyer for over 20 years. She was of Counsel for ten years at Outten & Golden LLP and was founding partner at Beranbaum Menken Ben-Asher & Fishel. Allegra has litigated numerous gender-discrimination cases in federal and state court and in a variety of other administrative bodies.

Allegra’s goal in forming GELC was to combine a unique blend of litigation and non-litigation advocacy to push for social and legal change. In this regard, she regularly requests and incorporates prospective, remedial relief, including training, policy revisions, and procedural changes as part of any settlement obtained before or as a result of litigation.

Allegra is a frequent lecturer on gender-based discrimination issues both to the private bar and to legal advocates at a variety of nonprofits. She received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from Boston University School of Law.

Karla Gilbride
Public Justice, PC

In October of 2014, Karla Gilbride took on the role of staff attorney at Public Justice, where she is working on high-impact cases that implicate the rights of individual consumers and employees to join together in class actions. Her work also focuses on ensuring open courtrooms and protecting consumers from one-sided, unfair, or deceptive corporate practices.

Previously Karla Gilbride spent over three years as an associate at Mehri & Skalet PLLC in Washington, D.C., where her work focused on the civil rights, wage and hour, and fair housing aspects of the firm’s practice. Ms. Gilbride graduated with honors from Georgetown Law School in 2007. While at Georgetown she served on the Georgetown Journal of Poverty Law and Policy, participated in the Federal Legislation Clinic, and won regional and national victories in the Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition.

Hnin Khaing
Interim Director, District of Columbia Office of Human Rights

Hnin Khaing is a seasoned civil rights attorney with over fourteen years of experience, a deep understanding of human rights laws, and experience serving District residents. Interim Director Khaing recently served as OHR’s General Counsel where she reviewed agency decisions, directed rulemaking, and vigorously pursued the public interest by prosecuting probable cause cases before the Commission on Human Rights, which included securing relief for complainants as well as changes to respondent’s discriminatory policies and practices. She has also previously served as OHR’s Deputy Director, where she developed and led the launch of the District’s first-ever EEO Training and Certification program for EEO Counselors and Officers. Today, this program is open to all District government employees.

Elizabeth Kristen
Legal Aid At Work

Elizabeth Kristen (she/her) is the director of the Gender Equity & LGBT Rights Program at Legal Aid At Work, where she represents low-wage workers facing employment discrimination and harassment based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, military, or veteran status. As director of the Fair Play for Girls in Sports project, she engages in community education, negotiations, litigation, and policy work on behalf of female students who have not been afforded equal athletic opportunities under Title IX. She won a groundbreaking Ninth Circuit ruling, with her co-counsel, that enforces Title IX of the Education Amendments in a Southern California high school (Ollier v. Sweetwater).

Elizabeth graduated from Berkeley Law in 2001. She was selected for the Order of the Coif and served as an editor for the California Law Review. Prior to joining Legal Aid at Work in 2002 as a Skadden Fellow, she clerked for the Honorable James R. Browning on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Victoria A. Lipnic
Resolution Economics (Former Commissioner, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)

Victoria A. Lipnic is a Partner at Resolution Economics. She leads the Company’s Human Capital Strategy Group. The Human Capital Strategy Group combines the Company’s expertise in data analytics and deep knowledge of regulatory requirements with an interdisciplinary approach to advise organizations on the full range of their human capital needs and reporting requirements including recruitment, selection, promotions, DE&I, pay equity, and overall talent allocation.

Prior to joining Resolutions Economics, she served as Commissioner from 2010 to 2020 and Acting Chair from 2017 to 2019 of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She was appointed to the EEOC by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. At the EEOC she worked on policy, cases, and regulations under all of the statutes enforced by the Commission including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Equal Pay Act (EPA), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). She co-chaired the EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, and co-authored its seminal report, issued in 2016, before the #MeToo movement.

Professor Natasha Martin
Seattle University School of Law

Natasha Martin teaches Employment Discrimination, Advanced Topics in Employment Discrimination, and Professional Responsibility. Professor Martin’s interdisciplinary research focuses on employment discrimination law, organizational culture and behavior, and critical race theory. The main thrust of her academic work centers on contemporary workplace realities and the impact of discrimination law on the inclusion of women, people of color, and other marginalized workers. A frequent presenter at national conferences, Professor Martin is dedicated to gender and racial equity, and broad notions of inclusivity more generally. Professor Martin was named to Lawyers of Color’s 50 Under 50 List of minority law professors making an impact in legal education in the 2014 Law School Diversity Issue.

Appointed by President Sundborg in July 2016, Professor Martin is the inaugural Associate Vice President for Institutional Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer. She served as Co-Chair of the university-wide Task Force on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence 2014-2016. Her leadership experience also includes three years of service as Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development.

Professor Marcia L. McCormick
Saint Louis University School of Law

Professor Marcia L. McCormick joined the SLU LAW faculty as an associate professor in 2009. Her scholarship has explored the areas of employment and labor law, federal courts, as well as gender and the law. A prolific blogger, Prof. McCormick is a co-editor and contributor to the Workplace Prof Blog, which provides daily information on developments in the law of the workplace and scholarship about it.

Prof. McCormick earned her B.A. from Grinnell College and is an honors graduate of the University of Iowa School of Law. During law school, she was the managing editor of the Iowa Law Review and was named the Outstanding Woman Law Graduate. Professor McCormick began her legal career as a staff attorney with the International Human Rights Law Institute, where she directed analysis and research of allegations of sexual violence committed during the war in what was formerly known as Yugoslavia.

Professor Ann McGinley
UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law

Ann C. McGinley is the William S. Boyd Professor of Law at the Boyd School of Law of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she has taught Employment Law, Employment Discrimination, Torts, Disability Law, and seminars on employment and gender since 1999.

Professor McGinley is the Co-Director of the Workplace Law Program and a member of the Health Law Program at Boyd School of Law. Professor McGinley is an internationally recognized scholar in the areas of employment, disability, and torts law and a leader in Multidimensional Masculinities Theory, an emerging discipline that applies masculinities theory from social sciences to legal interpretation. She has published more than sixty law review articles and book chapters. She is the author of Masculinity at Work: Employment Discrimination Through a Different Lens (NYU Press 2016). This book uses masculinities theory to analyze Title VII employment discrimination cases and to propose new applications of the law. McGinley is the editor of Masculinities and the Law: A Multidimensional Approach (NYU Press 2012) (with Frank Rudy Cooper) and the author of Disability Law: Cases, Materials, Problems, Sixth Edition (Carolina Academic Press 2017) and Disability Law: Statutory Appendix: Federal Statutes and Regulations, Fifth Edition (LexisNexis) (with Laura Rothstein).

Carol R. Miaskoff
Legal Counsel, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Carol R. Miaskoff was appointed legal counsel for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in June 2021. Miaskoff previously served as the EEOC’s associate legal counsel and has been serving as acting legal counsel since February 2021. The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) provides legal advice to the Chair and the Commission on various substantive, administrative, and procedural matters. The office is also responsible for developing rules and guidance under the various laws that the agency administers and for managing the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) program.

Ms. Miaskoff graduated from Harvard University and the George Washington University Law School, with high honors. Ms. Miaskoff guest lectures at a Georgetown University undergraduate class on Women and the Law, and in 2020 will serve on the advisory board for a Georgetown University Law Center project on Algorithmic Fairness and People with Disabilities.

Patrick O. Patterson
Law Office of Patrick O. Patterson, SC

Patrick O. Patterson is a civil rights lawyer who served as Senior Counsel to the Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from 2010 to 2014, and as Deputy Director of the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs from 2014 to 2017. He previously taught employment discrimination law, among other subjects, at the University of Wisconsin and UCLA Law Schools, and served as Assistant Counsel (New York) and Western Regional Counsel (Los Angeles) for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. 

Professor Stephen M. Rich
University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Stephen Rich is a Professor of Law at the USC’s Gould School of Law (“USC Gould”), where he teaches courses in employment discrimination law, constitutional equality law, and civil procedure.

Rich is an expert in the field of antidiscrimination law. His work blends statutory and constitutional analysis with contemporary research in sociology and social psychology in order to analyze familiar problems concerning social injustice, affirmative action, and the practical limitations of antidiscrimination law’s enforcement from new perspectives. Professor Rich has addressed fundamental issues of statutory interpretation. For example, he has criticized the Supreme Court’s use of textualist methods to disrupt continuity between its past and present decisions in the field of employment discrimination law, and he has argued against the convergence of constitutional and statutory legal standards in order to permit the government to explore different approaches to addressing the persistent problem of racial inequality. 

Alexis H. Ronickher
Katz, Marshall & Banks, LLP

Alexis H. Ronickher specializes in representing clients in complex, often high-profile, employment and whistleblower matters, including whistleblower, sexual harassment, and civil rights discrimination and retaliation matters. As part of her whistleblower practice, she represents clients pursuing qui tam claims under the False Claims Act and whistleblower tips through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rewards program. She has represented whistleblowers in a broad range of specialized industries, including financial, technology, cybersecurity, healthcare, aviation, and government contracting. Ms. Ronickher has been on the forefront of protecting cybersecurity whistleblowers, including publishing “Cybersecurity Whistleblower Protection Guide,” and being a leading advocate for strengthening protections for cybersecurity whistleblowers.

Joseph M. Sellers
Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, PLLC

Joseph M. Sellers is a Partner at Cohen Milstein, Chair of the firm’s Executive Committee and Chair of the Civil Rights & Employment Practice Group, a practice he founded. In a career spanning nearly four decades, Mr. Sellers has represented victims of discrimination and other illegal employment practices individually and through class actions. He brings to his practice a deep commitment and broad background in fighting discrimination in all its forms. That experience includes decades of representing clients in litigation to enforce their civil rights, participating in drafting and efforts to pass landmark civil rights legislation, testifying before Congress on various civil rights issues, training government lawyers on the trial of civil rights cases, teaching civil rights law at various law schools and lecturing extensively on civil rights and employment matters.

Mr. Sellers, who joined the firm in 1997, has been practicing civil rights law for more than 35 years, during which time he has represented individuals and classes of people who have been victims of civil rights violations or denied other rights in the workplace.

Professor Michael Selmi
Arizona State Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

Michael Selmi joined the faculty as a Foundation Professor of Law in 2020. He was previously the Samuel Tyler Research Professor at George Washington University Law School where he taught for more than twenty years, and has also taught at The University of North Carolina, Boston University and Harvard Law School. He teaches and writes in the areas of employment discrimination, employment law and civil rights. He is the coauthor of three casebooks and has published more than 50 articles, including in the Cornell Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, Stanford Law Review, UCLA Law Review, Wisconsin Law Review among others.

Prior to entering academia, Professor Selmi served as a law clerk to Judge James R. Browning who was then the Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and litigated employment discrimination cases at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in Washington D.C. and in the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Stanford University.

Vicki Schultz
Yale Law School

Vicki Schultz is the Ford Foundation Professor of Law and Social Sciences at Yale Law School, where she teaches courses on the family, state and market, family law, employment discrimination law, workplace theory and policy, work and gender, law and social science, feminist theory, and related subjects. Schultz has written and lectured widely on a variety of subjects related to anti-discrimination law, including sexual harassment, sex segregation on the job, work-family issues, working hours, and the meaning of work in people’s lives.

Schultz’s work has been influential in scholarly circles in both law and the social sciences; her work has also been cited widely in the courts and the national news media. She has been quoted in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Ms. Magazine, and many major newspapers; she has appeared on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The CBS Evening News, ABC World News Tonight, Good Morning America, and National Public Radio.

A former trial attorney at the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Schultz began her academic career at the University of Wisconsin Law School, where she became interested in law and sociology. At Yale Law School, she runs the Workplace Theory and Policy Workshop and has also headed the Work and Welfare group, an interdisciplinary group of scholars who study inequalities produced by different social welfare regimes, labor market institutions, and family formations. Schultz lives in Connecticut with her daughter Natalie and their cat Jack.

Geraldine Sumter
Ferguson Chambers & Sumter, PA

Geraldine Sumter joined the firm December 31, 1982. Since joining the firm, Geraldine has concentrated on employment work primarily. Her other areas of practice include workers’ compensation, small business, non-profit, and other civil rights work including voting rights and school desegregation.

Geraldine received a B.A. from Howard University in 1978 with a major in Political Science and Economics. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude and was inducted into the Political Science Honor Society (Phi Sigma Alpha). She received her J.D. from Duke University in 1981 where she served on the 1980 National Winning Team of Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition and the Duke University School of Law Moot Court Board.

Geraldine clerked for The Honorable Charles L. Becton of the North Carolina Court of Appeals, former member of the firm, from August 1981 through July 1982. She thereafter joined the Palmetto Legal Services as a Staff Attorney in its Lexington, South Carolina office and worked there for six months where she did consumer, landlord, and domestic work.

Bernice Yeung

Bernice Yeung covers labor and employment for ProPublica. Previously, she was a reporter with Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, where she was a member of the national Emmy-nominated Rape in the Fields reporting team, which investigated the sexual assault of immigrant farmworkers. The project won an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.

Yeung also was the lead reporter for the national Emmy-nominated Rape on the Night Shift team, which examined sexual violence against female janitors. That work won an Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi Award for investigative journalism, and the Third Coast/Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Competition. Those projects led to her first book, In a Day’s Work: The Fight to End Sexual Violence Against America’s Most Vulnerable Workers (The New Press, 2018), which in 2019 was honored with the PEN America/John Galbraith Award for Nonfiction and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

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