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Employment Discrimination Law & Litigation 2014


Speaker(s): Anne L. Clark, Edward Hernstadt, Hon. Cheryl L. Pollak, Hon. James C. Francis IV, Hon. Katharine H. Parker, Hon. Lois Bloom, Hon. Loretta A. Preska, Ivan D. Smith, Jill L. Rosenberg, Joyce S. Dubensky, Laurie Berke-Weiss, Louis P. DiLorenzo, Mark E. Brossman, Mary Schuette, Ned H. Bassen, Nora E. Curtin, Pearl Zuchlewski, Susan Ritz, Tracy Richelle High
Recorded on: Jun. 18, 2014
PLI Program #: 51788

Judge Preska was appointed United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York on August 12, 1992 and entered duty on September 18, 1992.  From June 1, 2009 to the present, she serves as Chief Judge of that Court.  Judge Preska received a B.A. from the College of St. Rose in Albany, New York in 1970, a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law in 1973, and an LL.M. in Trade Regulation from New York University Law School in 1978.

Following graduation from Fordham, Judge Preska was an associate at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP and an associate and, beginning in January 1983, a partner at Hertzog, Calamari & Gleason until her induction as a United States District Judge in September 1992.  Judge Preska was nominated to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in September 2008.  She received the Louis J. Lefkowitz Public Service Alumni Award from Fordham University School of Law in 1992 and served several terms as a Vice President on the Board of Directors of the Fordham Law Alumni Association.  The Fordham Law Alumni Association awarded her its Medal of Achievement in 1998.  She received a Doctorate of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from the College of St. Rose, Albany, New York, in 1998, the Edward J. Weinfeld Award from the New York County Lawyers Association Federal Courts Committee for Excellence in the Administration of Justice in 2001, the Charles Carroll Award from the Catholic Lawyers Guild in 2004, the Stanley H. Fuld Award for outstanding contributions to the development of commercial law and jurisprudence in New York State from the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association in 2009, the President’s Special Award from the New York Women’s Bar Association in 2011, the Barbara Jordan Outstanding Public Service Award from Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity International in 2012, the Women in Business Law Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013, the Boris Kostelanetz President’s Medal from the New York County Lawyers Association in 2014, the James Madison Award from the New York City Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society in 2014, and the Honorable John E. Sprizzo Award for commitment to the Rule of Law from St. John’s Law School in 2015.  She has lectured at Securities Industry Association Legal & Compliance Division, the International Bar Association, and numerous other venues, and was a contributing author to Federal Civil Practice published by the New York State Bar Association in 1989.

Judge Preska is a member of the Federal Bar Association, the Federal Bar Council, the New York County Lawyers Association, and the New York State Bar Association.  She has served as a member of the Committee on Federal-State Jurisdiction of the Judicial Conference of the United States, as chair of the Benchbook Advisory Committee, the Board of Directors of the Federal Judicial Center, and currently serves on the New York Federal-State Judicial Council.  Judge Preska has also served on the Advisory Board of the New York Chapter of the Federalist Society and, from 2001-2009, on the New York Regional Panel for the Selection of White House Fellows.  Judge Preska has also served as a Trustee of Fordham University.


Edward Hernstadt is an experienced employment attorney with a significant litigation and counseling practice. Ed has successfully tried age, sex and racial discrimination cases before federal and state courts and arbitration panels. His representation also includes negotiating agreements for senior executives in the banking, brokerage, retail, media and advertising industries, and providing advice to employers on how to avoid discrimination claims and how to investigate claims that have arisen. Ed has been honored as both a New York’s "Best Lawyer" in Labor and Employment Law and a New York "Super Lawyer" in Employment Litigation annually since 2007. Ed also has litigated a number of high-profile and complex intellectual property and First Amendment cases, as well as many commercial disputes.

Ed is a Columbia University (B.A.) graduate and received his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law (cum laude, Order of the Coif), where he was an Articles Editor of the Law Review. He is a member of the Federal Bar Council American Inn of Court, and was co-Chairman of the Labor Relations and Employment Law Committee of the New York State Bar Association, Commercial and Federal Litigation Section and a former member of the Labor and Employment Law and Trademark Committees of the Bar Association of the City of New York. He has appeared as a legal commentator on MSNBC, CNBC, CNNfn, and National Public Radio.

Prior to launching Hernstadt Atlas PLLC with his late partner David Atlas in early 2008, Ed was a partner with Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, PC, an associate with Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, PC, and a law clerk for the Honorable Whitman Knapp in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.


Ivan Smith devotes his practice to labor and employment law and litigation, and entertainment law. He has substantial experience in employment discrimination cases, with particular emphasis in class and multi-plaintiff cases that are both regional and national in scope.

His clients have spanned many industries, including education, healthcare, sports, entertainment, food service, hotel, construction, maintenance, shipping, airline, trucking and engineering, and he has represented them in collective bargaining, contract and grievance arbitrations, litigation pertaining to unfair labor practices and matters before the National Labor Relations Board. In addition, Mr. Smith advises institutions on benefits and pension issues under Taft Hartley and ERISA, as well as advising on welfare plans concerning privacy and data breach issues.

Mr. Smith's entertainment practice include representing Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Grammy- and Emmy-award-winning producers, writers, directors and artists in the music, television and film industries. He has served as general counsel to a number of entertainment companies in these industries. He also represents investors in film and music industries. Mr. Smith also serves as general counsel to various not-for-profit groups.


Professional Background

Mr. Smith joined Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in October 2013. Previously he was for six years a partner at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP, where he was the administrative partner in New York, as well as a co-chair of its entertainment practice, and vice chair of its labor and employment group. He began his legal career at Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, P.C. as an associate in 1989. He became a partner there in 1995, and served as Managing Partner of the firm from 1996 to 2007, when he left to join Lewis Brisbois.

From 1991 to 2009, Mr. Smith served as an adjunct professor for the Cornell University Industrial School of Labor Relations, where he taught courses in labor and employment law, collective bargaining and arbitration.

Mr. Smith is often sought for legal commentary by such publications and programs as Time Magazine, Black Enterprise Magazine and the television program, Court TV. He has been featured on 60 Minutes on CBS News, in a story titled "Southern Exposure."


Professional Affiliations

•              American Bar Association, Member (1991–Present)

•              New York City Bar Association, Member (1993–2007)


Joyce S. Dubensky, Esq. is the CEO at Tanenbaum, a secular, non-sectarian non-profit that promotes mutual respect through practical programs that address religious (and non-religious) differences and combat prejudice. Internationally in demand as a speaker and trainer, Ms. Dubensky speaks, trains and conducts workshops on all Tanenbaum programs including on managing issues of religion in the workplace, health care and in schools. As an attorney, Ms. Dubensky served as a National Consultant for the Council of Jewish Federations (now Jewish Federations of North America). She also created the Legal Department at the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York and served as its General Counsel for over ten years. Ms. Dubensky began her legal career with the law firm of Botein Hays Sklar and Herzberg and holds her J.D. from New York University School of Law.


Judge Katharine H. Parker was sworn into office as United States Magistrate Judge in the Southern District of New York on November 4, 2016.  She received a B.A. degree, cum laude, from Duke University in 1989.  In 1992, she received her J.D., cum laude, from Fordham University School of Law, where she was elected to the Order of the Coif. She was a Notes & Articles Editor for the Fordham Law Review.

From November 2000 through October 2016 she was an equity partner at Proskauer Rose LLP where she practiced labor and employment law and chaired several practice groups including Employment Law Counseling and Training and Government Regulatory Relations and Affirmative Action.  She was associated with the Proskauer firm from October 1993 through October 2000 as an associate. While at Proskauer, she had an active litigation career in cases involving the full gamut of federal, state and local employment laws. She also litigated cases involving fair housing, civil rights, non-compete, contract and employee benefits disputes.

While at Proskauer, Katharine was elected to be a Fellow of The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and consistently honored in various listings such as Best Lawyers in America and New York Super Lawyers.

Judge Parker clerked for the Honorable Warren W. Eginton in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut prior to joining Proskauer.

Judge Parker has been actively involved with the NYC Bar Association during her career, and has chaired both the Disability Law and Employment Committees. Judge Parker is also involved in pro bono and charitable causes, including the Michael J. Fox Foundation and Girl Be Heard.

She was a recipient of the Fairy Godmother Award from Girl Be Heard and the Jeremy Epstein Award for Pro Bono Service from the NYC Bar Association.


Mark E. Brossman is co-head of the Employment & Employee Benefits Group at Schulte Roth & Zabel. His areas of concentration include all aspects of ERISA, employment discrimination, labor relations, and related litigation. Mark is well known for his expertise in education law and representation of educational institutions including independent schools, colleges, universities, professional training programs and education-related associations, and has advised educational institutions since graduating from law school. Mark is a frequent public speaker and author. His practice also includes serving as counsel to many large multi-employer and single-employer employee benefit plans; health care institutions, including nursing homes and home care employers; and a wide variety of other clients in industries ranging from banks and financial institutions to textile and furniture to magazine publishing and transportation. He has served as an instructor in the Columbia University Teacher’s College and as a lecturer in the Cornell University ILR School’s Labor Relations Studies Program.

Mark is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and New York Super Lawyers and was recognized by both Human Resource Executive and Lawdragon as one of the 100 most powerful employment attorneys in America and one of the top 10 in ERISA law. Mark received the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations’ prestigious Judge William B. Groat Alumni Award (for achievement in the field of industrial relations), the Emerald Isle Immigration Center’s Robert Briscoe Award, membership in the Academy of Employee Benefit Authors, and the Lawyers Alliance for New York’s Cornerstone Award (for outstanding pro bono service to New York nonprofit organizations), in addition to being the first recipient of LANY’s Pro Bono Leadership Award. He also is active in several not-for-profit organizations and serves on the Board of Directors of LiveOn NY, the Board of Directors of New York University School of Law’s Center for Labor & Employment Law, the Advisory Council of Cornell University ILR School, the Board of Trustees of Bard College and the Board of Trustees of Montefiore Health System Inc. Mark earned his B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University in 1975, his J.D. from New York University School of Law in 1978 and an LL.M. in Labor Law from the same institution in 1981.


Ned Bassen is Chair of the Employment & Unfair Competition department of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP.  His work is recognized by such publications as Chambers USA, Euromoney’s Guide to the World’s Leading Experts in Labour and Employment, Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers.  He is named Best Lawyers’ 2016 New York City Labor Law-Management “Lawyer of the Year.”  He also is included in Human Resource Executive’s The Nation’s Most Powerful Employment Attorneys Top 100 and in Lawdragon’s The Guide to World-Class Employment Lawyers.  Mr. Bassen has been awarded the Burton Award for Legal Achievement, Distinguished Writing Award In Law.  He has co-authored the U.S. chapter of Global Legal Insights-Employment and Labour Law 4th Edition (2015).

The most recent edition of Chambers USA states that “[h]e is noted for his handling of such matters as employment discrimination and trade secret cases.  Observers describe Bassen as ‘litigation savvy’ and note that he possesses ‘very strong negotiation skills’”.  Past editions have made the following comments:  “Sources say that he is ‘very smart, very tenacious, very loyal to his clients and very protective of them.’”  “Interviewees observe that he is an ‘eloquent and logical speaker – it’s almost impossible to disagree with his conclusions.’”   “Clients praise [Mr. Bassen’s] ‘encyclopedic knowledge’ of employment law and his ‘finely tuned instincts and well-balanced judgment.’  His skill in the courtroom does not go unnoted, with sources reporting: ‘He is able to distill facts to their essence and forcefully and effectively argue his client’s position.’”

Mr. Bassen has had an expansive practice for over 40 years.  It ranges from litigating on behalf of and counseling defense contractors, financial institutions, universities and other nonprofit institutions to individuals accused of wrongdoing in connection with employment, including, for example, representation of the principal targets in the well-publicized collapse of the Dewey & LeBoeuf law firm.

Mr. Bassen graduated from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations in 1970 and Cornell Law School in 1973, where he was Note and Comment Editor of the Law Review.


Nora E. Curtin is a Supervisory Trial Attorney in the New York District Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She previously served as Regional Attorney of the Miami District Office after litigating for many years with the New York District office. Ms. Curtin has been with the EEOC since 1990. Prior to coming to the EEOC, she served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Kings County District Attorney's Office, Brooklyn, NY.

Ms. Curtin litigated the first Commission case to challenge the exclusion of health insurance coverage for AIDS and HIV-related conditions. She also litigated a disability policy case against J.B. Hunt. While in Miami Ms. Curtin was involved in litigating a nationwide race discrimination case the EEOC settled against Walgreens for $20 million. During her tenure in Miami she also resolved a number of pregnancy discrimination cases including one against Motherhood Maternity for $375,000 and a same-sex sexual harassment case against United Healthcare for $1.8 million.

Ms. Curtin is admitted to practice in New York and Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Suffolk University Law School and Hobart and William Smith College.


Pearl Zuchlewski is a partner in Kraus & Zuchlewski LLP where she primarily represents individual employees.

She is a former Chair of the New York State Bar Association (“NYSBA”) Labor and Employment Law Section and presently serves on the Section’s Executive Committee.  She also is a Section representative to the NYSBA House of Delegates.  In addition, Ms. Zuchlewski is a member of the American Bar Association (“ABA”) Labor and Employment Law Section’s Employee Rights and Responsibilities Committee, the National Employment Lawyers Association and the Association of the Bar in the City of New York (“ABCNY”). 

She has served on the FINRA task force which drafted the FINRA Code of Arbitration provisions for statutory discrimination claims and is former Chair of the FINR’s National Arbitration and Mediation Committee.  Ms. Zuchlewski most recently served as Chair of a FINRA employment task force which reviewed and consolidated the former NASD and NYSE Codes of Arbitration Procedure.

Ms. Zuchlewski has been recognized for several years as among the Best Lawyers in New York and in Superlawyers.  She is a Fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and a member of the College’s Board of Governors.  She also is a member of the advisory boards of the New York University Law School Center for Labor and Employment, the Hofstra Law School, CPR Employment Disputes Committee and the New York City Chapter of the Labor and Employment Relations Association; her other professional activities include membership in the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association.

Ms. Zuchlewski is a frequent speaker on alternative dispute resolution, sexual harassment and other employment related issues at various organizations including the ABA, NYSBA, ABCNY, Practicing Law Institute and New York University Judicial Conferences.  Her articles have appeared in the New York Law Journal, various proceedings of the New York University’s Annual Conferences on Labor, ABA, NYSBA and other publications.


Tracy Richelle High is Deputy Managing Partner of S&C’s Litigation Group, and a member of both the Firm’s Labor and Employment Law Group and Criminal Defense and Investigations practice. Ms. High’s practice focuses on representing financial institutions and other corporations in complex civil litigation, arbitration and mediation proceedings, corporate internal investigations, and labor and employment matters.

Internally, Ms. High serves as co-chair of the Diversity and Women’s Initiative Committees and one of S&C’s hiring partners. Ms. High also oversees S&C’s active networks for minority associates: the Asian Associates Network, the Network of Black & Latino Lawyers and the LGBT Network. Each of these groups is dedicated to enhancing the experience of S&C’s diverse attorneys and championing their retention and advancement by fostering professional development, networking and mentoring opportunities.

Externally, Ms. High is a member of the board of directors of the Legal Aid Society, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, New York City Bar Justice Center, Partnership for After School Education and YWCA-NYC. She also serves on the Steering Committee of the Kate Stoneman Project, is a Trustee of the Federal Bar Council and Harvard Law School Association, New York City, and is a member of the Association of Black Women Attorneys and Metropolitan Black Bar Association.


Judge Pollak entered duty as a United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of New York on November 1, 1995. She graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University in 1975 and received her J.D. degree from the University of Chicago Law School in 1978, where she was Articles and Book Review Editor of the University of Chicago Law Review. Following graduation from law school, Judge Pollak served as a law clerk to the Honorable William H. Timbers on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Thereafter, from 1979 to 1986, she was an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York.

In August 1986, Judge Pollak became an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, where she served as Chief of the Narcotics/OCDETF Unit from 1991 to 1994, and Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division from 1994 to 1995.  She also served as International Affairs and National Security Coordinator for the United States Attorney's Office. She remained at the United States Attorney's Office until her appointment as a Magistrate Judge in November 1995.

Judge Pollak is a member of the American Bar Association and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, where she has served as a member of the Federal Courts Committee, the Committee on Women in the Legal Profession, and the Criminal Law Committee.   She is Chair of the Eastern District CJA Panel Committee and has also served as a member of the Eastern District Advisory Committee on Civil Practice and Rules.  Judge Pollak has also served as a Master in the Inns of Court for the Federal Bar Council.  She has also participated in Moot Court, mock trial and trial advocacy programs at Columbia, NYU, Cardozo, St. John’s, Brooklyn and New York Law Schools.  She also supervises the Eastern District’s SOS Program involving youthful offenders.


Louis has practiced labor and employment law for more than 35 years and is managing member of the firm's New York City office.

Louis represents employers and management in all aspects of labor and employment law. His areas of experience include collective bargaining, workplace investigations, NLRB proceedings, labor audits, supervisory training, wage and hour issues, arbitration, jury trials in both state and federal courts, wage incentive plans, OFCCP audits and proceedings, employment litigation before the EEOC and the Human Rights Division and alternative dispute resolution techniques. Louis also serves several insurance companies as panel counsel (e.g., AIG and Chubb) with respect to employment litigation matters. From 2002-2004, he served as General Counsel and Secretary to Agway, Inc., a Fortune 500 Company.

Louis co-authored the FDCC Quarterly article entitled Employers' Settlement Agreements with Departing Employees Under Attack, Vol. 57, No. 3, Spring 2007. He also co-authored a complete guide for business managers and HR professionals written in plain English entitled, What Every Business Manager and HR Professional Should Know About ... Federal Labor and Employment Laws and a two volume treatise entitled Corporate Counseling (1988) and was a contributing author to Public Sector Labor Law (1988). Louis is also on the editorial board of the two volume treatise entitled New York Civil Practice Before Trial (2001). He has authored and co-authored numerous articles on various labor and employment law topics. Louis' published articles include: "Enforcing Employer-Employee Arbitration Agreements After Circuit City", 18 Fordham University Law Journal 27 (2001); "Forging a Strategy to Combat Sympathy Strikes", 29 Syracuse Law Review 847 (1978); "Mid Term Bargaining Over Unit Work Transfers", 45 CCH Labor Law Journal No. 7 (1994); "The Growing Menace: Violence in the Workplace", 67 New York State Bar Journal  1 (Jan. 1995); "Civility and Professionalism", 68 New York State Bar Journal No. 1 (Jan. 1996); "Workers' Compensation Discrimination in New York: Is It Really LoDolce Vita?", 32 New York State Bar Journal 220 (June 1982); "Employer Liability for Sexual Harassment After Ellerth and Faragher", 6 Duke University of Gender Law & Policy No. 1 (1999); two articles on Title IX and Intercollegiate Athletics, 6 Journal of College and University Law 61 (1980); "Screening Applicants for a Safer Workplace", HR Magazine, p. 55 (March 1995); "After-Acquired Evidence in Employment Discrimination Cases", 19 New York State Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Newsletter No. 2 (1994); and "Employer's Responsibilities Under 1986 Immigration Act and COBRA", The CPA Journal p. 32 (May 1988). In May of 1996 Louis was interviewed extensively in a Forbes Magazine cover story on Sexual Harassment. In their January 2003 issue, the Corporate Legal Times described him as the "Great Negotiator". He was also featured in the United Educator's video entitled "Sexual Harassment in Academia, No Real Winners", and has been quoted in several publications including Business Week.

Louis has been a key speaker at numerous seminars throughout the United States and other countries on a wide variety of Labor and Employment Law topics. In addition, he has lectured to: various university groups, including the College and University Personnel Association; local, state and national SHRM Conferences; and a number of national and regional business association.

Practice

Labor and Employment

Education

State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law (J.D., 1976)

Syracuse University (B.A., 1973)

Bar/Court Admissions New York

U.S. Supreme Court


Anne L. Clark is a partner at Vladeck, Raskin & Clark, P.C., where for over twenty years she has represented employees in a wide range of cases, including discrimination, wage and hour, breach of contract, ERISA, and other related issues.  She has been an adjunct faculty member at Fordham University School of Law and has lectured on employment matters for a variety of organizations.


James C. Francis IV has been a United States Magistrate Judge in the Southern District of New York since October 1985 and served as Chief Magistrate Judge from 1998 to 2000.  He graduated summa cum laude from Yale College in 1974, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.  He received his juris doctor degree from the Yale Law School in 1978 and a masters degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in the same year.  Following graduation from law school, Judge Francis clerked for the Honorable Robert L. Carter in the Southern District of New York.  He then joined the Civil Appeals and Law Reform Unit of the Legal Aid Society where he conducted impact litigation in the areas of housing and education and served as director of the Disability Rights Unit.  He continued in this capacity until his appointment to the bench.  Judge Francis is an Adjunct Professor at the Fordham University School of Law where he teaches Constitutional Torts.    He has served on the Legal Assistance, Federal Courts, Disability Rights, and Professional Responsibility Committees of the New York City Bar Association and the Federal Judiciary Committee of the New York State Bar Association.  Judge Francis lectures frequently on electronic discovery, employment litigation, constitutional torts, legal ethics, and pretrial practice.  His publications include two chapters in Moore’s Federal Practice.


Jill L. Rosenberg, an employment partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in New York, is a nationally recognized employment litigator and counselor.  Ms. Rosenberg has significant experience defending and advising employers in discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblowing, wrongful discharge, affirmative action, wage-and-hour and traditional labor matters.  She handles complex individual cases, as well as class actions and systemic government investigations.  She represents a broad range of companies, with a focus on employers in the securities industry, banks and financial institutions, accounting firms and law firms.  Ms. Rosenberg also has particular expertise in the representation of nonprofit entities, including colleges, universities, hospitals, foundations and cultural institutions.  She frequently speaks on employment law issues for employer and bar association groups.  Ms. Rosenberg has been recognized by Chambers USA as a leading employment lawyer. Ms. Rosenberg is the firm-wide Partner in Charge of Pro Bono Programs and serves on the firm’s Personnel Development, Risk Management and Diversity Committees.  She currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Diversity and Leadership Committee of the New York State Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section.  She is a member of the Board of Directors of New York Legal Assistance Group, a legal services organization serving New Yorkers in need.  Ms. Rosenberg graduated from Princeton University, and earned her J.D. from The University of Chicago Law School.


Laurie Berke-Weiss

Laurie Berke-Weiss is a partner in Berke-Weiss & Pechman LLP, which she co-founded in 1996. She counsels executives, professionals (including lawyers, physicians, and architects), managers, and other employees on workplace matters, including employment contracts, severance agreements, restrictive covenants, independent contractor and wage and hour issues, age discrimination, sexual harassment complaints, hiring issues, internal investigations, and general human resources advice and counsel. Ms. Berke-Weiss litigates before federal and state courts and government agencies on related issues. She frequently lectures and writes on employment discrimination, law practice management and legal ethics. Ms. Berke-Weiss is a graduate of the Fordham University School of Law, and is a Vice President of its Alumni Association. Ms. Berke-Weiss a holds a B.S. from the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and is a past President of the ILR Alumni Association and an emerita member of the ILR Dean’s Advisory Council. Ms. Berke-Weiss also holds a master’s degree in Industrial Relations from Rutgers University. She is a Past President of the New York Women’s Bar Association, a Director of the New York Women’s Bar Association Foundation, Inc., a past Chair of the New York City Bar Executive Committee, and, currently, a member of its Council on the Profession. Since 2006, Ms. Berke-Weiss has been recognized as a New York Super Lawyer and a Best Lawyer in the area of Employment and Labor Law, since 2011 as one of the “Top 50 Women New York Super Lawyers,” and since 2012 as a “Top 100 New York Super Lawyer.”


Lois Bloom was sworn in as a United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of New York on May 18, 2001.  Before her appointment in the Eastern District, Magistrate Judge Bloom served as Senior Staff Attorney in the Pro Se Office of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York for 13 years.  She is a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School and the State University of New York at Stony Brook.  Her first job out of law school was representing single room occupancy tenants as a staff attorney at the West Side SRO Law Project, part of the Goddard Riverside Community Center.  Judge Bloom has spoken on Civil Rights Issues, Access to Justice, Employment Discrimination, Habeas Corpus and Federal Civil Procedure at numerous conferences.  She also trains new Magistrate Judges as part of the Federal Judicial Center’s orientation for newly appointed judges.


Mary Schuette recently retired as Vice President, Legal Services, responsible for the Labor Relations, Benefits, Workers’ Compensation and General Litigation and Claims areas of the Law Department of the Consolidated Edison Company of New York.   She is currently working as a consultant; she also serves on the board of the Fund for Modern Courts.  She is a graduate of Yale College and the Columbia University School of Law and is admitted to the bar of the State of New York.  She has been admitted to practice in the Supreme Court, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Second, Fifth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits, and the United States District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.  Prior to joining Con Edison’s Law Department she worked for the National Labor Relations Board.


Susan Ritz has practiced employment law since 1985.  She is a partner in the Manhattan law firm of Ritz Clark & Ben-Asher LLP.  Ms. Ritz handles all forms of employment-related matters, including advising employees and partners regarding their rights, duties and entitlement to benefits; handling contract, severance agreement and partnership dispute negotiations; and representing employees and partners in negotiations, mediations, administrative proceedings, arbitrations and lawsuits encompassing a full panoply of employment-related issues, with special emphasis on claims of unlawful harassment, retaliation and employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin, age, disability, religion, marital status, sexual orientation and other protected classes.

Ms. Ritz provides neutral mediation services, and conducts impartial internal investigations on behalf of employers into alleged discriminatory conduct.  She also advises non-profits and small employers on employment-related issues, reviews and revises Staff Manuals for employers and represents employers in contract and severance negotiations.  She offers harassment and discrimination prevention training to management and employees, as well.

Ms. Ritz is listed in The Best Lawyers in America (20+ years) and Super Lawyers. She is rated AV by Martindale Hubbell and was selected for its 2011 Inaugural Edition of the Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers.  She is a fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and a member of the Litigation Counsel of America. Ms. Ritz has published articles and lectured widely, including for the National Employment Lawyers Association/NY, ALI-CLE, American Bar Association, Practising Law Institute, New York State Bar Association and at CUNY School of Law.  She serves as a pro bono mediator for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.