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EEOC general counsel Lopez to join Outten & Golden

Reuters—Daniel Wiessner

David Lopez, the longest-serving general counsel in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's history, will head up the new Washington D.C. office of prominent plaintiffs' employment law firm Outten & Golden, the firm said on Monday.

Lopez, who left the EEOC on Friday after nearly seven years as its top lawyer, will represent plaintiffs in discrimination cases and handle consent decree monitoring and mediation when he joins on Jan. 1, the firm said in a statement.

Outten & Golden expects to launch the D.C. office, which will open next month, with seven attorneys, said Erin Powers, a firm spokeswoman.

In an interview with Reuters in October, Lopez said he was stepping down from the EEOC to spend more time with his family. Deputy General Counsel James Lee will manage the EEOC general counsel's office until President-elect Donald Trump names a replacement for Lopez, a spokeswoman for the commission said.

Outten & Golden, which has 53 lawyers, says it is the largest U.S. law firm that focuses exclusively on representing employees. The firm is based in New York and already has offices in Chicago and San Francisco.

Wayne Outten, the firm's founder and managing partner, said in a statement that "David's trial program at the EEOC was extremely successful, and his knowledge of federal anti-discrimination law is unrivaled."

Lopez in a statement said he was excited to join a firm with "an outstanding record of workplace advocacy, effective client representation, and institutional strength."

Lopez's time as general counsel was the culmination of a 25-year career at the agency, where he also served as a supervisory trial attorney in Phoenix, Arizona and as a special assistant to former EEOC Chair Gilbert Casellas.

As general counsel, he deployed an aggressive litigation strategy that focused on systemic cases alleging patterns of discriminatory conduct across organizations. Under his leadership, the agency also filed pioneering cases to expand legal protections to LGBT workers.

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Joining Lopez in Outten & Golden's D.C. office will be attorneys Peter Romer-Friedman and Sally Abrahamson, the firm said on Monday. Romer-Friedman left the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs to join the firm in September.

Abrahamson, who handles class action litigation, joined Outten & Golden's New York office in 2012 and is the co-chair of the firm's Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & Queer Workplace Rights Practice Group. Earlier this month, she won a $7.5 million settlement for gay Wal-Mart Stores Inc employees nationwide who claimed the company discriminated against them by denying them spousal health benefits.