David Lopez, who served as General Counsel of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for more than six years, is joining Outten & Golden LLP on Jan. 1, 2017, the firm announced today.
Mr. Lopez will join the firm as a Partner and will head the firm’s new Washington, D.C. office. His practice will focus primarily on individual and class action anti-discrimination litigation, as well as consent decree monitoring and mediation. Joining Mr. Lopez in Outten & Golden’s D.C. office will be attorneys Peter Romer-Friedman and Sally J. Abrahamson. Additional attorneys will be hired for that office.
Wayne N. Outten, founder and managing partner of Outten & Golden, said, “We proudly welcome David Lopez to the firm, following his extraordinary leadership as the EEOC’s longest serving General Counsel. David’s trial program at the EEOC was extremely successful, and his knowledge of federal anti-discrimination law is unrivaled. As the largest firm in the nation that focuses exclusively on representing employees, we are pleased that our clients will have another elite lawyer and a litigator with unique professional experience.”
David Lopez, who was nominated twice by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate in 2010 and 2014, said, “It was a great privilege to serve President Obama and the EEOC. I’m pleased to join Outten & Golden, whose lawyers are recognized among the nation’s most experienced and highly skilled advocates for employees. The firm has an outstanding record of workplace advocacy, effective client representation, and institutional strength.”
Mr. Lopez led the Commission’s litigation program, overseeing the agency’s 15 regional attorneys and a staff of more than 325 lawyers and legal professionals who conduct or support the EEOC’s litigation in district and appellate courts across the country. Mr. Lopez was responsible for appointing nine of the Commission’s 15 Regional Attorneys.
Under his leadership, the EEOC’s trial program was extremely successful. The agency filed and successfully prosecuted several high-impact systemic cases dealing with discriminatory hiring barriers, harassment, and pay. During Mr. Lopez’s tenure, the agency won notable trial victories, including a $240 million jury verdict – the EEOC’s largest award ever – in a case brought on behalf of more than 30 intellectually disabled men who were trafficked; a $17 million jury verdict for female farmworkers who were victims of sexual harassment and retaliation; and a $1.5 million sexual harassment and retaliation verdict affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Mr. Lopez also won significant victories in the U.S. Supreme Court, including an 8-1 ruling in June 2015 in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., which held that an employer could not refuse to hire an applicant if the employer was motivated by avoiding the need to accommodate a religious practice.
Mr. Lopez was the first EEOC field trial attorney to be appointed as the agency’s General Counsel and served at the EEOC in various capacities for 25 years, including as Supervisory Trial Attorney in the Phoenix District Office and Special Assistant to then-Chairman Gilbert F. Casellas.
Mr. Lopez also led the effort to address discrimination employment issues affecting immigrant and other vulnerable workers and the LGBTQ community. The EEOC filed and settled its first cases alleging sex discrimination and sex stereotyping against transgender employees. Recently, the agency filed its two first cases alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation and, in EEOC v. Scott Medical, won a groundbreaking determination that most forms of discrimination against LGBTQ workers is prohibited by Title VII.
Recognized for his extensive civil rights work, Mr. Lopez received the National Religious Freedom Award in 2016 from the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA), Liberty Magazine, and North American Religious Liberty Association (NARLA) for his advocacy of civil, religious, and employment rights throughout his government career. In 2014, the National Law Journal named Mr. Lopez one of “America’s 50 Outstanding General Counsel,” and the magazine Diversity and the Bar recognized Mr. Lopez as a “Latino Luminary” for his work as a civil rights attorney and as General Counsel. In 2012, he was awarded the “Friend in Government Award” from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. In 2011, Hispanic Business named Mr. Lopez to its list of 100 Influentials in the Hispanic community.
Before joining the EEOC, Mr. Lopez was a Senior Trial Attorney with the Civil Rights Division, Employment Litigation Section, of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. Between 1988 and 1991, Mr. Lopez was an associate with Spiegel and McDiarmid in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Lopez obtained his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1988 and graduated magna cum laude from Arizona State University in 1985, with a B.S. in Political Science.
Peter Romer-Friedman, a litigator with an extraordinary combination of employment and public interest law experience, joined Outten & Golden as Counsel in September 2016. His practice focuses on class action and individual employment cases. He has litigated, developed, supervised and settled dozens of employment discrimination, veterans’ rights, wage theft, credit discrimination, fair housing, disability rights, and LGBTQ rights cases. Mr. Romer-Friedman has obtained more than $1.35 billion of relief for his clients since 2009, and he won two of the largest reported settlements in the history of the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act. He joined the firm from the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs, where he was Deputy Director of Litigation.
Mr. Romer-Friedman previously served as Labor Counsel to the Senate Labor Committee and its Chairman Edward M. Kennedy and as a Law Clerk to the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He graduated from Columbia Law School in 2006 and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 2001. Mr. Romer-Friedman was named a “Rising Star” by SuperLawyers in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
Sally J. Abrahamson is a senior associate who joined Outten & Golden in 2012, is a member of the firm’s Class Action Practice Group, and is co-chair of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & Queer (LGBTQ) Workplace Rights Practice Group. Ms. Abrahamson litigates nationwide wage-and-hour class action cases (including Zorrilla v. Carlson Restaurants, Inc., a case on behalf of thousands of tipped workers) and anti-discrimination class actions and individual cases (including Houser v. Pritzker, on behalf of hundreds of thousands of black and Latino job seekers shut out of jobs for the 2010 census because of a flawed criminal history screening process). Ms. Abrahamson was named a “Rising Star” by SuperLawyers in 2016.
Before joining the firm, Ms. Abrahamson litigated wage and hour cases at the D.C. Employment Justice Center. After graduating from law school, Ms. Abrahamson was a law clerk to the Honorable Frank Montalvo, U.S. District Judge in the Western District of Texas, El Paso Division, where her duties including drafting speeches and papers in Spanish. Ms. Abrahamson received her B.A. from Oberlin College and her J.D., with honors, from American University’s Washington College of Law where she received the Dean’s Award for Professional Responsibility.
Outten & Golden’s Washington office is located at 601 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Second Floor West Suite, Washington, D.C. 20001, and its telephone number is: 202.847.4400. Applications for employment in the new D.C. office should be sent to: @email.
About Outten & Golden LLP
Outten & Golden LLP focuses on advising and representing individuals in employment, partnership, and related workplace matters both domestically and internationally and is the largest firm in the United States that focuses exclusively on representing employees.
With existing offices in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, the firm counsels individuals on employment and severance agreements; handles complex compensation and benefits issues (including bonuses, commissions, and stock/option agreements); and advises professionals (including doctors and lawyers) on contractual issues. It also represents employees with a wide variety of claims, including discrimination and harassment based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, race, disability, national origin, religion, and age, as well as retaliation, whistleblower, and contract claims. The firm handles class actions involving a wide range of employment issues, including economic exploitation, gender- and race-based discrimination, wage-and-hour violations, violations of the WARN Act, and other systemic workers’ rights issues.
Outten & Golden has nine practice groups: Executives & Professionals, Financial Services, Sexual Harassment & Sex Discrimination, Family Responsibilities & Disabilities Discrimination, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Workplace Rights, Discrimination & Retaliation, Whistleblower Retaliation, Class & Collective Actions, and WARN Act.
Contact: Wayne N. Outten, Outten & Golden LLP, 212.245.1000, @email.