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KATHLEEN PERATIS is a partner at Outten & Golden LLP in New York. She has practiced employment law for over 40 years including employment contracts and separation agreements. At Outten & Golden, she chairs the Public Interest Committee and Sexual Harassment Practice Group and is a member of the Executives and Professionals Practice Group. At the ACLU from 1975 to 1979 as the director of the Women’s Rights Project working with, (now) Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she brought lawsuits successfully challenging as unconstitutional laws that discriminated against women on account of gender, including on account of pregnancy.

In one of those cases, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that pregnant women could not, on account of pregnancy alone, be deprived of unemployment compensation. In another, the court declared that service women could not be discharged on account of pregnancy. In a third case, Ms. Peratis successfully represented a female midshipman who was being expelled for being in bed with a male colleague—while the male midshipman faced no punishment.

In private practice for the last thirty years, Ms. Peratis has continued to represent women and men who are entering or leaving executive or professional employment or are survivors of workplace discrimination and abuse. Her clients include people who are rising on the corporate and professional ladders as well as those who have lost promotions or jobs because of their race, religion, color, or LGBTQ status. She has recovered millions of dollars for these survivors, usually in settlement and sometimes at trial. Under Ms. Peratis’s leadership the Public Interest Committee at Outten & Golden has taken on the representation of people with workplace claims too small to be economically viable for most lawyers but too important to ignore.

Ms. Peratis authored a text book called Woman and the Law and is a contributor to Workplace Harassment, ed. Lindemann Kadue, BNA (2012); she has spoken and written on a wide range of issues or employment law. She was a regular columnist for The Jewish Daily Forward, with a column called “Only Human,” from 2004 to 2010, writing about women’s rights and human rights. She continues to be an occasional op-ed contributor. She has authored op-eds that have appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and other periodicals, as well as essays that have appeared in Ms. Magazine, LilithThe Washington Times and others.

(*Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.)

Bar Admission and Professional Activity

  • Ms. Peratis is admitted to practice law only in New York.
  • Co-chair of the Middle East North Africa division of Human Rights Watch, emerita member of HRW’s board of directors, founding chair of HRW’s Women’s Right division; and helped to create and implement HRW’s policy on officially tolerated violence against women and reproductive freedom under international human rights law.
  • Co-founder, J Street
  • Member, board of directors of The Jewish Daily Forward
  • Past member, board of the New York Civil Liberties Union for many years and was its president from 1988 to 1993.
  • Board member, New Israel Fund since 1993 and was its Vice President in North America until 1999.


Video & Podcasts

March 28, 2023

Kathleen Peratis – Sallie Krawcheck’s departure from a high-ranking job at Bank of America spotlights a trend on Wall Street: Women, in recent years, have lost their jobs more often than men.

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July 30, 2018

Outten & Golden LLP partner Kathleen Peratis was with the ACLU from 1975 to 1979 as the director of the Women’s Rights Project with (now) Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, brought lawsuits successfully challenging as unconstitutional laws that discriminated against women on account of gender, including on account of pregnancy.

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March 28, 2018

Kathleen Peratis, partner with Outten and Golden, an employment law firm in New York, talks with the Employment Law Channel about her recent article in The Atlantic, which is about sexual harassment cases today and how victims still choose to be silent.

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March 16, 2018

Outten & Golden partner Kathleen Peratis, in our New York office, discusses religious discrimination in the workplace, and possible ways to address the issues.

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Speaking Engagements

Articles & Publications

Trump to Sexual Harassment Victim, “You’re Fired!”

Donald Trump makes us cringe, but like a stopped clock, he's right once in a while.  He says a woman who experiences workplace sexual harassment should find an other job, or even an other career. All too often, that is exactly what happens.   Allow us to explain.We...

Why So Many Victims Of Sexual Harassment Stay Silent, Still

Kathleen Peratis, The Atlantic, January 4, 2013

Two decades after Anita Hill's testimony against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, women are still punished for confronting their harassers. 

I'm a lawyer, a long-time practitioner of employment discrimination law, and a partner at Outten and Golden LLP in New York City. I guess I am what some people disparage by calling a "slick lawyer," a way to put down those who are passionate about justice. The work is hard and in Anita Hill's day even more so than today, claimants were so far ahead of the times that they were often unsuccessful in their legal claims. The law was so inhospitable in the 1990s and for many years thereafter that had Anita brought a legal claim—which she never did—it is likely that she would have lost in a court of law.

At about the same time as Anita Hill's claims exploded onto the public scene, my firm was involved in a very similar case, unsuccessful at the trial stage and then successful on appeal, which is why I am able to speak publicly about it. The details of this case give you a flavor of what the law was like in 1991. The claimant was a woman named Lisa Petrosino who worked for Bell Atlantic, which is now Verizon, repairing telephone lines. She worked out of a garage in Staten Island with an all-male crew who tormented her every day. The banter among the men in the workplace was crude and misogynistic, which would have

Get Used To More Davids Becoming Dianes

Kathleen Peratis, The Forward, July 24, 2008. A brief discussion of who transgender people are, and the differences between transgender and gay people.

You have to hand it to Rep. Barney Frank, the man knows how to empathize. In the first-ever congressional hearing on workplace discrimination against transgender people, held by the House in late June in an Education and Labor subcommittee, Frank said he understands what it means to be trapped in the wrong body — because that is what happens when his legislation gets bogged down over in the Senate.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — or LGBT, for short — press called the congressional hearing on gender identity discrimination “historic” and “groundbreaking.” The mainstream media pretty much ignored it, but the issue is worth keeping an eye on.


Our Kids And The Workplace

A brief discussion of teens and sexual harassment in the workplace, by employment lawyer Kathleen Peratis, The Forward, December 31, 2004.

Thousands of children will go to work with their mothers or fathers on Ms. Magazine’s “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” in April. Most of the kids will spend the day in a white-collar enclave, the sort of place they may hope or expect to inhabit in four or eight or 10 years. But much sooner, many of them will be going to work in places that are considerably less well-mannered — fast-food restaurants and large chain retail stores — and they will be ill prepared for what lies ahead.

The daughter of a friend of mine works in one such place, a fast-food restaurant. A few weeks ago, my friend asked me if the laws against sexual harassment apply to 16 year olds. She came to learn that the 19-year-old assistant manager (and scheduler) was hitting on her daughter. Her daughter was holding him off, but she knew her time was running out.

This girl’s experience is not uncommon. In early December, the Washington Post reported that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had filed a lawsuit on behalf of a 17-year-old high school student and part-time waitress against a St. Louis fast-food restaurant, Steak ’n Shake Operations. A cook had grabbed, threatened and exposed himself to her, she alleged, and when she complained, the manager suggested it would be better if she quit. This was the commission’s 25th sexual

No Ifs, Ands Or Butts

An essay on the differences in sexual harassment in Europe and the U.S, by employment law attorney Kathleen Peratis, The Forward, August 6, 2004.

In March, an American woman on the staff of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees accused the high commissioner himself of sexual harassment, saying he had “grabbed her behind.” The dashing and handsome high commissioner, Ruud Lubbers — a former Dutch prime minister who is currently charged with protecting 17 million refugees from violence, famine and sexual harassment — did not deny the act with which he was charged.

His defense, at least as explained in a letter to his staff widely circulated throughout the U.N., was that the woman had misunderstood his “friendly gestures.” In the course of the official investigation, four other women came forward and said the high commissioner had done the same to them. A few weeks ago, Kofi Annan, the secretary general of the U.N., “admonished” the high commissioner for his behavior but cleared him of sexual harassment charges.

There is probably not a single large company in the United States that would not have fired a manager for doing what Lubbers did. Most companies in Europe, and most other places for that matter, would have done what Annan did, which is pretty much nothing. Who is right, and why?

Awards & Recognition

  • 2020-2024: Best Lawyers in America – Employment Law
  • 2008-2023: Super Lawyers – Super Lawyer
  • 2019-2021: Legal 500 United States Recommended Labor and Employment Lawyer
  • 2018-2021: Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Employment Lawyers
  • 2023: Lawdragon 500 Civil Rights & Plaintiff Employment Lawyer
  • 2015 & 2019: New York Metro Super Lawyers Women
  • 2018: Martin D. Ginsberg Award, presented by Ruth Bader Ginsberg, September
  • 2013-2015: New York Women Leaders in the Law – New York Magazine
  • New York Area’s Best Lawyers by New York Magazine
  • 2011: Awardee, J Street’s Tzedek v’Shalom (Justice and Peace)
  • Awardee, A Woman of Valor by the Jewish Fund for Justice
  • Awardee, Distinguished Service by Human Rights Watch
  • Recipient of Partner In Justice Award of MFY Legal Services
  • Awardee, Medal of Honor from Veteran Feminists of America