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Peter Romer-Friedman joined Cohen Milstein in 2009 and is a member of the Civil Rights and Employment Practice Group. Mr. Romer-Friedman has extensive experience in class action and impact litigation involving fair housing, employment discrimination, credit discrimination, veterans’ rights, disability rights, and wage theft. Mr. Romer-Friedman has represented over 15 non-profit organizations that advocate for justice and equality in housing, employment, and public accommodations.
Prior to joining Cohen Milstein, Mr. Romer-Friedman served as labor counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and its Chairman, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, assisting Senator Kennedy and other Senators with legislation, speeches, regulatory comments, and hearings on a range of labor, employment, and civil rights issues. Prior to his work in the Senate, Mr. Romer-Friedman served as a law clerk to the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Los Angeles.
Since joining Cohen Milstein, Mr. Romer-Friedman has served as lead or co-lead counsel in a number of major, groundbreaking civil rights and employment actions, including:
- Keepseagle v. Vilsack, No. 1:99CV03119 (D.D.C.), where thousands of Native American farmers and ranchers nationwide obtained a settlement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that provides $760 million in damages to compensate the farmers for racial discrimination under the USDA’s farm loan program since 1981 and reforms the USDA’s programs;
- Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center v. U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), 1:08-cv-01938-HHK (D.D.C.), where two fair housing groups and 20,000 African-American homeowners in New Orleans challenged Louisiana and HUD’s $11 billion post-Katrina housing rebuilding program that discriminated against African Americans, and obtained over $470 million in voluntary reforms and a $62 million settlement that primarily benefited African-American homeowners;
- Tuten v. United Air Lines, Inc., No. 1:12-cv-01561-WJM-MEH (D. Colo.), where nearly 1,200 United pilots who took leave to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces alleged that United failed to make pension contributions for their periods of long term military leave in compliance with the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), and obtained a $6.15 million settlement in which United agreed to pay Class Members more than 100 percent of their lost pension contributions and agreed to reform its policy for making pension contributions for periods of military leave;
- National Fair Housing Alliance v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., HUD Case No.: 9-12-0708-8, where 14 fair housing organizations alleged that Wells Fargo maintained and marketed foreclosed properties nationwide in a materially worse condition in communities of color than in predominantly white communities, and won a settlement in which Wells Fargo agreed to reform its practices and pay $42 million, most of which will assist homeowners in communities of color; and
- Hill v. U.S. Postal Service, EEOC Hearing No. 110-2004-00311X, where disabled veterans who were asked by the U.S. Postal Service to provide medical documentation prior to conditional offers of employment in violation of the federal Rehabilitation Act, won an $11 million settlement that reforms the Postal Service’s practices and protects disabled veteran applicants’ rights.
In 2014, Mr. Romer-Friedman was recognized as a Rising Star in the Washington, DC area by Superlawyers. In 2011, Mr. Romer-Friedman and other members of class counsel in Keepseagle v. Vilsack, were finalists for Public Justice’s “2011 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award.” In 2011 the National Law Journal selected Cohen Milstein to its “2011 Plaintiffs’ Hot List,” and profiled the work of Mr. Romer-Friedman and his colleagues in Keepseagle v. Vilsack and GNOFHAC v. HUD.
Mr. Romer-Friedman has provided pro bono legal services to non-profit organizations, small businesses, labor unions, public officials, and academics, including: (1) filing an amicus brief on behalf of small and minority-owned businesses urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reaffirm its support for affirmative action in higher education admissions, (2) filing an amicus brief on behalf of the National Community Land Trust Network urging the U.S. Supreme Court to recognize that the Fair Housing Act authorizes disparate impact claims, and (3) and filing an amicus brief on behalf of several national labor unions urging the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to consider the importance of allowing workers to pursue and prove their claims collectively.
Mr. Romer-Friedman graduated from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor with a B.A. in Honors Economics and Social Science (cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, 2001) and Columbia Law School (J.D., 2006), where he was a James Kent Scholar and a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. While at Columbia, Mr. Romer-Friedman served as managing editor of the Columbia Journal of Law & Social Problems, authored a Note, Eliot Spitzer Meets Mother Jones: How State Attorneys General Can Enforce State Wage and Hour Laws, 39 Colum. J.L. & Soc. Probs. 495 (2006), and was an extern to the Honorable Shira Scheindlin, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In addition, he was the recipient of the Emil Schlesinger Labor Prize and the ABA-BNA Award for Excellence in the Study of Labor and Employment Law.
While at the University of Michigan, Mr. Romer-Friedman received the national Harry S. Truman Scholarship for Public Service and co-founded the Worker Rights Consortium, a non-profit organization that monitors labor rights in apparel factories worldwide.
Prior to law school, Mr. Romer-Friedman was a Legislative Representative for the United Steelworkers of America, and worked for several other labor organizations, including the AFL-CIO, UNITE!, and SEIU.
Mr. Romer-Friedman is admitted to practice in New York and the District of Columbia, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Mr. Romer-Friedman currently serves as an Associate Trustee of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs.