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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 more than 15 non-profit organizations that advocate for justice and equality in housing, employment, and public accommodations.
Since joining Cohen Milstein, Mr. Romer-Friedman has served as lead or co-lead counsel in a number of major, groundbreaking civil rights actions, including:
- Keepseagle v. Vilsack, 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), 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 $62 million in a settlement that primarily benefited African-American homeowners;
- National Fair Housing Alliance v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 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.
- Hill v. U.S. Postal Service, 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 federal law, won an $11 million settlement that reforms the Postal Service’s practices and protects disabled veteran applicants’ rights.
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 labor unions, non-profit organizations, small businesses, public officials, and academics. In 2012, Mr. Romer-Friedman co-authored and filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas in support of the use of affirmative action in higher education admissions on behalf of small and minority-owned businesses, former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall (D). In 2013, Mr. Romer-Friedman co-authored and filed an amicus brief in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on behalf of the United Food & Commercial Workers, the Service Employees International Union, AFSCME, and the National Employment Lawyers Association about the need for workers to be able to pursue and prove their claims collectively.
Prior to joining the firm, 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. Mr. Romer-Friedman assisted Chairman Kennedy and other Senators in drafting legislation, speeches, and regulatory comments, and holding 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.
Mr. Romer-Friedman currently serves as an Associate Trustee of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs.
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 Michigan, he 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, and the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.