Our Civil Rights & Employment practice includes civil rights and employment law visionaries and innovators who have litigated landmark civil rights and employment disputes, including Keepseagle v. Vilsack (D.D.C.) and Dukes v. Walmart (N.D. Cal.) before the highest courts in the nation, and continue to actively shape civil rights and employment law in the United States. 

  • Joseph M. Sellers, co-chair of the Civil Rights & Employment practice has argued seminal civil rights and employment class actions before the Supreme Court and successfully litigated many class action cases through trial, He helped draft the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act of 2009, the Civil Rights Act of 1991, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 – cornerstones of today’s civil rights and employment laws.
  • Christine E. Webber, co-chair of the practice is the co-chair of National Employment Lawyers Association’s Class Action Committee, the nation’s leading employment rights law association. She is highly regarded for orchestrating large, data intensive class and collective actions. 
  • D. Michael Hancock is the former Assistant Administrator for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.  During his 20 years there, he helped enforce a range of workplace protections, from minimum wage, overtime, child labor and the Family Medical Leave Act, to guest worker and other employment-based immigration programs. 


Our Practice

We represent individuals from all walks of life and across all industries, including agriculture, entertainment, finance, healthcare services, manufacturing, retail, technology, transportation, and other “white collar,” “blue collar,” and “pink collar” industries.

  • Employees: We represent employees at all levels of employment – across all industries – who have been subjected to discrimination and unlawful bias in the workplace or who have been denied pay for all of the work they performed.
  • Individuals: We also represent groups of individuals who have been denied access to places of public accommodation, housing, and/or equal access to credit because of unlawful bias and discriminatory practices.

On behalf of our clients, we pursue civil rights and employment class actions in federal courts across the nation, including the U.S. Supreme Court, that often involve cutting-edge issues related to the Fair Labor Standards Act, Title VII, Equal Pay Act, Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, as well as novel joint employer liability issues and procedural issues related to class certification and class arbitration. We bring an unshakeable commitment to serving our clients vigorously and passionately for as long as the representation may require.

Our focus includes, but is not limited to:


  • Age
  • Disabilities and reasonable accommodations
  • Gender, pregnancy, and family responsibilities
  • Race and national origin
  • Sexual orientation

Wage and Hour:

  • Donning and doffing
  • Overtime
  • Pre-shift and post-shift time
  • Worker misclassifications
  • Seasonal workers and H-2B visas


We have received numerous accolades for our work, including:



We have litigated some of the largest, most significant civil rights and employment matters in recent U.S. history, including:

We helped conceive ground-breaking innovations to help foster diversity, equity, and inclusion:

  • The Inclusion Rider: A novel contractual hiring addendum made famous by Frances McDormand in her 2018 Best Actress acceptance speech. The addendum stipulates that an employer tackle implicit bias of minorities in its hiring process by interviewing or auditioning minorities for open employment opportunities so that the work place (and the products or services rendered), authentically reflect the world in which we actually live, while protecting creative sovereignty.

We continue to pursue novel, cutting-edge work in civil rights and employment litigation, including:

Employment Class Actions

  • Breen v. Chao (D.D.C.): On April 28, 2021, the Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration agreed to a record-breaking $43.8 million settlement to end a 16-year-old lawsuit alleging discrimination against 670 former Flight Service Specialists who live in nearly all 50 states. The settlement, the largest ever reached in an age discrimination lawsuit involving the federal government, concludes this ligation. Cohen Milstein and co-counsel represented of Flight Service Specialists in this age discrimination lawsuit.
  • Alvarez et al. v. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (D.N.J.): On February 26, 2021, Chipotle Mexican Grill agreed to a $15 million settlement to resolve novel wage-and-hour claims brought by Chipotle apprentices across the country.  The case followed a new rule issued by the Obama Administration that expanded overtime eligibility, and it claimed this rule went into effect notwithstanding an injunction enjoining the Department of Labor from enforcing it. The settlement is pending court approval.
  • Sanchez et al. v. McDonald's Restaurants of California Inc. (Sup. Crt. of Cal., Los Angeles Cnty.): On October 7, 2020, the Court granted final approval of a $26 million settlement in this precedent-setting Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) wage-and-hour class action bench trial. As a part of the settlement, McDonald's has agreed to revise some of its timekeeping practices and provide training sessions on wage policies for managers and hourly workers at corporate-run restaurants in California. Cohen Milstein and co-counsel represented the hourly, non-managerial workers at corporate-owned McDonald's restaurants throughout California.
  • Jock et al. v. Sterling Jewelers Inc. (AAA; S.D.N.Y.): A Title VII and Equal Pay Act class action against one of the largest jewelry retailers in the U.S., whose CEO resigned in July 2017 following extensive, front page press coverage of not only the lawsuit, but evidence of executive-level sexual misconduct toward women. The case was also the subject of an April 2019 New York Times Magazine cover story, “The Company That Sells Love to America Had a Dark Secret.”
  • Ralph Talarico v. Public Partnerships (E.D. Pa.): A FLSA collective action affecting more than 10,000 “direct care” workers and involving novel questions about when a company is a third-party joint employer and therefore liable to direct care workers.
  • MVP Staffing Cases (N.D. Ill.): A series of race-based employment discrimination class actions against Personnel Staffing Group dba MVP Staffing, a national temporary job placement company. Plaintiffs, all of whom are African American, claim that MVP’s offices in Cicero, IL colluded with at least seven of its clients to prevent African-American workers from working at their plants and companies. All cases involve novel joint-employer issues.
  • Cynthia Allen, et al. v. AT&T Mobility Services LLC (N.D. Ga.): Cohen Milstein and the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project are litigating a putative Title VII employment discrimination class action against AT&T Mobility LLC for violating the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as individual Title VII, Americans with Disabilities Act, and Family and Medical Leave Act claims.

Civil Rights Class Actions

  • Gender-Affirming Surgery Coverage by Aetna: With the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, Cohen Milstein led a pivotal access-to-healthcare negotiation on behalf of four transgender women. On January 26, 2021, Aetna, one of the largest health insurance companies in the United States, agreed to expand its coverage to include gender-affirming surgery, including, in this matter, breast augmentation. As a part of the pre-litigation agreement, TLDEF and Cohen Milstein worked with Aetna to update its clinical policy bulletin to cover such medically necessary surgery for transfeminine members.
  • Stanley, et al. v. BarBri, Inc. (N.D. Tex.): In January 2018, Cohen Milstein clients, blind law students, successfully settled a disability discrimination class action against BarBri, Inc. – host of the country’s largest attorney bar exam prep course. Plaintiffs alleged that BarBri’s test prep offerings, including its mobile application, website and course materials, were inaccessible to visually impaired students in violation of the Americans with Disability Act and a similar Texas state law.
  • National Association of the Deaf Litigation v. Harvard and MIT (D. Mass.): In February 2020 and July 2020, Cohen Milstein and co-counsel successfully settled two groundbreaking class actions on behalf of deaf and hearing-impaired individuals. The landmark settlements are historic because they require two of the most lauded academic research institutions in the world to include closed captioning on all content, including videos and podcasts, available to the public online, establishing a precedent for academia and business worldwide.
  • Long Island Housing Services, Inc. v. NPS Holiday Square LLC (E.D.N.Y.): A Fair Housing Act, New York State Human Rights Law, and Suffolk County Human Rights Law class action against NPS Property Corporation, a prominent Long Island-area property management company operating at least nine apartment complexes in Suffolk County. Plaintiffs, Long Island Housing Services, Suffolk Independent Living Organization, and individuals with disabilities, claim NPS intentionally and systemically discriminates against people with disabilities and those who rely on subsidized sources of income due to their disabilities.