Christine E. Webber is Co-Chair of the Civil Rights & Employment practice group. In this role, Ms. Webber represents victims of discrimination and wage and hour violations in class and collective actions.
Ms. Webber is a tenacious, hands-on litigator, highly-regarded for her ability to organize large, high-profile class and collective actions and work closely with economic and statistical experts on developing sophisticated statistical analyses of class claims.
Ms. Webber has had the honor of representing clients in some of the largest, groundbreaking discrimination and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) class and collective actions in the United States, including Keepseagle v. Vilsack (D.D.C.), a historic nationwide race-based discrimination class action brought by Native American ranchers and farmers against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The landmark $760 million settlement required the USDA to pay $680 million in damages to thousands of Native Americans, to forgive up to $80 million in outstanding farm loan debt and to improve the farm loan services the USDA provides to Native Americans. Ms. Webber was lead counsel in In re Tyson Foods FLSA MDL (M.D. Ga.), a collective action involving FLSA claims at over 40 Tyson chicken processing plants, which ultimately resolved the claims of 17,000 chicken processing workers who had been denied compensation for donning and doffing required safety and sanitary equipment; and Hnot v. Willis Group Insurance (S.D.N.Y.), where she represented a class of women vice presidents in Willis’ Northeast region, who complained of discrimination with respect to their salary and bonuses, as well as promotions. This “glass ceiling” case settled for an average payment of $50,000 per woman, a record-breaking settlement in 2007 for a sex discrimination class action. Ms. Webber continues the fight in Dukes v. Wal-Mart – a nationwide pay and promotion sex discrimination class action that went to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011 and addressed standards for class certification in employment discrimination matters.
Ms. Webber is currently leading several high-profile class and collective actions, including:
- Bird, et al. v. Barr (D.D.C.): Ms. Webber is leading a putative class action of women who suffered systemic discrimination on the basis of sex when they were terminated from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Basic Training program for new agents and intelligence analysts. In April 2022, the Court denied the FBI's motion to dismiss.
- CFHC, et al. v. CoreLogic Rental Property Solutions (D. Conn.): Ms. Webber represents the Connecticut Fair Housing Center and Carmen Arroyo in a cutting-edge legal challenge to CoreLogic’s algorithmic background check system which allegedly discriminates against African-Americans and Latinos seeking rental housing in violation of the Fair Housing Act. Because of the novel artificial intelligence (AI)-related discrimination claims, the case has been identified as one of Law360’s “3 Real Estate Cases to Watch in 2022.” A bench trial was initiated in March 2022.
- Reynolds et al v. Fidelity Investments Institutional Operations Company (M.D.N.C.): Ms. Webber successfully negotiated a settlement of a nationwide FLSA class action involving thousands of employees at Fidelity Investments Institutional Operations Company, Inc. call centers who were not paid overtime for mandatory pre-shift work. The court granted final approval to the settlement in January 2020.
- Ralph Talarico v. Public Partnerships, LLC (E.D. Pa.): Ms. Webber is leading a conditionally certified collective action of more than 4,900 past and present “direct care” workers, who provide home care for individuals with disabilities, for denied overtime wages. The case involves novel joint employer issues. In 2020, the Third Circuit reversed and remanded the district court’s order granting PPL summary judgement. In February 2021, the Third Circuit denied PPL’s request for a rehearing, thereby upholding its 2020 ruling and reaffirming Plaintiffs’ successful appeal.
- Castillo, et al. v. Western Range Association (D. Nev.): Ms. Webber is also representing a putative class of shepherds hired primarily from Peru and Chile, who allege that Western Range Association, which brought the plaintiffs into the U.S. to work as herders through the H-2A visa program, grossly underpaid them, in violation of Nevada law. As of May 2022, we are awaiting district court rulings on class certification and on summary judgment.
- Dukes v. Walmart (federal courts nationwide): Ms. Webber is coordinating a series of individual gender-related pay and promotion discrimination claims against Walmart on behalf of approximately 1800 women who filed charges before the EEOC following decertification of the Dukes class. This is the latest step in addressing the merits of this massive discrimination lawsuit, which went up to the Supreme Court in 2011. As of January 2022, nearly all of these lawsuits have been resolved, but many claims remain pending before the EEOC.
For her tireless work, Ms. Webber has been frequently recognized by the legal industry. In 2022, The National Law Journal named her a winner of its 2022 “Elite Women of the Plaintiffs Bar” award, which recognizes a small handful of female plaintiffs’ attorneys who “have demonstrated repeated success in cutting-edge work on behalf of [clients]" over their careers. The same year, The Best Lawyers in America named Ms. Webber the “Lawyer of the Year – Employment Law – Individuals – Washington, D.C.” In 2019, Ms. Webber was the recipient of the “Roderic V.O. Boggs Award” for her “sustained commitment” to the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. Annually, she has been recognized by Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Employment Lawyers (since 2018), The Best Lawyers in America (since 2018), and Super Lawyers (since 2012).
Ms. Webber is co-chair of the National Employment Lawyers' Association’s Class Action Committee, the nation’s pre-eminent employee-side legal association, a position she has held since 1999. Ms. Webber is also a member of Law360’s Employment Editorial Advisory Board (2020 – 2021). She speaks and writes frequently on employment discrimination, wage and hour issues, and class actions.
Prior to joining Cohen Milstein in 1997, Ms. Webber received a Women's Law and Public Policy fellowship which funded the first of her four years at the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs in their Equal Employment Opportunity Project. There, she worked on employment discrimination cases, focusing in particular on the sexual harassment class action Neal v. Director, D.C. Department of Corrections, et al. (D.D.C.). Ms. Webber participated in the trial of this groundbreaking sexual harassment class action in 1995. Ms. Webber also tried the race discrimination case Cooper v. Paychex (E.D. Va.), and successfully defended the plaintiffs' verdict before the Fourth Circuit.
Ms. Webber attended Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude, with an A.B. in Government, and earned her J.D., magna cum laude, Order of the Coif, at the University of Michigan Law School. Following law school, she clerked for the Honorable Hubert L. Will, United States District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois.