Christine E. Webber is a Partner at Cohen Milstein and a member 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. This “glass ceiling” case settled in 2007 for $8.5 million plus attorneys’ fees, a record-breaking average payment of $50,000 per woman. 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 high-profile 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.
- 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 has an allegedly adverse impact on African-American and Latinos seeking tenant housing. In August 2020, the district court denied CoreLogic’s motion for summary judgement regarding Plaintiffs’ standing and Plaintiffs’ claims of race and national origin discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
- 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 which are currently pending before the Third Circuit.
- Castillo, et al. v. Western Range Association (D. Nev.): Ms. Webber is also representing a putative class of shepherds hired 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.
- Dukes v. Walmart (federal courts nationwide): Ms. Webber is coordinating lawsuits across the country on behalf of over 200 women with individual pay and promotion sex-discrimination claims against Walmart, following decertification of a class. Additionally, she is representing over 800 women who still have charges pending before the EEOC. This novel approach is the latest step in addressing the merits of this massive discrimination lawsuit, which went up to the Supreme Court in 2011.
For her tireless work, Ms. Webber was the recipient of the 2019 Roderic V.O. Boggs award for her sustained commitment to the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, and she has been recognized by Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Employment Lawyers (2018 – 2020), The Best Lawyers in America (2018-2021), and Super Lawyers (2007, 2012 – 2020).
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 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. She speaks and writes frequently on employment discrimination, wage and hour issues, and class actions.
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.