M&S Welcomes Cleveland Lawrence III; Helps Walmart Take Steps to Accommodate Pregnant Employees; and Reacts to the SCOTUS Decision on the Travel Ban
M&S Welcomes Cleveland Lawrence III as Qui Tam CoDirector
Mehri & Skalet is pleased to announce that Cleveland Lawrence III is joining the firm as Of Counsel this month. Mr. Lawrence is an expert on False Claims Act, whistleblower, fraud, and compliance issues, and has been a thought leader in the qui tam community for more than a decade. From 2008 to 2016, Mr. Lawrence led the Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund (TAFEF) and its sister organization, Taxpayers Against Fraud – first as Director of Legal Education and later as CoExecutive Director. He spent the past two years as the Whistleblower Director at the law firm Sanford Heisler Sharp.
Throughout his career, Mr. Lawrence worked with officials at the highest levels government to shape whistleblower law and policy – he partnered with the U.S. Department of Justice to coordinate the nation’s largest annual False Claims Act conference. In addition to arguing before federal district and circuit courts, Mr. Lawrence authored and filed numerous amicus curiae briefs on behalf of TAFEF in federal and state courts across the country including the United States Supreme Court. He has also testified before Congress and state legislatures regarding FCA and whistleblower-related legislation, prepared draft legislation, and authored multiple comment letters to federal agencies implementing Dodd-Frank and other whistleblower reward programs.
Mr. Lawrence is a respected voice on fraud and whistleblower issues and frequently speaks at public events, conferences, and in the media. He received a B.A. from Georgetown University and graduated, with honors, from The George Washington University Law School. In addition to serv ing as Of Counsel, he will also be the co-chair of the Whistleblower Practice Group with Richard Condit.
New York Times: Walmart Takes Steps to Accommodate Pregnant Employees
Last month, The New York Times published a feature about pregnancy discrimination at some of the biggest companies in the country. Two of our clients, Otisha Woolbright and Candis Riggins, spoke to The Times about their experiences of being fired from Walmart after requesting workplace accommodations based their doctors’ recommendations. Ms. Woolbright is a client in an ongoing class action
lawsuit against Walmart in federal district court while Ms. Riggins filed a separate Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge in 2014.
Mehri & Skalet has been working with A Better Balance and the National Women’s Law Center to represent former Walmart workers like Ms. Woolbright in discrimination claims against the chain store giant and repeatedly called on Walmart to ensure that its policy prov ide fair treatment for all pregnant workers who need workplace accommodations.
Walmart’s new policy gives workers who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or recovering from childbirth access to Temporary Alternative Duty-a program that Walmart has prev iously reserved primarily for workers with on-the-job injuries. Walmart has yet to publicly announce the new policy and workers remain confused about how the changes will be implemented.
“Because of Walmart’s previous practices, hardworking women have lost wages that were critical to them and their families. It is time for pregnant workers to be fully compensated for their losses,” said Ellen Eardley, a partner at M&S who is co-leading the suit against Walmart. “Walmart cannot run away from their obligation to make these women whole. They should not have to wait years for resolution.”
M&S Addresses SCOTUS Travel Ban Ruling in a New Op-Ed
Immediately following the Supreme Court’s decision on the travel ban in June, Cyrus Mehri and Joanna Wasik published an op-ed in The Hill, “American tradition is at odds with the Supreme Court’s travel ban decision.”
The Court’s decision, which reversed an injunction blocking the enforcement of the travel ban and affirmed the executive’s broad power to make immigration policy, was disappointing for many, including the Iranian American organizations who challenged the travel ban in U.S. District Court last year.
During the Supreme Court’s oral arguments in April, an amicus brief authored by Mehri & Skalet, in conjunction with co-counsel Arnold & Porter and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civ il Rights, was referenced by Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor. The brief also included numerous stories of Iranian Americans separated from loved ones or unable to come to the United States as a result of the travel ban.The two dissents by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor later cited anecdotal and quantitative evidence from this amicus brief.
In the op-ed, Mr. Mehri and Ms. Wasik write: “[T]he Trump travel ban crosses the line and contravenes the parameters that Congress established more than 50 years ago, and the authority given to Congress by the Founding Fathers 220 years ago. President Trump’s waiver ‘system’ is a mere illusion. What is not an illusion is the American tradition of focusing on indiv idual applicants, not adversarial regimes, for decisions on immigration. To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, it is best to judge prospective immigrants based on their character, not their nationality and the flaws of foreign governments. That’s the American tradition, and dissenting justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg got it right.”