Civil Rights & Employment

M&S attorneys work to protect and defend civil rights and civil liberties. When those rights are violated, we are here to champion justice. Get in touch with our office today to discuss your case.

M&S gets results. Our firm’s co-founder Cyrus Mehri has served as lead and co-lead counsel on some of the largest and most significant race and gender cases in U.S. history, including Roberts v. Texaco Inc., which resulted in a $176 million award for Black employees, and Ingram v. The Coca-Cola Company, which resulted in a $192 million settlement for Black employees. M&S Of Counsel Joshua Karsh was trial counsel in Lewis v. City of Chicago, resulting in jobs for 111 African Americans in the Chicago Fire Department and more than $70 million in backpay and pension benefits. Recently, partner Ellen Eardley led a historic class action pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against Walmart that resulted in a $14 million settlement for pregnant workers nationwide. Partner Michael Lieder has led or co-led cases resulting in several of the largest age discrimination settlements in history. In these cases and others, our lawyers have used the law to change companies’ policies and alleviate systemic discrimination. We also utilize cutting edge research to shine a light on structural racism. For instance, in partnership with the NAACP, we commissioned a study to expose ongoing persistent race discrimination by major advertising agencies against Black professionals. Read more about our efforts to end employment discrimination here.

We combat discrimination in the marketplace. M&S attorneys fight back against more than just employment discrimination; we also fight to ensure consumers receive equitable and just treatment in the marketplace, and are available to minority- and women-owned businesses facing discrimination.  Our firm achieved a $24.4 million class action settlement against John Hancock Life Insurance on behalf of African American life insurance policyholders and beneficiaries who had been sold or were beneficiaries of substandard and seriously inferior life insurance products.  M&S attorneys also recently authored a piece in The Atlantic, “The Nation’s First Civil Rights Law Needs To Be Fixed,” proposing that Congress act to strengthen the nation’s oldest civil rights law—known today as “Section 1981”—to better combat the structural racism that infects economic decisions across the country.

We believe that the moral arc of the universe bends towards justice. One of Mehri & Skalet’s attorneys is well-respected civil rights attorney U.W. Clemon, formerly the Chief Judge for the Northern District of Alabama. Appointed in 1980, he was the first Black federal judge in the state of Alabama. Before his judicial appointment, Judge Clemon’s work in Alabama resulted in the desegregation of the University of Alabama’s football team and helped advance racial justice throughout the state. He was the first African American elected to the Alabama State Senate since Reconstruction and served respectively as chairman of the Rules and Judiciary Committees. Judge Clemon continues the fight to desegregate schools in the South, representing Black families who are standing up against resegregation in their communities and working closely with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Read about his decades-long commitment to the Jefferson County, Alabama community in the New York Times.

Freedom from sex discrimination is a civil right. Our work to support women in the workplace and ensure they receive equitable treatment reaches back decades before the #MeToo movement and includes efforts to defend against sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, discriminatory pay practices, and the glass ceiling. Through our “Women on Wall Street” project, aimed at supporting women employed by financial institutions and remedying gender-based discrimination within these institutions, we achieved settlements with Morgan Stanley & Co. ($47 million), Smith Barney ($33 million) and Wells Fargo/Wachovia ($32 million), exceeding $114 million in total, and transformed the opportunities available to women on Wall Street.  M&S also achieved a $20 million settlement with the Federal Bureau of Prisons on behalf of female employees alleging systemic sexual harassment and egregious sexual misconduct directed at them by inmates.  Currently, we are representing a class of approximately 2,000 women working in the Cook County Jail Complex in Chicago in a hostile environment sexual harassment class action. Learn more about our efforts to end sex discrimination here.

We are civil rights watchdogs. We opposed the Trump Administration’s discriminatory travel ban by filing a lawsuit along with the Pars Equality Center on behalf of a class of Iranian-American organizations and individuals. We also filed a lawsuit in 2018 on behalf of Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley disputing the Trump Administration’s unconstitutional decision to withhold substantial portions of Brett Kavanaugh’s record from the public.

M&S Civil Rights Cases of Note