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AWI is a voluntary professional association for individuals who conduct or manage workplace investigations and for those interested in workplace investigations. The Online Membership Directory includes all AWI members except those who have chosen not to be included. The license information in the Online Membership Directory was provided by the member and has not been independently verified by AWI. AWI makes no recommendations with respect to the qualifications or expertise of any particular AWI member or sponsor.
AWI Sustaining Members
We gratefully acknowledge the generous contributions of our Sustaining Members. For information about joining AWI in general, and about becoming a Sustaining Member in particular, please visit the Join AWI section of this website.
Terri Abad Levenfeld is a bilingual attorney who conducts impartial workplace and Title IX investigations in both English and Spanish. Ms. Abad Levenfeld’s clients include public entities, private employers and educational institutions. Her workplace investigations involve all employee positions and elected officials, from entry-level laborers to leaders of large organizations. In her Title IX investigations, Ms. Abad Levenfeld works with students enrolled in elementary schools through post-graduate programs. Ms. Abad Levenfeld is experienced and adept at navigating the diverse and often complex issues that arise in the workplace and campus environments. Prior to dedicating her practice to investigations, Ms. Abad Levenfeld spent over 15 years representing both plaintiffs and defendants in employment, civil rights and personal injury cases. This multi-faceted background provides her with a distinct degree of impartiality when conducting investigations. Ms. Abad Levenfeld obtained her Juris Doctor from the University of San Francisco School of Law and a Masters Degree in Spanish Translation from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of California at Berkeley.
Nancy Bornn is an employment lawyer in Playa del Rey, California. She has over 30 years of experience as an employment lawyer. She currently focuses her practice on conducting workplace investigations, testifying as an expert witness on HR matters, and training for AB 1825 compliance. Ms. Bornn is a Governor on of the Board of Governors of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, and serves on its Credentials Committee. She is a Founding and Charter Director on the Board of Directors of the Association of Workplace Investigators, Inc. She is a former Chair of the Labor & Employment Law Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. She is a former Chair of the California Employment Lawyers Association. Ms. Bornn also served as an Executive Board member of the National Employment Lawyers Association. Ms. Bornn has published numerous articles in the area of employment law and is the author of the legal treatise, Representing California Sexual Harassment Plaintiffs (James Publishing 2004), updated in part in 2007 (Nancy Bornn A Law Corporation 2007), and the co-author of Practice Pointers for Workplace Investigations (SHRM 2010).
Carl Botterud is a lawyer, mediator and workplace investigator. In his role as counsel, Mr. Botterud represents institutional, business and individual clients, both plaintiffs and defendants in the area of civil, business, civil rights and employment litigation. He has more than twenty years experience as a litigator in the areas of employment, discrimination, disability, wage-hour, wrongful termination, trade secrets, contract disputes, higher education and professional negligence. As a mediator, Mr. Botterud serves as a neutral helping parties find resolution in a broad gamut of civil litigation and workplace disputes. As a workplace investigator, Mr. Botterud provides employers and their regular counsel with services to assist them in meeting their obligation to provide prompt, thorough and impartial investigations in response to employee concerns. This helps employers manage risk by providing a safe and responsive workplace in compliance with applicable law. In the fall of 2013, Mr. Botterud returned to Ritt, Tai, Thvedt & Hodges, the firm he helped steward as a partner from 2000 to 2005, where he is serving his clients and colleagues as an advocate, counselor, mediator and independent investigator.
Lisa Brewer is an attorney conducting investigations with the Law Offices of Amy Oppenheimer. She has years of experience providing legal and business advice in Fortune 500 companies such as Hewlett-Packard Corporation and Apple, Inc., and global law firms such as Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. She focuses her practice on workplace investigations, human resource and employee relations, advice to emerging companies and general transactional matters. Lisa served as General Counsel for Orrick and for Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, responsible for employment matters, internal investigations, policy development, and litigation management. She advised and coached attorneys and staff globally on matters ranging from workplace and employee relations issues, professional responsibility, career development and client relationships. She also served in a senior legal role at Apple, where she advised on matters of trade regulation, employment and human resources, consumer products, advertising, and strategic supply relationships. Lisa’s international experience includes living in Tokyo, Japan, where she developed a consulting and coaching practice focused on formulating and conducting management and negotiation training workshops for managers at companies such as Disney, Sony, Mitsubishi Electric, NTT DoCoMo, Japan Bank International and Hakuhodo. She received her JD degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and her BA in journalism, summa cum laude, from San Francisco State University.
Linda G. Burwell, investigation counsel and president of National Employment Counsel, PLLC., serves in-house counsel, law firms and insurers primarily in workplace investigations, focusing her investigations on c-suite and high level executives. She is often retained/referred by national employment law firms representing a wide variety of entities ranging from small non-profits to Fortune 100 Companies. Her investigations have spanned international borders, extending from the United States into Africa, Canada, England, Germany, Mexico, India and Thailand. She is a nationally recognized employment law expert with over 30 years' experience, is a frequent speaker/ author on risk management issues, and was invited by the EEOC to testify (as a defense attorney) before the Commission in Washington DC regarding investigations and conciliations. She has received numerous awards and honors including being recognized in the Best Lawyers in America, Chambers USA, one of Michigan’s Super Lawyers, Leaders in the Law by Michigan Lawyers Weekly, Top 50 Female Lawyers in Michigan, Top Lawyers by DBusiness Magazine, and she received a lifetime achievement award for Women in Leadership, from the Michigan Business & Professional Association.
Zaneta Butscher Seidel is an associate attorney with the Law Offices of Amy Oppenheimer. She conducts impartial investigations of employment complaints of alleged harassment, discrimination, retaliation, bullying and other workplace misconduct.
Zaneta earned her Bachelor's degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2003 and her JD from Columbia University School of Law in 2008. While at Columbia Law School, Zaneta served as staff editor for the Columbia Human Rights Law Review and interned with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland. Zaneta began her legal career as a litigation associate in the New York office of Baker & McKenzie LLP, where she handled complex commercial litigation and international arbitration matters. After relocating home to the San Francisco Bay Area, Zaneta associated with a boutique litigation law firm in San Francisco, where for five years she advised and represented clients in complex civil litigation matters involving corporate disputes, data breach, franchise law, unfair competition, personal injury claims, environmental claims and Proposition 65 claims.
Zaneta is a member of the California and New York state bars, a member of AWI, and a graduate of the AWI's Training Institute for Workplace Investigators.
Walter Cochran-Bond is a graduate of the UCLA School of Law. During the first fourteen years of his practice, Walter litigated civil rights class actions in Los Angeles with the Center for Law in the Public Interest and in private practice, serving as class counsel in more than twenty employment and housing discrimination cases. In 1988, Mr. Cochran-Bond joined the national law firm of Proskauer Rose LLP. In 1997, he started his current practice. This practice includes representing both individuals and employers in employment-related lawsuits as well as providing employment counseling. Mr. Cochran-Bond also is a member of the Employment Law Panel of the American Arbitration Association and serves as an arbitrator and mediator for employment disputes.
Barbara Dalton is an attorney, licensed private investigator, and Vice President of Public Interest Investigations, Inc. She specializes in conducting neutral, third-party investigations into allegations of employment discrimination. She has supervised and conducted investigations of employee and employer misconduct, wage and hour violations, and wrongful termination claims. Prior to joining PII, Dalton was part of the team of attorneys who monitored Denny's restaurants for customer-based discrimination complaints. Denny's ultimately adopted the investigative model designed and used by Dalton and her colleagues during the monitoring period. Dalton also played an integral part in the creation and direction of an independently administered system of arbitration for Kaiser Permanente members throughout California. She served as an attorney with the HIV and AIDS Legal Services Alliance, where she assisted clients with matters involving discrimination, confidentiality, and health care access, and conducted trainings on those topics.
Leslie Ellis serves as an impartial investigator for sensitive and complex complaints in the workplace and on campus. She investigates a variety of issues, including workplace harassment, fraud and compliance. She frequently investigates matters with all levels of employees and witnesses, including those involving sworn officers, legal staff, board members, executives, educators, students, physicians, patients and human resources professionals. Leslie is a founding partner at Ellis Buehler Makus LLP, a law firm of attorney investigators to public and private organizations throughout California. Leslie previously worked in the nationally recognized employment law department of Paul Hastings, where she counseled and litigated for employers across all industries. In addition, she served as in-house employment counsel at a major California healthcare system. Leslie received her Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and her bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
Donna R. Evans is a California attorney who limits her practice to conducting neutral workplace investigations, training and consulting. She has conducted and managed over a hundred workplace investigations into allegations of workplace misconduct including discrimination, harassment, retaliation, violence, bullying, dishonesty, ethical and policy violations and whistleblowing. Ms. Evans has Director-level experience with a Fortune 200 company, and special expertise and experience with public sector investigations, including investigations governed by POBR and FBOR. Ms. Evans is a renowned trainer and educator and has presented training to thousands of California employees on a variety of employment and leadership topics.
Mark Flynn is an employment attorney in Denver, Colorado who serves on AWI’s Guiding Principles Committee. Mark formed Flynn Investigations Group LLC in 2015 to continue his specialization in conducting and managing investigations in the workplace and educational environments. Previously, Mark worked at Mountain States Employers Council, a 3,000-member employers association for over 18 years, where he developed and managed a team of investigators performing over 100 investigations annually. A graduate of the University of Michigan and Chicago-Kent College of Law, Mark has managed and conducted impartial investigations and broader assessments to address all forms of workplace discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims, sexual assault, ethics and employee performance and behavioral concerns involving all levels of management including elected and appointed public officials. Mark has published multiple articles on workplace investigations and unlawful retaliation and has acted as an expert witness on the subject of workplace investigations in federal trial matters. Mark also maintains the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification and the ATIXA Title IX Investigator certification. Mark provides training and policy development, legal counsel, and independent investigation services to promote conflict resolution as part of preventive law strategy.
Ann Fromholz is an attorney and the founder of The Fromholz Firm – Law That Works. Ms. Fromholz provides workplace and Title IX investigation services, training, and expert testimony. She is a frequent speaker and author on employment law issues. Ms. Fromholz has conducted and/or supervised over 250 workplace investigations and conducted more than 300 workplace training courses, including courses on how to conduct workplace investigations. In addition, she has served as a Consent Decree Monitor in discrimination cases in Federal District Court. Before founding The Fromholz Firm – Law That Works, she was a Labor & Employment partner at two nationally recognized law firms and worked as in-house employment counsel for nearly seven years at national corporations. Ms. Fromholz graduated from Dartmouth College and received her JD degree from USC Law School. She is certified by ATIXA to conduct Title IX investigations into allegations of sexual assault and sexual misconduct on college/university and K-12 campuses. She is a long-time member of the EEO committee of the American Bar Association Labor & Employment Law Section and regularly speaks at its meetings. Ms. Fromholz also is a member of the Los Angeles Country Bar Association Judicial Appointments Committee, which vets applicants for seats on the Los Angeles Country Superior Court bench. She is a committed mock trial coach with the Constitutional Rights Foundation.
Kathy M. Gandara has been a member of the State Bar of California since 1995. She was initially employed by law firms in Los Angeles, and later, the Inland Empire, before venturing out on her own in 2008. After 15 years of litigating civil cases, her practice evolved into specializing in conducting neutral, third party investigations for both public entity and private employers. Among the types of employment matters Ms. Gandara has investigated are claims of discrimination, retaliation, sexual harassment, disparate treatment, hostile work environment, fraud and other workplace misconduct. Having conducted numerous investigations for public sector employers, she is well versed in POBR and FBOR. Ms. Gandara is experienced in investigating allegations of misconduct against high-ranking public officials and presenting results in closed sessions before elected boards. She also provides training to human resource professionals on conducting fair and thorough workplace investigations. Ms. Gandara has been a member of AWI since 2010. She is the convener of AWI's Inland Empire Local Circle.
Nikki Hall is a Partner of Van Dermyden Maddux Law Corporation and heads up the firm’s Bay Area office. Nikki has specialized in employment law since 1996 and has represented both employers and employees during her career. She started her practice as a plaintiff-side employment litigator prior to representing employers. Nikki’s practice is now focused on conducting workplace investigations. She has handled more than one hundred investigations, many involving high-ranking employees, law enforcement officers and elected officials. Nikki’s background as both a plaintiff and management side employment litigator gives her a unique ability to serve as a neutral investigator. Having conducted numerous investigations for public sector employers, Nikki is well versed in the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act and the Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights, as well as the Weingarten rights afforded to public employees. She also regularly leads investigation training seminars and is co-author of the book, Conducting Effective Personnel Investigations, A Manual for Public Sector Managers (Public Law Group Press, 3rd Edition).
Susan Hatmaker is a native of central California and as an attorney has represented employers and conducted workplace investigations for over twenty-one years. She has conducted innumerable investigations for both public and private sector entities including complaints of workplace safety and rule violations, hostile work environment, sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation, workplace theft, and substance abuse. Ms. Hatmaker has also conducted thorough and confidential investigations involving department heads, company presidents and other company officers. Ms. Hatmaker is the president of Hatmaker Law Group and her firm handles labor and employment law and litigation for employers of all sizes. She provides counseling and training to employers on employment compliance with state and federal laws, represents employers at administrative proceedings and also provides representation of school districts in charter school law and related matters. Ms. Hatmaker received her J.D. with Distinction from the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in 1994 and is admitted to the state bars of California and Nevada. Ms. Hatmaker is a frequent speaker on employment and labor law topics.
Pamela L. Hemminger is an arbitrator, mediator, investigator and trainer. She is on the American Arbitration Association employment panel (Southern California) and national class action panel as well a mediator with expertise in complex, class action, and individual cases. Her investigations have included those involving high-level corporate executives. An employment law partner of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP for many years before recently retiring, she is a past chair of the Labor and Employment Law Section, Los Angeles County Bar Association, a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, a past Board member of Dispute Resolution Services (1999 -2009) and a gubernatorial appointee to the California Law Revision Commission (1998-99; 2005-2010). She is a well-known author and speaker, and has contributed to Employment Discrimination Law (settlement), California Practice Guide: Employment Litigation (leaves of absence; worker safety) and EEOC Litigation and Charge Resolution(employer responses), and has been featured in The Best Lawyers in America (15 years) and Top 50 Women Super Lawyers (Southern California).
Debra Hinshaw Vierra has practiced employment law for more than 20 years. She is a founding partner at Employment Law Counsel, LLP and also serves of counsel to Cook Brown, LLP. Ms. Hinshaw Vierra has represented employers in collective bargaining negotiations and arbitrations, employment discrimination and harassment proceedings and advised employers on all aspects of labor and employment law matters, stressing preventative measures to avoid liability. Since founding ELC, Ms. Hinshaw Vierra has concentrated primarily on conducting workplace investigations. Ms. Hinshaw Vierra's legal background results in thorough investigations and sound conclusions supported by the evidence. Ms. Hinshaw Vierra provides workplace training for both managerial and nonmanagerial staff and has lectured and authored numerous articles on employment law.
Monica Jeffrey has practiced law in Canada for 10 years. She has practiced exclusively in the area of employment and labour law, working with public and private organizations across multiple industries and sectors, including unionized and non-unionized workplaces. She has experience in a diverse number of workplace matters including hiring, performance management, attendance and disability management, discipline and terminations, preparing and negotiating severance packages, wrongful dismissal and breach of contract litigation, drafting (executive) employment contracts, human resources policies and employee handbooks/manuals, employment standards, labour relations and all human rights issues. Throughout her entire career, Ms. Jeffrey has conducted workplace investigations, including those involving grievances and formal complaints of human rights, harassment, bullying and gross and willful misconduct. She has more recently developed an expertise in the investigative process and drafting reports of findings. Ms. Jeffrey received a Certificate of Completion from the 2013 AWI Institute for Workplace Investigators. She is the convener of CAWI's Toronto Local Circle.
Aviva Kamm has investigated workplace complaints for both public and private entities, as well as allegations against executive-level company leaders. She works directly with the employer or with outside counsel to provide prompt, thorough and confidential investigations of employee complaints or suspected misconduct. In addition, she has experience working with interpreters to conduct interviews in foreign languages. Because of her experience representing both employees and employers in her practice, Aviva has the unique perspective of viewing issues from both sides, which provides the neutrality needed for making the investigation the most productive for everyone involved.
Karen Kramer is an employment law attorney specializing in workplace investigations. Since forming Kramer-Wiese in 2000, Ms. Kramer's practice has focused primarily on conducting personnel investigations involving allegations of discrimination, harassment and retaliation, as well as misconduct and disciplinary matters. She previously litigated employment law matters with Porter Scott and worked as an Employment Law Attorney with LexisNexis. Ms. Kramer's experience includes testifying during administrative and judicial proceedings regarding completed investigations. Ms. Kramer has conducted hundreds of workplace investigations for public agencies, and is well versed in the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights and the Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights. She has also conducted many complex and high profile investigations involving high level public employees and elected officials. Ms. Kramer is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine (1989) and University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law (1992).
Peter G. Land represents private and public sector higher education, academic medical center, and business clients in a wide array of litigation and counseling matters. Pete regularly advocates on behalf of institutions in court and agency proceedings, mediations, and arbitrations, as well as counseling on employment and student disputes, policy drafting, and training.
Pete also has extensive experience with sensitive internal investigations regarding senior administrators, preparing confidential and privileged reports, and assisting decision-makers in addressing investigative findings in a variety of contexts, including board-mandated, government, and athletic-department investigations.
Pete has served as lead counsel in a variety of litigation, including employment discrimination and harassment cases, faculty terminations and tenure disputes, institutional governance issues, First Amendment disputes, student matters, school and program closings, non-compete agreement and trade secret disputes, and defamation and privacy issues. He has also counseled institutions on accommodation and leave requests pursuant to the ADA and FMLA, privacy issues and compliance with FERPA, academic program closures and institutional affiliations, reductions in force, compliance with Title IX student-discipline and gender-equity standards, accreditation issues, and investigations by the DOE’s Office for Civil Rights, the EEOC, and state and municipal administrative agencies. Pete has published and structured training programs on Title IX issues.
Prior to joining the firm, Pete was a partner in the firm of Babbitt, Land & Warner LLP (1998-2011), a Chicago firm that concentrated in representing colleges and universities. Pete also practiced as an associate at the Chicago firm of Butler, Rubin, Saltarelli & Boyd, and he worked on an interim basis in the general counsel’s office at two major Chicago universities and at a Fortune 1000 company.
Pete is a Board Member of the Chicagoland Title IX Consortium and a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA). Pete has served on NACUA committees and has spoken at seminars addressing a variety of liability issues, including internal investigations, supervisory best practices, faculty speech, sexual assault protocols, and other institutional compliance matters. In 2017, Pete was named a Leading Lawyer by Law Bulletin Publishing.
Lynn D. Lieber has practiced employment law exclusively on the management side for 25 years. She began her legal career in San Francisco at Littler, the renowned leader in the field of employment law. She later moved to Fisher & Phillips LLP, where she became an equity partner in 1995. For a decade, Ms. Lieber was the Founder and CEO of Workplace Answers, a full-service employment law training company specializing in Web-based training solutions. Under her direction, Workplace Answers trained millions of employees around the globe in preventive employment practices. Ms. Lieber sold Workplace Answers in 2010, and now engages in her true passions–workplace investigations and in-person training of employees and supervisors. She regularly counsels employers on employment-law related matters and assists them in policy and procedure development and review. She also regularly conducts educational training webinars for thousands of attendees. Ms. Lieber has represented hundreds of private and public entities in harassment and discrimination charges and litigation. She has testified as an expert witness in unlawful harassment matters, and frequently conducts “remedial”/”sensitivity” training for employees, supervisors and executives who have been accused of workplace wrongdoing. She graduated Cum Laude from the University of the Pacific in California. She earned a J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law, where she served as the Technical Editor of the Computer and High Technology Law Journal.
Deborah Maddux specializes in employment law and human resources management. A shareholder of Van Dermyden Maddux Law Corporation, Ms. Maddux graduated from UC Davis School of Law in 1993. She is a licensed California attorney, a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), as well as a certified EEOC investigator. Drawing upon her extensive background, which includes experience as a litigator, advisor to a State Commission, in-house counsel, and now owner and manager of her own firm, Ms. Maddux provides employment law services throughout California. She specializes in investigations into claims of workplace misconduct, often involving complex facts, multiple claims, and politically-sensitive issues. She has investigated hundreds of claims, including claims of harassment, discrimination, retaliation and improper governmental activities. She is experienced in testifying regarding completed investigations, and acts as an expert witness on human resources and investigative best practices. Ms. Maddux also provides consulting regarding optimal management practices, including one-on-one executive coaching; mediation and hearing officer services; and advice and counseling regarding employment law matters. She conducts frequent interactive training seminars on workplace topics, including Employment Law Liability, Best Practices for Managers and Supervisors, and Anti-Discrimination, including Sexual Harassment Prevention courses.
Eli Makus is a founding attorney of the law firm Ellis Buehler Makus LLP and specializes in conducting workplace investigations. His clients include private employers and a variety of public agencies, including state agencies, counties, cities, school districts and special districts. He is also experienced at conducting investigations covered by the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights. Eli regularly trains on employment law topics, including training internal and external investigators on how to conduct impartial workplace investigations. He also provides coaching for employees involved in workplace disputes. Eli has broad experience advising employers in all industries and helps identify legal risks and develop creative solutions before claims arise. Prior to co-founding Ellis Buehler Makus, Eli served as in-house employment counsel for a large healthcare employer and litigated employment law claims with a large Northern California law firm. Eli earned his juris doctor from the UC Davis School of Law.
Marilou F. Mirkovich is a partner in the Cerritos office of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Rudd & Romo. She represents employers in all aspects of labor relations and employment law. Ms. Mirkovich focused on defending discrimination claims in federal and state courts and handles matters pending before the EEOC, DFEH, and FEHC. In addition to her employment practice, Ms. Mirkovich serves as the firm's lead investigator on numerous public and private sector matters. She served as President of the Board of Directors for the Community Family Guidance Center. Ms. Mirkovich has also been on the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.
Julie Moore is President of Employment Practices Group, a legal and human resources consulting firm in MA and NH which she founded in 1998. She has been practicing law for 20 years and previously litigated cases. Much of her practice is devoted to conducting investigations into alleged harassment and misconduct. She also conducts training for employers; drafts policies, procedures and handbooks; consults and advises on employment law and HR issues; and represents employers and employees before administrative agencies. Ms. Moore has over 100 publications and speaks at seminars for the MA Bar Ass'n, NH Bar Ass'n, Business and Legal Resources (BLR), local and regional SHRM chapters, and many business and trade organizations. She is a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). She has been retained as an expert witness in cases involving a wide variety of employment-related issues, and has testified at trial in NH, MA and ME courts.
Lynn M. Morgenroth is the founder of CallMeHR.com, which provides Human Resources consulting services to a wide variety of clients in the high-tech, environmental, non-profit, manufacturing, transport and service industries. She holds a JD awell as an MBA and has over has over twenty years of extensive human resources and business management experience, both in-house as well as in a business consultant role. Her expertise includes: strategic business planning, management training, coaching and counseling, workplace investigations including DFEH and EEOC complaints, labor relations and negotiations, HR audits, employment law interpretation and compliance, policy and procedure development, performance management and recruiting.
Robin Oaks is an attorney who practices exclusively as an independent workplace investigator, trainer, and conflict resolution consultant. Ms. Oaks worked as an employment and education law attorney for twelve years. Since 1997 she has focused her practice on conducting investigations and resolving conflicts in both the public and private sectors. She began her legal career in 1985 as a judicial law clerk for Judge John Garrett Penn, District Court, District of Columbia, who was the trial judge for Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, the landmark case in which the Supreme Court first recognized a hostile environment claim under Title VII. A former public school teacher and law school instructor, Ms. Oaks has special expertise investigating sexual harassment and discrimination complaints arising in schools and public institutions. She has written extensively about investigations, including the chapter, “Cross Cultural Issues and Sexual Harassment,” in a national textbook published by Allyn & Bacon, and the section on conducting investigations in Educator’s Guide to Controlling Sexual Harassment, published by Thompson Publishing Group.
Amy Oppenheimer, Law Offices of Amy Oppenheimer. Ms. Oppenheimer has more than 30 years experience working in the field of employment law. For the past twenty-five years her emphasis has been preventing and responding to workplace harassment and discrimination. After litigating on behalf of plaintiffs for eight years Ms. Oppenheimer began a neutral practice as an investigator of claims of harassment and discrimination, trainer, mediator and arbitrator. She is also a retired Administrative Law Judge for the State of California. Ms. Oppenheimer is the author of many articles about harassment, bias and discrimination, including one of the only practical guides to doing investigations: Investigating Workplace Harassment, How to be Fair, Thorough and Legal, published in 2003 by Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). She is a trial qualified expert on the issue of employment practices in preventing, responding to and investigating workplace harassment and discrimination, having testified at trial, deposition and arbitration more than sixty times. Ms. Oppenheimer is a frequent speaker on investigations for AWI and other professional associations. For AWI she has presented at seminars, webinars, annual conferences, and the AWI Institute. Ms. Oppenheimer is the Vice Chair of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of California, is the founder and immediate past president of AWI, and the Chair of the AWI Institute.
Cara PanebiancoPrior to joining the Law Offices of Amy Oppenheimer was a Senior Employee Relations Consultant for TriNet, where she conducted hundreds of workplace investigations and developed and delivered trainings on the disability accommodation interactive process, paid sick leave compliance, and harassment prevention.Cara received her Juris Doctor from Golden Gate University School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, from Texas A&M University. She began her legal career in employment law, representing plaintiffs in litigation and administrative proceedings, and later transitioned to advise employers on compliance.Cara is a member of the Association of Workplace Investigators (AWI) and served as faculty at the 2015 and 2016 AWI Training Institutes.
Geralynn Patellaro , Esq., has practiced law for over 20 years and conducted hundreds of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation investigations. Additionally, she has taught courses to managers and attorneys on how to conduct investigations. She is a member of the Corporate Employee Relations team at Apple, with responsibilities in the US, Canada, and Latin America. Before joining Apple, she was President of Building a Better Workplace, a Legal and Human Resources consulting firm in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern Nevada. She also served as the Legal Director of Global Employment at NetApp, Inc., a technology company consistently ranked as a “Great Place to Work.” Prior to her legal career, she held leadership positions in Sales, Marketing, and HR for high profile companies. She holds a BA in Spanish and an MBA, and has worked and studied internationally.
Michelle Regalia McGrath is a California attorney who devotes her practice to conducting workplace investigations and workplace training. Ms. McGrath investigates allegations of misconduct, including but not limited to, harassment and discrimination on any basis, as well as retaliation. Ms. McGrath offers workplace training on a wide variety of employment law-related topics such as sexual harassment prevention, disability accommodation and workplace investigations. Ms. McGrath provides training to the federal sector as a trainer with the Federal Employment Training Group (FELTG). Prior to starting McGrath Investigations, Ms. McGrath worked as a litigator and employment law advisor for twelve years. For the last seven years of her litigation practice, Ms. McGrath was an employment lawyer for the United States Postal Service. Before that, Ms. McGrath was in private law firm practice with an employment law emphasis. Ms. McGrath is also a trained mediator and spent two years conducting mediations on a pro bono basis for the San Francisco District Office at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Ms. McGrath earned a workplace investigator certificate through the AWI National Training Institute in 2013. She currently serves on the AWI Member Benefits Committee. Ms. McGrath is a member of her local bar associations in San Francisco, Contra Costa and Alameda counties. She is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Boston College and a graduate of Santa Clara University of Law, where she earned her law degree in 1998.
Elizabeth Rita is a licensed Colorado attorney who has been conducting workplace investigations since 1994. An employment lawyer with more than 20 years of experience, Ms. Rita has conducted hundreds of investigations for clients. She has investigated complaints involving company-wide race discrimination, sexual harassment, rape, assault, ethics violations, ethnic origin discrimination, hostile work environment, age discrimination, retaliation, gender bias, SOX retaliation, public corruption and employee misconduct. Ms. Rita has trained HR professionals and lawyers in conducting investigations, and has spoken and written on this subject for a variety of audiences. She serves on the Workplace Investigations Subcommittee of the American Bar Association and is involved in the national Association of Workplace Investigators, where she serves as the Denver metropolitan area local circle contact. Her firm, WorkPlace Intelligence, LLC, is a Denver based business providing investigations and training to businesses, municipalities and government agencies around the country and in Canada.
Michael A. Robbins, EXTTI, Incorporated. Mr. Robbins is President of EXTTI, Incorporated—a company he founded more than 17 years ago. EXTTI provides Expert Testimony, Training and Investigation services in employment matters. He is a frequent lecturer and author on employment issues. Mr. Robbins has conducted and/or supervised over 500 workplace investigations and has served as an expert witness in 500 employment cases—mostly on workplace investigation and interactive process issues. In addition, he has served as a Consent Decree Monitor in discrimination cases in Federal District Court. Prior to forming EXTTI, he was a Labor & Employment attorney for 20 years—including 4 years as in-house counsel and 16 years in two nationally recognized law firms. Mr. Robbins graduated Phi Beta Kappa from San Diego State University and received his JD degree from UCLA School of Law. He is a long–time member of the Executive Board of the Los Angeles County Bar Association Labor & Employment Section and is an Officer of that Section. In addition, he is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, a Founding Member and Past President of the Society of Independent Workplace Investigators (SIWI), and is a Charter Member, Sustaining Member, and current President of the Association of Workplace Investigators.
Keith Rohman is the president of Public Interest Investigations, Inc. (PII) in Los Angeles, a firm with over 30 years’ experience assisting corporations, government entities and attorneys. He has been involved in many high-profile cases, including litigation related to the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, allegations of shootings of Iraqis by Blackwater, Inc., the trial against Los Angeles police officers accused of beating Rodney King, and numerous capital murder cases. Mr. Rohman is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Loyola Law School, where he teaches fact investigation. Mr. Rohman served as the court appointed Monitor in the matter of Pierce v. Orange County, et al., a federal ADA class action case filed on behalf of disabled inmates at the Orange County Jail. He was appointed by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to the Equity Oversight Panel (EOP) of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, a civilian oversight board that oversees Internal Affairs investigations of discrimination allegations at the LASD. PII was contracted to investigate discrimination complaints against elected officials and high-level County executives with the County of Los Angeles, and was selected by the City of Los Angeles as an investigator for the Special Committee on Investigative Oversight which handles similar investigations. Mr. Rohman served as the executive director of Los Angeles City Office of Discrimination Investigation, which conducted more than 300 employment discrimination investigations, and provided recommendations to the City Council on restructuring how the City handled these matters. Mr. Rohman is a Sustaining Member and Secretary of AWI and has been a popular speaker at AWI annual conferences, seminars, webinars, and Institutes.
Daniel Rowley has represented employers and employees in a wide variety of employment law matters since 1985. His law practice includes consultation on employment matters, advising employers, and handling employment litigation, including discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, and wage and hour claims. In addition, Mr. Rowley performs neutral, independent investigations of workplace complaints and disputes. Mr. Rowley has performed more than 125 investigations for a variety of public and private employers. The investigations have included issues such as sexual harassment, hostile work environment, discrimination, corporate mismanagement, and possible violations of the Fair Political Practices Act.
Jeff Sloan is a labor and employment lawyer with more than 35 years of experience representing public sector and nonprofit clients, including public, charter and nonprofit schools. His work spans collective bargaining negotiations, investigations, arbitrations, writ and appellate litigation, disciplinary matters, training, and matters under the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board and Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).
Jeff often serves as chief negotiator for cities, counties, special districts, schools, and nonprofit entitles. He has worked with unions representing all categories of employees in non-sworn and sworn employment. His negotiations work includes mediations and fact-findings under state statutes. He also often serves as a consultant and strategist to public and non-profit employers regarding collective bargaining matters.
Jeff has been a strong contributor to the development of California public sector law throughout his career. To date, he has represented PERB and public employers in over 35 cases that resulted in published decisions from the California Court of Appeal and Supreme Court on a wide variety of labor law developments.
Jeff is co-author of the treatise California Public Sector Labor Relations and is author of Conducting Effective Personnel Investigations: A Manual for California Public Employers (4th Ed.) (Public Law Group Press 2016). He regularly writes articles on labor law developments for the California Employment Law Letter. He has been perennially named a California “SuperLawyer” by his peers, and was named by the Daily Journal in 2012 and 2013 as one of the 25 most influential public lawyers in California.
Vida Thomas has been practicing law since 1993, and is a founding partner of Carlsen Thomas, LLP. She advises employers regarding all aspects of human resources management, conducts harassment prevention training of employees, supervisors and managers, and conducts investigations of alleged employee wrongdoing. Ms. Thomas also consults with employees on a limited basis. Ms. Thomas has conducted dozens of workplace investigations for private and public employers, and is experienced in complying with the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights. She has helped employers respond to complaints filed with the DFEH and EEOC. She advises clients and conducts training regarding the ADA/FEHA, the FMLA/CFRA, employee privacy, conducting internal investigations, and harassment prevention. Ms. Thomas handled employment litigation before state and federal courts and arbitrators for ten years. She has considerable experience defending federal and state discrimination suits, including "pattern or practice" claims, and employment class actions.
Alezah Trigueros an attorney who conducts impartial workplace investigations with the Law Offices of Amy Oppenheimer. She received her JD degree from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and her BA in history from the University of California, Santa Cruz.During law school, Alezah worked as a Law Clerk and Decision Writer for the Social Security Administration Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. There, she was responsible for making preliminary disability determinations for applicants appealing their benefit denials. She reviewed case files, requested medical records, and conducted investigative phone calls to determine applicants’ eligibility for disability benefits.Alezah also served as an editor for the Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, and spent a semester working for the U.S. Department of Energy Office for Labor and Pension Law. At the Department, Alezah worked to put a system in place that would allow the attorneys in her office to provide quick, consistent responses to employment law inquiries.
Sue Ann Van Dermyden is a founding partner of Van Dermyden Maddux Law Corporation (VMLC). Since 1993, she has focused on employment law. After years of litigating employment cases in state and federal courts, her practice primarily focuses on conducting workplace and Title IX campus investigations. Ms. Van Dermyden also serves as an expert witness in employment matters, regularly conducts training seminars on employment matters and Title IX workplace investigations, and provides employment-related advice and counsel. She has handled hundreds of workplace investigations on all types of employment matters. Ms. Van Dermyden is experienced in testifying during administrative and judicial proceedings relating to her own investigations and as an expert witness on the adequacy of the investigation. She is also an experienced investigator in Title IX sexual assault claims, and a founding member of T9 Mastered, a training firm for Title IX investigations. Her commitment to and passion for improving the quality of investigations extends beyond her team of ten attorneys at VMLC. Ms. Van Dermyden was listed in Northern California Super Lawyers in consecutive years from 2010 to 2015. In 2015, she was elected as a Fellow to the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. Election as a Fellow is the highest recognition by one’s colleagues of sustained outstanding performance in the profession, exemplifying integrity, dedication and excellence. Ms. Van Dermyden is a graduate of CSU Chico (1990) and the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law (1993).
Allison West has a simple approach to employment practices: be proactive. In 2000, after practicing law at a San Francisco labor and employment boutique, Allison West, SPHR, started Employment Practices Specialists, where she uses her employment law background, coupled with sound knowledge of human resource practices, and advises employers in preventing and resolving employment claims. Ms. West specializes in conducting workplace investigations for employers of all sizes and industries, on a variety of topics, including harassment, discrimination, theft, violence, disability, and whistleblower issues. Ms. West also delivers interactive investigations training programs that include mock investigations and are filled with practical tips and tools for beginning to experienced investigators. Her expertise includes delivering one-on-one sensitivity training to executives and managers concerning harassment, discrimination, and disciplinary or behavioral issues and other HR consulting. Ms. West is a frequent speaker on employment law topics at national and local HR and industry conferences.
Lizbeth West is a shareholder in the Labor and Employment, Appeals and Writs, and Litigation groups of Weintraub Tobin Chediak Coleman Grodin. She is admitted to practice law in California and Washington. Ms. West assists employers in all aspects of their employment relationship with their employees and defends employers in employment disputes. She has extensive experience defending employers in various forms of employment-related litigation in state and federal court, and in administrative actions before a number of state and federal agencies. Ms. West also conducts workplace investigations for both public and private employers. She was selected for inclusion in the Northern California SuperLawyers for 2009, 2010, and 2012. Ms. West is a regular speaker for various commercial and continuing education programs on employment issues facing employers in California, and has also been an adjunct professor of law at UOP McGeorge School of Law.
Susan M. Woolley has practiced law for 25 years and has extensive experience with discrimination and workplace investigations. She served as the director of Investigations for court-appointed Civil Rights Monitor in the landmark settlements in the Denny's race discrimination litigation, assembling and supervising a team of investigators which conducted workplace investigations in 49 states. She has since served as an expert and consultant in the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, and private corporations to design, implement, and monitor departments to investigate and remediate race discrimination. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors appointed her to the County Equity Oversight Panel which reviews and evaluates workplace investigations conducted countywide by the County's staff of over 15 EEO investigators. Ms. Woolley conducts workplace investigations of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation for government entities and private businesses. Prior to specializing in investigations, Ms. Woolley worked on complex business and civil rights litigation. Ms. Woolley is an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School, where she teaches fact investigation with Keith Rohman. She practices law and conducts investigations from her office in Pasadena. Ms. Woolley graduated from Stanford Law School and clerked at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. She was a Skadden Fellow.
Julie B. Yanow is a workplace investigator and trainer, and expert witness. Ms. Yanow has conducted many hundreds of workplace investigations and trained thousands of employees and executives at all levels. Before launching EquiLaw in 2003, Ms. Yanow was employed by Warner Bros., where she was chosen to co-found the company's Employment Law Department and served as Vice President and Senior Employment Counsel. Before joining Warner Bros., Ms. Yanow served as in-house counsel at NBC and in private practice at the law firm of Pepper, Hamilton and Scheetz. Ms. Yanow is a Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. Ms. Yanow received her JD from the University of California, Los Angeles. Ms. Yanow serves on the Executive Committee of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. She is President of the Society of Independent Workplace Investigators (SIWI) and is a Sustaining Member and Director of AWI.