Debevoise & Plimpton LLP counsel Wendy B. Reilly has been named among New York Law Journal’s 2015 “Lawyers Who Lead by Example.” Ms. Reilly is being honored in the Pro Bono category for her “outstanding record of providing crucial legal services to poor or nearly poor New Yorkers.”
Most recently, Ms. Reilly led Debevoise’s efforts in a class action involving back pay claims for black and Hispanic sheet metal workers in litigation against their union, Local 28 of the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association, the trade union for sheet metal workers in New York City. On July 21, 2015, the Court approved an estimated $12 million settlement in the case, for nearly 400 class members who were harmed by disparities in work opportunities between Local 28’s white and nonwhite members from 1991 to 2006. This settlement followed a $6.2 million back pay settlement from 2008 that addressed underemployment during the years 1984 to 1991.
The settlement with Local 28 also includes reforms designed to equalize work opportunities for nonwhite and white union members. These reforms include improved monitoring and investigation of discrimination complaints, an expansion of the use of the union’s referral hall to guarantee non-discriminatory hiring decisions, increased education and training opportunities for members, and increased monitoring, analysis and reporting of potential work hour disparities by the union.
The case was originally filed in 1971 as a government enforcement action. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the New York State Division of Human Rights and the City of New York continue as plaintiffs in the case. Ms. Reilly and the Debevoise team, along with the firm’s co-counsel at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, intervened in the case in 2003 on behalf of the aggrieved members and moved for the case to be certified as a class action.
Ms. Reilly, who began her career at Debevoise in 2001, has been recognized for her commitment to the underserved in the past. She is a 2005 recipient of inMotion’s (now known as “Her Justice”) Commitment to Justice Award, for, in the organization’s words, “demonstrating committed and caring leadership in building inMotion’s pro bono program at her firm,” and offering “supervision, support, mentoring and trouble-shooting on 27 Debevoise & Plimpton matters.” For many years, Ms. Reilly served as the firm’s liaison with the organization, which works on behalf of New York-area women suffering from poverty and abuse.
Ms. Reilly is a member of Debevoise’s Litigation Department. Her practice focuses on complex commercial litigation, including contract and employment disputes, as well as white collar criminal defense and SEC investigations and enforcement actions.
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a premier law firm with market-leading practices, a global perspective and strong New York roots. We deliver effective solutions to our clients’ most important legal challenges, applying clear commercial judgment and a distinctively collaborative approach.