The MWELA Lawyer of the Year Award is bestowed annually to one or two employment lawyers in the Washington, DC region whose significant accomplishments embody the mission of the association to advance and protect the rights of individuals.
This past year, Ms. Katz and Ms. Banks were influential figures in the #MeToo movement. They represented Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Michelle Manning Barish, and Irwin Reiter – each of whom was inspirational in speaking up against sexual assault and harassment, and abuse of power. Ms. Katz and Ms. Banks also secured a settlement against celebrity chef Mike Isabella and his company, which included a requirement that his company take corrective measures to prevent harassment in the future. And in December 2018, in the case of Feminists United v. University of Mary Washington, the Fourth Circuit reversed the U.S. District Court’s September 2017 dismissal of several counts, ruling to reinstate the plaintiffs’ Title IX sex discrimination claim and part of the Title IX retaliation claim. This is the first time that a court has said that students at public universities have a constitutional right to an educational environment free from sexual harassment by fellow students.