Katherine M. Forster is a partner in the employment department at Munger, Tolles & Olson. In addition to having litigated scores of wage/hour and discrimination class actions as well as collective and representative actions, Ms. Forster has particular expertise in helping companies navigate highly sensitive claims for sexual harassment, gender discrimination and pay equity.
Her litigation experience includes whistleblower retaliation claims, executive compensation matters, trade secrets disputes, constitutional issues and claims arising under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, as well as federal and state employment laws. Ms. Forster also handles internal investigations and provides strategic labor law compliance advice to employers and management.
She has extensive experience in the entertainment and media, technology, retail, food and beverage distribution, financial services, communications and nonprofit sectors. Ms. Forster received the Distinguished Service Award from the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles (WLALA) in 2016.
She has also been repeatedly recognized in Chambers USA, and the Daily Journal has named her among its Top Labor & Employment Lawyers and Top 100 Women Lawyers in California. Ms. Forster has prevailed at trial as well as on dispositive motions, defeated class certification, enforced arbitration agreements and obtained extraordinary settlements. Her key representations include:
- A publicly traded company defending against claims for whistleblower retaliation under the Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank Acts.
- A high-profile nonprofit foundation defending against a legal challenge to an internship program it funds to encourage underrepresented groups to pursue museum careers.
- Southern California Edison in obtaining the dismissal of a putative class action alleging a pattern and practice of racial discrimination and summary judgment in a related individual action.
- NBCUniversal in attaining favorable settlements in two putative class actions alleging age discrimination against television writers by all the major TV networks, studios and talent agencies.
Ms. Forster authored an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the U.S. and California Chambers of Commerce in a California Supreme Court case of first impression regarding the state’s suitable seating law. She was also one of the principal counsel of record in Reynolds v. Bement, in which the California Supreme Court held that corporate officers and directors could not be held personally liable under the then-existing California Labor Code for wage claims by corporate employees.
In addition to her regular practice, Ms. Forster does extensive pro bono work in the areas of non-profit advice and counseling and impact litigation to promote LGBT rights. Among other things, she led a Munger Tolles team that, along with Lambda Legal, brought a lawsuit asserting sex discrimination claims on behalf of a transgender veteran who was denied service at a local barbershop. She is also part of a team that has successfully defended California’s law prohibiting licensed clinical professionals from practicing sexual orientation change efforts on minors.
- USC Gould School of Law (J.D., 2001) Order of the Coif; Judge Barry Russell Award for Outstanding Achievement in Federal Courts and Practice Course; Law Guild of Beverly Hills Eleanor Klein Merit Award; USC Scribes Award for Best Student Note (National)
- Princeton University (A.B., 1991)
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- U.S. District Court, Central District of California
- U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California
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