Marni Willenson Biography

Marni Willenson is a tenacious litigator with a record of real results. As lead counsel in class action wage and hour litigation, she has recovered millions of dollars in back wages and other damages in cases prosecuted in federal courts across the nation. She has asserted the legal rights of low-wage and immigrant workers cheated out of their wages and whistleblowers fired for exposing fraud. Ms. Willenson was named an Illinois SuperLawyer in employment law in 2012 and 2013.

Ms. Willenson has played a leading or important role in cases that have led to significant legal decisions that will help to protect individuals from retaliation and abuse. In the case Rosiles-Perez v. Superior Forestry Service, Inc., No. 06-0006 (M.D. Tenn.), the federal court in Tennessee imposed severe sanctions against the defendants for violating its orders protecting the workers bringing the case from threats and retaliation, including an unusual order barring the defendants from introducing any of their own evidence on damages. In the case Chandler v. Hektoen, which led to a unanimous Supreme Court decision upholding the right of whistleblowers to file fraud claims against city and county governments, Ms. Willenson handled all of the complex issues relating to the discovery of medical records that were critical to resolving the case. As the litigation coordinator of Farmworker Justice, Ms. Willenson was co-counsel on a case that affirmed the right of public access to important Department of Labor records.

Ms. Willenson’s experience is in a wide range of civil rights, employment discrimination, wage and hour disputes, fraud and whistleblower cases, election law, and other commercial and civil litigation. She has represented individuals in industries as diverse as health care, public safety, federal sector, farmwork, landscaping, marketing, and general labor.

Before founding her own practice, Ms. Willenson served as the litigation coordinator of Farmworker Justice, a national organization that uses litigation, advocacy and education to improve the working conditions and health and safety of migrant and seasonal farmworkers. Prior to that, she was a partner at the civil rights law firm where President Obama was also of counsel. After graduating law school, she won a prestigious Skadden Fellowship and spent four years on the staff of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

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