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Melinda Koster

Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP - New York
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Melinda Koster
Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP - New York
New York,
 NY

Melinda Koster is a Partner at Sanford Heisler Sharp and a Co-Chair of the firm’s Discrimination and Harassment Practice Group.

At Sanford Heisler Sharp, Melinda’s practice has focused on representing individuals and classes in discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wage and hour cases. In addition to representing clients in public litigation, she has recovered millions of dollars for employees through privately negotiated, confidential settlements. Melinda is passionate about vindicating her clients’ rights. An experienced advocate, she is committed to leveraging the law to create a more just workplace for employees. Clients have lauded Melinda for her powerful advocacy, sharp mind, and empathy.

Melinda’s representations have included:

  • Litigating on behalf of a class of thousands of female pharmaceutical sales representatives asserting gender and pregnancy discrimination claims, culminating in a $4 million Court-approved class settlement
  • Litigating a high-profile sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against Columbia University and winning a $1.25 million jury verdict, which lands among the Top 100 Civil Rights Violations Verdicts in the U.S. in 2018
  • Litigating an overtime class action case against telecommunications company Alaska Communications Systems and obtaining a multi-million dollar settlement on behalf of sales employees who alleged they were misclassified as exempt from overtime pay under state and federal law
  • Litigating on behalf of a class of truck drivers asserting wage and hour claims for unpaid overtime, culminating in a Court-approved six-figure class settlement
  • Negotiating a six-figure settlement on behalf of an employee in the financial services industry who was denied pregnancy accommodations and terminated while on maternity leave
  • Negotiating a six-figure settlement on behalf of an employee with pregnancy discrimination, caregiver discrimination, and retaliation claims
  • Negotiating a multi-year settlement on behalf of a female executive in the tech industry with gender-based pay discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination claims
  • Negotiating a multi-year settlement on behalf of an employee in the financial services industry with sexual harassment and retaliation claims

Melinda received her law degree from Stanford Law School and her undergraduate degree sum cum laude from Pomona College. At Stanford Law, Melinda was a Notes Editor for the Stanford Law Review and the recipient of the Gerald Gunther Prize for Outstanding Performance in Employment Law. She also served as a Co-President of the Stanford Public Interest Law Foundation, was on the board of Women of Stanford Law, and worked as a student attorney in Stanford’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic and Stanford’s Criminal Defense Clinic. In college, Melinda was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and was awarded the Ted Gleason prize in recognition of her leadership and exceptional contributions to the college community.

A member of the New York bar, Melinda is regularly called upon by the media to share her legal expertise on such issues as lactation accommodations in the workplace, paid leave laws, and pay equity statutes. She has also authored pieces on a variety of employment law topics, including a primer for employees returning from parental leave.

Before joining Sanford Heisler Sharp, Melinda clerked for the Honorable Julio M. Fuentes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and for the Honorable Esther Salas of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Before law school, Melinda worked as a legal assistant at CASA de Maryland, where she helped lawyers provide direct legal services to day laborers and domestic workers and delivered know-your-rights presentations.

In her spare time, Melinda enjoys traveling, practicing Pilates, and exploring Brooklyn’s many playgrounds and parks with her toddler.


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