Athena Herman began practicing law with Benassi & Benassi immediately after graduating law school in 1997.
She was privileged to learn employment law and litigation with Patricia Benassi, a co-founder of Benassi & Benassi with her husband, A. Lou Benassi. While Lou Benassi focused on family law, medical malpractice and personal injury, Patricia Benassi and Athena Herman worked as a team on civil rights/employment cases on behalf of employees. Together, they obtained the biggest jury verdicts of the firm's history, including Ryan & Gillespie v. DCFS (Constitutional rights, $4.9 million); David v. Caterpillar (Title VII, $850,000); and Albright v. Caterpillar (worker's compensation retaliation, $1.76 million). They also obtained many favorable settlements against some of the largest employers, e.g., Radmanovich & Mausshardt v. Combined Insurance Company of America (class action sex discrimination, $ 9 million); Woodward v. Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America (class action race discrimination); Burwell v. City of Peoria ($550,000 gender discrimination & retaliation for a single plaintiff); and $1.1 million on behalf of a white security guard and white teachers against Peoria Public School District 150 (reverse race discrimination & retaliation).
With Patricia Benassi as her mentor, Athena Herman learned the law, strategy and perseveranceÂ and to represent courageous underdogs against the biggest companies and defense firms. Athena was proud to be identified by the Law Bulletin as one of Illinois- Top 40 Attorneys under 40 in 2011 (one of only two lawyers given that distinction outside the Chicago area).
When Patricia retired from the active practice of law in 2013, Athena dedicated herself to carrying on the firm's tradition of excellence. For example, the EEOC issued 48 findings on behalf of her clients against Caterpillar regarding age discrimination; the Central District of Illinois conditionally certified a collective action against a Bloomington employer in an overtime Fair Labor Standards Act case; and the Illinois Department of Human Rights issued findings of substantial evidence in favor of her clients, a large group of women, concerning sexual harassment and/or retaliation at WeaverRidge Golf Club.
In addition to representing employees and select employers in litigation, Athena Herman routinely negotiates separation and severance agreements on behalf of workers and high-level executives, and regularly presents regarding federal court practice and employment law at educational seminars hosted by the Illinois State Bar Association and Peoria County Bar Association. She was appointed to the Federal Rules Advisory Committee by the judges of the Central District of Illinois.
When Athena is not advocating on behalf of her clients, she enjoys spending time with her family. After his service in the United States Army and active service in Iraq, her husband, Joshua Herman, became a partner with the lawfirm Miller Hall & Triggs. Their two children inspire them every day. As a prior national champion of the Bradley University Speech Team, Athena has also enjoyed reliving her college glory-days and assisting the Team for many years as an alumni.