DLA Piper announced today that Phyllis Cheng has joined the firm’s Employment practice as a partner in the Los Angeles office.
Cheng previously served as Director of California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), the largest state civil rights agency in the country. She was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in January 2008 and retained by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
In her role at DFEH, Cheng established a program of systemic investigation and litigation that achieved historic seven-figure settlements during the state’s multibillion dollar budget deficits. She also launched a dispute resolution division to provide free and confidential out-of-court mediation services for parties; spearheaded Governor Brown’s legislative reform of civil rights enforcement; partnered with law schools and colleges to recruit and train future generations of lawyers and investigators; and modernized the agency’s case management system.
At DLA Piper she will combine her experience in employment matters and public policy to help regional, national and international clients navigate California’s complex employment laws and regulations.
“Phyllis is a seasoned practitioner who will complement our strong employment law practice,” said Maria Rodriguez, who heads DLA Piper’s Los Angeles Employment group. “Her impressive accomplishments in government and private practice will be an asset to the firm and our clients domestically and around the world.”
Cheng will also leverage her legislative and policy experience in working with members of DLA Piper’s Government Affairs practice. According to Ignacio Sanchez, co-chair of the group, “Phyllis’s outstanding public service and extensive legal experience give her special insight into the intersection of law, policy and business. We look forward to collaborating with her to solve problems and address our clients’ issues on legislative, regulatory and public policy developments in California, Washington, DC, and across the nation.”
Earlier in her career, Cheng worked in private practice and focused on employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination litigation, as well as advice, counseling, and training. She served as lead counsel on numerous administrative, trial and appellate court cases.
“Phyllis’s in-depth employment law background uniquely positions her to handle the most complex matters, from both regulatory and litigation perspectives,” said Michael Sheehan, global co-chair of DLA Piper’s Employment practice. “She is an ideal fit for our platform and will assist on a broad range of international employment matters.”
The State Bar of California named Cheng the 2012 Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year, and she was featured on the May 2014 cover of Inside Counsel magazine. She earned her B.A. and M.Ed. from the University of California, Los Angeles, her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, and her J.D. from Southwestern Law School.
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