Medina Orthwein

Speaker Bio

Felicia Medina is nationally acclaimed plaintiff side attorney, having secured some of the largest class and individual settlement awards in employment discrimination cases on record. With a passion to address systemic oppression by holding powerful private entities and public institutions accountable, Felicia co-founded Medina Orthwein LLP, a civil rights law firm in the San Francisco Bay Area. Medina Orthwein LLP specializes in employment discrimination, equal pay, sexual harassment, wage and hour violations, whistleblower retaliation claims, police and government misconduct, and challenges to conditions of confinement.

Felicia has led some of the country's most significant employment cases. She recently secured a $19.5 million pre-suit settlement against Qualcomm, Inc. on behalf of female tech employees in a pay and promotion class action (Pan et al. v. Qualcomm), another pre-suit class action settlement against Western Digital, and successfully resolved a gender discrimination and harassment lawsuit on behalf of a Hollywood executive against Viacom, Inc. and Black Entertainment Television Inc. (Mashariki v. Viacom, BET). Under Felicia's leadership, Medina Orthwein LLP has amassed significant successes litigating against major corporations in the equal pay, Title IX, discrimination, harassment, and whistleblower contexts since it was founded in 2017.

Medina has successfully represented clients from all walks of life, including C-Suite executives, working mothers and parents, STEM scientists and engineers, and and sales employees with discrimination, harassment, retaliation, whistleblower, and wrongful termination claims. She regularly consults with clients on an individual and confidential basis. Her expertise extends to a variety of industries, including STEM, entertainment, legal services, pharmaceuticals, biotech, finance, manufacturing, and retail. She has worked on over twenty-five class action lawsuits and has secured millions of dollars in settlements, damages, and programmatic relief measures for her clients.

In her early years as a plaintiff lawyer, Felicia quickly stood out in the top of the field by helping secure the largest employment gender discrimination verdict in U.S. history in Velez v. Novartis. The presiding federal judge described the case as having been “œbrilliantly tried.” After the seven-week trial and historic $250 million verdict, Felicia and her prior firm obtained a court-approved settlement of $175 million on behalf of 6,000 women with pay, promotion, and caregiver claims.

After the Novartis trial, Felicia quickly rose through the ranks from Associate to Managing Partner in Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP's San Francisco office, an office she opened, becoming one of the few queer women of color in a leadership position in a national law firm. After becoming a partner, Felicia secured an $8.2 million gender discrimination class action settlement with Daiichi Sankyo, the first case to be conditionally certified under the Equal Pay Act in the Ninth Circuit, and settled several significant multi-party and individual pre-suit matters.

Appellate work is also one of Felicia's and her firm's specialties. In Sandquist v. Lebo Automotive et al., Felicia represented a former Sales Manager in a class action alleging rampant race discrimination at John Elway's Manhattan Beach Toyota. However, before the Court addressed Mr. Sandquist's claims, the litigation became focused on the interpretation of the company's arbitration agreement. In 2014, Felicia won a reversal of the trial court's 2012 order dismissing Sandquist's class claims with prejudice. Defendants appealed and in July 2016, the Supreme Court of California sided with Felicia's team after oral arguments were presented to the Supreme Court of California. In 2010, Medina also successfully argued an appeal at the U.S. District Court – Sixth Circuit in Barrett v. Whirlpool, a race discrimination and harassment case.

Felicia regularly speaks on impact litigation strategy, race and gender justice, sexual harassment, and equal pay issues. She has been honored as a 2018 San Francisco Business Times OUTstanding Voices recipient; 2017 Daily Journal Leading Labor and Employment Attorneys in California; a 2016 National LGBT Bar Association ““ Best LGBT Lawyer Under 40; a 2015 National Diversity Council Most Powerful/Influential Woman; and a Law360 2014 Minority Power Broker.

Medina is currently on the Board of Directors for the National Center of Lesbian Rights (NLCR) and is on the board of FAIR, an organization that awards scholarships to diverse law students seeking to do employment law.

Prior to entering plaintiff side work, Medina graduated from Yale Law School in 2006 and then joined Morrison & Foerster LLP.