"I am deeply committed to protecting the rights of individuals who have been victimized by discrimination, sexual harassment or have been mistreated because they have done the right thing — whether it be reporting issues affecting the public health and safety or objecting to illegal business practices. These individuals deserve tough, tenacious, and principled advocates. I work hard every day to be just that."
"My father says that I was born arguing about fairness and social justice issues, and that attending law school was just a formality."
Recognized as "Civil Rights Lawyer of the Year" for Washington, D.C. by Best Lawyers® for 2018, as one of the “toughest” employment lawyers in Washington, D.C. by Washingtonian magazine, and as an expert in sexual harassment, employment, and whistleblower law by The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME magazine and others, Debra S. Katz has been successfully litigating employment discrimination, civil rights, and whistleblower protection cases for over 35 years.
Ms. Katz is a founding partner of Katz Banks Kumin, where she concentrates her practice on employment discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Sarbanes-Oxley, corporate, environmental and other whistleblower retaliation claims, SEC whistleblower tips, and contractual employment disputes. She has developed extensive litigation experience in federal and local courts and has achieved significant courtroom successes in a number of high-profile cases. Throughout her legal career, Ms. Katz has successfully represented hundreds of whistleblowers in the nuclear, financial, pharmaceutical and medical-device industries. Currently, she represents Dr. Rick Bright, the former director of the Department of Health and Human Services' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, who was removed from his position after raising concerns over the administration's inadequate preparation for the Coronavirus pandemic, and the subsequent interference into vaccine and treatment approval processes. She also regularly handles cases involving fraud in government contracts, including most recently at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Washingtonian Magazine selected Ms. Katz for its “Top Lawyers” list from 2004 to 2020, naming her one of the magazine’s top 30 “Stars of the Bar” in its biennial listings, and calling Ms. Katz, "Washington's top attorney for women who want to fight back," in a 2018 profile. She was selected for inclusion in the 2006-2023 editions of The Best Lawyers in America®, named the Best Lawyers 2018 Civil Rights Law "Lawyer of the Year" in Washington, D.C., and rated by Martindale-Hubbell as “AV Preeminent,” its highest possible peer review rating. Law360 recognized her as a 2019 "Titan of the Plaintiffs Bar," in 2018, the Washington Business Journal selected Ms. Katz as an honoree in the Managing Partner category of its annual C-Suite Awards, and the National Law Journal honored Ms. Katz as a Washington D.C. Trailblazer in 2020. In its 2021 U.S. guide, Chambers and Partners recognized Ms. Katz in Band 1 of employment plaintiff attorneys in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Katz has been profiled as one of Washington D.C.'s "Women Who Mean Business" by the Washington Business Journal in 2020, as a pioneering #MeToo attorney by the Washington Post in "The feared attorney of the #MeToo moment," and a "Leading #MeToo Lawyer" by Washingtonian Magazine. Additionally, in a 2021 profile piece, the Associated Press called Ms. Katz and partner Lisa Banks the "top #MeToo legal duo." For her extraordinary work representing victims of sexual harassment and assault, as well as advocating for legislative change, the Metropolitan Washington Employment Lawyers Association recognized Ms. Katz with its 2019 Lawyers of the Year Award. And for her work as part of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's legal team, the Women's Bar Association recognized Ms. Katz with the "Dare to Make an Impact" award.
Ms. Katz was named by Super Lawyers as a leading Washington, D.C. lawyer in 2007-2021, and was also recognized by Super Lawyers as a top 100 lawyer in Washington, D.C. and top 50 female lawyer in Washington, D.C. from 2009-2021. Ms. Katz has been profiled as a pioneering whistleblower attorney in the 2009 Super Lawyer’s article, “Protecting the Insider.”
In 2019 and 2021, Washingtonian Magazine recognized Ms. Katz as one of "Washington's 150 Most Powerful Women," a biennial list honoring women in the D.C. area who have achieved great success. In 2007, Human Resource Executive magazine named Ms. Katz one of the nation’s “Top 10 Plaintiffs’ Attorneys to Fear the Most.” Lawdragon has selected Ms. Katz to its 2013-2014 list of "The 500 Leading Lawyers in America," and as one of Lawdragon's 500 Leading Plaintiff Employment Lawyers from 2018-2019.
Additionally, the Victim Rights Law Center honored Ms. Katz and Ms. Banks at its Shining Star Gala with the 2019 Leadership Award for their representation of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
Ms. Katz serves as Vice Chair on the Board of Directors of the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), a nonpartisan independent government watchdog. POGO's mission is to strengthen laws and regulations to protect whistleblowers from intimidation and retaliation and to create a more accountable and effective federal government by investigating allegations of government corruption and misconduct.
Ms. Katz is a contributing writer for Ms. Magazine, where she writes about legal issues of importance to women. In 2019, Ms. Magazine honored Ms. Katz with the "Wonder Woman Award" for her work fighting against injustices faced by women and girls because of their gender.
Ms. Katz received her Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, from Union College, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She received her J.D. degree, cum laude, from the University of Wisconsin Law School, where she served as a member of the Wisconsin Law Review and as Articles Editor of the Wisconsin Women’s Law Journal. Following law school, Ms. Katz clerked for the Hon. William Bablitch on the Wisconsin Supreme Court and held a Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship at Georgetown University Law Center.
Ms. Katz is a member of the District of Columbia and New York Bar Associations, the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States and the bars of several federal courts of appeals.