Katz Banks Kumin, LLP
After a long and distinguished career in the federal government with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Ms. Wheeler joined Katz Banks Kumin in August 2015.
As an appellate lawyer with the EEOC, Ms. Wheeler was in the forefront of developing cutting edge legal arguments and theories to prove discrimination and harassment under Title VII, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Equal Pay Act. Ms. Wheeler was an Assistant General Counsel in EEOC’s Office of General Counsel, Appellate Services Division, for 25 years, and for 12 years served intermittently as the Acting Associate General Counsel, with responsibility for managing the entire office and staff.
As an Assistant General Counsel, she supervised six attorneys who prepared briefs and argued appeals in EEOC cases in all the federal courts of appeals, as well as the Supreme Court, and who filed briefs as amicus curiae in cases raising important legal issues under EEOC’s statutes. For example, Ms. Wheeler worked on the landmark case UAW v. Johnson Controls, which held that fetal protection policies that bar fertile women from particular jobs violate Title VII and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
Throughout her tenure with the Commission, Ms. Wheeler participated in countless conferences and internal training sessions on the import of the many decisions from the Supreme Court, and also conducted agency-wide internal training on all of the legislative and regulatory responses to the Court’s decisions. In addition, she frequently spoke at labor and employment law conferences on topics ranging from harassment to retaliation as well as all the emerging issues of coverage and accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Upon her departure from the Commission, the agency acknowledged her achievements in developing the law and in mentoring and training several generations of EEOC lawyers and investigators.
During her tenure with Katz Banks Kumin, Ms. Wheeler’s practice has focused primarily on assisting clients with disability, age, gender, and race claims and she has resolved many cases through private settlements without the need for litigation. She also handled the Title IX case brought on behalf of students at a college in Virginia which led to a favorable decision in the Fourth Circuit in Feminist Majority Foundation v. University of Mary Washington, holding the students had stated a viable sexual harassment claim based on anonymous, threatening social media posts. She has also prepared a number of appellate briefs on behalf of amici such as the National Women’s Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Metropolitan Washington Employment Lawyers Association.
Prior to joining the EEOC in 1988, Ms. Wheeler served for three years as Law Clerk to the Honorable Thomas Tang of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. She graduated from the University of Montana School of Law, with high honors, and is a charter-invited member of the Edward Coke Appellate Inn of Court, the only inn comprised exclusively of appellate practitioners. Before attending law school, Ms. Wheeler taught English for 8 years at the Universities of Montana and Missouri, and Humanities and Women’s Studies for two years at the University of Montana. She earned her A.B. and M.A. degrees in English with Honors from the University of Missouri, and completed all course work toward a Ph.D. in American Intellectual History at the University of Montana before attending law school.