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2014 Virginia Legal Elite - Labor/Employment Law

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Karen A. Doner Photo by Mark Rhodes

Karen A. Doner
Roth Doner Jackson PLC, McLean

Title: Founding partner
Other legal specialties: Commercial litigation
Birthplace:  Montreal
Education: Bachelor’s degree, University of Delaware; law degree, Loyola University of Chicago School of Law.
Spouse:  Andrew Doner
Children:  Ethan, 11, and Claire, 8
Hobbies or pastimes:  I love cooking and spending time with family and good friends. My favorite thing to do on the weekend is to invite friends over for dinner with their kids. 
First job as a lawyer:  Hazel & Thomas PC
Favorite vacation spot:  Cape Cod. We went there for the first time last summer and loved it. We enjoyed clamming, fishing, lobstering, and spending lots of quality time as a family.
Recently read books:  “Rare Bird” by Anna Whiston-Donaldson, who lives in my town.  It is a book about grief, but it is also about hope.
Career mentor:  I have been fortunate to have many mentors in the legal profession, including Mark Dare, Doug Nabhan, Sandy Tucker and John Walker to name a few. I initially became interested in employment law because of my law school professor Christine Cooper, who remains an inspiration to me.  My family has also mentored me in other ways — if I did not have my husband’s and my parents’ support in 2010 when I started my own firm along with my two partners, I would never have had the courage to do it. I do my best to support and mentor younger attorneys to pay it forward.

What trends are you seeing in discrimination and harassment cases? 
One first trend I have observed is that each year I see more and more wage/hour cases under the FLSA [Fair Labor Standards Act], including off-the-clock work and exempt versus non-exempt misclassifications, being brought in federal court. The U.S. Department of Labor seems to be increasing both its targeted and random audits as well.  Another trend I have seen is an increase in the number of claims of disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The changes to the act that occurred in 2008 (which significantly expanded the definition of those deemed “disabled”) have made these types of claims much more desirable for plaintiffs to pursue.

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