Katherine M. Forster

Profile
Community Involvement
Speaking Engagements
Background

Katherine M. Forster is a partner in the employment department at Munger, Tolles & Olson. Ms. Forster represents employers in class and representative actions; wage/hour and compensation disputes; trade secrets; wrongful termination, discrimination and harassment litigation; and appellate matters. In addition to her litigation practice, Ms. Forster advises employers on compliance with state and federal labor laws. She has extensive experience in the financial services, food and beverage distribution, retail, entertainment and media, technology, communications, and nonprofit sectors.

Ms. Forster received the Distinguished Service Award from the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles (WLALA) in 2016. She has also been repeatedly recognized in Chambers USA, and the Daily Journal has named her among its Top Labor & Employment Lawyers and Top 100 Women Lawyers in California. In addition, Ms. Forster has regularly been selected for inclusion in Southern California Super Lawyers® and in 2016 was listed among the Top 50 Women Attorneys in Southern California.

Ms. Forster has prevailed at trial as well as on dispositive motions, defeated class certification, enforced arbitration agreements, and obtained extraordinary settlements. She has litigated numerous class and representative wage/hour actions; pattern-and-practice discrimination cases; executive compensation matters; and other complex employment-related disputes. Ms. Forster’s key representations include:

  • A high-profile nonprofit foundation defending against a legal challenge to an internship program it funds to encourage underrepresented groups to pursue museum careers.
  • A large retailer defending against claims it violated state law by failing to provide seats to cashiers.
  • A major healthcare provider in two related wage and hour class actions.
  • Southern California Edison in obtaining the dismissal of a putative class action alleging a pattern and practice of racial discrimination and summary judgment in a related individual action.
  • Merrill Lynch in its defense against a nationwide wage and hour class action by its financial advisors.
  • Smart & Final in obtaining the dismissal of a putative class action alleging improper wage garnishment practices.
  • 99 Cents Only Stores in obtaining the dismissal of a putative representative action asserting the failure to provide suitable seating for retail employees.
  • NBCUniversal in attaining favorable settlements in two putative class actions alleging age discrimination against television writers by all the major TV networks, studios and talent agencies.

Ms. Forster authored an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the U.S. and California Chambers of Commerce in a California Supreme Court case of first impression regarding the state’s suitable seating law. She has obtained writ relief and successfully defended a number of rulings on appeal. Ms. Forster was also one of the principal counsel of record in Reynolds v. Bement, in which the California Supreme Court held that corporate officers and directors could not be held personally liable under the then-existing California Labor Code for wage claims by corporate employees.

In addition to her regular practice, Ms. Forster does extensive pro bono work in the areas of non-profit advice and counseling and impact litigation to promote LGBT rights. Among other things, she is leading a Munger Tolles team that, along with Lambda Legal, has brought a lawsuit asserting sex discrimination claims on behalf of a transgender veteran who was denied service at a local barbershop. She was also part of a team that successfully defended California’s law prohibiting licensed clinical professionals from practicing sexual orientation change efforts on minors. Ms. Forster has supervised junior lawyers at the firm in proceedings before the California Labor Commissioner to recover unpaid wages on behalf of exploited workers in the underground economy.
 

Katherine M. Forster is a partner in the employment department at Munger, Tolles & Olson. Ms. Forster represents employers in class and representative actions; wage/hour and compensation disputes; trade secrets; wrongful termination, discrimination and harassment litigation; and appellate matters. In addition to her litigation practice, Ms. Forster advises employers on compliance with state and federal labor laws. She has extensive experience in the financial services, food and beverage distribution, retail, entertainment and media, technology, communications, and nonprofit sectors.

Ms. Forster received the Distinguished Service Award from the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles (WLALA) in 2016. She has also been repeatedly recognized in Chambers USA, and the Daily Journal has named her among its Top Labor & Employment Lawyers and Top 100 Women Lawyers in California. In addition, Ms. Forster has regularly been selected for inclusion in Southern California Super Lawyers® and in 2016 was listed among the Top 50 Women Attorneys in Southern California.

Ms. Forster has prevailed at trial as well as on dispositive motions, defeated class certification, enforced arbitration agreements, and obtained extraordinary settlements. She has litigated numerous class and representative wage/hour actions; pattern-and-practice discrimination cases; executive compensation matters; and other complex employment-related disputes. Ms. Forster’s key representations include:

  • A high-profile nonprofit foundation defending against a legal challenge to an internship program it funds to encourage underrepresented groups to pursue museum careers.
  • A large retailer defending against claims it violated state law by failing to provide seats to cashiers.
  • A major healthcare provider in two related wage and hour class actions.
  • Southern California Edison in obtaining the dismissal of a putative class action alleging a pattern and practice of racial discrimination and summary judgment in a related individual action.
  • Merrill Lynch in its defense against a nationwide wage and hour class action by its financial advisors.
  • Smart & Final in obtaining the dismissal of a putative class action alleging improper wage garnishment practices.
  • 99 Cents Only Stores in obtaining the dismissal of a putative representative action asserting the failure to provide suitable seating for retail employees.
  • NBCUniversal in attaining favorable settlements in two putative class actions alleging age discrimination against television writers by all the major TV networks, studios and talent agencies.

Ms. Forster authored an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the U.S. and California Chambers of Commerce in a California Supreme Court case of first impression regarding the state’s suitable seating law. She has obtained writ relief and successfully defended a number of rulings on appeal. Ms. Forster was also one of the principal counsel of record in Reynolds v. Bement, in which the California Supreme Court held that corporate officers and directors could not be held personally liable under the then-existing California Labor Code for wage claims by corporate employees.

In addition to her regular practice, Ms. Forster does extensive pro bono work in the areas of non-profit advice and counseling and impact litigation to promote LGBT rights. Among other things, she is leading a Munger Tolles team that, along with Lambda Legal, has brought a lawsuit asserting sex discrimination claims on behalf of a transgender veteran who was denied service at a local barbershop. She was also part of a team that successfully defended California’s law prohibiting licensed clinical professionals from practicing sexual orientation change efforts on minors. Ms. Forster has supervised junior lawyers at the firm in proceedings before the California Labor Commissioner to recover unpaid wages on behalf of exploited workers in the underground economy.
 

Community Involvement

Ms. Forster is a past president of the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles (WLALA) and serves on the WLALA Foundation Board of Governors. In addition, she serves as Symposium Chair and a member of the Executive Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA) Labor and Employment Law Section.

Ms. Forster serves on the Downtown Women’s Center board as secretary and as a member of the Equality Council of Equality California. She was the founding chair of the LACBA/WLALA Joint Task Force on the Promotion and Retention of Women Lawyers (LACBA/WLALA Joint Task Force) and is a longtime member of California Women Lawyers, the Association of Business Trial Lawyers, the LGBT Bar Association, and the Labor and Employment Law Section of the California State Bar.

Under Ms. Forster’s leadership, the LACBA/WLALA Joint Task Force organized a groundbreaking summit meeting of managing partners and practice heads from Los Angeles area law firms to share strategies for retaining and promoting women lawyers. The Joint Task Force’s work was honored by the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations with its Outstanding Member Program Award.

Speaking Engagements

  • Employers Beware: What's Now, What's New and What's Next, Institute for Corporate Counsel
  • Trends in Wage and Hour Litigation – Perspectives from the Plaintiff and Defense Side, LACBA Labor & Employment Law Symposium
  • Year in Review, LACBA Labor & Employment Law Symposium
  • Employers Beware: What's Now, What's New and What's Next, Institute for Corporate Counsel
  • Trends in Wage and Hour Litigation – Perspectives from the Plaintiff and Defense Side, LACBA Labor & Employment Law Symposium
  • Navigating the Employee Leave Laws: What Happens When the Statutes Intersect, Conflict and Overlap? LACBA Labor & Employment Law Symposium
  • Eliminating Bias in the Legal Profession, Burbank and Orange County Bar Associations
  • Anatomy of the Plaintiff’s Employment Lawsuit and Cutting-Edge Employer Practices to Avoid Employment Lawsuits, LACBA
  • Nuts and Bolts of Employment Law, LACBA
  • Taking the Step to Federal Court, Federal Bar Association
  • “Tracking Diversity,” Continuing the Retention and Advancement of Women in Law Firms: Fresh Perspectives for Changing Times, LACBA/WLALA Joint Task Force
  • Sexual Harassment in the Legal Profession, WLALA
  • Law Firm Leaders’ Summit: Practical Ways to Retain and Promote Women Lawyers, LACBA and WLALA
     

Background

Ms. Forster received her undergraduate degree in politics from Princeton University. She obtained her law degree from the USC Gould School of Law, where she was elected to the Order of the Coif and served as executive senior editor of the Southern California Law Review. While in law school, Ms. Forster served as a legal writing instructor, president of the USC Women’s Law Association and a member of the WLALA Board of Governors.

Ms. Forster joined the firm after serving as a law clerk to the Honorable Edward Rafeedie of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Prior to entering law school, Ms. Forster was a project manager in the aerospace and defense industry.