Debra E. Schwartz

desAdmitted to bar: 1982, Georgia

Education: State University of New York at Binghamton (B.A. with honors, Phi Beta Kappa, 1979)
Emory University School of Law (J.D. 1982)

Debra Schwartz has been practicing in the area of employment law since her graduation from Emory Law School and admission to the Georgia Bar in 1982. Debra has a passion for representing employees exercising their rights under the federal anti-discrimination statutes, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act and the U.S. Constitution. She has also successfully defended claims of discrimination both before the EEOC and in federal and state courts, and has provided training for employers about appropriate workplace behavior.  Over the years, Debra has served as a cooperating attorney for both the ACLU and LAMBDA.  Debra has extensive trial experience in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia and has argued numerous cases before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. She has even petitioned the United States Supreme Court.

Debra is no stranger to taking on unpopular claims and causes.  She represented attorney Robin Shahar in her fight against discrimination by then State Attorney General Mike Bowers.  Debra successfully pursued a claim of whistle-blower retaliation brought by 3 individuals against the City of Atlanta, and even had the City held in contempt by a federal judge when it refused to reinstate the prevailing Plaintiffs and pay them the monies owed to them.  Debra represented Somalian workers employed cleaning airplanes at the Atlanta Airport who were terminated due to their inability to pass an English-only test.  On another occasion, Debra handled a case for a group of Islamic men terminated for refusing to shave their faces, as to do so was against their religion. Most recently Debra and Jay won a jury award of $700,000 on behalf of a MARTA police lieutenant who was retaliated against for exercising his rights.

Debra is always looking out for the interests of her clients, and that includes giving them an honest assessment of their case, handling mediations, and looking for win-win resolutions.

From 1982 until 1999, Debra worked for a union-side labor law firm, and started the firm’s Plaintiffs’ employment practice.  Debra handled employment discrimination litigation on behalf of individuals, as well as unions, their officers and members from claims of discrimination, and in arbitrations, hearings and traditional labor matters.

In 1999, Debra was a founding member of the firm, Thompson, Rollins & Schwartz, where she continued to concentrate strictly in employment law. During her 9 years with that firm, Debra became more and more involved in drafting and reviewing employment contracts, non-compete agreements and severance agreements for both employees and employers. Debra, who speaks frequently at Continuing Legal Education and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Seminars, is a long time member of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA), as well as a founding member of the Georgia chapter of NELA. She has been on a panel of lawyers that meets regularly with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to bring concerns of Charging Parties and their attorneys to the attention of the EEOC, and the Board of the Atlanta Bar Associations’s Lbor and Employment Section.

Debra has been recognized as one of the top attorneys in Georgia, indeed nationally, practicing labor and employment law.  In 2006, she was elected as a Fellow to the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. Debra has been named  as one of Georgia’s Super Lawyers, one of the Top 100 Attorneys in Georgia and one of the Top 50 Female Attorneys in Georgia, as published in Atlanta Magazine. Georgia Trend Magazine has also identified Debra as among Georgia’s “Legal Elite.”  Debra has been recognized as one of the country’s “Preeminent Women Lawyers” in the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register.  Debra and Jay are particularly pleased to have been recognize by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Law Firm.”

Legal Memberships
  • State Bar of Georgia
  • College of Labor and Employment Law
  • National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA)
  • Georgia Chapter of NELA, Past President
  • American Bar Association, Labor and Employment Section
  • Atlanta Bar Association, Labor and Employment Section, past Board Member
  • Georgia Association of Women Lawyers
Practice Areas
  • Employment Law and Civil Rights including: Wage and Hour Law, ERISA Discrimination, Employment Contracts and Severance Agreements
  • The Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers
  • Best Law Firms, U.S. News & World Report, 2013
  • “Georgia Super Lawyers, The Top Attorneys in Georgia,” Guide to Best Attorneys in Georgia: Law & Politics Magazine and Atlanta Magazine, March 2000 – 2013
  • “Georgia Super Lawyers, The Top Attorneys in Georgia, Top 100 Lawyers,” Guide to Best Attorneys in Georgia: Law & Politics Magazine and Atlanta Magazine, 2002 – 2013
  • “Georgia Super Lawyers, The Top Attorneys in Georgia, Top 50 Female Lawyers,” Guide to Best Attorneys in Georgia: Law & Politics Magazine and Atlanta Magazine, 2004 – 2013
  • “The Legal Elite: Georgia’s Most Effective Lawyers,” Georgia Trend Magazine, December 2005, 2006
  • “Best Lawyers in Georgia,” 2005 – 2013, Atlanta Business Magazine
  • Workplace Fairness volunteer
  • Fellow, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
  • The Best Lawyers in America, Best Lawyers, The World’s Premier Guide, Over 12 years
  • Top Lawyers, The American Lawyer, 2011 – 2013
  • “Top Attorneys in Georgia,” Atlanta Magazine, 2011, 2012, 2013
  • “Best Lawyers,” U.S. News & World Report, 2012, 2013
  • Attorney Referal List, U.S. EEOC
  • Top 50 Female Lawyers in Georgia, 2006 – 2011, 2013
  • Ameica’s Most Honored Professionals, Top 5 Percent, 2013
  • AV rated 15 yease, Martindale-Hubbell, “Highest Possible Peer Review Rating in Legal Ability and Ethical Standards

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945 E. Paces Ferry Road, Suite 2270 Atlanta, GA 30326 | 404.844.4130.