Ken Willner is a partner in the Paul Hastings Employment Law Department and is based in the firm's Washington, D.C. office. Mr. Willner represents employers, particularly focusing on employment discrimination class actions, employment testing and validation, wage/hour collective actions, statistics, disability discrimination; protection of employer intellectual property; and drug and alcohol testing.
Mr. Willner is a recognized leader of the management bar in the fields of employment discrimination class actions and employment testing and validation. He represents employers in employment law and litigation in federal and state courts and before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.
He has deep experience with employment law class actions, employment testing, test validation, statistics, expert witnesses, as well as individual cases, discrimination litigation, sexual harassment, disability discrimination, wage and hour advice and litigation, family/medical leave, affirmative action, compliance reviews, wrongful discharge, traditional labor law, labor relations, unfair labor practice charges, executive contract negotiations, protection of employer intellectual property, non-competition covenants, drug and alcohol testing, and employment law torts. Mr. Willner’s clients include companies that make or use employment tests, financial institutions, major retail chains, airlines, manufacturers, government entities, government contractors, high-tech firms, industry associations, local government associations, professional service organizations, accounting firms, law firms, real estate companies, environmental companies, and individuals.
- Chambers USA, Labor & Employment (2009-2022)
- Recognized by The Legal 500 for Labor and Employment Disputes
- Elected a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
- Recognized by Chambers and Partners as a leading lawyer in labor and employment law
- Recognized in Best Lawyers in America
- Ranked by peers as among the Washington, D.C. "Super Lawyers"
- University of Virginia School of Law, J.D., 1987; Order of the Coif; Virginia Law Review
- University of Virginia, B.A., 1984
- Represented two federal agencies in large discrimination class actions.
- Represented a national retailer in nationwide discrimination and wage and hour class actions.
- Represented a broadcaster in a me-too sexual harassment litigation.
- Represent a major tech company in a large discrimination class action.
- Represented an auto manufacturer in a large discrimination class action.
- Represented an airline in a large discrimination class action.
- Represented a financial services company in an executive termination litigation.
- Represented a major employment testing company with respect to EEOC litigation concerning tests administered to millions of applicants.
- Defended multiple appeals of federal district court victories.
- Advised a major employment testing company with respect to the design and validation of next generation assessments to be administered as part of an electronic application process hosted by client.
- Advised an investment bank with respect to the design and validation of "big data" selection systems.
- Advised a manufacturer with respect to risk assessment of testing programs at 30 manufacturing plants, distribution centers, and headquarters facilities in the United States, and with respect to modification and validation of testing programs.
- Advised a hedge fund with respect to design and validation of on-line employment testing programs for all management and some non-management hires.
- Advised a utility company with respect to design and validation of testing programs for all jobs.
- Advised a major retail chain with respect to design and validation of a testing program and high-potential assessment for all store management positions in the United States as required by the settlement of a class action alleging discrimination in selections for those jobs.
- Advised a manufacturer with respect to design and validation of assessments for mechanics and operator jobs at all plants and mills.
- Advised a nationwide health care provider with respect to risks assessment of testing program.
- Advised a major retail chain with respect to validation of testing program for all store managers, district managers and warehouse managers.
- Testified at EEOC invitation as management bar representative at an EEOC Commission meeting addressing legal issues in employment testimony.
- Invited by the American Psychological Association to comment on the Revised Standards for Psychological testing, and invited to present on legal issues in testing to the Society of Industrial Organization Psychologists.
Engagement & Publications
- Multi-Plaintiff and Class Action Sex Harassment and Retaliation Cases: A Defense Perspective, in Litigating the Gender Harassment and Retaliation Case (ABA TIPS forthcoming 2018)
- Workplace Personality Testing: Towards a Better Way of Determining Whether Personality Tests Are Prohibited Pre-Offer Medical Exams under the Americans with Disabilities Act (with Steve Sonnenberg), Employee Relations Law Journal (Winter 2016)
- "Post-Dukes, Are Disparate Impact Claims the Next Wave of EEO Class Actions?," ABA National Conference on Equal Employment Opportunity Law, Section of Labor and Employment law, April 2016
- "Developments in Equal Employment Opportunity," National Employment Law Institute (NELI) 43rd Annual Employment Law Update, July, 2019 and NELI 39th Annual Public Sector EEO and Employment Law Conference, August 2019
- "Burden of Proof – Can I-Os [Industrial Organization Psychologists] and Employment Counsel Successfully Collaborate?," 32d Annual Conference of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), April 2017
- "Current Evidentiary Problems in Employment Litigation," ALI, Advanced Employment Law and Litigation Conference, March 2015, February 2014, May 2013 and March 2013
- "Psychiatric and Psychological Exams of Employees," Practising Law Institute, Psychological Issues in Employment Law, March 2015
- "Drug Testing Issues," ALI, Airline and Railroad Labor and Employment Law: A Comprehensive Analysis, April 2014
- "Class Actions after Walmart," ALI, Advanced Employment Law and Litigation Conference, February 2014 and March 2013
- "Choosing and Working With an Expert Witness," and "Class Actions after Walmart," ERS Group, Employment Discrimination: Economic and Statistical Evidence Seminar, February 2014
- "Major Employee Leave Laws," Webcredenza, Managing Employee Leave telephone seminar, July 2013
- Member of the Employment Law sections of the American Bar Association, the Virginia Bar Association, and the District of Columbia Bar Association
- Admitted to the Bar Associations of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the District of Columbia, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court; U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fourth, Sixth, Eighth, Tenth, and District of Columbia Circuits; and the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern District of Virginia, the District of Columbia, and the Western District of Pennsylvania