Employment Discrimination Law Summer Workshop – Session 2

Date: Thursday, August 18 2022, 12:00 – 1:30 PM ET

Webinar Description:

Please join us for the second session of the ED Section’s Summer workshops, which help Section members workshop research projects at stages from incubator sessions to discussions of drafts. This session will include discussion of a project by Ryan Nelson (on “An Employment Discrimination Class Action by Any Other Name”), with initial comments from Sandra Sperino; and an incubator session for a project by Sherley Cruz (on “Decoding the Barriers within Workplace Sexual Harassment Policies”) with initial comments from Shayak Sarkar. These presentations will be followed by discussion with attendees.


Learning Objectives:


*This Webinar was not recorded.




Sherley Cruz, J.D., Assistant Professor, University of Tennessee College of Law


Professor Sherley Cruz began working with the University of Tennessee College of Law in 2019 teaching and supervising students in the Advocacy Clinic. Her scholarship explores the intersections of access to justice, low-wage workers’ rights, and cross-cultural communications. An up-and-coming scholar, her most recent law review article, Essentially Unprotected, received UT Law’s Wilkinson Junior Research award and was selected for presentation at the 2021 Equality Law Scholars’ Forum and the 2021 AALS New Voices of Poverty Law Workshop. Cruz currently serves as a faculty fellow for UTK’s Office of Community Engagement and Outreach and served on UTK’s Junior Faculty Fellows Advisory Council. In the spring of 2022, Cruz received UTK’s Angie Warren Perkins Chancellor’s Honors award for promise as a scholar and professor. She is the co-chair of the AALS Clinicians of Color Committee, on the Advisory Board of the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy, and serves on the Executive Board of the AALS Civil Rights Section. Prior to joining UT Law, Cruz was a Practitioner in Residence with American University’s Washington College of Law’s Civil Advocacy Clinic (WCL) where she supervised law students on economic justice cases such as wage theft, unemployment insurance, and community legal education matters. Washington College of Law’s Public Interest Program recognized Cruz’s commitment to public interest by awarding her with the 2018 Public Interest Program Faculty Award. Cruz was the Director of Litigation and Education and a Clinical Fellow at Suffolk University Law School with the housing discrimination testing program and accelerator practice. While at Suffolk, she supervised law students handling housing discrimination cases and conducted community legal education regarding fair housing duties and responsibilities. She also created and taught an innovative community lawyering seminar that explored the lawyer’s role in community organizing and campaigns. Cruz started her teaching career as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Boston University School of Law where she led the Employment Rights Clinic.

Before becoming a professor, Cruz worked as a staff attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services in the Employment Law Unit. There she represented low-wage and immigrant workers with unemployment, wage and hour, discrimination, workplace harassment, and working condition issues, in addition to supporting immigrant worker centers with organizing campaigns and community actions. Cruz has also served as the Outreach Coordinator for the Office of the Attorney General of Massachusetts’s Fair Labor Division.Born in the Dominican Republic, Cruz has a J.D. from Boston University School of Law and a B.A., cum laude, from Boston University. She has been an active leader in community and bar associations. Her former service includes chair of the DC Hispanic Bar Public Service Committee, vice president of the Massachusetts Association of Hispanics, the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, and the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association’s Women’s Leadership Initiative. The National Law Journal and Connecticut Law Tribune recognized Cruz as a 2015 Boston Rising Star. In 2012, the Massachusetts Bar Association and Lawyers Weekly recognized Cruz as an Up and Coming Lawyer.



Ryan Nelson, J.D., LL.M, Assistant Professor of Law, South Texas College of Law Houston


Ryan H. Nelson joined the faculty at South Texas College of Law Houston in 2021. His research focuses on leveraging the civil litigation system to advance the rights of poor and other marginalized workers, most often with respect to discrimination, harassment, wages, leaves of absence, and accommodations. His scholarship has been published or is forthcoming in the Michigan Law Review, B.Y.U. Law Review, Pepperdine Law Review, Tennessee Law Review, Yale Law and Policy Review, and the online companions to the N.Y.U. Law Review, California Law Review, and Vanderbilt Law Review. He has advised state attorneys’ general offices and other administrative agencies on employment law reforms and helped to draft associated proposed legislation and regulations. Moreover, he has provided legal commentary for Fox 26 Houston and in periodicals like USA Today and the Houston Chronicle.

Before joining South Texas, Ryan completed a research fellowship with the Harvard Law School Project on Disability and taught on the adjunct faculty at Boston University School of Law, New England Law | Boston, and New York Law School. He also spent nearly a decade practicing labor and employment law, including as in-house employment law counsel for one of the world’s largest financial services companies and as an attorney with one of the top labor and employment law firms in the country where he specialized in workplace affirmative action law. He obtained his LL.M. from Harvard Law School where he was awarded the Irving Oberman Memorial Prize for Best Paper on Law and Social Change; his J.D., cum laude, from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, where he served on the Editorial Board of the Moot Court Honor Society; and his B.S.B.A. with a major in economics from the University of Florida where he was a National Merit Scholar and became an avid fan of Florida Gators football.

In his free time, Ryan enjoys trivia (he loves pub trivia and has appeared as a contestant on Jeopardy!Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, and The Hustler), karaoke (with a preference for country music and musical theater), and board games (his favorites include Pandemic Legacy, Hansa Teutonica, Sushi Go Party!, Ticket to Ride, and Chess).



Shayak Sarkar, Ph.D., J.D., Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law


Shayak Sarkar’s scholarship addresses the structure and legal regulation of inequality. His substantive interests lie in financial regulation, employment law, immigration, and taxation. He obtained his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard. Professor Sarkar clerked for the Hon. Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Prior to his clerkship, he practiced as an employment attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services, where he focused on domestic workers’ rights. He received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was active in the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project and the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic. He also served as a Coker Fellow in Contracts and received the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. Before law school he studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, where he earned masters degrees, with distinction, in social work and development economics.

His research has appeared or is forthcoming in academic journals including the California Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, the Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, and the Review of Economics and Statistics.



Sandra Sperino, J.D., Elwood L. Thomas Missouri Endowed Professor of Law, University of Missouri School of Law


Sandra F. Sperino will be the Elwood L. Thomas Missouri Endowed Professor of Law at Mizzou Law. Sperino is coming from the University of Cincinnati College of Law where she holds a faculty position as the Judge Joseph P. Kinneary Professor. Her scholarship focuses on how judges resolve employment law disputes.

Sperino is the author of two treatises in employment discrimination law: McDonnell Douglas: “The Most Important Case in Employment Discrimination Law” (Bloomberg 2018) (2d ed. 2019) and “The Law of Federal Employment Discrimination (West 2019). Her book, “Unequal: How America’s Courts Undermine Discrimination Law” (Oxford Univ. Press 2017) (w/ Thomas) earned the 2021 Civil Justice Scholarship Award from the Pound Civil Justice Institute. Her recent articles are published in the Michigan Law Review, the University of Illinois Law Review, the Alabama Law Review, and the Notre Dame Law Review, among others. Her article, “The Tort Label,” was selected for the Harvard/Stanford/Yale Faculty Forum.

Sperino’s scholarship has been cited by numerous courts, including the Third Circuit, the Fifth Circuit, the Eleventh Circuit, federal district courts, and the Supreme Courts of Iowa, Oregon, and Hawaii. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, on NPR, and in other media outlets. She is an elected member of the American Law Institute.

In 2013 and 2017, Sperino received the Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching. In 2015, Cincinnati Law recognized her work with the Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award; in 2018 she received the Faculty Excellence Award; and the university recognized her with a Faculty-to-Faculty Research Mentoring Award in 2019.

In 2013 and again in 2019, she served as lead counsel on amicus briefs filed in the United States Supreme Court in cases considering the correct causal standard for federal discrimination/retaliation law. Prior to entering academia, Sperino was a law clerk in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and practiced law in St. Louis at Lewis, Rice. She graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the University of Illinois Law Review.




David Simson, J.D., Associate Professor of Law, New York Law School


David Simson joined New York Law School as an Associate Professor of Law in 2022. He teaches courses on constitutional law, race and the law, and civil rights law.

Professor Simson’s scholarship analyzes the role of law in the production, maintenance, and dismantling of social hierarchies, with a focus on race and racial hierarchy. His work relies on both social science research as well as critical race approaches to law. His scholarship has been published or is forthcoming in the UCLA Law ReviewHouston Law ReviewDenver Law ReviewWilliam & Mary Bill of Rights JournalMichigan Law Review, and the edited book volume, Critical Race Judgments. His article, “Whiteness as Innocence,” was selected as the Denver Law Review’s 2018 Emerging Scholar Award winner.

Professor Simson joins NYLS after three years as an Acting Associate Professor at New York University School of Law. At NYU, he taught Lawyering, a full-year simulation-based course introducing first-year students to legal analysis, research, writing, client counseling, negotiation, and oral advocacy. Before joining NYU, he was the Greenberg Law Review Fellow at UCLA School of Law where he taught employment discrimination law and a self-designed seminar titled “Race, Social Psychology, and the Legal Process.” After law school and before entering academia, he was a litigation associate in the Los Angeles and London offices of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

Professor Simson graduated from UCLA School of Law with a specialization in Critical Race Studies and received a B.S.B.A. in International Business from the University of Denver, where he was also a four-year letter winner and captain of the university’s Men’s Tennis Team.