Janette Wipper, Chief Counsel
Janette Wipper was appointed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on May 1, 2018 to be Chief Counsel at the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Prior to joining DFEH, Ms. Wipper was Regional Director at the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) in the federal Department of Labor from January 2014 until April 2018. There, she led about 100 staff working in twelve offices on civil rights enforcement across eleven states and territories. Under her leadership, the Pacific region was responsible for securing millions of dollars in back wages and salary adjustments, and thousands of job offers on behalf of workers affected by systemic employment discrimination. Her work included the agency’s most complex, systemic cases and largest remedies in the nation.
Prior to OFCCP, Ms. Wipper served as managing partner of the San Francisco office of Sanford Heisler LLP, a national civil rights law firm. During her seven-year tenure there, she litigated complex class action lawsuits on behalf of workers facing discrimination and wage theft. Among her significant victories at the firm is the landmark Novartis lawsuit in which a jury awarded $253 million to approximately 5,000 female sales representatives to remedy systemic pay, promotion and pregnancy discrimination. It is one of the largest jury awards for employees in a gender discrimination class action.
Earlier in her career, Ms. Wipper practiced civil rights impact litigation as a staff attorney at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, as assistant general counsel at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and as staff attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
A native of New York, Ms. Wipper earned her law degree from Vermont Law School and her B.A from The University of Texas at Austin. Before law school, she worked on environmental justice matters in Ecuador, advocating on behalf of indigenous communities affected by oil contamination in the Amazon.