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Debra D’Agostino, a Founding Partner of the Federal Practice Group and leader of the firm’s federal employment law team, focuses on providing representation to federal employees in a wide range of matters against federal agencies, including EEO complaints and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) hearings, U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) appeals, U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) complaints, and replying to proposed adverse actions or disciplinary actions. She has more than 20 years of experience in this complicated area of the law and has obtained multiple successful outcomes for her clients, including findings of liability in discrimination claims and reversals of adverse actions such as removal from federal service. Additionally, Ms. D’Agostino has successfully represented clients in appellate matters before the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations, the MSPB, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal and D.C. Circuits.
Ms. D’Agostino is routinely looked to by her peers for her niche expertise in representing federal employees, including those in the intelligence community (IC) who work at agencies including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and the National Security Agency (NSA). In 2016, she was selected to be part of a focus group run by the Government Accountability Office to review the best method to implement the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012. The report was sent to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Ms. D’Agostino has been invited to speak before multiple federal employee organizations including Blacks in Government (BIG), at the Federal Dispute Resolution (FDR) Conference, and at events hosted by the Federal Circuit Bar Association, of which she is a member.
Ms. D’Agostino is on the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Employment Lawyers Association (MWELA) and is a member of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA). For the past several years she has been recognized for her skill as an attorney by being named to the Super Lawyers list for Washington, DC. Ms. D’Agostino is also a AAA certified mediator.
Ms. D’Agostino earned her Juris Doctorate with honors from the George Washington University Law School, and her B.A. from New York University. She is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal, D.C., and 4th Circuits, and to practice law in D.C. and New York.
Mr. John J. Michels Jr. is a veteran trial lawyer with litigation experience in both military and civilian courts, as well as substantial international business experience in Russia and the CIS.
The bulk of his litigation work is in the area of federal and state employment law, including EEO, wage and hour, and union litigation.
He also has a substantial and diverse background in so-called “quasi-commercial cases,” including intellectual property and trade secret claims, stock option grants and entitlements, and benefits litigation. A member of the Illinois, D.C., and Tennessee bars, he has appeared before the District of Columbia, Fourth, Sixth, Tenth, and Seventh Circuit Courts of Appeal, and before a variety of Federal District and state courts, including the Virginia Supreme Court.
An honors graduate of the Air Force Academy and Duke Law School, Mr. Michels has some 2800 hours of flying time in Strategic Air Command aircraft, as well as some 100 hours of crew member time on Aeroflot aircraft.
Ricardo J.A. Pitts-Wiley is a partner at the Federal Practice Group and has more than 15 years of experience in the areas of federal sector employment and labor law.
Mr. Pitts-Wiley provides representation to federal employees in a wide range of employment and labor matters, including discrimination, harassment, reasonable accommodation, family and medical leave, performance-based actions, conduct-based actions, ethics, security clearance, collective bargaining agreement violations, debt collection, whistleblower retaliation, inspector general investigations, Freedom of Information Act, Privacy Act, disability retirement, retirement annuity calculations, and unemployment insurance appeals. He has significant experience representing clients at various stages of the administrative process, as well as during settlement negotiations and mediations.
Mr. Pitts-Wiley has practiced numerous times before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, as well as before Federal and District of Columbia courts.
Prior to joining the Federal Practice Group, Mr. Pitts-Wiley worked for three Washington, D.C. law firms, with a focus on employment law. He also served as General Counsel for a Rhode Island-based nonprofit organization, where he managed a myriad of issues ranging from corporate tax and securities to copyright and trademark, to performance art contracts. Previously, he worked as an Associate and Senior Associate in the labor and employment law department of a New York-based law firm. At the outset of his professional career, Mr. Pitts-Wiley ascended from paralegal to law clerk, and to law associate with a boutique D.C.-based law firm specializing in federal employment and labor law. He also worked for a D.C non-profit organization which operated an employment legal clinic for low-income workers.
Mr. Pitts-Wiley received his Juris Doctor from American University’s Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. While pursuing his law degree, he participated in the clinical program and, as a student-trial attorney, he represented local residents in the Montgomery County District Court of Maryland. He holds dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Public Policy Studies as well as African & African-American Studies from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
Heather White is a Partner with the Federal Practice Group. She specializes in federal sector employment litigation, practicing before the EEOC, the MSPB, the D.C. Office of Employee Appeals, the D.C. Office of Human Rights, as well as local and federal courts in civil rights, anti-discrimination and personnel/civil service cases. She is admitted to practice law in New York and Washington, D.C., and before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. She has also appeared pro hac vice before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Ms. White is a member of the Metropolitan Washington Employment Lawyers Association, the D.C. Bar’s Employment Law section, and the New York State Bar Association. Ms. White has served as a faculty member at the EEOC’s Annual EXCEL Conferences, and has served a presenting panel member at the 2011 and 2017 MWELA Conferences in Washington, D.C.
Prior to joining the Federal Practice Group, Ms. White specialized in federal sector and private sector employment litigation. She has represented federal employees in EEO complaints and MSPB appeals, in federal court and in administrative proceedings. Ms. White has represented federal employees in proceedings before Administrative Judges in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, and San Francisco. Her practice has often involved factually-related EEO complaints filed by employees of the same repeat-offender federal agencies. She has also represented federal contractors seeking to vindicate their rights to a safe and discrimination-free workplace.
Ms. White’s first job after law school was with a Union-side law firm in Upstate New York which specialized in labor law and employment litigation before the National Labor Relations Board, the New York State Division of Human Rights, and federal and state courts.
Ms. White graduated from The College of William & Mary in Virginia (B.A., 1995) with Honors in International Relations (specializing in Russian Area studies). She earned a graduate degree at Georgetown University, also in Russian and Eurasian Studies (M.A.,1998). She attended Tulane University Law School (J.D., 2003), completing Tulane’s common law curriculum. During all three years of law school, she clerked for the Innocence Project New Orleans, a non-profit legal organization specializing in non-DNA-based exonerations of people wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life without parole in Louisiana state prisons. In 2003 she was awarded Tulane’s McSherry Award for Outstanding Public Service for her years of work with IPNO. Ms. White also served as the Senior Articles Editor of Tulane’s Journal of American Arbitration. She is the author of Clear and Unmistakable: The Third Circuit’s Specificity Requirements for Contractual Waiver of the Federal Arbitration Act, 1 J.Am. Arb. 285 (2002).
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