Mr. Mehri has served as co-lead class counsel in some of the largest and most significant race and gender cases in U.S. history: Roberts v. Texaco Inc., ($176 million; S.D.N.Y. 1997); Ingram v. The Coca-Cola Company ($192 million; N.D. Ga. 2001); Robinson v. Ford Motor Company ($10 million and 279 apprentice positions; S.D. Ohio 2005); August-Johnson v. Morgan Stanley ($47 million; D.D.C. 2007); Amachoev v. Smith Barney ($34 million; N.D. Cal. 2008); Norflet v. John Hancock Life Insurance Co. ($24 million; D. Conn. 2009), and Carter v. Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC ($32 million; D.D.C. 2011). The hallmark of these settlements is innovative programmatic relief. Trial Lawyers for Public Justice named Mr. Mehri a finalist for “Trial Lawyer of the Year” in 1997 and 2001 for his work on the Texaco and Coca-Cola matters respectively.
The business press has long followed Mr. Mehri’s work. The New York Times stated, “Mr. Mehri’s vision for corporate America involves sweeping change, not the piece meal kind.” Fast Company says “He is something of a one-man army in the battle against business as usual . . . [H]is impact – both in terms of penalties and remedies – is undeniable. “In 2001, he was named by Regardie’s Power magazine as one of “Washington’s Ten Most Feared Lawyers” and in 2003, by Workforce magazine as “Corporate America’s Scariest Opponent.”
In September of 2008, Mr. Mehri testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee alongside Supreme Court litigant Lilly Ledbetter. Mr. Mehri’s testimony called for diversifying the pool of potential judicial nominations not just in terms of race and gender but also in terms of life and work experience. Click here for the Senate Testimony and questions from Senators Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter. Mr. Mehri serves on the judicial nominations committees for the American Constitution Society and the National Employment Lawyers Association.
In October of 2008, Mr. Mehri co-authored a paper called 21st Century Tools for Advancing Equal Opportunity: Recommendations for the Next Administration. This paper was released by the American Constitutional Society (ACS) along with papers by several other authors including Senator Ted Kennedy and Former Attorney General Janet Reno. In January of 2013, Mr. Mehri co-authored another ACS report with Ellen Eardley, also a partner at Mehri & Skalet, called Defending Twentieth Century Equal Employment Reforms in the Twenty-First Century.
In September of 2002, Mr. Mehri and Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. released the report, Black Coaches in the National Football League: Superior Performance, Inferior Opportunities. The report became the catalyst for the NFL’s creation of a Workplace Diversity Committee and the adoption of a comprehensive diversity program. The NFL reached a record number of African-American head coaches and general managers. Mr. Mehri co-founded and serves as counsel for the Fritz Pollard Alliance, an affinity group for minority coaches, front office and scouting personnel in the NFL. Mr. Mehri’s work is featured in a new book, Advancing the Ball – Race, Reformation, and the Quest for Equal Coaching Opportunity in the NFL, by Professor Jeremi Duru.
In September of 2011, Mr. Mehri met with the leaders of the English Premier League, Football League and Football Association, about adapting the Rooney Rule for English professional soccer. The discussion produced a great debate within the British sports community and was heralded by the Daily Telegraph as a “historic meeting.” In April 2013, Mr. Mehri returned to Britain to continue pushing for progress.
Mr. Mehri has also been instrumental in remedying discrimination against women. In April of 2004, Mr. Mehri, along with the National Council of Women’s Organizations, announced the “Women on Wall Street” project. The project focuses on ending gender discrimination in financial institutions. Mr. Mehri and his colleagues and co-counsel have achieved settlements with Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney, and Wachovia exceeding $114 million along with transformative injunctive relief with respect to allocation of business opportunities.
In January of 2009, Mr. Mehri helped launch the Madison Avenue Project with the NAACP. The Project released a seminal report on employment discrimination in the industry and is currently investigating claims against the most powerful advertising agencies.
Mr. Mehri served as lead counsel in Robinson v. Ford Motor Company. The settlement created a record 279 highly-coveted apprenticeship positions for African-American employees as well as payment of $10 million. In a May of 2007 EEOC Commissioners meeting, Mr. Mehri and others testified about this settlement’s significance on testing procedures in the workplace.
In 2010, Mr. Mehri co-founded Voices for Corporate Responsibility, a project designed to create a home for senior executives and professionals concerned about corporate wrongdoing and who seek to rectify those wrongs before Congress, regulators, and the Courts. The Securities and Exchange Commission relied in significant part on a written submission by Voices in finalizing its whistleblower rules in the landmark Dodd-Frank legislation.
Mr. Mehri represents institutional investors concerned about securities fraud and corporate governance. Mr. Mehri has represented defrauded investors, pensioners and consumers, as well as small businesses subjected to price-fixing, in other class actions. For example, in 1993 Florin v. Nations Bank restored $16 million to a pension plan that was bilked by company insiders at Simmons Mattress Company. In 1991, In re Bolar Pharmaceutical Co. returned over $25 million to defrauded shareholders. Mr. Mehri serves as co-lead counsel in numerous consumer class actions. Mr. Mehri helped to prosecute one of the largest securities cases in history, a $2.5 billion settlement with AOL Time Warner.
Mr. Mehri co-authored a series of articles on securities enforcement and corporate governance including Labor & Corporate Governance “Stock Option Equity: Building Democracy While Building Wealth” (November 2002) and “The Latest Retreat By the SEC” (February 2003). Mr. Mehri also co-authored an article in The Journal of Investment Compliance (Winter 2002/2003) called “Slipping Back to Business As Usual, Six Months After the Passage of Sarbanes-Oxley.”
In May 2011, Mr. Mehri co-authored an article, “A Few Thoughts on Tackling the Issue of Diversity and Inclusiveness in Law Firms.“ He is also the co-author of the article, “One Nation, Indivisible: The Use of Diversity Report Cards To Promote Transparency, Accountability, and Workplace Fairness” for Fordham Journal of Corporate and Financial Law, 9, 99-152 (with Andrea Giampetro-Meyer & Michael B. Runnels). For the 2008 National Employment Law Association Convention, Mr. Mehri co-authored a paper, “A ‘Toolbox for Innovative Title VII Settlement Agreements.”
Mr. Mehri graduated from Cornell Law School in 1988, where he served as Articles Editor for the Cornell International Law Journal. After law school, he clerked for the Honorable John T. Nixon, U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Tennessee. Mr. Mehri has received the Outstanding Youth Alumnus Award from Hartwick College and the Alumni Award from Wooster School in Danbury, Connecticut “for becoming a beacon of good, positively affecting the lives of many.” In 2009, Mr. Mehri gave the commencement speech at Hartwick College and the Founder’s Day Speech at Wooster School.
Mr. Mehri serves on the advisory boards of the Cornell Law School, the Peggy Browning Fund and the National Iranian-American Council. The State Department recently profiled Mr. Mehri along with other successful Iranian-Americans, and The Xemplar detailed Mr. Mehri’s quest to level the playing field for Americans of all walks of life.
The Pigskin Club of Washington, DC granted Mr. Mehri its prestigious Award of Excellence. In 2003, the Detroit City Council passed a testimonial resolution honoring Mr. Mehri and wishing him “continued success in changing the fabric of America.” In 2007, Mr. Mehri was given the Distinguished Visitor Award by the Miami-Dade County Office of the Mayor and Board of County Commissioners at the Fritz Pollard Alliance’s Second Annual Salute to Excellence Program.
Mr. Mehri is a frequent guest on radio and TV, and a popular lecturer on CLE programs. He recently wrote an op-ed about the tragedy in his hometown of Newtown, Connecticut.
Recent Interviews and Appearances:
- Interview on New Aptitude Testing on Display at Combine with NFL AM
- Interview on Adapting the Rooney Rule for English Soccer with BBC Worldwide
- “The Federal Bench in the Age of Obama“ at the National Civil Rights Access to Justice Forum
- 2010-2011 Supreme Court Preview – American Constitution Society (Cyrus’ participation begins at 18:28)
- Senate Judiciary Committee “Barriers to Justice: Examining Equal Pay for Equal Work” (Cyrus’ testimony begins at 32:19)
- Impact of Rooney Rule on Minority Coaching – NFL Total Access
- Cyrus Mehri Launches Madison Avenue Project
- Cyrus Mehri Discusses the Madison Avenue Project with Adweek