Felicia is a fierce advocate for inclusion within the legal profession and social justice. She has led some of the country's most significant class action and individual employment cases relating to race, gender, sexual orientation, and other protected classifications, as well as wage and hour collectives. Felicia has successfully represented clients from all walks of life, including service employees, working mothers, C-Suite executives, and sales employees with discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination claims. She regularly consults with clients on an individual and confidential basis. Her expertise extends to a variety of industries, including STEM, pharmaceuticals, finance, defense, manufacturing, retail, entertainment and professional services. She has worked on over twenty class actions and has secured millions of dollars in damages and programmatic relief measures for her clients.
Within her early years as a plaintiff lawyer, Felicia quickly stood out as top in the field by helping secure the largest employment gender discrimination verdict in U.S. history in Velez v. Novartis. The presiding federal judge described the case as having been “brilliantly tried.” After the seven-week trial and historic $250 million verdict, Felicia and her prior firm obtained a court-approved settlement of $175 million on behalf of 6,000 women with pay, promotion, and caregiver claims.
Since then, Felicia has continued to succeed, having been involved in hundreds of settlements and more than twenty class actions. In July 2016, Felicia secured a rare $19.5 million pre-suit gender discrimination class action settlement with Qualcomm, a leading global technology company. In addition to significant monetary relief on behalf of women in STEM, Felicia successfully negotiated comprehensive programmatic reform within the Company to increase equal employment opportunities for Qualcomm women going forward. The settlement is currently pending court approval.
In 2015, in Wellens et al. v. Daiichi Sankyo, Felicia represented a class of approximately 1,600 sales professionals with alleged gender and pregnancy discrimination claims. She secured the Ninth Circuit’s first ever conditional certification under the Federal Equal Pay Act. This enabled Felicia to obtain court approval of an $8.2 million settlement that included substantial programmatic change within the Company. This $8.2 million settlement was named as 2015’s fifth highest settlement of a private plaintiff employment discrimination class action lawsuit in Seyfarth Shaw’s “12th Annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report.”
Felicia maintains a robust appellate practice. Specifically, in Sandquist et al. v. Lebo Automotive et al., Felicia represented a former Sales Manager in a class action that alleging rampant race discrimination at John Elway’s Manhattan Beach Toyota. However, before the Court addressed Mr. Sandquist’s claims, the litigation became focused on the interpretation of the company’s arbitration agreement. In 2014, Felicia won a reversal of the trial court’s 2012 order dismissing Sandquist’s class claims with prejudice. Defendants appealed and in July 2016, the Supreme Court of California sided with Felicia’s team after oral arguments were presented to the Supreme Court of California. In 2010, Ms. Medina also successfully argued a sixth circuit appeal in Barrett v. Whirlpool, a race harassment case.
Prior to forming Medina Orthwein LLP, Felicia was the Managing Partner of the San Francisco office of a national plaintiff-side firm and an Associate at Morrison & Foerster, LLP. She graduated from Yale Law School in 2006 and from University of Southern California in 2000. Before attending Yale Law School, Felicia was a political consultant and a public school teacher.
- 2016 National LGBT Bar Association “Best LGBT Lawyer Under 40”
- 2016 SuperLawyers Northern California “Rising Star”
- 2015 National Diversity Council “Most Powerful and Influential Woman”
- 2015 Law360 “Rising Star”
- 2014 Law360 “Minority Power Broker”
- National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)
- Bar Association of San Francisco’s Justice and Diversity Center (JDC)
- Legal Aid at Work
- Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF), the nation's oldest and largest association of LGBT professionals in law
Jennifer transitioned from a career as a forensic psychologist to focus on legal and policy issues related to transgender and gender variant individuals, particularly those impacted by the criminal justice system. She helped launch and served as pro bono Senior Counsel for the Detention Project at Transgender Law Center. She assisted in the representation of two California prisoners, Michelle-Lael Norsworthy and Shiloh Quine. These cases were the impetus for access to gender affirming surgery and expression for transgender and gender variant people in California prisons.
Jennifer previously maintained a successful legal and psychological consulting practice providing expert witness services to attorneys. Her work focused on assisting attorneys represent transgender people involved in the criminal justice system and in prison. Jennifer has co-authored publications related to practitioner liability in cases of suicide, both in the community and in prison, as well as gender bias in the California criminal justice system. She is also a co-principal investigator for the Transgender Research Consortium, which aims to provide research evidence of the current state of transgender physical and mental health and to use this data to provide recommendations to inform broad public policy, education, training, and clinical practice.
Jennifer Orthwein received a J.D. from Golden Gate University School of Law and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Palo Alto University. She has served as a Law Clerk at the National Center for Lesbian Rights during law school and subsequently completed her training and began a career as a psychologist working in the California correctional system. She completed her pre-doctoral internship and post-doctoral fellowship at the California Correctional Medical Facility (CMF).
- Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF)
- Board of Trustees of Palo Alto University.