Chicago-Kent College of Law (J.D., 2007), with honors
University of Chicago (B.A., 2002), with honors
Sonya counsels companies and organizations on various employee-related legal issues and needs that arise at all the stages of the employment relationship, including the negotiation of employment agreements, restrictive covenants, policies and training, performance management, internal investigations and individual and group separations. Sonya also represents employers in litigation, her experience including the successful defense of numerous administrative charges, lawsuits and appellate proceedings at the state and federal levels. Clients value that her ability to understand their needs and thoroughly assess their legal situations often results in invaluable savings in time and resources.
Sonya is a frequent presenter and author of numerous articles on current employment law topics, including effective employment audit and risk management practices, harassment and discrimination in the workplace, technology issues relating to biometric privacy, social media and use of recruiting technologies, restrictive covenants, medical leave and disability-related issues, workplace violence, smart performance management, conducting workplace investigations and reductions in force and other notable developments in labor and employment law.
In addition to her practice, Sonya is a member of the National Board of the Coalition of Women's Initiatives in Law. The Coalition is a nonprofit organization focused on supporting female attorneys in Chicago, New York and D.C.-area law firms and companies. Sonya is also a member of the Chicago chapter of the International Women’s Forum, an international organization that supports global, national and local networks of women leaders in government, medicine, business, education, the arts and community service. Sonya is also involved on the International Committee of the American Jewish Committee (AJC). At the firm, Sonya is co-chair of NGE’s Women’s Network Leadership Initiative, and a member of the Firm’s hiring, anti-harassment and attorney credit allocation committees.
Sonya is recognized as Up and Coming in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business (in “Labor & Employment”). She was recommended by her peers as a Leading Lawyer for 2021 for her work in "Employment Law: Management" and "Labor Law: Management." In 2021, on behalf of NGE, Sonya accepted the Cabrini Green Legal Aid's "Spirit of Generosity Award" that recognized the firm for its pro bono counsel provided over several years. She also received the 2021 Chicago Leadership Award from the Coalition of Women’s Initiatives in Law for her work as Chicago Chapter President, growing the chapter and organizing a wide array of virtual programs in a challenging year. In 2020, Sonya received the Collaborative Leadership Award from the Women, Influence & Power in Law Awards, and was named among the Crain’s Chicago Business “Notable Women in Law.” In 2017, She was recognized as one of "40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch" by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company, which also named her an Emerging Lawyer in 2015. Sonya has been named a Rising Star since 2013 in Illinois Super Lawyers, and was recognized in the Spring 2017 Women of Influence issue of Best Lawyers - Business Edition. In 2012, She was named by Today’s Chicago Woman as one of the 100 Women to Watch.
Recent Litigation Experience:
- Led and prevailed at state court emergency TRO hearing, securing former employee’s immediate return of substantial assets to a technology company.
- Defeated a motion to dismiss in a case filed on behalf of a global executive search firm to recover unearned bonus payments, resulting in 20+ page opinion from federal judge and expedited, favorable outcome for the firm.
- Led and prevailed at a Wisconsin state law trial, securing complete dismissal of race discrimination and retaliation claims filed by a former employee of nationwide distributor of convenience store items.
- Applying a Constitutional law (ministerial exception) argument, secured a complete dismissal with prejudice for a church and its school in an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee.
- Secured summary judgment for a long-term care consulting company in an age discrimination lawsuit filed by two former employees.
- Secured summary judgment for a national association in a lawsuit alleging defamation, invasion of privacy and tortious interference, and won plaintiff’s appeal of the summary judgment decision at the appellate court level.
- Prepared and argued two successful motions to dismiss lawsuit alleging breach of contract, statutory wage payment and whistleblower claims and a retaliatory discharge claim by a former employee of an air ambulance company.
- Secured summary judgment for a graphic design company in a lawsuit alleging breach of contract and fraud.
- Prepared three successful motions to dismiss and presented oral argument on last motion, which was granted by the court with prejudice, ensuring full dismissal of lawsuit alleging various wage-related claims filed against a pool supplies company.
- Prepared successful motion to dismiss and secured dismissal with prejudice of a lawsuit filed against a former company executive, based on lack of personal jurisdiction.
- Secured summary judgment for a division of an international investment bank in a sexual harassment lawsuit.
- Secured summary judgment for a national distributor of small store items in a religious discrimination lawsuit.
- Secured summary judgment and won a Seventh Circuit appeal for a nationwide retailer in a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit.
- Successful prosecution and settlement secured for a national hospital collection company in a breach of restrictive covenants action.
- Successful prosecution and settlement secured for a finance executive in an AAA arbitration over separation-related agreements and benefits.
- Successful defense of various-size companies and organizations in hundreds of administrative charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and parallel administrative state agencies alleging discrimination based on race, national origin, sex, religion, age, disabilities, marital status, and other protected categories.
Employment Counseling/Investigation Experience:
- Conducted an investigation of a C-suite executive of an international company leading to a fulsome report and recommendation that was upheld following trial.
- Advise companies on and conduct internal investigations, including those involving high-level executives and allegations of sexual and other types of harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.
- Provide multifaceted, employment-related counseling and advice to companies, organizations and associations through all stages of the employment relationship, including the pre-hire stage, employee performance and conduct-related issues, and separations and reductions-in-force.
- Negotiate employment and separation agreements on behalf of companies and individuals.
- Conduct various employment-related trainings and seminars, including on preventing discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the workplace, leave-related matters, and workplace technology and social media.
- Review and revise employee handbooks and various stand-alone policies.
- Coalition of Women's Initiatives in Law National Leadership Forum 2021, Chicago Leadership Award Winner
- Cabrini Green Legal Aid, 2021 Spirit of Generosity Award
- Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, recognized as Up and Coming in “Labor & Employment,” 2021
- Leading Lawyers 2021, "Employment Law: Management" and "Labor Law: Management"
- Coalition of Women’s Initiatives in Law Chicago Chapter, President, 2020
- Women, Influence & Power in Law Awards 2020, Collaborative Leadership award winner
- Crain’s Chicago Business, named to “2020 Notable Women in Law”
- Law Bulletin Publishing Company, “40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch,“ 2017
- Law Bulletin Publishing Company, “Emerging Lawyer,“ 2015
- Illinois Super Lawyers, “Rising Star" in "Labor and Employment“ since 2013
- Best Lawyers - Business Edition, "Women of Influence Issue," Spring 2017
- Today’s Chicago, “100 Women to Watch,“ 2012
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois