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NJL People: Sarah B. Riskin

Sarah defends employers in single-plaintiff litigation, private class actions, and administrative proceedings. Her clients can always rely on her to be responsive, creative, and practical when helping solve their legal problems. Sarah truly enjoys partnering with her clients and finding innovative ways to resolve problems with an eye towards minimizing business disruption.

Sarah also recognizes that some matters are best resolved through trial, and she has successfully defended clients to defense verdicts in arbitration and in state and federal court. Sarah has a natural aptitude for trial; after her first day in her first arbitration, the client and first-chair partner remarked that they had just watched a trial lawyer being born.

In addition to litigation, Sarah advises and counsels clients proactively, conducting internal investigations and working to prevent disputes before they arise. She works with a wide array of clients, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to small nonprofit organizations.

Sarah is the Chair of NJL’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group, as well as the Firm’s Pro Bono Working Group. She is an active member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity’s Alumni Program, after serving as an LCLD Fellow in 2019.

When not working, Sarah spends time with her wife and three kids enjoying the Minneapolis park system.  She is also Adjunct Faculty at the University of Minnesota Law School.

Key Practice Experience

COVID-19 Related Employment Expertise

  • FFCRA compliance
  • Federal and state sick leave, FMLA
  • Critical/essential businesses
  • Workplace Safety
  • CARES Act
  • Unemployment
  • Impact on nonprofits

Key Industry Experience

  • Retail and eCommerce
  • Transportation and Transportation Logistics
  • Banking
  • Nonprofits
  • Energy Services
  • Health Care

Representative Matters


  • Lansdale v. UPS (D. Minn.): Won a complete defense verdict on five claims under the ADA and Minnesota Human Rights Act (disability discrimination) following a nearly three-week jury trial
  • Just v. Target Corporation (D. Minn.): Won dismissal of a stand-alone disclosure claim under the Fair Credit Reporting Act
  • Hussey v. DeafBlind Services of Minnesota (Minn. State Court): Won dismissal of breach of contract claim
  • Peterson v. UPS (Minn. State Court): Won summary judgment on a breach of contract claim (Section 301 preemption)
  • Spiger v. UPS (South Dakota State Court): Won a defense verdict on claim for unpaid wages following two-day bench trial
  • Walz v. UPS (D. Ne.): Obtained finding that claim for unpaid vacation was preempted under the LMRA, resulting in denial of motion for remand and subsequent voluntary dismissal


  • Defended Fortune 15 company against age discrimination and defamation claims before the AAA. Prevailed on all claims following four-day arbitration.
  • Defended Fortune 15 company against disability discrimination and FMLA retaliation claims before the AAA. Prevailed on all claims following nine-day arbitration.
  • Defended Fortune 500 company against age discrimination and harassment claims before the AAA. Obtained partial summary judgment before resolving the remaining claim.


  • Investigated claims of sexual harassment against a board member and advised on a response following the investigation.
  • Conducted a full-scale investigation into allegations by a former executive of a national organization, who alleged discrimination, mismanagement, and other potential legal violations, including by board members.
  • Investigated allegations of race discrimination against a manager, including uncovering a separate incident of misconduct, resulting in termination and negotiation of the manager’s severance agreement.

Recognitions and Honors

  • LCLD (Leadership Counsel of Legal Diversity) Fellow, 2019
  • Selected to Minnesota Rising Stars list, 2014-2018
  • Class of 2008 Excellence in Public Service Award
  • Matt Stark 2008 Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Student Award

Publications and Presentations

  • Damages in Employment Cases – Defense Perspectives on Deposing Treating Doctors, Contacting Subsequent Employers, Defeating Front Pay Claims and More! (CLE Panelist, Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute) (September 2020)
  • Unique Employment Law Issues During COVID-19 (Webinar) (April 2020)
  • Coffee Conversations: COVID-19 Leaves and Accommodations (Webinar with Allyson Petersen Francis) (April 2020)
  • ADA Handbook (MNCLE) – Chapter 9 (co-author with Andrew Peterson)
  • Employee Safety and Employment COVID Considerations for Ski Areas, Midwest Ski Areas Association Annual Meeting Webinar (August 2020)
  • How #MeToo is Impacting Employment Law Today (October 2018) (CLE Panel Presentation)
  • Leaders Impacting the Nonprofit Community (LINC), “Employment Law for Nonprofits” (March 2018) (CLE Presentation)
  • “Liability Releases for Background Checks Are Unlawful,” The Corporate Counselor (April 2017)
  • Co-presenter, Gender Identity in the Workplace: Emerging Employment Law Issues (January 2017)
  • FCRA LIABILITY – Background Screening Is More Dangerous Than You Think (co-author with Joe Schmitt and Veena Iyer) (May 2016)
  • Leaders Impacting the Nonprofit Community (LINC), “Employment Law for Nonprofits” (March 2016) (CLE Presentation)
  • Co-author, “Communicable Diseases: What’s an Employer to Do?”, The Corporate Counselor (May 2015)
  • MN Affinity Bar Leadership: The Best Advice I Ever Received (CLE Panelist, MWL Conference for Women in the Law) (May 2015)
  • “The Changing Landscape of Marriage Equality: From Ballot Box to Supreme Court,” ABA Young Lawyers Division 2013 Spring Conference (CLE Presentation)
  •  “The Minnesota Marriage Amendment: History, Process, and Effect” (CLE Presentation)
  • “Unfair Trade Practices,” Minnesota Business Torts Desktop – Chapter 6 (2013 Update) (co-author with Haley N. Schaffer)
  • “New Law: Key Litigation Updates,” Minnesota CLE (September 2010)

Professional Associations

  • Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) Alumni
  • Minnesota Lavender Bar Association
    • Co-Chair, 2014-2016
    • Board Member, 2011-2017
    • Member, since 2008
  • Minnesota Women Lawyers

Community Engagement

  • Volunteer attorney, Children’s Law Center
  • Founder, Raise the Bar: Day of Service, University of Minnesota Law School
  • Volunteer attorney, Volunteer Lawyers Network
  • Volunteer attorney, Advocates for Human Rights

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