Manali Arora is a Partner at Swartz Swidler, a plaintiff-oriented employment and civil rights law firm providing legal assistance throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. As an employment litigation attorney, Manali represents plaintiffs who have faced workplace discrimination and wrongful termination. She represents clients throughout the litigation process, from administrative claims at the EEOC level to federal court cases.
Manali concentrates her practice on employment and education law, fighting for the civil rights of individuals who have encountered unlawful discrimination in the workplace and educational institutions. She is a published author on the subject matter of racial discrimination in public schools.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Manali Arora discusses what Swartz Swidler specializes in
- The importance of providing a paper trail when making a legal claim against your employer
- Why Manali chose to specialize in employment litigation and how she discovered her passion for the legal industry
- The early days of Manali’s legal career
- Manali talks about her journey toward becoming an attorney for Swartz Swidler
- Advice for employees who feel uncomfortable in the workplace
In this episode…
Are you feeling undervalued, overworked, or discriminated against in the workplace? Seeking justice may seem daunting, especially when you’re pitted against large corporations. In these challenging moments, you’re not alone — professionals like Manali Arora are on your side. What should you do if you have fallen victim to workplace prejudice?
Manali Arora, a passionate and accomplished employment attorney, believes in the power of standing up to corporate giants. In her position, she takes pride in empowering individuals to navigate the complexities of employee litigation and level the playing field in a challenging system. While workplace discrimination is illegal, it still occurs more often than we realize. The most efficient way to right these wrongs is to establish a thorough paper trail and hire an attorney who fights on your behalf.
In this episode of 15 Minutes, host Chad Franzen is joined by Manali Arora, a Partner at Swartz Swidler, to discuss her role as a champion for civil rights law. Manali shares why she chose to specialize in employment litigation, the intricacy of handling discrimination cases, and advises on what to do if treated unjustly by your employer. Her insight on employment litigation emphasizes a lawyer’s ability to achieve justice.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Chad Franzen on LinkedIn
- Gladiator Law Marketing
- Manali Arora on LinkedIn
- Swartz Swidler
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
- Judge Kathy A. Surratt-States
- Richard Swartz on LinkedIn
- Justin Swidler on LinkedIn
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, where we deliver tailor-made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential.
To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience to outperform the competition.
You’re listening to 15 Minutes, where we feature community leaders sharing what the rest of us should know but likely don’t.
Chad Franzen 0:12
Hi. Chad Franzen here, one of the hosts of share your voice where we get to talk with top notch law firms and lawyers about what it takes to grow a successful law practice. This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, delivering tailor made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential. To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. Gladiator Law Marketing uses artificial intelligence machine learnings and decades of experienced outperform the competition. To learn more go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com where you can schedule a free marketing consultation. Manali Arora is an employment litigation attorney representing plaintiffs who face workplace discrimination and wrongful termination. She’s a partner at Swartz Swidler representing clients at all stages of litigation from administrative claims at the EEOC level to federal court cases. Hi, Manali. Thanks so much for joining me today. How are you?
Manali Arora 1:11
I’m doing well. How are you?
Chad Franzen 1:13
Great, thank you. Hey, so tell me a little bit more about Swartz Swidler, and what you guys specialize in?
Manali Arora 1:18
Sure. We specialize in representing plaintiffs in all types of employment matters. So we do represent individuals, we represent them at all stages. So administrative claims against their employers. At the EEOC, those are anti discriminate. EEOC is tasked with enforcing the anti discrimination laws under the ADEA and Title Seven. So employees facing disability discrimination, racial discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, those are all often begin at the EEOC level. But we do proceed with those claims through litigation. We also represent plaintiffs in larger class actions. And those are generally in Wage and Hour. There are many times when employers are not practicing, or not paying employees appropriately in accordance with wage and hour laws and you know, results in sometimes small chain changes to an employee’s paycheck, because they’re taking $1 Here and there, but it is a large savings for the employer. And we are trying to remedy that and ensure that all the money that employees are due comes in their paycheck to them through wage and hour class actions,
Chad Franzen 2:29
You listed a number of types of kind of discrimination, and could you give me maybe an example of some of those?
Manali Arora 2:36
Sure, um, there are, I mean, there are many claims to be had. But often, you know, for example, an employee comes in and she says, I’m pregnant, I’m going to be needing a leave of absence beginning in two months. And, you know, this isn’t a workplace that’s pretty relaxed. People come in 9:00, 9:05, 9:10, all of a sudden, this employee is getting written up every time she’s a minute late. And it only started after she told him she was pregnant. There’s big project on the horizon, it’s a pain for the employer to train somebody to take over for this employee, and they’re fired for five witnesses, leaves you scratching your head, you wonder what this is really, the reason they were fired, lots people are coming in a little bit late, and I never had a lateness issue all the time I was there all sudden, I’m pregnant, they have an issue, you know, there’s a project on the horizon. Those are the kinds of claims we take, you know, employers are sophisticated, they’re never going to tell you, I’m going to fire you because you’re pregnant, or there’s ever going to be a boss who says, I don’t like you because of your race. But unfortunately, in this world, that still occurs. And our job is to try and help show employers that there’s consequences for doing that. And that’s why we bring these claims, not only for the individual, but try to change the institution as a whole and make sure that these laws are enforced.
Chad Franzen 4:00
What are some things that employees should be aware of regarding their rights, especially, you know, concerning policies that could be outdated.
Manali Arora 4:09
Particularly considering outdated policies, I tell employees, the best thing you can always do is make a paper trail of your claims. If you have a question about a policy, let’s say for example, an issue that’s come up a lot is workplaces have a zero tolerance, zero tolerance drug policy, but you have a medical condition and you have a medical marijuana card. And I would make sure you tell not just your boss who might say that’s fine, it’s really not going to be an issue but make a copy of your card email to human resources and also keep a copy for yourself so that you have made it clear Hey, this policy shouldn’t be implemented against me because I have a medical reason why I may fail this, these randomized drug tests and but I’m allowed to by the laws of the state and I you know, and prescribe I this report disability that way, you know, it’s later down the line, they say, Oh, it had nothing to do with the drugs. And it was because this employee started a fight on the warehouse floor well, for but if that’s if you can prove I told him that very morning, and now they’re alleging this, it’s a lot easier to prove the employers coming up with a reason. You give them notice, and all of a sudden you are chosen for the random drug policy, or the random drug test. If you have a written record, and some proof of when you’ve notified the employer of your disability of a pregnancy of a medical marijuana card, it makes it much easier to enforce those rights.
Chad Franzen 5:47
Are there some resources available to employees to ensure enforcement of their rights?
Manali Arora 5:54
Well, a lot of research I mean, there are publications out there and we put up publications on our website. But really what employees can do, EEOC is a great resource, you can always call them, often law firms such as ours, don’t get involved with cases where it’s just a minor skirmish. You’re not sure what your rights are, you’re asking HR, you’re not sure they’re giving you the right answer, but you haven’t been fired, there isn’t an action taken against you. You know, always call an attorney. Sometimes we’re just happy to give you advice on what you should do in case things go awry. But EEOC is a wonderful resource as well, particularly when it comes to anti discrimination claims. Race, religion, national origin, as well as disability.
Chad Franzen 6:41
Does your firm typically represent clients after they’ve left the company that they’re in a dispute with?
Manali Arora 6:48
Generally, I mean, unfortunately, the laws have not fully caught up with. Well, let’s say this another way. Unfortunately, the only remedies that a lot of these laws provide are emotional distress, as well as lost wages. And so sometimes, what employers do, because they’re smart and sophisticated, as I said, is sort of harass you to the point where you just quit, and now you don’t have any lost wages because you haven’t been fired. So it’s always good to reach out to an attorney. If you have a question, you feel like you’re being harassed. For an unlawful reason, it’s always good to reach out to EEOC, you can file a charge with the EEOC, they may seek to enforce your claim, even if you haven’t been terminated, because they are the government agency that’s tasked with doing so. I will tell you the best resource that employees have, and unfortunately, it’s a diminishing resource is a union. If your workplace as a union, that’s the best place to go. And I find that workplaces with unions are much more likely to stand up for an employee before things get too far down the line.
Chad Franzen 7:59
What is it about employee litigation that you particularly enjoy?
Manali Arora 8:03
Um, you know, I think that it’s difficult to stand up to big corporations, I think that it’s difficult for much of our society, they feel like they don’t want to be there. Not sure they don’t know if they have the money. It’s intimidating to go into a courtroom and face a judge, but really ensuring that everybody is treated fairly in their workplace and paid appropriately. It is what’s important to keep our society going and I feel like our job is to help the individual and try to help level the playing field to ensure that that continues.
Chad Franzen 8:43
How did you kind of choose that as your field within the legal industry?
Manali Arora 8:49
Um, yeah, I came about it in a little bit of a roundabout way. After law school, I actually worked for federal energy. I mean, after college, I worked for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, I was doing energy oversight with the government. And it’s a very honorable job that they do a lot of important things over there, but I just didn’t find it fulfilling. I chose to go to law school. And I really became interested in the Civil Rights courses that were offered after I graduated, I did clerked for a year. And again, that was when it sort of opened my eyes up to how difficult it can be for individuals to pursue a claim in our judicial system. And so right after I went to work for a small law firm that did education law, Representative students and schools and similar to what I do now, it’s it’s another motive of sort of standing up for yourself and making sure that you’re treated fairly and appropriately in both school as well as in the workplace.
Chad Franzen 9:54
So how did you know it sounds like did you know you wanted to go to law school when you were still an undergrad? or how did you How and when did you know you wanted to be an attorney?
Manali Arora 10:02
I didn’t, I did not know, when I was an undergrad. I think I didn’t really realize that until I was out there working for a while. And I realized I wanted to have a job that was a little bit less transactional, a little bit more face to face with people change it that changes daily. And I think that’s normal. I think that a lot of people take time off after college, they don’t know exactly what they want to do. You go out in the working world, and you try on a bunch of different shoes and see what fits before you really decide to go into law school. And I think it makes you a better law student to go in there with a mindset of what you want to do with the degree.
Chad Franzen 10:48
I feel like I’m still trying on shoes. And it’s been like decades since I was an undergrad. What were the early days of your legal career like that? You said, you were a clerk? What about it as a as a lawyer? What were the early days like?
Manali Arora 11:00
Um, you know, it’s, I think the early days are just a lot of learning. There’s just a particularly in litigation, there are just so many facets to it. And as much as you just want to get in there and you want to get your own case. Looking back on it, you know, it’s important to realize that the person you’re representing, you may have 25, 30 cases on your caseload, but the person you’re representing this is the most important thing going on to them. And making sure that dot your i’s and cross your t’s and know not only the procedures of the court you’re working with, but the law that you’re working with, and all the rules that apply and discovery. It’s really important to have good mentors, which I’ve luckily always had in the workplace, and have people that also bring you behind the curtain and show you what they’re doing and show you how they’re doing things and explain to you why they’re doing things. But those early days are really important to attach yourself to some attorneys who can show you the ropes. And that way, when you are able to start with your own cases, you’ve seen what’s going on, you know what to do. You also feel comfortable going back to people to ask what to do. I’m still learning, I wouldn’t say know everything, laws are constantly changing. And so I’m often talking to my colleagues, hey, what do you do when you have this type of case? How have you moved this forward? And I think in the early days, having that mindset of just knowing that there’s a lot more to learn after law school is really important.
Chad Franzen 12:45
Take me through a little bit of your journey toward becoming a partner with Swartz Swidler. How did that come about?
Manali Arora 12:51
Um, I was there for about six or seven years before that occurred. So, you know, like I said, I started I was really just an associate that did a lot of the groundwork, a lot of drafting things, a lot of taking this short calls with the court for the partners and the higher level attorneys. And slowly I started helping with more discovery started sitting in on depositions, defending some depositions and grew into having my own caseload. And, you know, career just progressed from there. Until the time where I felt like I was comfortable enough to run with my own caseload that said, it’s still rely a lot on my colleagues, I’m not out there doing it on my own.
Chad Franzen 13:38
What, at the risk of putting you on the spot, who’s kind of been a mentor for you, and what have you learned from that people, that person or those people, maybe some advice or just observation from watching the board.
Manali Arora 13:52
Um, I would say the best mentor I’ve had in my career is Judge Kathy Surratt, who I clerked for right after law school. She really did a great job of explaining why she made decisions, explaining to me why when I did things that she disagreed with, or when I drafted briefs for her that she made changes to going through and redlining and showing me the changes that she made. It seems extremely tedious, but I felt like by the time I left my clerkship and I was going into the world of litigation, I had an idea on the other side arguing against judges as to what they were thinking and, and what really did move the court and what the court wanted to see. So she’s really she was an excellent starting point. And I felt, I think, much more prepared to start my career that I would have had I not clerk, continue to ping her today on just questions about navigating your career as a mom as a female Just as a lawyer in general, so she’s been a wonderful mentor. Also, when I when I joined the firm, the two founding partners, Richard Swartz and Justin Swidler have always been very good about ensuring that anyone they bring into the firm gets a lot of experience right off the bat. They don’t just stick you in a dark corner of a room and have you turnout data, they really are happy to bring you along happy have second chairs at trials and someone’s sitting in on depositions. And so that really coming in there with the clerkship knowledge, but having them bring me along really helped me get to a point where I was comfortable.
Chad Franzen 15:43
Is there anything else we need to know about employee litigation, if somebody’s feeling uncomfortable in their jobs, or they’re feeling discriminated against or harassed? Any, you know, general advice?
Manali Arora 15:54
Um, my best advice is, you know, always phrase it as a question. But you’re welcome to go to hear human resources. If you genuinely believe there’s an issue in the workplace, it is best to speak up. You don’t have to be combative, you don’t have you know, if that’s not, you don’t have to claim you’re going to sue an employer. But if you feel like you are being treated differently because of some issue, race, religion, and upcoming surgical leave, or leave for surgery, it’s always best to speak up. And as I said, you know, follow it up in writing so that you’ve clarified your positions so that nobody can say, Oh, that’s not what I thought you said. It’s always good to ask even if you’re wrong, at least that way, you know, you’re wrong. Sure.
Chad Franzen 16:47
Hey, I have one more question for you. But tell me how people can find out more about Swartz Swidler.
Manali Arora 16:53
It’s just on our website, swartz-legal.com. We’ve got lots of articles up there about recent changes in case law cases that we’ve brought that we think highlight things that employees need to know. And sometimes class actions that we are bringing that employees may it might be an employer that they want to join.
Chad Franzen 17:17
Yeah. Great. Was there ever a throughout the course of your career, like a moment where you were like, this is this is, this has been a big turning point for me, like, maybe you want a case or something like, Okay, I’m established, you know, like, my confidence was just boosted from a certain moment.
Manali Arora 17:34
Um, yeah, it’s hard to say, I don’t know if I’ve ever had an exact moment. I think it’s just been a slow growth over time, where, you know, the third time you go into court for a trial, you realize, Okay, the first time I messed this up, I know, I want to correct this, you know, I want to practice. I think just your comfort level grows over time as you get more experience, but I don’t know if I ever had a moment. That was an exact turning point.
Chad Franzen 17:59
What what’s it like going into your first trial case?
Manali Arora 18:03
Um, a little while ago, I mean, the very first trial is just very nerve racking. It’s chaotic, you wonder, you know, it trials don’t happen often in employment litigation. 99% of cases settle. And so as an attorney, you know, you start you could go years without actually going to your very first trial. And so you’re always prepping for trial, but most cases settle and so the very first time where you actually have to go to trial, and you gotta get jury instructions, and you have to have the big binders of exhibits and now you’re not just worried about your case, you’re worried about tech and picking a juror and there’s just so much more that jumps onto your plate. It’s it’s incredibly nerve racking, but I think as you do it more often you just your comfort with it grows and your expectations of what’s going to happen. come into play and now it’s it’s I’m not saying it’s not nervous. I think every attorney is nervous and shouldn’t be nervous because a big deal, but it’s not as nerve wracking. Right?
Chad Franzen 19:08
Hey, ya know, it’s been great to talk to you today. Thank you so much. Really appreciate your time.
Manali Arora 19:12
Chad Franzen 19:13
So long, everybody.
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