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November 24, 2020

ABA salutes diversity champions and innovators in labor and employment law

CHICAGO, Nov. 24, 2020 —The American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Law presented its inaugural Honorable Bernice B. Donald Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession Award to Jane Howard-Martin of Toyota as well as the trailblazing judge for whom it was established.  

Named for Donald, who has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit since 2011, the award celebrates lawyers and judges who have devoted their careers to actively promoting diversity and inclusion within the legal profession. In 1982, she became the first African American woman to serve as a judge in the history of the State of Tennessee when she was elected to the General Sessions Criminal Court. She is also the first African American woman to serve as a bankruptcy judge in the United States.

Howard-Martin, vice president and assistant general counsel of labor and employment at Toyota Motor North America, Inc, was lauded as a “thought-leader, tireless action-taker, and catalyst for change in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion for over three decades.”  She championed Toyota Motor Sales’ million-dollar donation to build the Martin Luther King, Jr. monument at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The awards were presented virtually during the 14th Annual Section of Labor and Employment Law Conference Nov. 11-13.

Other award recipients are:

Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC and shareholder George T. “Buck” Lewis of Memphis, Tenn., Frances Perkins Public Service Award for their vision, help and support in creating ABA Free Legal Answers, a virtual legal advice clinic for people of limited means.  The website is now active in 44 jurisdictions and has 8,356 volunteer attorneys. The program has provided more than 127,255 answers to legal questions of those in need. This year alone the program has received nearly 30,000 questions, with employment law-related queries increasing nearly 132% since the start of the pandemic. 

Orlando J. Pannocchia, regional counsel for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Solicitor, Federal Labor and Employment Attorney of the Year Award as a dedicated civil servant who staunchly supports the enforcement of occupational safety and health laws.

Robert M. Dorhmann, of counsel with Schwartz, Steinsapir, Dohrmann & Sommers in Los Angeles, Arvid Anderson Public Sector Labor and Employment Attorney of the Year.  Dorhmann litigated the landmark City of Los Angeles v. Manhart, one of the key cases barring gender discrimination in employment benefits, which he handled from the initial drafting of the complaint to successfully defending the victory before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law has more than 12,000 members who represent all perspectives of labor and employment law: management, union, employee, neutral and public. The Section is committed to a balanced discussion of labor and employment law issues throughout the world.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews