Sara A. Begley is a seasoned employment attorney in the firm's Philadelphia office, known for her results-driven, practical approach to solving complex, high-stakes matters for corporate employers. Her practice is diverse and includes a wide scope of employment litigation, including claims of discrimination, retaliation, sexual harassment and Sarbanes-Oxley and state law whistleblower claims. In addition, Ms. Begley handles trade secret and restrictive covenant litigation, which includes litigating preliminary and permanent injunctions in state and federal court.
Ms. Begley has tried various employment-related and breach-of-contract cases in federal and state courts as well as before administrative and arbitration tribunals. She has successfully had a number of discrimination and retaliation matters dismissed on summary judgment. Her most recent jury trials involved claims of race, age and disability discrimination and retaliation that resulted in defense verdicts for her clients.
Ms. Begley is also experienced in successfully representing employers in U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigations involving claims of systemic discrimination. She has extensive experience in crisis management and also conducts investigations for global corporations and nonprofit organizations, regarding discrimination, harassment and assault claims. Ms. Begley is particularly talented at early and effective resolution of cases.
Ms. Begley conducts management training on a variety of employment issues for corporations and government agencies, and she is a frequent lecturer on the topics of #MeToo, discrimination, sexual harassment, Americans with Disability Act (ADA), Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA), internal and EEOC investigations, workplace privacy and social media. She regularly gives presentations for various bar associations, law school programs and human resources organizations on the topics of employment litigation and trial training.
Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Ms. Begley served for five years as the global practice group leader of the labor and employment group of a large international law firm.
Ms. Begley is deeply committed to pro bono work and has dedicated significant time to humanitarian projects, such as assisting Haitian women victimized by sexual violence following the 2010 earthquake. In 2012 and 2013, she traveled to Haiti to investigate claims of sexual/political oppression, and to aid in securing shelter and medical care. She worked with various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to investigate complaints and to develop policies and procedures to prevent sexual assault. She also volunteers her time to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and Philadelphia Community Legal Services.
Ms. Begley spearheaded the Women in the Courtroom Symposium and led the global Women's Initiative at her prior firm. She is committed to and passionate about the advancement of women in the profession.
- Obtained summary judgment, affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for Third Circuit, in multiplaintiff race discrimination/harassment case involving allegations of racially derogatory postings, racial epithets by a supervisor and claims of failure to promote and other disparate treatment
- Obtained summary judgment in a case involving allegations of race discrimination and retaliation by a former employee who claimed that client's employee handbook, as it relates to attendance, was applied unfairly and unequally because of race
- Granted summary judgment in favor of communications client on race, retaliation and national origin discrimination claim
- Obtained defense verdict in favor of client after a three-week jury trial; claims included age and disability discrimination
- Obtained defense verdict in favor of client after 2.5-week jury trial; claims included race discrimination and retaliation
- Successfully obtained complete withdrawal of plaintiff's claim of sexual harassment and retaliation following jury trial
- Obtained motion to dismiss in representation of a major energy company in a disability discrimination suit brought under Title III of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), alleging multiple failures to provide accessible public accommodations at eight gas stations
- Obtained summary judgment, affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, for a healthcare provider against multiple claims of national origin, age and race discrimination in a failure-to-hire case, as well as allegations under Title VI based on the client's receipt of federal funding through Medicare payments
- Obtained expedient nuisance resolution of a complaint alleging hostile work environment on the basis of race and retaliation for reporting a noose discovered at employee's workstation, as well as other race-related allegations; within six months of receipt of the matter and after taking plaintiff's deposition, case settled for a nuisance value
- Obtained dismissal of race discrimination and retaliation claim filed by a long-term African-American employee who alleged that the client violated the collective bargaining agreement when certain managers disqualified him from his position as a management representative and also alleged that the client's discipline policy discriminates against African-American employees; motion to dismiss was granted, with no appeal filed and no monetary sum paid to plaintiff
- Obtained favorable resolution of a race discrimination, retaliation and Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA) retaliation claim brought by a former assistant to high-ranking officials of client; following plaintiff's deposition, obtained a nuisance settlement of all claims
- Obtained nuisance settlement in a case involving race discrimination and retaliation claims by a long-term African-American employee who asserted that black employees were treated dissimilarly from white employees; plaintiff's counsel on the eve of trial conceded that the client and defense team had developed such strong defenses that he dropped his demand to a nuisance value, with the case being settled and dismissed without trial
- Successfully handled a disability discrimination action brought by a management employee of more than 20 years; settlement was reached in court as trial was scheduled to begin, with client paying no attorneys' fees to plaintiff's counsel and providing funds only to bridge retirement eligibility
- Represented client in an U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) class action involving hostile environment on basis of race at power plant worksite, earning a successful resolution for client
- Litigated nationwide civil rights class action, earning a nuisance settlement in client's favor
- Successfully handled a case involving international trade secret theft and misappropriation of proprietary information by the former head of research and development of an energy company; earned a successful resolution that included a monetary settlement in the client's favor and the former employee being removed from new position with competitor
- Granted injunction in favor of insurance brokerage client in case involving misappropriation of trade secrets and proprietary information
- Successfully resolved a misappropriation of trade secrets case; case was settled on first day of trial with no money paid by client to plaintiff
- Represented client in a breach of employment contract and claim of tortious interference with contract; plaintiff withdrew entire claim on eve of trial, with no sum paid to plaintiff or his attorney
- Obtained summary judgment for a pharmaceutical company in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law (WPCL) case
- Georgetown University Law Center, LL.M.
- University of Dayton School of Law, J.D.
- University of Dayton, B.A., cum laude
- New Jersey
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
- All Federal Courts in Pennsylvania
- All State Courts in Pennsylvania
- All Federal Courts in New Jersey
- All State Courts in New Jersey
- Working Mother Best Law Firms for Women, Advisory Board Member
- Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, Leadership Council Member
- Benchmark Labor & Employment, Labor & Employment Star, Northeast, 2018
- Philadelphia Business Journal, Women of Distinction, 2018
- The Legal 500 USA, Workplace and Employment Counseling, 2017-2018
- The Legal 500 USA, Labor and Employment Disputes (Including Collective Actions): Defense, 2015-2018
- Chambers USA – America's Leading Business Lawyers guide, Labor and Employment, 2015-2020
- The Best Lawyers in America guide, Litigation – Labor and Employment, Employment Law – Management, 2014-2020
- Pennsylvania Super Lawyer magazine, 2015-2018
- The Legal Intelligencer, Women of the Year, 2012