Contact Us

Amy
Oppenheimer

Managing Partner

T. 510.393.4212

Amy loves doing investigations because she is curious, fearless about asking questions and tends to see all sides of things.

Experience

Amy is a leading expert in the field of workplace investigations. She has more than 40 years of experience in employment law, as an attorney, investigator, arbitrator, mediator and trainer. She has worked with and for a large range of employers and employees – public and private, large and small – throughout the country. She is also a retired administrative law judge.

Her areas of expertise include preventing workplace harassment and responding to allegations of harassment, investigating workplace harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblower claims, diversity in the workplace, how unconscious bias impacts decision-making and other forms of workplace misconduct. Amy frequently does public speaking on these issues.

Amy has investigated hundreds of workplace complaints, including complaints against elected officials, CEOs, founders of startups and board members. She has testified as an expert witness more than 70 times and also as a fact witness regarding her own investigations. She has trained public and private employers in how to investigate workplace complaints, sexual harassment prevention and implicit bias.

Amy led the founding of the Association of Workplace Investigators (AWI), helped develop the association’s curriculum and served as its Chair for several years.

Outside the Office

Amy’s first love is the theater. Now that she has had a long and happy career in the law, she has gone back to it – doing solo performing and improv classes. She also loves to travel, especially to places that feel very different from the United States.

  • “The Global #MeToo Movement,” Full Court Press, contributor, 2020.
  • “Investigating Employee Complaints: Managing Expectations,” Corporate Compliance Insights, co-author, November 2020.
  • “The Meaning of ‘Due Process’ in Harassment Investigations,” California Labor & Employment Law Review, Volume 33, No. 6, co-author, November 2019.
  • “Workplace Harassment Investigations Worldwide,” AWI Journal, Vol 10 No. 3, author, September 2019.
  • “Guidelines for Responding to Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: An Update,” California Labor & Employment Law Review, Volume 32, No. 2, co-author, March 2018.
  • “How Arbitrators and Advocates Can Understand and Avoid Unconscious Bias and Stereotyping,” Arbitration 2015, Privacy, Transparency, Legitimacy, Proceedings of the Sixty-Eight Annual Meeting, National Academy of Arbitrations, BNA, author, 2016.
  • “Unconscious Biases: What We Don’t Know Can Hurt Us – and Others,” California Labor & Employment Law Review, Volume 29, No. 6, author, November 2015.
  • “Understanding and Eliminating Bias in Investigations,” CAOWI Quarterly, Vol 2 No. 1 and 2, author, 2011. Investigating Workplace Harassment and Discrimination, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 29, No. 4, author, Spring 2004.
  • “The Do’s and Don’ts of Investigating Workplace Harassment,” PIHRA Scope, Professionals in Human Resources Association, author, February 2004.
  • “Experts May Testify on Harassment Policies and Procedures of Employer,” San Francisco Daily Journal, author, December 11, 2003.
  • Using Liability Experts in Sexual Harassment Cases, Sexual Harassment Litigation Reporter, Volume 9, Issue 10, author, October 2003.
  • Making the Best Use of Liability Experts in Discrimination and Harassment Litigation, Employment Litigation Reporter, Volume 18, Issue 5, author, October 14, 2003.
  • Investigating Workplace Harassment: Ten Steps to Success, You and the Law Newsletter, author, October 2002.
  • Investigating Workplace Harassment: How to Be Fair, Thorough, and Legal, co-author, Society of Human Resource Management, 2002.
  • “The Aftermath of Faragher and Ellerth – The Impact on Pre-trial Discovery and the Use of Liability Experts in Sexual Harassment Cases,” Conference materials NELA Convention, author, June 2000.
  • “Employment Discrimination and Harassment”, Chapter 40B of California Torts, Levy, Golden & Sacks, Editors, Matthew Bender & Co., author, September 1999.
  • “Liability Lesson: The Use of an Employment expert In Sexual Harassment Cases can help Jurors Understand the Reasonableness of Investigatory Processes”, Los Angeles Daily Journal and San Francisco Daily Journal, author, May 21, 1999.
  • “Investigating Sexual Harassment: A Practical Guide to Resolving Complaints”, published by Thompson Publishing Group, Washington D.C., contributor, 1998.
  • “She Said, They Said – To protect themselves from liability for sexual harassment, employers should examine the numerous legal guidelines”, California Law Business, Supplement to the Los Angeles Daily Journal and San Francisco Daily Journal, author, March 9, 1998.
  • Association of Workplace Investigators Training Institute, faculty, every year from inception (2012) to the present.
  • Investigations in the Wake of a Pandemic, Orange County Bar Association 2020 Labor & Employment Law Symposium, panelist, September 18, 2020.
  • Navigating Bias, Cultural Competence and Microaggressions, AWI webinar, panelist, July 2020.
  • Does Restorative Justice Have a Role in Addressing Sexual Harassment? Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law, conference on Global Resistance to Sexual Harassment/Violence, June 2020.
  • Sexual Harassment Prevention Training, Bar Association of San Francisco, presenter, May 14, 2020.
  • Workplace Investigations, Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law, Developments in Sexual Harassment Law, moderator, February 2020.
  • Workplace Investigations: How the Department of Fair Employment and Housing Wants It Done, California Lawyers Association, Annual Meeting, panelist, October 10, 2019.
  • Conducting a Workplace Investigation: What Lawyers Need to Know, American Law Institute, Webinar, presenter, August 14, 2019.
  • Supporting Transgender Employees – Legal Update and Practical Guidance for Creating Inclusive Workplaces, California Lawyers Association 2019 Annual Meeting, Moderator, July 18, 2019. Comparing Workplace Harassment Investigation in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand, Berkeley Comparative Equality and Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group Annual Conference, Stockholm, Sweden, panelist, June 18, 2019.
  • The Worldwide #MeToo Movement: Global Resistance to Sexual Harassment, Berkeley Comparative Equality and Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group Annual Conference, Stockholm, Sweden, panelist, June 17, 2019.
  • Gender in the Workplace: How Implicit Bias Impacts Women’s Advancement and How to Counteract It, American Law Institute, Webinar, speaker, May 16, 2019.
  • Due Process: What Process is Due to Complainants and Respondents? Worldwide #MeToo Conference, UC – Berkeley Law, Moderator, May 14, 2019.
  • Workplace Investigations: A Global Comparison, Worldwide #MeToo Conference, UC – Berkeley Law, panelist, May 14, 2019.
  • Unconscious Bias and the Legal Profession, Northern California Bankruptcy Conference, speaker, Sacramento, March 7, 2019.
  • Unconscious Bias and the Legal Profession, California Lawyers Association Intellectual Property Law Section’s 43rd Annual IP Institute, speaker, November 8, 2018.
  • Sexual Harassment: A March through the Decades – From the 1950’s to Now, AWI Annual Conference, speaker, October 13, 2018.
  • Sexual Harassment Law After #MeToo, California Lawyers Association Annual Meeting, panelist, September 15, 2018.
  • Workplace Investigations in the Age of #MeToo, Continuing Legal Education, Bar Association of San Francisco, Keynote Speaker, August 14, 2018.
  • The Aftermath of #MeToo in the Workplace, Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, conversation with Chaya Mandelbaum, August 8, 2018.
  • Impact of #MeToo and #TimesUp on Policies and Investigations, Keynote Speaker, Continuing Legal Education International, Workplace Investigations, April 23, 2018.
  • Breaking Barriers: Building Diversity in the Tech Industry, California Lawyers Association, Labor & Employment Annual Meeting and Annual Public Sector Conference, moderator, April 12, 2018.
  • Workplace Investigations, California Lawyers Association, Labor and Employment Law Section, Employment Law 101 – Fundamental for the New Employment Law Lawyer, panelist, March 15, 2018.
  • Understanding and Eliminating Unconscious Bias in the Legal Profession, University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law Annual MCLE Program, speaker, January 20, 2018.
  • Tough, Tougher, Toughest: Navigating Difficult Situations in Interviews, CALPELRA Annual Training Conference, speaker, December 7, 2017.
  • Internal Investigations of Employee Complaints and Misconduct: Avoiding Costly Missteps, Strafford Publication webinar, panelist, December 6, 2017.
  • The DFEH New Workplace Harassment Guide and Other Sources of Guidance for Investigators, AWI Annual Conference, panelist, October 6, 2017.
  • DFEH’s Workplace Harassment Guide, State Bar of California, Labor & Employment Section, speaker Webinar, September 5, 2017.
  • Courtroom Bias, Annual SAFE (Scientific Association of Forensic Examiners) Conference, speaker, August 2017.
  • DFEH’s Workplace Harassment Guide, State Bar of California, Labor & Employment Section’s Annual Conference, panelist, July 14, 2017.
  • Interviewing: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – New Approaches for New Challenges, AWI Annual Conference, panelist, November 2016.
  • Managing Unconscious Bias, ABTL Leadership Development Committee Program, speaker, October 2016.
  • Across the Divide: Building Cultural Competency & Combatting Bias, State Bar of California 89th Annual Meeting, panelist, September 2016.
  • How to Win Harassment, Discrimination & Punitive Damage Claims Without an HR Expert, NELA#16 (National Employment Lawyers Association 16th Annual Conference), panelist, June 2016.
  • From Promise to Practice: New Perspectives on Diversity, Labor & Employment Section of the State Bar of California Public Sector Conference, moderator, April 2016.
  • Workplace Investigations That Hold Up in Court, Northern California Human Resources Association HR West Conference, speaker, March 2016.
  • Avoiding Costly Missteps in Internal Workplace Investigations: Guidance for Employers from Recent Court Decisions, Webinar Presented by Strafford, panelist, December 2015.
  • Using Expert Witnesses to Win Employment Cases, State Bar of California, San Francisco, panelist, August 2017.
  • Across the Divide, Cultural Competency and Interviewing People Different from Ourselves, AWI annual conference, panelist, November 2015.
  • Workplace Investigations Basics, Association of Workplace Investigators, trainer, Oakland, April 14, 2015, May 26, 2015, June 14, 2016 and April 13, 2017.
  • How Arbitrators and Advocates Can Understand and Avoid Unconscious Bias & Stereotyping, National Academy of Arbitrators Annual Meeting, speaker, May 2015.
  • Ethical Issues for Attorneys Conducting Workplace Investigations in the Public Sector, California State Bar Labor & Employment Section Public Sector Conference, moderator, April 24, 2015.
  • Nuts & Bolts of an Employment Practice for New Employment Lawyers, State Bar of California, Labor and Employment Law Section, panelist, January 16 and January 30, 2015.
  • Interviewing, The First Ninety Seconds and Beyond, CALPELRA Annual Conference, panelist, November 19, 2014.
  • Investigating Complaints of Retaliation – Tips for Minimizing Claims and Litigation, California Association of Joint Powers Authorities, panelist, November 2014.
  • Attacking and Defending the Workplace Investigation During Litigation, State Bar of California 87th Annual Meeting, panelist, September 2014.
  • Recognizing and Eliminating Unconscious Biases in Employment Law, State Bar of California 87th Annual Meeting, speaker, September 2014.
  • Workplace Investigations: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, State Bar of California 87th Annual Meeting, panelist, September 2014.
  • Using Liability Experts in Employment Discrimination Cases, California Young Lawyers and the State Bar of California Labor & Employment Section, webinar, May 8, 2014.
  • Hot Issues in Workplace Investigations: A plaintiff, Defense and Investigator’s Perspective, State Bar of California Labor and Employment Law Section, Annual Conference, moderator, April 25, 2014.
  • The Law & Practice of Workplace Investigations, California Young Lawyers and the Labor & Employment Section of the California State Bar, webinar speaker, April 8, 2014.
  • Workplace Investigations Basics, Association of Workplace Investigators, Seattle, trainer, April 1, 2014.
  • Understanding and Eliminating Implicit Bias in the Legal Profession, Pupilage Group Inn of Court, panelist, March 12, 2014.
  • Understanding Unconscious Bases: What They Are, How They Impact Our Decisions, And How to Eliminate Them in the HR And Legal Professions, CALPELRA Annual Conference, speaker, November 21, 2013.
  • Investigator as Deponent – How to Nail Your Deposition Testimony, Association of Workplace Investigators, Annual Conference, panelist, October 24, 2013.
  • Ground Zero in Workplace Investigations: Advanced Interview Techniques, ACHRO/EEO Fall 2013 Institute, speaker, October 17, 2013.
  • The Science of Unconscious Biases and Its Impact on EEOC Investigations & Determinations, EEOC 2013 EXCEL Training Conference, speaker, August 2013.
  • Is the Neutral Really Neutral? How Unconscious Biases Impact Mediators and Mediations Without Anyone Realizing It, EEOC 2013 Conference, speaker, August 2013.
  • Eliminating Bias in Workplace Investigations, Webinar, i-Sight, speaker, July 31, 2013.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Monterey TAPS, speaker, June 20, 2013.
  • How to Spot a Liar AND How Not To: The Scoop on Making Credibility Determinations, NCHRA Annual Conference – HR West, speaker, April 22, 2013.
  • The Standard of Care for a Workplace Investigation, The Labor & Employment Law Section of The State Bar of California, panelist, April 12, 2013.
  • Understanding Unconscious Bases: What They Are, How They Impact Our Decisions, And How To Eliminate Them in The HR And Legal Professions, CALPELRA Annual Conference, speaker, December 2012.
  • Nuts & Bolts of an Employment Practice for New Employment Lawyers, State Bar of California, Labor and Employment Law Section, Los Angeles, moderator, June 7, 2012.
  • The “Good Enough” Investigation: How to Meet Standards While Controlling Costs, Association of Workplace Investigators, webinar, May 2012.
  • What are Unconscious Biases and Why Should HR Professionals Care? NCHRA Annual Conference (HR West), speaker April 2012.
  • He Said, She Said, Making Credibility Determinations in Investigations, Sexual Harassment Advisors Spring Luncheon, Stanford University, speaker, February 2012.
  • Use of Liability Experts in Harassment Litigation, The State Bar of California 29th Labor and Employment Law Section Annual Meeting, panelist, October 2011.
  • Workplace Investigations on Trial: Can an Investigation Make or Break Your Case? The State Bar of California 84th Annual Meeting, panelist, September 2011.
  • Third Rail Issues (EEOC Conflicts No One Wants to Touch), EEOC TAPS Seminar, speaker, June 2011.
  • Understanding and Eliminating Bias in Investigations, Sexual Harassment Advisors Spring Luncheon, Stanford University, speaker, May 2011.
  • Conducting Workplace Investigations, Two-day training, Northern California Human Resources Association, Lead trainer, 2003 — 2014.
  • What are Cognitive Biases? And How do They Impact Our Work as Employment Attorneys, Mediators, Investigators & Decision Makers? And How do we Eliminate Bias in the Legal Profession? Webinar, State Bar of California, Labor and Employment Section, February 2011.
  • The Basics of Investigating Workplace Complaints of Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation, Labor and Employment Section of the State Bar of California, panelist, January 2011.
  • Litigating A Disability Discrimination Case – From Intake to Trial, State Bar of California 28th Labor and Employment Law Section Annual Meeting, panelist, October 2010.
  • The Psychology of Bias: Understanding and Eliminating Bias in Investigations, CAOWI first annual conference, speaker, November 2010.
  • Hot Topics in Employment Investigations, California State Bar Annual Conference, panelist, September 2010.
  • Mastering the Art of Employment Investigations, The Labor and Employment Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco, speaker, June 2010.
  • Advanced Investigation Skills: Practice Makes Perfect, HR West 2010, Northern California Human Resource Association, speaker, April 2010.
  • Avoiding Common Mistakes in Workplace Investigations, panelist, Bar Association of San Francisco, 2009.
  • How to Conduct Employment Investigations, California State Bar 2009 Labor and Employment Annual Meeting, Preconference Training Program, trainer.
  • Trial Demonstrations: Direct and Cross of Expert Witnesses, California State Bar 2009 Labor and Employment Annual Meeting, trainer.
  • Adding Insult to Injury – Understanding the Exposure of Workplace Bullying, PLUS 2009 Professional Risk Symposium: EPL, E&O and Fiduciary, PLUS, panelist.
  • Best Practices for Neutral Investigations of Employment Complaints, State Bar 2009 Section Education Institute, panelist.
  • Representing Employees and Employers in Unemployment Hearings, State Bar Labor and Employment Law Section, 2009, panelist.
  • Hidden Bias: The Implications for Employment Discrimination Litigation, 2008 Labor and Employment Annual Meeting, panelist.
  • Bringing and Defending Against Attorneys’ Fees Motions, 2008 Labor and Employment Annual Meeting, moderator.
  • Harassment Investigation Critique, EEOC Annual Technical Assistance Seminar, San Francisco 2007, Santa Clara, 2006 and 2008, Oakland 2009, speaker.
  • He Said/She Said: Making Credibility Determinations in Harassment Investigations, NCHRA Annual Conference, speaker, September 2003.
  • The How To’s of Investigating Workplace Harassment, 46th Annual PIHRA Conference & Exhibition, speaker, September 2003.
  • Did He Say What She Said He Said, Or Not? How Does an Investigator Decide? Society of Human Resource Management Annual Conference, speaker, June 2002.
  • The Aftermath of Faragher and Ellerth: Litigating Hostile Work Environment Cases, National Employment Lawyers Association Eleventh Annual Convention, panelist, June 2000.
  • Employment Litigation: Investigations and Human Resource Experts, Barristers Club of San Francisco Labor & Employment Section, speaker, February 2000.
  • Mediating EEO Complaints, 40-hour training provided for City of San Francisco, August 1999.
  • Sexual Harassment: The Role of the Investigator and the Role of the Mediator, Society for Professionals in Dispute Resolution, speaker, 1998.
  • Same-Sex Harassment in the Workplace After Oncale, Association on Employment Practices and Principles, Panelist, 1998.
  • Investigating Complaints of Sexual Harassment and Discrimination”, Alameda County Bar Association, speaker, 1998.
  • Resolving Sexual Harassment Complaints, Society for Professionals in Dispute Resolution, panelist, 1997.
  • Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Legal Community, American Bar Association Annual Conference, panelist, 1997.
  • Association of Workplace Investigators, Inc, founder and past president of the board
  • Labor and Employment Section of the State Bar of California, former chair of the executive committee
  • Berkeley Dispute Resolution Services, former president of the board

Education

University of California, Davis, J.D.

University of California, Berkeley; B.A., Summa cum laude, phi beta kappa

Areas of Expertise

Investigations
Title IX
Trainings
Coaching
Mediation & Conflict Resolution
Expert Testimony
Climate Surveys & Assessments

Admission

State Bar of California
Virginia State Bar (inactive)
District of Columbia Bar (inactive)

Credentials

AWI-CH
ATIXA
T9 Mastered