Sharon M. McGowan, a partner at Katz Banks Kumin, joined the firm in September 2022. Ms. McGowan concentrates her practice on representing individuals who have experienced harassment and other forms of discrimination in the workplace due to their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, and race, along with other civil rights violations, including racial discrimination in housing appraisals. In addition to this work, Ms. McGowan represents whistleblowers suffering retaliation, employees who have been wrongfully discharged, and victims of sexual assault.
Ms. McGowan has led a long and distinguished career as one of the nation’s leading civil rights attorneys. Prior to joining KBK, she was the Chief Strategy Officer and Legal Director for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the nation’s oldest and largest LGBTQ+ legal organization. During her five years with Lambda Legal, she developed and implemented the organization’s strategic priorities, led its litigation and policy advocacy teams, and built partnerships with national civil rights groups on intersecting issues.
Previously, Ms. McGowan held several senior positions within the Obama administration. Most recently, she was Principal Deputy Chief of the Appellate Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, where she supervised attorneys and advised the U.S. Solicitor General and federal agencies on a broad range of civil rights issues related to the enforcement of federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, education, credit, voting, and policing in the U.S. Supreme Court and lower federal courts. Under President Obama, Ms. McGowan also served as Acting General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel for Policy at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, where she led the implementation of key administration priorities including nationwide marriage equality and the Affordable Care Act.
Earlier in her career, Ms. McGowan was a Staff Attorney with the LGBT & AIDS Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, where she served as lead attorney in a landmark Title VII case, Schroer v. Billington, which established new protections for transgender individuals against employment discrimination based on their gender identity and gender transition.
Ms. McGowan clerked for the Honorable Norman H. Stahl on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, and for the Honorable Helen G. Berrigan on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans. She earned her J.D. with honors from Harvard Law School in 2000 and her B.A. with honors from the University of Virginia in 1995. She is licensed to practice in the District of Columbia, Maryland, New York, and Massachusetts.
- Nan Hunter, Courtney Joslin & Sharon McGowan; The Rights of Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexuals and Transgender People: The Authoritative ACLU Guide (4th ed. 2004).
- Working With Clients to Develop Compatible Visions of What It Means to “Win” a Case: Reflections on Schroer v. Billington, 45 Harv. Civ. R.- Civ. L. L. Rev. 205 (2010).
- Winner of 2011 Dukeminier Award, Williams Institute of UCLA School of Law, for outstanding legal scholarship on sexual orientation and gender identity issues. Reprinted in 10 The Dukeminier Awards: Best Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law Review Articles of 2010 (2011)
- Republished in Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Workplace: A Practical Guide (Duffy, et al., eds.) (BNA 2014)
- The Bona Fide Body: Title VII’s Last Bastion of Intentional Sex Discrimination, 12 Colum. J. Gender & Law 77 (2003).
- Intrusion Tort Liability and Undercover News Investigations – Striking the Proper Balance Between Individual Privacy and a Free Press, American Bar Ass’n Communications Lawyer, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Summer 2003).
- The Fate of ENDA [Employment Non-Discrimination Act] in the Wake of Maine: A Wake-Up Call to Moderate Republicans, 35 Harv. J. on Legis. 623 (1998).
- Contributing Author, Lesbian/ Gay Law Notes, published by the Lesbian & Gay Law Association of Greater New York (Prof. Arthur Leonard, New York Law School, ed.) (1998-2010).