Irma D. Herrera and Debra A. Smith

Irma D. Herrera is the Executive Director of Equal Rights Advocates, a San Francisco based organization whose mission is to protect and secure equal rights and economic opportunities for women and girls through litigation and advocacy. During its 33 year history ERA’s lawyers have successfully litigated cases numerous impact cases and greatly expanded opportunities for women. ERA is part the legal team in the on-going battle against Wal-Mart, in the case of Dukes v. Wal-Mart, the largest civil rights class action in which women charge Wal-Mart with systematically denying them equal pay, promotions and training opportunities. During a three year hiatus from practicing law in the 1980s she taught law and social justice and worked as a free lance journalist. Her articles on legal and cultural issues were published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsday, and Ms. Magazine. Irma pursues a dream of someday finding work life balance so she can enjoy spending more time with her spouse and teenage son and pursuing her many interests.

Debra A. Smith has over twenty-five years experience litigating complex employment discrimination and other civil rights. She began her career with Texas Rural Legal Aid where she litigated class actions against corporate agribusiness and governmental entities on behalf of migrant farmworkers and low income women and minorities. After ten years with legal aid, Debra entered private practice with Saperstein, Goldstein, Demchak and Baller in Oakland, California where she represented mostly women and people of color in class action employment discrimination lawsuits. Debra has been with Equal Rights Advocates since July 2001 where she continues her class action litigation, including co-counseling in the largest sex discrimination class action to date in the United States against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. which involves more than 1.6 million low wage women workers. ERA and co-counsel recently settled the first sexual harassment class action involving California women employed in an Indian gaming casino against the Las Vegas-based corporation that managed the casino.