Tess Congo

/ Illinois' Best Lawyers 2017

After finding civil rights laws and union organizing at the University of Michigan Law School to be intriguing and “legally complex, requiring a deep understanding of human nature,” Vicki Lafer Abrahamson went on to create her own firm in 1985, which specialized in helping clients with job-related issues.

“Our clients are typically those who have been struck by what is often regarded as a catastrophic event—they have been terminated from their job,” states Abrahamson. “We also represent people who are taking new jobs and who are still in their jobs but are being subjected to unlawful treatment, usually because they are a member of a protected class.”

Abrahamson’s clients may have faced gender discrimination, sexual harassment, age-motivated actions, discrimination because of disability, racial discrimination, or discrimination as a result of taking a lawful leave of absence. As a result, clients may have been demoted, denied promotions, or terminated from their positions. In sexual harassment cases, clients may need to leave their job to avoid further victimization.

“My job is to act as legal counsel, therapist, life coach, and cheerleader,” says Abrahamson. “Our most satisfying cases are when our clients end up in new jobs far superior to the ones they were forced to leave, or when we learn, after the conclusion of the case, that the [aggressor] was fired.”

In one of Abrahamson’s cases, her client was terminated after a consensual relationship between the client and the CEO ended. Abrahamson sent a letter to the company, and the CEO called her without counsel. He denied the relationship, and called the client “sick and delusional.” At the time, email was relatively new in the workplace, and the CEO was not yet familiar with a digital footprint. Abrahamson picked up a pile of emails that were sent to her client and read the sexually explicit excerpts he had written. Abrahamson advised that he retain counsel, and soon after, the matter was satisfactorily settled.

Along the way, Abrahamson has learned that gaining her client’s confidence goes a long way in helping them and that it’s important to take each case on an individual basis, ignoring the cookie-cutter approach. When she retires, she hopes to look back on her career knowing that she helped others.

Abrahamson was selected as the only female and only plaintiffs’ employment attorney to be a founding governor of The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, an organization that gives peer recognition to attorneys who work in labor and employment law. As a founding governor, she witnessed the college grow from an idea into a viable and honorable organization, and later served as its president.

Abrahamson has been listed with Best Lawyers® since 2006 and is the principal attorney at Abrahamson, Vorachek & Levinson.