Nicole G. Berner
Nicole G. Berner is an accomplished labor lawyer who has dedicated her legal career to representing working people and their communities to obtain economic and racial justice, access to health care, and gender and LGBTQ equality.
Nicole G. Berner is General Counsel to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents 2 million workers in health care, property services, and the public sectors in the United States and Canada. Ms. Berner has served as in-house counsel from 2006 to the present and provides strategic legal advice to the union on a broad range of legal matters, including many of SEIU’s innovative organizing campaigns, including the Fight for Fifteen and the campaigns to organize homecare and childcare workers who were left out of traditional labor law. Ms. Berner has developed extensive litigation experience in federal and local courts and regulatory agencies throughout the United States. She oversees litigation on behalf of SEIU and its members in a broad range of cases, including cases arising under federal labor laws, civil rights laws and anti-trust laws; matters concerning healthcare, immigration justice, LGBTQ and voting rights, and other civil rights and civil liberties matters before federal district courts, circuit courts of appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ms. Berner is particularly proud of her role as counsel on SEIU’s amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in a successful defense to the Affordable Care Act, and as the architect of the labor movement briefs in the case which overturned the Defense of Marriage Act and the subsequent case which achieved full marriage equality.
Prior to her work at SEIU, Ms. Berner was a staff attorney at Planned Parenthood Association of America (PPFA), where she litigated reproductive rights cases throughout the country and advocated on Capitol Hill for access to reproductive healthcare. Previous to that, she was a litigation associate at Jenner & Block in Washington, D.C., where she was a member of a legal team that handled a number of high-profile civil liberties and LGBT rights cases.
- Juris Doctor (JD), Berkeley School of Law, University of California, Berkeley, Order of the Coif
- Master’s Degree in Public Policy (MPP), Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley
- BA, Women’s Studies, University of California, Berkeley, Phi Beta Kappa; high honors and highest honors in major
- Judge Betty B. Fletcher, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- Chief Judge Thelton E. Henderson, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
Community Involvement and Pioneering Work
Ms. Berner currently serves on the board of directors of Jobs with Justice and the National Partnership for Women and Families, and is a member of the Legal Advisory Board of Law Forward in Wisconsin. Between 2017 and 2020, she served on the Board of Directors of the American Constitution Society. Ms. Berner is active in Jews United for Justice, a Maryland and D.C-based social justice organization which has fought for fair housing, and the passage of laws to increase the minimum wage, bring about marriage equality, and protect immigrants through the state’s mini-Dream Act.
Ms. Berner and her former spouse brought a lawsuit following the birth of their eldest son in 1996 challenging the refusal of the Israeli consulate to register him as a child born to two Israeli citizens abroad because he had two mothers. After years of litigation, the Israeli Supreme Court issued a landmark decision ruling that required the Ministry of Interior to record both mothers as the parents of one child. The case received considerable media coverage in Israel and internationally and is considered one of the major civil rights cases decided by the Israeli Supreme Court.
Honors & Awards
- Fellow, American Bar Foundation, 2022
- Fellow, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, 2021
- Lawdragon “500 Leading Plaintiff Employment & Civil Rights Lawyers,” 2021 & 2022
- Jews United for Justice “Heschel Vision Award,” 2014
Ms. Berner is a member of the Bar Associations of the District of Columbia, the State of Maryland, and the State of California. She is admitted to practice before numerous federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court and various Federal Courts of Appeals.
 Berner-Kadish v. Minister of Interior, accessible at: https://versa.cardozo.yu.edu/opinions/berner-kadish-v-minister-interior