Katherine M. Forster

Katherine M. Forster

Katherine M. Forster is a partner in the employment department at Munger, Tolles & Olson.

In addition to having litigated scores of wage/hour and discrimination class actions as well as collective and representative actions, Ms. Forster has particular expertise in helping companies navigate highly sensitive claims for sexual harassment and abuse, gender discrimination and pay equity. Her litigation experience includes whistleblower retaliation claims, executive compensation matters, trade secrets disputes, constitutional issues and claims arising under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, as well as federal and state employment laws. Ms. Forster also handles internal investigations and provides strategic labor law compliance advice to employers and management. She has extensive experience in the entertainment and media, technology, retail, food and beverage distribution, financial services, communications and nonprofit sectors.

Ms. Forster is a past chair of the Labor & Employment Law Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. She received the Distinguished Service Award from the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles (WLALA) in 2016. She has also been ranked by Chambers USA for many years, and the Daily Journal has named her among its Top Labor & Employment Lawyers and Top 100 Women Lawyers in California. In 2022, the Los Angeles Business Journal recognized Ms. Forster as a Leader of Influence: Labor & Employment Attorney. In addition, Ms. Forster has regularly been selected for inclusion in Southern California Super Lawyers® and listed among the Top 50 Women Attorneys in Southern California.

Ms. Forster has prevailed at trial as well as on dispositive motions, defeated class certification, enforced arbitration agreements and obtained extraordinary settlements. Her key representations include:

  • Activision Blizzard in defending against claims of systemic sex discrimination, harassment and retaliation by the California Civil Rights Department (formerly Department of Fair Employment and Housing)
  • See’s Candies in defeating class certification in an action alleging wage and hour violations.
  • 99 Cents Only in obtaining reversal on appeal of a trial court ruling that the company had waived its right to compel individual arbitration of wage and hour claims.
  • A publicly traded company defending against claims for whistleblower retaliation under the Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank Acts.
  • A major film studio defending against sexual harassment and gender discrimination claims.
  • A high-profile nonprofit foundation defending against a legal challenge to an internship program it funds to encourage underrepresented groups to pursue museum careers.
  • A large retailer defending against claims it violated state law by failing to provide seats to cashiers.
  • Southern California Edison in obtaining the dismissal of a putative class action alleging a pattern and practice of racial discrimination and summary judgment in a related individual action.
  • Merrill Lynch in its defense against a nationwide wage and hour class action by its financial advisors.
  • NBCUniversal in attaining favorable settlements in two putative class actions alleging age discrimination against television writers by all the major TV networks, studios and talent agencies.

Ms. Forster authored an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the U.S. and California Chambers of Commerce in a California Supreme Court case of first impression regarding the state’s suitable seating law. She was also one of the principal counsel of record in Reynolds v. Bement, in which the California Supreme Court held that corporate officers and directors could not be held personally liable under the then-existing California Labor Code for wage claims by corporate employees.

In addition to her regular practice, Ms. Forster does extensive pro bono work in the areas of non-profit advice and counseling and impact litigation to promote LGBT rights. Among other things, she  and co-counsel at ACLU and DRW recently obtained a preliminary injunction barring the Washington Department of Corrections from “outing” transgender, non-binary and intersex prisoners and from disclosing their medical information, sexual history, and history of sexual victimization in response to Public Records Act Requests.  She also led a Munger Tolles team that, along with Lambda Legal, brought a lawsuit asserting sex discrimination claims on behalf of a transgender veteran who was denied service at a local barbershop. She is also part of a team that has successfully defended California’s law prohibiting licensed clinical professionals from practicing sexual orientation change efforts on minors.


Ms. Forster received her undergraduate degree in politics from Princeton University. She obtained her law degree from the USC Gould School of Law, where she was elected to the Order of the Coif and served as executive senior editor of the Southern California Law Review. While in law school, Ms. Forster served as a legal writing instructor, president of the USC Women’s Law Association and a member of the WLALA Board of Governors. Ms. Forster joined the firm after serving as a law clerk to the Honorable Edward Rafeedie of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Prior to entering law school, Ms. Forster was a project manager in the aerospace and defense industry.

Speaking Engagements

  • Employers Beware: What’s Now, What’s New and What’s Next, Institute for Corporate Counsel
  • Trends in Wage and Hour Litigation – Perspectives from the Plaintiff and Defense Side, LACBA Labor & Employment Law Symposium
  • Year in Review, LACBA Labor and Employment Law Symposium
  • Navigating the Employee Leave Laws: What Happens When the Statutes Intersect, Conflict and Overlap? LACBA Labor and Employment Law Symposium
  • Eliminating Bias in the Legal Profession, Burbank and Orange County Bar Associations
  • Anatomy of the Plaintiff’s Employment Lawsuit and Cutting-Edge Employer Practices to Avoid Employment Lawsuits, LACBA
  • Nuts and Bolts of Employment Law, LACBA
  • Taking the Step to Federal Court, Federal Bar Association
  • “Tracking Diversity,” Continuing the Retention and Advancement of Women in Law Firms: Fresh Perspectives for Changing Times, LACBA/WLALA Joint Task Force
  • Sexual Harassment in the Legal Profession, WLALA
  • Law Firm Leaders’ Summit: Practical Ways to Retain and Promote Women Lawyers, LACBA and WLALA

Community Involvement

Ms. Forster is a past Chair of the Labor & Employment Law Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and is a member of the invitation-only American Employment Law Council.

Ms. Forster is a member of the Board of Directors of Equality California Institute, serves as co-chair of the Governance Committee, and sits on the Executive Committee.  She is a past president of the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles (WLALA) and the founding chair of the LACBA/WLALA Joint Task Force on the Promotion and Retention of Women Lawyers (LACBA/WLALA Joint Task Force).  She is also a longtime member of California Women Lawyers, the Association of Business Trial Lawyers, and the LGBT Bar Association.

Under Ms. Forster’s leadership, the LACBA/WLALA Joint Task Force organized a groundbreaking summit meeting of managing partners and practice heads from Los Angeles area law firms to share strategies for retaining and promoting women lawyers. The Joint Task Force’s work was honored by the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations with its Outstanding Member Program Award.