Debra Steiner Friedman


Recent News:

Employer Wariness of Gen Z May Spur Age Bias Claims

Debra Steiner Friedman was quoted in a Law360 article highlighting the increase in age-biased complaints from young workers, urging employers to avoid age discrimination.

Debra focuses her counseling and litigation practice on compliance with federal and state employment laws and regulations; corporate reorganizations; diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies; affirmative action issues; executive mobility; and employment aspects of corporate transactions. 

Debra provides legal and business solutions to a myriad of human resource issues. She also regularly drafts complex corporate policies and contracts for her clients and advises them on best practices. Debra advises federal contractors how to comply with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) laws and regulations and defends federal contractors in OFCCP audits.

Debra works closely with corporate counsel on the employment aspects of due diligence for complex transactions. She also negotiates and drafts employment and separation agreements for executives and companies in connection with such transactions. Additionally, Debra reviews and drafts detailed commission and other incentive compensation plans for executives.

Debra has successfully represented and defended many clients in noncompete, business tort, and discrimination lawsuits. She regularly defends clients before federal and state fair employment practice agencies. Debra also counsels clients on how to address requests for workplace accommodations and, for places of public accommodation, requests for modifications to services and programs. She defends clients on a variety of disability accommodation issues before civil rights agencies and in courts.

Debra has published numerous articles on a variety of employment topics and has been interviewed and quoted by many media outlets. She lectures human resource professionals and management personnel on workplace issues such as anti-harassment programs, employee evaluation and discipline issues, and leaves of absence. Debra also is a Chapter Editor for the ABA's Family and Medical Leave Act treatise (Second Edition), and a Senior Reviewer for the ABA's Employment Discrimination Law Treatise, National Origin and Citizenship Chapter (Seventh Edition).

Debra is Chair of the Board of Directors for the Philadelphia Youth Network, a youth workforce development organization, and past secretary of the board of the directors for the Valley Forge Chapter of the National Charity League, Inc., a philanthropic organization committed to fostering mother-daughter relationships through community service, leadership development, and cultural experiences. Debra earned her Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, at the University of Pennsylvania in 1989 and her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1992.



Employer Wariness of Gen Z May Spur Age Bias Claims

February 05, 2024

Debra Steiner Friedman was quoted in a Law360 article highlighting the increase in age-biased complaints from young workers, urging employers to avoid age discrimination.

Ask A Mentor: How Do I Balance Social Activism With My Job?

January 31, 2024

Diedrick Graham, Debra Friedman, and Simeon Brier spoke with Law360 on ethical, professional, and personal boundaries for attorneys pursuing social justice causes outside work.

City & State Pennsylvania Names Debra Friedman and Thomas Giotto to Their 2023 Pennsylvania Labor Power 100 List

October 03, 2023

Debra Steiner Friedman and Thomas Giotto of Cozen O'Connor’s Labor & Employment Department were named to the 2023 Pennsylvania Labor Power 100.

EEOC Partners with DOL on Legal Enforcement

September 22, 2023

Debra Steiner Friedman was quoted in SHRM discussing the impact of the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission working more closely together to enforce workplace laws nationwide.

Take Care with Last Chance Agreements

August 23, 2023

Debra Steiner Friedman was quoted in SHRM discussing last chance agreements and why the wording is important.

Caregiver Protections Gain Steam As Moms' Pay Gap Persists

August 15, 2023

Debra Steiner Friedman was quoted in Law360 discussing caregiver discrimination pay between parents.

11th Circ. Order Could Chip Away At EEOC's Subpoena Power

May 15, 2023

Debra Friedman was quoted in Law360 discussing a recent decision by a three-judge panel in the Eleventh Circuit that has raised concerns about the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) authority to conduct investigations.

How to Handle Addiction in the Workplace

April 21, 2023

Debra Friedman was quoted in All Business discussing what employers should do when an employee shows signs of addiction.

How to Respond to Drinking on the Job

February 01, 2023

Debra Friedman was quoted in SHRM discussing how employers should handle the suspicion of an employee drinking on the job or being intoxicated at work.

4 EEOC Cases To Watch In 2023

January 02, 2023

Debra Friedman was quoted in Law360 discussing EEOC v. iTutorGroup and what to watch for in 2023.

Investindustrial’s Agreement to Purchase Majority Stake of Eataly S.p.A

October 17, 2022

Cozen O’Connor served as U.S. and Canadian counsel in Investindustrial’s acquisition of a majority stake in Eataly S.p.A., the global chain of upscale Italian marketplaces. A team led by M&A attorney and Italy Practice chair Christian Moretti conducted significant due diligence of more than 20 Eataly businesses in the United States and Canada, in collaboration with Deloitte Legal Italy and Studio Legale Chiomenti. For nearly two decades, Eataly has been operating high-quality Italian food markets and restaurant concepts in prestigious locations across the globe, including flagship stores in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Dallas, and Silicon Valley.

Challenging Unemployment Compensation Benefits: When Is It Worth It?

September 16, 2022

Debra Friedman was quoted in SHRM discussing employers deciding not to pay unemployment insurance benefits claims.

City and State Pennsylvania Names Debra Friedman to Their 2022 Pennsylvania Labor Power 100 List

September 12, 2022

Debra Steiner Friedman, a member of Cozen O'Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, was named to the 2022 Pennsylvania Labor Power 100.

4 Things Employers Could Do To Aid Working Moms

September 08, 2022

Debra Friedman was quoted in Law360 discussing Moms' Equal Pay Day, which represents how far into the year the average mom must work to earn what the average dad took home in 2021.

Objections to Disclosure of EEO-1 Data Due Sept. 19

August 26, 2022

Debra Friedman was quoted in SHRM discussing how federal contractors that submit EEO-1 reports don't have much time to object to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs' (OFCCP's) recently announced disclosure to the public of EEO-1 data.

Working through bereavement requires more than just a few days off

April 10, 2022

Debra Friedman was quoted in the New York Post discussing bereavement policies.

It’s Imperative for Employers to Monitor OSHA’s COVID Guidelines

November 08, 2021

Debra Friedman joined the CPA Conversations podcast to provide the latest information on OSHA guidelines related to COVID-19.

What will happen when Texas' ban on COVID-19 vaccine mandates conflicts with the federal vaccine requirement

October 13, 2021

Debra Steiner Friedman spoke with CNN about Texas Governor Greg Abbott's new executive order that bans any entity in Texas from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, a rule that directly conflicts with President Joe Biden's proposed rules requiring COVID vaccines for federal workers and for large employers.

Debra Steiner Friedman Appointed to Philadelphia Youth Network’s Board of Directors

September 22, 2021

The Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) has appointed Debra Steiner Friedman as their new board chair to oversee PYN’s board of directors.

What Happens When Mental-Health Issues Get in the Way of Work

June 03, 2021

Debra Friedman was quoted in The Wall Street Journal discussing how employers will work to accommodate mental-health needs, but there are limits.

What the COVID vaccine rollout means for returning to the workplace

February 12, 2021

Debra Friedman was quoted in Go News Today discussing the approach employers can take with the COVID-19 vaccine.

4 Tips For Crafting An Airtight Parental Leave Policy

November 20, 2020

Debra Friedman was quoted in Law360 discussing parental leave policies that satisfy the law and do right by workers.

Facing dual challenges of work and home-schooling, more women are sacrificing their careers

October 05, 2020

Debra Friedman spoke with NBC News about women being forced to make the choice between caring for their children or prioritizing their own career during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Revised CDC isolation timeline may prompt workplace policy changes

July 29, 2020

Debra Steiner Friedman discussed with HR Dive about the CDC's guidance for those not requiring hospitalization may be useful to employers in determining whether employees who have COVID-19 may return to work.

Mailbag: Should our company set up on-site testing for COVID-19?

May 15, 2020

Debra Friedman was quoted in HR Dive about what should be considered if an employer offers onsite COVID-19 testing.

Wake Up With WURD

May 12, 2020

Debra Friedman appeared on WURD to talk about practical and legal issues surrounding health checks in the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s What Individuals, Workers and Businesses Need to Know About the Coronavirus Stimulus Package

March 27, 2020

Debra Friedman was quoted in Philadelphia Magazine discussing what the coronavirus stimulus package entails.

Coronavirus outbreak: How businesses should be preparing

February 28, 2020

Debra Friedman was quoted in the Philadelphia Business Journal discussing how businesses should handle a potential coronavirus outbreak.

Debra Friedman on Wharton Business Daily

January 14, 2020

Debra Friedman appeared on Wharton Business Daily Radio discussing joint employment.

Policy changes you need to make before 2020

November 14, 2019

Debra Friedman discussed with HR Morning about new employment trends in 2019 and 2020 and areas she recommends employers to pay attention to.

3 Tips For Crafting Workplace Cannabis Policies

November 01, 2019

Debra Friedman was quoted in Law360 discussing pre-employment testing policies.

California employers wrestle with drug testing after cannabis legalization

August 14, 2019

Debra Friedman was quoted in the North Bar Business Journal about how the legalization of cannabis impacts businesses managing pre-employment drug-testing.


Federal Contractors May Be Blindsided by the Reach of State Sales and/or Use Taxes [Alert]

April 03, 2023

Larry Prosen and Debra Friedman discuss the Washington State Court of Appeals decision in Alstom Power Inc. v. State of Washington Department of Revenue.

New Posting Requirement for Federal Contractors [Alert]

October 31, 2022

The EEOC has issued an updated “Know Your Rights” poster, revised as of October 20, 2022.

New Jersey Health Care Entities Should Add New Employee Protections to Their Due Diligence Checklists [Alert]

October 28, 2022

New Jersey Senate Bill No. 315 creates broad protections for many employees in the health care sector in the event of a change in control.

New Protections for Employees of Certain New Jersey Health Care Entities [Health Law Informer Blog]

October 27, 2022

Health care entities, home health care agencies, and staffing registries considering a transaction in New Jersey will need to keep in mind new obligations to certain employees. On August 18, 2022, Governor Murphy signed into law New Jersey Senate Bill No. 315 (the “Act”), which created broad...

Is Your EEO-1 Report At Risk of Disclosure?

August 31, 2022

The OFCCP informed all federal contractors that a FOIA request seeking contractor data from '16-'20 was submitted. Contractors must file objections by 9/19/22.

OSHA’s Updated COVID-19 Guidelines for Employers and What They Mean [PICPA]

September 08, 2021

Debra Friedman authored an article about OSHA's latest COVID-19 guidance for non-health care employers and employees and how it is causing employers to reevaluate their return-to-work policies and procedures.

Federal Contractors Should Be on the Lookout for Change in 2021, But Plan for Now [HR Headaches Blog]

December 14, 2020

Commentators are speculating on how quickly the Biden Administration may reverse course on three (3) of 2020’s significant developments at the Office for Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”): On September 22, 2020, President Trump issued Executive Order 13950, “Combating Race and Sex...

Medical Inquiries and Examinations Related to Coronavirus [Alert]

March 13, 2020

David Barron and Debra Friedman answer employers' frequently asked questions when it comes to the coronavirus.

Countdown to 2020: Five Hot Compliance Tips to Keep HR Professionals Out of Hot Water [HR Headaches Blog]

October 07, 2019

It is time to make sure you are ready for 2020 (and beyond). Here are five (5) hot HR compliance issues you should be tracking and implementing: New Salary Thresholds for Exempt Employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act Effective January 1, 2020, the standard minimum salary levels for...

5th Circ. Ruling Offers Map For Avoiding Daily Rate OT Claims [Law360]

September 16, 2019

Debra Friedman discussed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit's recent decision in Faludi v. U.S. Shale Solutions LLC.

Events & Seminars

Upcoming Events

Neurodiversity in the Workplace: Beyond Awareness to Actionable Strategies

April 26, 2024 - Webinar

Please join Cozen O’Connor’s DEI Strategies & Solutions Group as we discuss neurodiversity awareness and innovative strategies to make your workplace a more inclusive and thriving environment for neurodiverse employees.

Past Events

What Keeps Nonprofit Lawyers Up At Night?

June 22, 2023 - Philadelphia, PA

Health Law 2022

December 08, 2021 - Webinar

2019 Labor and Employment Law Update

June 20, 2019 - Philadelphia, PA

Industry Sectors


  • University of Pennsylvania Law School, J.D., 1992
  • University of Pennsylvania, B.A., magna cum laude, 1989

Awards & Honors

Pennsylvania Labor Power 100, 2022 and 2023

Thomson Reuters Stand-out Lawyers, 2023 and 2024

  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • New York Court of Appeals
  • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
  • Supreme Court of New Jersey
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • U.S. District Court -- Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court -- Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court -- Middle District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court -- New Jersey
  • U.S. District Court -- Northern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court -- Southern District of New York
  • American Bar Association
  • New Jersey State Bar Association
  • New York State Bar Association
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association
  • Board Chair for The Philadelphia Youth Network