Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho (“GBDH”) has been in the forefront of the struggle for civil rights and workers’ rights since 1972. The firm was founded by Guy Saperstein, a graduate of Boalt Hall Law School (now known as Berkeley Law) who returned to Oakland, California after representing Colorado migrant farm workers in class actions enforcing federal statutory protections. Bringing that experience to California, Saperstein opened up a storefront legal office with another young lawyer, Charles Farnsworth. Together, they began the firm that has since evolved into one of the nation’s leading plaintiffs’ class action law firms devoted to the protection of the interests of workers and others who are subjected to discrimination and abuse.
The firm has been known by different names since its founding. For many years, it was known as Goldstein, Demchak, Baller, Borgen & Dardarian. Beginning in 2013, with the retirement of long-time managing partner Teresa Demchak and the transition of Morris (“Mike”) J. Baller to an Of Counsel relationship, the firm has been known as Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho.
Current Of Counsel Barry Goldstein joined the firm in 1988, bringing with him a race discrimination class action against the Shoney’s Restaurant chain that culminated in a $137 million settlement that created jobs and promotional opportunities for African American Shoney’s employees. Current partners David Borgen and Linda M. Dardarian joined the firm in the early 1990’s, representing women in the landmark gender discrimination class action Kraszewski v. State Farm, 38 FEP Cases 197 (N.D. Cal. 1985), which culminated in a $250 million settlement and increased the number of female State Farm agents in California from the single agent at the time the suit was filed to over 50% of the agent workforce. Current Of Counsel Mike Baller joined the firm in 1995 and, with David Borgen, took the lead in the firm’s gender discrimination class action suit against Home Depot ($87 million class settlement and innovative injunctive relief designed to increase the hiring and promotion of women in what was then a traditionally male dominated company).
Retired partner Teresa Demchak also joined the firm in the 1990’s and prosecuted a number of discrimination class actions, including Ridgeway v. Denny’s a race discrimination case which resulted in the largest public accommodations class action settlement in the history of Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act ($34.8 million class settlement and consent decree requiring training and investigation of customer complaints). Shortly before her retirement, Ms. Demchak brought to conclusion a long running race discrimination in employment case, McClain v. Lufkin Industries, obtaining $14 million and extensive injunctive relief after a trial in the district court and multiple appeals to the Fifth Circuit.
David Borgen started the firm’s wage and hour practice in the late 1990’s and current partner Laura L. Ho joined the firm in 1998 to help grow the new practice area. Together with other members of the firm, they have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid wages for workers in California and the United States, including from IBM ($65 million settlement for technical workers), Countrywide ($30 million settlement for loan officers), Siebel ($27.5 million settlement for software engineers), Automotive Club of Southern California ($19.5 million settlement for salespeople), and Sysco ($18 million settlement for delivery drivers). In 2012, GBDH won a $35 million settlement for misclassified technical employees of Oracle in California. David Borgen transitioned to an Of Counsel role with firm effective January 2016 but continues to litigate wage/hour cases and other matters at the firm.
Linda M. Dardarian leads the firm’s disability rights practice, which she started in 1994. Since then the firm has represented the interests of hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities in expanding their rights to fully and equally participate in mainstream social, economic, and civic life, through, for example, the installation of talking ATMs and talking pedestrian signals for persons with visual impairments, accessible patient rooms, exam tables and diagnostic equipment for people with mobility disabilities, and captioning of web-based videos for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Ms. Dardarian also pioneered the firm’s environmental practice in 1994. In the years since, the firm has succeeded in restricting the discharges of pollutants from oil refineries into San Francisco Bay, from chemical and mining companies into drinking water sources for the East Bay and Sierra foothills, and from construction work in San Francisco.
In 2012, GBDH celebrated its fortieth anniversary. The firm continues its commitment to enforcing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the American with Disabilities Act, environmental laws (and other state and federal laws designed to protect individuals from abuses in the work place and beyond) through class action and complex litigation. See details about our current cases.
More information about GBDH’s history can be found in the following materials:
- National Lawyers Guild Honors Partners’ Three Decades of Leadership, San Francisco Daily Journal, April 2, 2008
- Civil Warrior: Memories of a Civil Rights Attorney, Saperstein, Guy T. (2003)
- The Denny’s Story: How a Company in Crisis Resurrected Its Good Name, Adamson, J. (Wiley & Sons: 2000)
- The Black O: Racism and Redemption in an American Corporate Empire, Watkins, Steve (1997)