Craig J. Ackermann – Shareholder
Craig Ackermann has practiced employment law for 24 years. as lead counsel, he has resolved 10 cases in recent years—9 class actions and 1 arbitration—for over $2.85 million each. We have been lead or co-lead counsel in more than 500 class actions since 2007 that settled from $200k to $4.9 million.
In 2017, our firm settled 40 class actions for more than 44,000 workers as lead or co-lead counsel for a total amount over $25 million. In 2018, we resolved 58 class actions as lead or co-lead counsel for 60,000 workers for a total amount over $30 million. In 2019, we once again have obtained over $35 million for more than 50,000 workers in approximately 60 settled class actions.
We are currently lead or co-lead counsel in over 175 class actions in California and Washington, half of which have already been resolved and will receive approval in late 2019 or in 2020.
We have obtained class certification in 9 contested class certification motions since 2008, including one in December 2018 for over 3,800 truck drivers in a pending wage/hour case, and another in mid-2017, in a trucker rest break case for 540 drivers that settled for $2.95 million. In 2016, after 7 years of litigation against a different company, we obtained a $1.2 million fee award on a contested fee motion in a class action where the total recovery to the class, including fees, was over $3.3 million. In the early 2000’s, I was second chair on a $23.5 million settlement for 150 female workers in a case that, at the time, was the 2nd largest sexual harassment case in US history.
In addition to truck drivers, sales representatives, farm workers, guards, construction workers and restaurant workers, we represent senior executives in private equity and fortune 1000 companies in contract and stock option cases, severance negotiations, gender discrimination class actions and high-stakes litigation.
Yael Tilajef Ackermann – Shareholder
As a shareholder of Ackermann & Tilajef, P.C., Yael Tilajef Ackermann was formerly involved in building the firm’s sexual harassment practices. She has served as lead or co-lead counsel in a growing number of sexual harassment cases in California. She has represented dozens of victims of workplace sexual harassment in cases throughout California, including cases involving male-on-male sexual harassment, anti-gay harassment, teenage sexual harassment cases, and traditional male on female harassment cases. Previously, Yael Tilajef Ackermann worked as an associate for the Law Offices of Vicki J. Greene, practicing complex litigation for clients in high net-worth family law cases. Before moving back to Los Angeles in early 2003, she also worked in New York City from 1999 through 2002 as an associate for the law firms of Rimberg & Associates, P.C. and Peter Axelrod & Associates, P.C., and served as a judicial intern to the Honorable Bernard J. Fried of the Supreme Court of the State of New York. Mrs. Ackermann holds a BS from Sy Syms School of Business, a division of Yeshiva University and a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School. She is admitted to the New York, New Jersey, and California Bars. Currently, Mrs. Ackermann occasionally works a couple of days per month, and is primarily involved in firm administration activities.
Jaclyn Blackwell – Office Administrator
Since joining Ackermann & Tilajef in 2016, Jaci operates as the firm’s office administrator. She completed a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in history and environmental studies from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2011, and worked for a real estate firm for five years as a senior legal assistant. Jaci currently plans to apply for and attend law school in California in 2021.
Sam Vahedi joined Ackermann & Tilajef as Sr. Complex Litigation Counsel in 2016. Since joining the firm, Mr. Vahedi has handled over 50 class action cases involving claims for unpaid wages, missed rest breaks, unreimbursed business expenses and misclassification. Mr. Vahedi is also admitted to the State Bar of Washington.
Sam Vahedi received his law degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, where he received the First Honors Award in Legal Drafting, and was admitted to the practice of law in California shortly thereafter. Mr. Vahedi also attended business school at Loyola Marymount University while he was studying law and earned his M.B.A. degree in 2011. He graduated cum laude from the University of California, Davis, with a dual degree in English and Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior.
Prior to joining our firm Mr. Vahedi founded Sam Vahedi & Associates, and also worked with several private law firms specializing in civil litigation. While in law school, he interned at the Office of the Los Angeles District Attorney, Hardcore Gang Division, and clerked at several private law firms specializing in civil litigation. Throughout his practice, Mr. Vahedi has gained extensive experience in the areas of consumer and employment class actions, civil litigation and other areas of law. He is a member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, Consumer Attorneys of California, California Employment Lawyers Association, Beverly Hills Bar Association, and Culver Marina Bar Association, to name a few.
Avi Kreitenberg – Senior Associate, Employment Litigation, Class Actions
Avi Kreitenberg joined Ackermann & Tilajef as a Senior Associate in 2017. Since joining the firm, Avi has been assigned as the associate responsible for class action cases involving claims for unpaid wages, missed rest breaks, and unreimbursed business expenses. Mr. Kreitenberg is also admitted to the State Bar of Washington.
Mr. Kreitenberg received his law degree from the University of West Los Angeles School of Law and passed the California Bar in 2009. Soon after, Avi worked as a law clerk for Julian Hammond, Esq. who was of counsel to Ackermann & Tilajef in 2009. Prior to joining our firm as Senior Associate, Avi was employed as an Associate by KamberLaw, LLP, a consumer and privacy class action law firm.
Brian Denlinger – Senior Associate, Employment Litigation, Class Actions and Harassment/Discrimination
Brian Denlinger joined Ackermann & Tilajef’s Tacoma, Washington office as a Senior Associate in 2017. Brian has been assigned as the associate responsible for all of the firm’s Washington class action cases involving claims for, among other violations, unpaid wages, rest periods, and overtime. Brian is also involved in several multi-plaintiff and individual employment discrimination actions, including sexual harassment cases.
Mr. Denlinger received his law degree with distinction from the University of Iowa College of Law in 2012, where he was a Managing Editor of the Journal of Corporation Law, and was admitted to the practice of law in Colorado shortly thereafter. Prior to law school, Brian graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Northern Iowa.
Prior to joining Ackermann & Tilajef, Brian was the principal officer of his own law firm, where he represented plaintiffs in employment matters, including employment discrimination. Brian also worked for private law firms as general counsel and practicing civil litigation. While in law school, Brian clerked at private law firms that specialize in civil litigation.
Brandon Wheatley – Senior Associate, Sexual/Religious/Age Harassment/Discrimination
Mr. Wheatley was admitted to the State Bar of California in 2016 and has been a practicing attorney for the past five years. At the firm, Mr. Wheatley leads our nationwide sexual and racial harassment, discrimination, and retaliation practice. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Wheatley handled a variety of employment law-related matters while working as the Director of Human Resources and HR Legal at a private entertainment company and as a Senior Human Resources Compliance Specialist at a well-known Los Angeles hospital. Prior to those experiences, Mr. Wheatley worked as an associate at our firm, where he represented plaintiffs in a variety of employment law matters, including employment discrimination and wage/hour class actions. While in law school, Mr. Wheatley was a legal intern at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and at the National Labor Relations Board.
Laurie Ritz – Paralegal
Laurie Ritz joined Ackermann & Tilajef ‘s Los Angeles, California office as a Litigation Assistant in 2017. Laurie is a graduate of the Haas Business School at UC Berkeley. In the fall of 2018, Mr. Ritz graduated from the UCLA ABA Approved Paralegal Program. In 2021, Mr. Ritz began his juris doctorate degree at Concord Law School.