“I learn what’s important to our clients, and I look for the best way to get them there.”
Scott Oswald is an accomplished trial lawyer who has brought more than 40 trials to verdict and recovered more than $300 million in judgments and settlements for his clients, in cases ranging from wrongful termination to employer fraud.
Mr. Oswald litigates employment lawsuits nationwide, with a special focus on whistleblower matters – including qui tam law, which can deliver monetary rewards to employees who expose fraud against the government. He has spoken up for workers before federal agencies and on Capitol Hill, and has broken new ground in whistleblower law:
- First jury verdict (more than $2 million) under new whistleblower protections introduced in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013;
- First Sarbanes-Oxley Act liability verdict to withstand appeal;
- First reported successful jury verdict under 2009 anti-retaliation provisions of False Claims Act and;
- First Dodd-Frank Act retaliation lawsuit to reach discovery in federal court.
A third-generation lawyer, Mr. Oswald follows in the footsteps of his mother and grandfather, both of whom were pioneers in South Dakota law. Following a reorganization of the state’s judicial system, his grandfather was appointed as the first Chief Justice of the South Dakota Supreme Court. His mother, meanwhile, was the first woman to prosecute a criminal felony case in South Dakota’s trial courts. During the Johnson administration she moved to Washington, D.C., where Mr. Oswald was later born.
Mr. Oswald received his law degree from Howard University, where his mentors included J. Clay Smith, and later honed his skills at Trial Lawyers College, a nonprofit created by the legendary Gerry Spence to train lawyers dedicated to “obtaining justice for individuals.”
After starting his career in immigration law – an area he still follows but does not currently practice – Mr. Oswald turned his attention to workplace justice. He spent some time advising employers, then switched to the plaintiff’s side in 2002. Even today, his stint as a defense lawyer helps him to understand and better negotiate with opposing counsel.
“So much of our self-esteem and confidence comes not just from who we are – but also from what we do for a living,” Mr. Oswald says of his focus on workplace law. “Vindicating clients in an employment case helps them to regain their sense of self. It’s very rewarding.”
Since founding The Employment Law Group® law firm, Mr. Oswald has fought for employees’ rights under federal and state statutes, representing clients in a wide range of discrimination, wrongful termination, and contract matters. In 2004, he got a call that turned into the first of many whistleblower cases. Sheila Kalkunte, an attorney, had been fired after discovering wrongdoing with her employer’s financial statements. After being referred the case, Mr. Oswald pursued her whistleblower retaliation claim to trial under the still-fresh Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, and won the first SOX verdict to withstand appeal.
Since that case, Mr. Oswald has remained an innovator in using anti-retaliation laws to obtain money damages for clients, and even to prevent employers from firing whistleblowers. “We leverage every legal tool to fight for our clients as hard as we possibly can,” he says. “Our goal is to understand and achieve their goals, as long as it’s within the bounds of the law, ethics, and professionalism.”
In 2017, after 20 years practicing law, Mr. Oswald was nominated by his colleagues to become a fellow of the prestigious College of Labor and Employment Lawyers in his first year of eligibility. Super Lawyers has recognized his achievements every year for almost a decade, and he has placed on its D.C. “Top 100” list multiple times, including for 2021. Mr. Oswald is a ten-time honoree in The Best Lawyers in America. He has been recognized as a “Top Lawyer” in D.C. by Washingtonian Magazine and Northern Virginia magazine, and is ranked by Lawdragon as one of the top 500 plaintiff-side employment lawyers in the United States. In 2021, Mr. Oswald was ranked by Chambers, a prestigious global legal directory.
Mr. Oswald regularly provides commentary for news articles and has been quoted by publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The National Law Journal. He often lectures on employment and whistleblower law, and organizations such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Labor have sought his input on their practices.
Mr. Oswald has written many articles on federal and state whistleblower and employment law protections and is the author of a chapter in the D.C. Bar’s Practice Manual, which covers the basics of practicing law in several D.C.-based courts. He is active in efforts to strengthen employee protections and has written amicus curiae briefs in high-profile cases including Lawson v. FMR LLC, a landmark victory for SOX plaintiffs at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mr. Oswald is chair of the Federal Bar Association’s Qui Tam Section and past chair of its Professional Ethics Committee. He is also a proud past president of the Metropolitan Washington Employment Lawyers Association, and currently heads its Bench-Bar Committee. He is co-chair of an employment law subcommittee at the American Bar Association and has roles in other professional groups, including the D.C. Bar and the National Employment Lawyers Association.
During his off hours Mr. Oswald focuses on his family, which includes three children and two cats. He coaches his youngest daughter’s basketball team and has seen them rise from being novices to playing in the local championship game. A self-described “seventh-grade basketball washout,” Mr. Oswald takes the same approach to coaching as he takes to law: Throwing himself into it and learning from anyone with something to teach.
Mr. Oswald is admitted to practice in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Florida, and in numerous federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.