As published in Eve Magazine September 5, 2002

By Nancy Eckerson

Lindy Korn, Esq., CEO and founder of Diversity Training Workplace Solutions and dedicated proponent of tolerance, is a woman whose Herculean efforts to put the “civil” back into civilization are taking the world by storm.

A lawyer in discrimination litigation, a mediator in workplace dispute resolution, and counsel for the law offices of Siegel, Kelleher and Kahn, she is a compassionate professional who goes the extra mile.

“I call myself a holistic lawyer”, she explained of her legal approach. “Each case is like a crock pot with many ingredients: legal, medical, psychological, historical background attitudes, emotions and knowledge. While the outcome will blend all these factors, the integrity of each individual concern must be maintained and respected. That is Holistic Law. It requires lawyers with disabled clients, for example, to study and understand the client’s disabilities in order to properly represent them.”

A native of New York City, Korn relocated to Buffalo when she was in the fifth grade and acquired a passion for justice early from her highly-spirited, socially active mother. She was drawn to the study of law in her youth, which was evident while she was a member of the debate team in high school. “I always saw both sides of an issue, and I was always in search of fairness in life,” she explained. “I expect that from the justice system.” She went on to earn her law degree from the University at Buffalo Law School in 1979.

In 1990 Korn was appointed by Governor Mario Cuomo and confirmed by the State Senate to serve a seven-year term as the Commissioner of Worker’s Compensation. As an Appellate Judge and member of the Board, she presided over the settlement of many workplace conflict issues and held hearings concerning workplace discrimination across the state. She also served on the Fraud Prevention, Americans with Disabilities Act, Cost Reduction, and Ethics board.

While working on these boards, Korn recognized the need for help in the workplace. People needed to be educated about discrimination law, sexual harassment and tolerance of our differences in religion, race, customs and creeds. She decided to create a firm to deal with these issues, and, more importantly, to provide a training ground with a proactive approach of prevention.

Diversity Training Workplace Solutions, Inc. (DTWS) was born in June of 1997. As the founder of this consulting firm, Korn defined her mission: to assist employers with establishing fair operating procedures that minimize employment-related risks of discrimination and harassment in the workplace. She defines diversity as “the awareness of those characteristics that are different from one’s own and a respect for the same.” The firm offers mediation, preventive training and neutral investigations in order to promote and maintain a safe, litigation free work environment. Role playing is employed to increase communication in the seminars.

Teaching employees how to behave appropriately in the workplace and how to react when faced with unacceptable behavior is only one of the many expert services offered by DTWS, Inc. “Prevention is the best tool for elimination of discrimination in the workplace,” says the attorney on her DTWS web site. “Educating both employees and management and creating specific in-house procedures to detect and handle such problems, may reduce an employer’s exposure to potential litigation.”

When asked what issues are most prominent in discrimination in the workplace, Korn cited sexual harassment accusations as number one, although in her law practice, national origin discrimination cases have increased noticeably since the events of September 11th.

Calling herself the “workplace doctor”, Korn said her job is to assist in mending relationships in order to make the workplace safer and more respectful. She has studied the effects of workplace romances and was showcased on NPR – WBFO radio on February 14, 2002 with a commentary entitled “Romance in the Workplace.” She explained that most cases of harassment stem from personal relationships gone awry. Retaliation such as firing or denying deserved promotions by the injured party is most common in these cases. Her essay is available online in the WBFO archives.

Korn’s company, law practice and life reflect her motto to “not be part of the problem, be part of the solution.” She relies heavily on mediation and conflict resolution and seeks a win-win outcome where litigation is avoided by reaching fair settlements. Although a mediator herself, she also independently contracts with many other effective consultants in this field. Korn has been appointed the mediator for the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and for the Justice Department’s Keybridge Foundation, currently serving in both positions. She is also a mediator for the ADA (Americans with Disabilities).

“Mediation is a highly respectful process of allowing parties to first vent, tell their sides of the stories, express blame, accusations, etc. – and then directing this energy toward a dissolving of these highly charged negatives into the core interests of each party,” Korn explained. “Just what result are they really looking for? What are the common interests of both parties? Conflict resolution is the goal. Mediators must hone the fine art of listening! Lawyers are taught to think and to speak but nobody emphasizes the listening skill, the perfect asset for a mediator. In conflict resolution, each party retains control, not each lawyer.”

Korn uses a comprehensive legal approach to defend her clients, which involves dealing with the psychological and physiological subtleties of an incident and putting them into a legal framework to determine the most fair and necessary course of action. It requires additional education on the part of each lawyer to work effectively and sometimes the expertise of doctors to fully comprehend the frame of mind of the client. An example of this principle is questioning why someone who was sexually harassed would not report the incident immediately, even though the company handbook says they must. Possible reasons include fear of retaliation, physiological responses such as sleeplessness and stomach problems, guild, and even compassion for the harasser. All these issues might affect the course of events and must be considered in an effective defense.

Korn worked together recently with John E. Sands, Arbitrator and Mediator, in a harassment situation at a private hospital in New Jersey. The pair was retained to give corrective training to the accused and to re-train the Department of Human Resources on how to deal with the employee upon his return from a two-week interdisciplinary suspension. “Lindy Korn is a creative and effective conflict manager with whom it was a privilege to work,” Sands stated following the project. “She is spectacular at what she does”.

Korn’s private life is a testimony to her beliefs and strength. She has a strong sense of loyalty to family, and her world begins and ends with that premise. She cites her mother, who also attended law school, received a nursing degree, and has remained active in the community service throughout her life, as an inspiration. She is also devoted to her father, whom she describes warmly as “a very handsome man, tall and gentle, warm and kind,” and who served as Vice President of Sattler’s department stores and as a professor in the Business Department of Buffalo StateCollege. Her very best friend is her sister Jody, an Elementary School teacher in Williamsville, and her favorite companion is her Bassett hound and nurse, Homer, who helped care for her after she suffered a heart attack in 2000. As with everything else in her life, Lindy took this health trauma and created a blessing out of it. She is now more appreciative of life, more health conscious and stronger than ever.

To make this woman glow mention her two daughters, Emily, 21 and Leslie, 18, who provide a great source of love in her life. A single mother, Korn remains amiable with her former husband. “We have a good friendship,” she explained. “I respect him for his talents and he does the same for mine.” If a person can establish such peace in her personal life, then imagine how empowered she is in assisting the world in establishing the same harmony.

When asked what message she would most like to give the readers of EVE, Korn said, “I would like them to understand that the life of the law is experience, not logic, and that relationships are where we hope to make an impact. It is all about respect.”