Dr. Deborah Foster is a labor economist and an expert in applying data analysis to labor and employment issues in legal disputes. She has provided deposition testimony and expert reports in both state and federal court, as well as mediation, arbitration, and trial support. Her practice includes advising clients on matters relating to race and ethnicity, gender, and age discrimination claims as well as a wide range of wage and hour issues including misclassification, off-the-clock work, time-shaving, meal and rest break violations, rounding, and regular rate calculations.

In class action matters—including nationwide FLSA, state-specific, and hybrid actions—Dr. Foster frequently analyzes large data from multiple sources to address issues related to class certification and to quantify claims. She performs variation studies, examines the typicality of the named plaintiff(s), and calculates exposure under alternative scenarios and legal theories. Additionally, Dr. Foster performs critiques of opposing experts’ analyses and aids counsel in understanding the underlying assumptions and their impact on the results.  She has worked on these cases in both an expert capacity where she has provided testimony and declarations and in a consulting role where she has helped attorneys understand the data and its implications on the litigation.   

Dr. Foster also provides individualized analyses of job market opportunities, mitigation efforts, and damages related to discrimination and wrongful termination claims. She has been designated as an expert and provided deposition testimony in these matters.

In addition to her labor practice, Dr. Foster has experience in commercial litigation and intellectual property where she has assisted clients with matters related to bankruptcy, fraud, breach of contract, and patent infringement.


  • American Bar Association
    • Section of Litigation
    • Labor & Employment Section
  • American Economics Association
  • Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management
  • Society for Human Resource Management
  • Women's Bar Association of the District of Columbia


  • Economist, Welch Consulting
  • Michigan State University, Instructor and Researcher
  • Consultant, Navigant Consulting

Case Highlights

Insights & News


  • White Paper, Edgeworth Economics | 10.26.2023

    The Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) September 8, 2023 Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) increases the standard salary level for the white-collar exemption to the 35th percentile of the pay distribution of full-time, non-hourly workers in the South Census region and imposes automatic updates to the salary threshold every three years.  The automatic adjustments would use the most recent quarterly data from the Current Population Survey to determine the 35th percentile of the pay distribution for full-time non-hourly workers in the South Census region. 

  • White Paper, Edgeworth Economics | 10.24.2023

    The Department of Labor’s September 8, 2023 Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) increases the salary threshold for the white-collar FLSA exemption.  In the NPRM, the Department explains that the purpose of the salary level test is to serve as an initial screening tool.[1]  It then goes on to downplay the extent to which the new threshold will increase the fraction of white-collar workers who will fail the salary level test by stating “the number of salaried white-collar employes for whom salary would be determinative of their non-exempt status and who earn at least the long test salary level – 3.2 million – is nearly ten times smaller than the number of salaried white-collar workers for whom job duties would continue to be determinative of their exemption status…”[2] 

  • Published Article, 10.04.2021

    Since the California Supreme Court issued its ruling in the Ferra v. Loews Hollywood Hotel, LCC matter, many articles have alerted California employers that the meal and rest premium payments for non-compliant meal and rest periods must be paid at the regular rate instead of the employee’s base hourly rate. 

  • Published Article, Law360 | 05.01.2020

    Headlines announcing impending layoffs and furloughs abound as the economy declines due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus and a downturn in the oil and gas sector. Depending on the demographics of their employees, some firms may be particularly susceptible to risk of adverse impact in layoff and furlough decisions.

  • Law360 | 04.15.2019

    Edgeworth Partners Dr. Stephen Bronars and Dr. Deborah Foster discuss the Department of Labor's recent proposal to increase the HCE salary threshold from $100,000 to $147,414. 

  • Law360 | 05.23.2018

    In anticipation of future civil class actions related to no-poach and wage-fixing agreements, Edgeworth Partners Dr. Stephen Bronars and Dr. Deborah Foster have published a two-part primer in Law360 on wage analyses that are frequently used in employment discrimination cases and will become increasingly relevant as labor issues cross over into the antitrust arena.

  • Law360 | 05.23.2018

    In anticipation of future civil class actions related to no-poach and wage-fixing agreements, Edgeworth Partners Dr. Stephen Bronars and Dr. Deborah Foster have published a two-part primer in Law360 on wage analyses that are frequently used in employment discrimination cases and will become increasingly relevant as labor issues cross over into the antitrust arena.

  • Law360  | 06.17.2016

    The DOL's estimate of an additional 2.5 percent increase in the new salary threshold over three adjustments may not be accurate and likely understates its magnitude.

  • Law360 | 09.25.2015

    Mr. Michael Kheyfets, Dr. Deborah Foster and Dr. Nathan Woods discuss the 10 questions you should ask your experts who are working with your sensitive data. 

  • Law360 | 08.25.2015

    Drs. Bronars, Foster, and Woods discuss the Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed salary test for the white collar exemption to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

  • Law360 | 08.14.2015

    Drs. Deborah K. Foster, Stephen G. Bronars, and Nathan D. Woods published the article “Approaches to Hourly Rates Under DOL White Collar Rules” in Law360.

Edgeworth Insights

  • Blog, 10.31.2023

    The NPRM claims the new salary threshold for the EAP exemption “will, in combination with the standard duties test, better define and delimit which employees are employed in a bona fide EAP capacity in a one-test system.”  However, the new salary threshold is set at the 35th percentile of the non-hourly pay distribution in the South region, which is $1,059 per week.  The non-hourly pay distribution includes many blue-collar workers and white-collar workers explicitly excluded from the FLSA (such as teachers), raising doubts as to whether an arbitrary threshold from this distribution has any ability to determine which EAP employees are bona fide.

  • Blog, 10.30.2023

    The Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) NPRM provides estimates of the number of employees affected by the proposed salary test level increases, but projections are only as good as the data on which they are based.  In fact, there is no data currently collected that would enable an accurate and reliable estimate of the number of employees who are subject to the FLSA or how many employees are classified as exempt, much less an estimate of those that would be impacted by the proposed changes. 

  • Blog, 10.27.2023

    The NPRM touts that an estimated 3.4 million employees will “gain overtime protection” under the proposed regulations.  As described in our post on October 25, it is unlikely that the new rule will increase compensation of the re-classified employees.

  • Blog, 10.25.2023

    The Department of Labor claims that the increased salary test level will “give employees higher earnings in the form of transfers of income from employers to employees,” but that assertion is inconsistent with economic reasoning.  Even the economic studies cited in the NPRM cast doubt on that assumption. 

  • Blog, 10.23.2023

    On September 8, 2023, a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) from the Department of Labor was published in the Federal Register titled “Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales, and Computer Employees.”

  • Blog, 10.23.2023

    The Department of Labor’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding the white-collar exemption to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) includes an initial regulatory flexibility analysis that is required for all regulations that will have a material impact on small businesses.  In that analysis, the Department concludes that 1.3 million workers employed by between 179,700 and 1.3 million small businesses will be impacted by the substantial increase in the white-collar exemption salary threshold in the NPRM.  However, that analysis almost certainly understates the impact on small businesses.

  • Blog, 03.01.2022

    We gathered our Labor and Employment experts together and asked them:  What is the “Great Resignation,” and what does it mean for employers?

    Excerpts of their wide-ranging conversation were lightly edited for clarity and reported here.

Speaking Engagements




Wage and hour issues unique to California include daily overtime/double time/seventh day premiums, meal period and rest break requirements, and PAGA claims. Dr. Foster specializes in California’s unique wage and hour laws and has extensive experience analyzing time and pay data to address those issues. She has assisted clients in evaluating such claims, analyzing variation to address suitability of class treatment, and valuing the related damages and penalties. She has submitted declarations and provided deposition testimony on these issues in the Superior Court of California.

Dr. Foster's analysis has been cited by Judges in their court decisions in several wage and hours cases in which the Court has found in favor of the defendant, in part, relying upon Dr. Foster's careful analysis of the data as effective evidence to evaluate the wage and hour class action claims. Recent decisions include denying class certification related to meal periods and unpaid work time in Superior Court of California, the upholding of summary judgement in a rounding case in California Court of Appeal, and awarding summary judgement in a rounding case in California court.



  • Consumer Goods
  • Financial Services
  • Food & Beverage
  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality
  • Insurance
  • Manufacturing
  • Oil and Gas
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Professional Services
  • Retail
  • Technology
  • Transportation


Dr. Foster earned her PhD in economics and her MA in economics from Michigan State University and her BS in business and economics from Trinity University.

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