Karen specializes in vindicating the rights of employees and workers and advising employers in promoting fairer and more productive workplaces. She has over two decades of legal experience working with employees, workers, and immigrants, including over nine years as an Assistant Attorney General in the Labor Bureau at the New York State Attorney General, where she led investigations into labor violations in numerous industries, including the agricultural, greengrocer, moving, restaurant, and taxi industries.
In addition, Karen has had varied law teaching and policy-related experiences. She was a recipient of a Skadden Fellowship at the National Employment Law Project and a Robert M. Cover Teaching Fellowship at Yale Law School and held an assistant professorship at Syracuse University College of Law. Karen also worked in management and leadership positions in not-for-profit policy and advocacy organizations.
Karen is active in bar associations and community organizations and sits on several boards of not-for-profit organizations. As a co-chair of the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY), she spearheads its Pro Bono Advice and Referral Clinic, a recipient of the New York State Bar Association’s 2019 Bar Leaders Innovation Award that has served thousands of clients since its founding in December 2015, and she oversees AABANY’s ever-expanding pro bono activities. In addition to AABANY, Karen is also a member of National Employment Law Association – National and New York Chapter, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Federal Bar Association, and the New York City Bar Association.
Karen was recently honored by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and the Chinese-American Planning Council – Brooklyn Community Services for her pro bono work and contributions to the Asian American Pacific Islander community. She frequently conducts training, speaks, and writes on employment matters, Asian America, cross-cultural competencies, and immigrants’ rights.
Karen received her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law and graduated from Stony Brook University and Brooklyn Technical High School. She is admitted in New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
Karen emigrated from Hong Kong and speaks fluent Cantonese Chinese. A proud daughter of garment workers who toiled long hours and the exasperated mother of two multi-racial children who excel in argument as an artform, Karen now lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Please watch this video and learn more about Karen and her pro bono work for Asian American low-income people:
KAREN KITHAN YAU
I could not find the right attorney who was not apprehensive in taking on a tough challenge — the City of New York — until I was referred to Karen. Karen is an outstanding lawyer whose recommendations and assessments I trust. She saw that my claims had merits and passionately fought for me. She was upfront that suing the City was going to be an uphill battle. Karen gave me the confidence that she would always work for my best interest and with resolve. And, with Karen’s experience in employment discrimination, we were able to reach a positive resolution with the City.T.C., A FORMER INVESTIGATOR WHO BROUGHT RACE DISCRIMINATION AND HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT CLAIMS AGAINST A NYC LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY