About Athena

Athena M. Herman practices in the areas of employment discrimination law, general employment law, and civil rights law. Ms. Herman has successfully represented both plaintiffs and defendants in civil rights employment matters at all levels before the Illinois Department of Human Rights, the EEOC, the Illinois Human Rights Commission, in state trial and appellate courts, in federal district courts, and before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. She has represented plaintiffs in individual, multi-plaintiff, and class action lawsuits.

Ms. Herman was honored to be selected as one of the “Top 40 Attorneys Under 40” in Illinois for 2011 by the Illinois Law Bulletin. From among more than 1200 nominations, she was one of only two attorneys outside the Chicago area to receive the distinction.

Ms. Herman was the recipient of the 2001 John C. McAndrews Pro Bono Service Award, a statewide award bestowed upon her by the Illinois State Bar Association for extraordinary commitment to providing legal services to the poor. She is a member of The American Trial Lawyers Association; The Illinois Trial Lawyers Association; The National Employment Lawyers Association and The Peoria County Bar Association.

Ms. Herman is a frequent lecturer and instructor regarding the law. At Bradley University, she taught the course Legal Advocacy. She also has been an author and lecturer regarding employment discrimination law at educational seminars for attorneys and managerial professionals, including the EEOC’s 2004 Technical Assistance Program Seminar.

She graduated magna cum laude from University of Illinois’ College of Law in 1997. She was a Harnow Fellow (top 10% of her class) and earned a position on the University’s prestigious National Moot Court Team. Ms. Herman graduated from Bradley University, summa cum laude, with a Bachelor of Science. As a member of the University’s highly acclaimed competitive Speech Team, she won both State and National championships in Persuasive Speaking. Several of her speeches are published in collegiate textbooks and journals. Her affiliation with the Team continues as a coach.

Areas of Practice:

Employment Law
Sexual Harassment & Hostile Work Environment
Employment Discrimination
Civil Rights Litigation

Year Joined Organization:


Bar Admissions:

Illinois, 1997
U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois, 2003
U.S. District Court Central District of Illinois, 1998
U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit, 2002


Juris Doctorate, University of Illinois College of Law, Champaign, Illinois, 1997 (Magna Cum Laude)
Bachelor of Science, Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois, 1994 (Summa Cum Laude)

Classes/Seminars Taught/Publications:

“Civil Rights- Recent Supreme Court Decisions and Coleman v. Donahoe,” Peoria County Bar Association’s Civil Practice Program, February 4, 2012 (Publication and Seminar Presentation)

“Employment Law Update: Sangamon County Sheriff’s Department v. The IHRC & Blount v. Stroud,” Peoria County Bar Association’s Civil Practice Program, January 30, 2010 (Publication and Seminar Presentation)

“New Lawsuits in Circuit Court Due to Illinois Human Rights Act Amendment,” Peoria County Bar Association’s Civil Practice Program, March 15, 2008. (Publication and Seminar Presentation)

“Corporate Liability for Sexual Torts by Those in Positions of Authority,” Peoria County Bar Association’s Civil Practice Program, January 2006 (Publication and Seminar Presentation)

“Raising an Affirmative Defense to Constructive-Discharge Claims in Hostile-Work-Environment Cases,” Illinois Bar Journal, February 2005.

“Challenges and Responsibilities as Women on This Small Planet,” Women’s Lifestyle Show, November 6, 2004 (Seminar Presentation)

“Elements of and Defenses to Claims of Sexual Harassment,” EEOC 2004 Technical Assistance Program Seminar, September 16, 2004 (Seminar Presentation)

“Employer Liability for Workplace Violence: How an Employee Plaintiff can Overcome Common Defenses to State Law Claims Related to Workplace Violence,” Peoria County Bar Association’s Civil Practice Program, February 15, 2003 (Publication and Seminar Presentation)

Legal Advocacy, Bradley University, Adjunct Faculty, 2002

Honors and Awards:

Top 40 Attorneys Under 40, Illinois Law Bulletin, 2011

John C. McAndrews Pro Bono Service Award – In recognition of her extraordinary committment to providing free legal services to the poor and expanding the availability of legal services to the poor, 2001

Professional Associations and Memberships:

Illinois State Bar, 1998 – Present

Peoria County Bar, 1997 – Present

National Employment Lawyers Association, 1999 – Present

American Association for Justice

Contact our Peoria, Illinois Lawyers

Our attorneys handle cases for clients throughout the state of Illinois; however, our practice is based primarily in central Illinois including the cities of Peoria, Eureka, Champaign, Bloomington-Normal, Pekin, Springfield, Rock Island, and surrounding areas. Please contact Benassi & Benassi. We are committed to providing positive resolutions to our clients’ legal disputes so they can move on with their lives.