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Labor & Employment

Rogers Joseph O’Donnell's Labor and Employment Law Practice Group is comprised of experienced labor and employment attorneys with extensive experience representing and advising businesses and public entity employers.

The depth and breadth of our employment law experience allows us to offer the same quality of representation usually expected from much larger law firms, while our relatively small size enables us to maintain highly competitive rates and a more direct and personal relationship with our clients.

Our labor and employment practice encompasses counseling, single plaintiff litigation, and class and collective actions. While we believe that early case evaluation and mediation are often advantageous ways to minimize the costs and disruption of protracted litigation, we are also skilled, trial-ready attorneys with a winning record in court and arbitration.

In addition to assisting clients in minimizing the risk of litigation, we provide advice and compliance assistance to in-house counsel, human resources professionals and business owners on virtually every aspect of employer-employee relations, from drafting effective human resource policies to investigations of harassment and discrimination allegations to auditing employment practices for compliance with increasingly complicated wage and hour laws.

The attorneys in our Labor Employment and Practice Group have handled a wide variety of matters across various industries:

  • Litigation, Trials & ADR:
     
    • Representation of employers in connection with claims of employment discrimination, harassment and retaliation, wrongful termination, wage and hour violations, whistleblower retaliation, misclassification of employees and independent contractors, non-compete agreements, unfair labor practices, RICO violations, and breach of employment contract. 
    • Defense of complex actions filed by multiple plaintiffs and putative class and collective actions.
    • Representation of employers in administrative proceedings before federal, state and local labor and employment agencies.
    • Union grievances and arbitrations for alleged violations of collective bargaining agreements.

  • Advice & Counseling:

    • Strategic handling and compliance with workplace disability laws including federal, state and local laws governing disability discrimination, reasonable accommodation, interactive process, protected leaves of absence, medical and genetic information, return to work issues, drug testing, and fitness for duty evaluations.
    • Wage and hour law compliance, including compliance with laws and regulations governing overtime, meal and rest periods, travel time, vacation time, payment of wages, prevailing wage, and use of independent contractors.
    • Compliance with federal and state law in connection with reductions in force and closing of worksites.
    • Protection of company confidential information including advice on employee non-disclosure, non-solicitation and non-compete agreements.
    • Review and drafting of employee handbooks, policy and procedures manuals, employment and independent contractor agreements, employment arbitration agreements, severance agreements.
    • Compliance with laws governing safety-sensitive positions including Department of Transportation regulations.
    • Best practices for avoiding risk in terminations.

  • Workplace Training and Presentations:

    • Compliance training for supervisors and managers under AB1822 for the prevention of sexual harassment.
    • Disability management training including return to work and reasonable accommodation issues for industrial (workers’ compensation) and non-industrial injuries.
    • Employer rights and obligations under the ADA/FEHA, and FMLA/CFRA.
    • Wage and hour compliance.
    • Conducting effective workplace investigations.
    • Minimizing the risk of terminations.

Representative Industries

  • Retail
  • Hospitality/Restaurants
  • Transportation and Engineering
  • Construction
  • Healthcare
  • Insurance and Finance
  • Government Contractors
  • Public Entities
  • Education 
  • Wineries
  • Non-profit Institutions
  • EPLI and Third Party Claims Administrators

Representative Cases and Issues

  • Summary judgment on behalf of a large newspaper based on claims of disability discrimination, failure to provide reasonable accommodation and failure to engage in the interactive process
  • Successful resolution of a wage and hour class action with approximately 500 class members alleging missed meal breaks, off-the-clock work and unpaid travel time
  • Defense verdict (jury) on behalf of state agency after a two-week jury trial involving claims of race discrimination, harassment and retaliation
  • Defense verdict for national grocer following a four week State Court jury trial on retaliation claim for termination after reporting sexual harassment
  • Counseling and defense of a large Bay Area public entity in age, race, and sex discrimination lawsuits
  • Defense verdict on behalf of employer and individual employee after two-week federal court trial on race discrimination and harassment claim
  • Dismissal of race discrimination class action against national employer and defense verdict in state court jury trial of lead plaintiff on individual claims of race discrimination
  • Defense verdict in a challenge to access to a private golf course based upon gender and age discrimination under the Unruh Act, California Civil Code § 51 et seq.
  • Defense verdict in federal court action involving whistle-blowing claims by a public employee alleging violations of Labor Code § 1102.5, Civil Rights under U.S.C. § 1983, and False Claims Act, Govt. Code § 12650 -12655
  • Representation of a large defense contractor in lengthy jury trial involving allegations of retaliation for whistle-blowing
  • Defense of a Fortune 500 corporation in a wrongful termination and age discrimination suit brought by 27 former employees
  • Negotiation of severance packages for management employees terminated or laid off due to reductions in force
  • Successful negotiation of public sector Memorandum of Understandings (MOU) with respect to severance packages, furloughs, reductions in retirement and health benefits packages
  • Representation of public agencies and public employees regarding benefits under the California Public Employees Retirement System (Cal.PERS)
  • Representation of public entities in unfair labor practices and unit representation matter before the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB)
  • Summary judgment defense of a large retailer in a wrongful termination and age discrimination case involving a management employee of 28 years
  • Representation of national employers in statistical class-action discrimination cases
  • Dismissal of ADA knee injury claim brought in federal court by union employee
  • Successful defense of an age and race discrimination case brought by a long-term employee against a large employer
  • Successful defense of two cases involving claims by female police officers of sexual harassment and hostile work environment based upon summary judgment of claims
  • Negotiation and favorable resolution of a sexual harassment and sex discrimination case brought by a female employee against her supervisor and employer
  • Investigation and resolution of sexual harassment charges brought by an employee of a professional partnership
  • Numerous investigations of employee misconduct, including harassment and other misconduct rule violations
  • Successful resolution through investigation of employee claims alleging discrimination, harassment, and/or hostile work environment
  • Negotiation and settlement of age discrimination charges by a former account executive for a national medical products manufacturer
  • Successful defense of ADA lifting restriction case brought by unionized employee against large employer
  • Advice to an out-of-state corporation regarding restrictions in employment contracts on competition and use of trade secrets
  • Advice to a corporate employer regarding defense and indemnity of supervisory employees accused of wrongful conduct and the extent of “course and scope of employment” analysis
  • Negotiation of separation and consulting agreement for a senior officer in a high technology company involving non-competition and non-solicitation issues
  • Summary judgment defense of an employer in a constructive wrongful discharge, sex discrimination, assault, and sexual harassment case brought by a female employee against her supervisor and employer
  • Successful defense of one of the largest privately held engineering companies in jury trial of sexual harassment claim

References available upon request.

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Labor & Employment Publications


Attorneys
Dennis C. Huie (co-chair)
Alexis J. Morris (co-chair)
Gayle M. Athanacio (co-chair)
Tyson Arbuthnot
Suzanne M. Mellard
Katherine L. Pohl
Sharon O. Rossi
Sarah T. Vreede
Virginia K. Young