Employment Litigation

"Very client-oriented, and a strong talent in the labor and employment arena. They keep us abreast of current issues affecting the business."
– Chambers USA 2012

These days, almost any workplace policy or interaction can be a potential hair trigger for costly, high-risk litigation. When the EEOC or aggressive plaintiffs’ lawyers come calling, retaining BakerHostetler signals that you mean business. The other side knows that we will not hesitate to use our litigation experience to convey the strength of your case or to defeat them in court.

Our employment litigators have a proven track record, with more than a dozen successful cases tried to verdict during the past year alone. We are veterans in defending complex multiparty employment disputes, class actions, government suits, and the full scope of individual private-plaintiff actions in state and federal courts and agencies nationwide.

This year's litigation successes come from the front lines of employment and labor conflict. We have crossed swords with the EEOC, defeated class certifications in wage and hour disputes, and beaten retaliation claims and whistleblower suits.

We help keep employers out of court, yet fight vigorously on their behalf if litigation is necessary.

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Although we try a large number of cases every year, the majority of our cases are won at the summary judgment stage, settled early in our client's best interest, or solved cost-effectively in alternative dispute resolution procedures (several of our lawyers serve as mediators and arbitrators and are familiar with both sides of the table). Our close consultative approach enables clients to weigh whether the costs and risks of litigation—including reputational risk—are worth bearing and when they are not, even if the case is winnable.

We also help our clients avoid employment litigation by implementing up-to-date workplace policies and practices, and training management to ensure these policies are communicated effectively and applied fairly. We counsel clients on daily workplace issues to help avoid potential liability, including ensuring compliance with wage and hour laws, managing downsizings, plant closings, and employee restructurings, and handling incentive and buyout programs. We also provide regular updates to clients on changing workplace laws that affect their business. In addition, we are frequently asked to direct internal corporate investigations regarding serious employee misconduct.

Select Experience

  • Defeated certification of a class of over 4,500 employees of a video rental chain in which plaintiffs alleged that they were required to perform tasks after clocking out. A federal judge in Illinois ruled that the plaintiffs "failed to show that common issues predominate[d] the individualized inquiries that would be necessary." Our attorneys successfully demonstrated that plaintiffs' claims "were inconsistent and varied by store and by supervisor."
  • Won decertification of a class of over 600 IT employees in a claim alleging unpaid overtime in a case involving the complex question of whether the duties and responsibilities of the IT employees involved sufficient discretion to meet the administrative exemption under California wage and hour law. On remand, a federal judge found that question would yield individualized answers based on which tasks an employee was assigned and how time was apportioned between those tasks.
  • Successfully defended a transportation company in an EEOC suit alleging racial discrimination against certain terminated union employees who were seeking reinstatement. The case involved the complex intersection of federal civil rights laws and the Railway Labor Act, and hinged on the EEOC’s attempt—rejected by the court—to change the law by removing subjective criteria from the employer’s decision-making process. Because a key defense witness was deceased, the suit presented difficult issues of proof.
  • Won a federal appeals court reversal of more than $600,000 in damages and attorneys' fees in a Title VII retaliation case. A terminated employee who started a consulting business alleged retaliation on grounds that an executive at her former employer told her that the company could not do business with her due to her pending wrongful termination suit (other counts of which were dismissed). The court accepted our argument that a reasonable employee would not be dissuaded from filing an EEOC charge because of the possibility that her former employer might refuse to do business with her separate company more than a year after her EEOC filing.
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Professionals

Name Title Office Email
Joyce Ackerbaum Cox Partner Orlando
Loura L. Alaverdi Partner New York
Michelle B. Anselmo Partner Cleveland
Marc A. Antonetti Partner Washington, D.C.
M.J. Asensio Partner Columbus
Erica L. Berencsi Associate Washington, D.C.
Mary Price Birk Partner Denver
J. David Bournazian Partner Costa Mesa
Gilbert P. Brosky Partner Cleveland
Damon M. Brown Staff Attorney Los Angeles
Patrick T. Campbell Associate New York
Ethan D. Carlyle Associate Houston
Ryan A. Cates Staff Attorney Columbus
Joseph L. Chairez Partner Costa Mesa
Frederick W. Chockley III Partner Washington, D.C.
Tracy Cole Partner New York
Hurlie H. Collier Partner Houston
S. Jeanine Conley Partner New York
Tiffany L. Cummins Associate Orlando
Sima L. Cutler Staff Attorney Columbus
Lindsey D'Andrea Associate Columbus
Todd A. Dawson Partner Cleveland
Joseph C. Devine Partner Columbus
R. Christopher Doyle Partner Columbus
Dennis P. Duffy Partner Houston
Tracey L. Ellerson Partner Orlando
Samuel E. Endicott Associate Columbus
José C. Feliciano Partner Cleveland
Fanny A. Ferdman Associate New York
Peter G. Fischer Associate Washington, D.C.
Charles J. French III Partner Cleveland
Edward L. Friedman Partner Houston
David A. Grant Partner Washington, D.C.
Joel C. Griswold Partner Chicago
Ellen Shadur Gross Partner Los Angeles
Daniel J. Guttman Partner Columbus
Sarah F. Hanafin Staff Attorney Orlando
William H. Hawkins II Counsel Cincinnati
Ronald L. Hellbusch Staff Attorney Denver
Diamond M. Hicks Associate Los Angeles
Erin Bolan Hines Counsel Chicago
David G. Holcombe Partner Cincinnati
Matthew W. Hoyt Partner Columbus
Nancy Inesta Partner Los Angeles
Dawn Kennedy Associate Los Angeles
Ronald J. Klepetar Of Counsel Los Angeles
Caroline M. Landt Staff Attorney Orlando
Todd H. Lebowitz Partner Cleveland
John B. Lewis Partner Cleveland
Ronald G. Linville Partner Columbus
Michael J. Lombardino Associate Houston
Vartan S. Madoyan Associate Los Angeles
Richard S. Mandelson Partner Denver
Anat Maytal Associate New York
John C. McIlwee Associate Chicago
M. Scott McIntyre Partner Cincinnati
Gregory V. Mersol Partner Cleveland
Patrick M. Muldowney Partner Orlando
Ronald S. Okada Partner Chicago
Rosemary O'Shea Partner Orlando
John D. Parker Partner Cleveland
Michelle D. Pector Partner Houston
Lisa H. Pennington Partner Houston
Kathleen M. Portman Associate Columbus
David A. Posner Partner Cleveland
Matthew L. Roberts Partner Columbus
Paul Rosenberg Associate New York
Margaret Rosenthal Partner Los Angeles
Jacqlyn Rovine Associate New York
Ana S. Salper Partner New York
Nathan A. Schacht Associate Denver
Elizabeth A. Scully Partner Washington, D.C.
Laura Scully Associate New York
James W. Seegers Staff Attorney Orlando
Thomas M. Seger Partner Cleveland
Sabrina L. Shadi Partner Los Angeles
Kevin W. Shaughnessy Partner Orlando
Melissa A. Siebert Partner Chicago
Rachel M. Smith Partner Houston
Ericka H. Spears Staff Attorney Cincinnati
S. Shawn Stephens Partner Houston
Stephen C. Sutton Partner Cleveland
Drew B. Tipton Partner Houston
Amy J. Traub Partner New York
Cody T. Vasut Associate Houston
Jeffrey R. Vlasek Associate Cleveland
David A. Whitcomb Partner Columbus
Gillian Lindsay Whittlesey Associate Chicago
Jeffrey T. Williams Partner Cleveland
Leah A. Williams Associate Cleveland
Martin T. Wymer Partner Cleveland

Experience

  • Defeated certification of a class of over 4,500 employees of a video rental chain in which plaintiffs alleged that they were required to perform tasks after clocking out. A federal judge in Illinois ruled that the plaintiffs "failed to show that common issues predominate[d] the individualized inquiries that would be necessary." Our attorneys successfully demonstrated that plaintiffs' claims "were inconsistent and varied by store and by supervisor."
  • Won decertification of a class of over 600 IT employees in a claim alleging unpaid overtime in a case involving the complex question of whether the duties and responsibilities of the IT employees involved sufficient discretion to meet the administrative exemption under California wage and hour law. On remand, a federal judge found that question would yield individualized answers based on which tasks an employee was assigned and how time was apportioned between those tasks.
  • Successfully defended a transportation company in an EEOC suit alleging racial discrimination against certain terminated union employees who were seeking reinstatement. The case involved the complex intersection of federal civil rights laws and the Railway Labor Act, and hinged on the EEOC’s attempt—rejected by the court—to change the law by removing subjective criteria from the employer’s decision-making process. Because a key defense witness was deceased, the suit presented difficult issues of proof.
  • Won a federal appeals court reversal of more than $600,000 in damages and attorneys' fees in a Title VII retaliation case. A terminated employee who started a consulting business alleged retaliation on grounds that an executive at her former employer told her that the company could not do business with her due to her pending wrongful termination suit (other counts of which were dismissed). The court accepted our argument that a reasonable employee would not be dissuaded from filing an EEOC charge because of the possibility that her former employer might refuse to do business with her separate company more than a year after her EEOC filing.
  • Obtained a defense verdict for an energy client after a two-week trial in the case of two original putative class representatives.
  • Successfully defended a manufacturing client during eight-day trial on gender discrimination claim when a defense verdict was reached in just 20 minutes.
  • Obtained summary judgment for a national insurer in a wage-and-hour case that is frequently cited by the U.S. Department of Labor and other courts, and that was worth hundreds of millions of dollars to our client.
  • Successfully defended the largest hospital in Jacksonville, Florida in a complex case in which the plaintiff, a former department director, made a whistleblower claim under Florida law. After a lengthy trial, the jury rejected all of the plaintiff's claims and returned a verdict for our client.
  • Won a jury verdict in retaliatory discharge case in Southern Texas court in which the plaintiff was terminated 10 days after filing a workers' compensation claim.
  • Successfully defended a banking client against a former executive's $5 million lawsuit over the outsourcing of her responsibilities. We showed that the company's action was based on sound industry practice and prevailed after a 17-day jury trial in a court where the plaintiff's husband was a judge.
  • Successfully defended a Fortune 500 client in a week-long bench trial in a case alleging tortious interference with a consulting agreement, in which the plaintiff alleged $35 million in damages.
  • Helped our client receive an unprecedented favorable settlement with the EEOC because not enough claimants had qualified to be paid out of the settlement fund.
  • Won a unanimous jury verdict after a week-long trial for our client, a national newspaper publisher. The case involved allegations of ADA violations, the Tennessee Human Rights Act, the Tennessee Handicap Act, and the Tennessee Whistleblower statute.
  • Won a unanimous jury verdict in favor of our client, a national insurer, in a wrongful discharge case brought under Ohio law. The jury deliberated for less than one hour.
  • After an eight-day trial in federal court in Buffalo, New York, we won a jury verdict for our client, a global leader in the information services industry, in a case that was initiated over 10 years ago as a sex discrimination class action seeking a class of several hundred current and former female employees.
  • Won a unanimous jury verdict for a Fortune 100 client after a week-long race discrimination trial in federal court in Ohio.
  • In a six-plaintiff race discrimination lawsuit, we achieved a significant sanctions award for our client after convincing the court that the plaintiffs' action was so meritless that sanctions were warranted.
  • Convinced federal court that there is no right to jury trial in whistleblower cases brought under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
  • Won summary judgment for a major airline in a frequently cited Sixth Circuit decision that is a leading case defining constructive discharge.

Recognition

  • Chambers USA 2014 ranks BakerHostetler’s Employment practice among the leading practices in Florida, Ohio, and Texas.
  • Chambers USA 2014 ranks 13 BakerHostetler Employment partners among our Florida, New York, Ohio, and Texas offices.
  • BakerHostetler received a 2014 “Best Law Firms” National Tier 1 Ranking in the area of Employment Law - Management from U.S. News – Best Lawyers®.
  • Twenty-two partners were selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2014 in various employment-related fields.
    Copyright 2013 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, SC.
  • 2013 “Go-To Law Firm” for Labor & Employment by general counsel featured in Corporate Counsel® and The American Lawyer magazines.
  • Ranked among the Top Employment Law firms by Workforce Management Magazine.
  • The Lawdragon/Human Resource Executive list of the Nation's Top Employment Attorneys includes three members of the team in their Top 100 list, with one additional attorney named among the nation's top 20 labor lawyers.
  • Employment lawyers have received special regional recognition in Florida Trend's “Legal Elite" publication.
  • Numerous partners have been certified as employment law specialists by their respective state bar associations.

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In The Blogs

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Employment Law Spotlight
Thirty Years of Law in Thirty-Some Pages: The EEOC’s New Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination
July 22, 2014
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued its “Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues.” It was no minor undertaking. According to the EEOC’s Questions and Answers about the Guidance, it...
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Employment Class Action Blog
Arizona District Court Rejects Joint Employer Arguments in Independent Contractor Case Alleging Misclassification of Truck Drivers
July 21, 2014
A month ago we discussed the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Ruiz v. Affinity Logistics Corp., Case No. 12-56589 (9th Cir. June 16, 2014), in which the employer treated its delivery drivers as employees in everything but name, resulting in the...
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Employment Law Spotlight
Background Check Lawsuits: If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Another
July 15, 2014
As we previously have written, employer use of criminal records and background checks with respect to applicants and employees has been the subject of challenge on the grounds that such checks tend to discriminate against African-American...
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Employment Class Action Blog
California District Court Rejects Shotgun Attacks on Arbitration Agreements
July 14, 2014
Alright, we all know in the wake of Italian Colors, Concepcion, and now many other cases that the presumption of arbitrability isn’t just a doctrine to recite in the manner of saying grace before invalidating an agreement, but is actually...
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Employment Class Action Blog
The Ninth Circuit Puts Up Road Block to Motor Carrier Arguing that California Break Laws are Preempted by the FAAA Act, But Leaves Some Wiggle Room
July 11, 2014
On Wednesday, the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rendered a decision that, on its face, involved a technical preemption issue, but one that will have serious repercussions for those in the transportation industry operating in...
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