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, 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
Marc A. Antonetti Partner Washington, D.C.
M.J. Asensio Partner Columbus
Eric L. Barnum Partner Atlanta
Mary Price Birk Partner Denver
Gilbert P. Brosky Partner Cleveland
Daniel J. Buzzetta Partner New York
Ethan D. Carlyle Associate Houston
Ryan A. Cates Associate Columbus
Joseph L. Chairez Partner Costa Mesa
Frederick W. Chockley III Of Counsel Washington, D.C.
Tracy Cole Partner New York
Hurlie H. Collier Of Counsel Houston
Sima L. Cutler Staff Attorney Columbus
Lindsey D'Andrea Associate Columbus
Todd A. Dawson Partner Cleveland
Joseph C. Devine Partner Columbus
R. Christopher Doyle Counsel Columbus
Dennis P. Duffy Partner Houston
Samuel E. Endicott Associate Columbus
Shareef Farag Counsel Los Angeles
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
Amanda L. Godzinski Associate Columbus
Ashlee C. Grant Associate Houston
David A. Grant Partner Washington, D.C.
Joel C. Griswold Partner Chicago
Daniel J. Guttman Partner Columbus
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
Julie Kwun Counsel Los Angeles
Caroline M. Landt Counsel Orlando
Todd H. Lebowitz Partner Cleveland
John B. Lewis Partner Cleveland
Erika J. Lindberg Associate Houston
Kelline R. Linton Associate Houston
Ronald G. Linville Partner Columbus
Michael J. Lombardino Associate Houston
Vartan S. Madoyan Associate Los Angeles
Richard S. Mandelson Partner Denver
Meagan Martin Associate Orlando
Anat Maytal Associate New York
John C. McIlwee Associate Chicago
M. Scott McIntyre Partner Cincinnati
Gregory V. Mersol Partner Cleveland
Mary C. Miller Associate Orlando
Patrick M. Muldowney Partner Orlando
Ronald S. Okada Partner Chicago
Rosemary O'Shea Partner Orlando
Travis I. Owsley Staff Attorney Columbus
Michelle D. Pector Partner Houston
Lisa H. Pennington Partner Houston
David A. Posner Partner Cleveland
Matthew L. Roberts Partner Columbus
Paul Rosenberg Partner New York
Margaret Rosenthal Partner Los Angeles
Jacqlyn Rovine Associate New York
Lindsay P. Sadlowski Staff Attorney Cincinnati
Ashley M. Schachter Associate Orlando
Elizabeth A. Scully Partner Washington, D.C.
James W. Seegers Counsel Orlando
Thomas M. Seger Partner Cleveland
Adam R. Seldon Associate New York
Sabrina L. Shadi Partner Los Angeles
Kevin W. Shaughnessy Partner Orlando
Melissa A. Siebert Partner Chicago
Rachel M. Smith Partner Houston
Drew B. Tipton Partner Houston
Amy J. Traub Partner New York
Amanda L. Van Hoose Associate New York
Cody T. Vasut Associate Houston
Jeffrey R. Vlasek Partner Cleveland
David A. Whitcomb Partner Columbus
Jeffrey T. Williams Partner Cleveland
Leah A. Williams Counsel 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: Labor & Employment
    • Florida (2007 to 2016)
    • Ohio: Band 1 (2007 to 2016)
    • Texas (2014 to 2016)
  • The Legal 500 United States: Labor and employment: Labor and employment disputes (including collective actions): defense (2015, 2016)
  • BTI Client Service 30: BakerHostetler advanced 19 positions to #9 (2016)
  • U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” Litigation - Labor & Employment (2016)
    • National Tier 1
    • Cleveland, Tier 1
    • Denver, Tier 2
    • Columbus, Tier 1
    • Houston, Tier 2
    • Orlando, Tier 1
    • Washington, D.C., Tier 2
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (2016)
    • 12 lawyers named in Litigation - Labor & Employment
  • Corporate Counsel® and The American Lawyer magazines "Go-to Law Firm” for Labor & Employment by general counsel (2013)
  • Workforce Management Magazine: Top Employment Law Firms
  • 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.
  • Florida Trend's “Legal Elite"
  • Numerous partners have been certified as employment law specialists by their respective state bar associations.

News

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In The Blogs

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Employment Class Action Blog
Reining In Individual Arbitration – Ninth Circuit Rules Class Waivers Unenforceable
By Carrie A. Valdez
August 24, 2016
In a 2-1 ruling, the Ninth Circuit became the second federal court of appeals to agree with the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) position that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) prohibits class action waivers in employees’...
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Employment Class Action Blog
Subway Adopts Novel Approach to Stem Wage and Hour Claims
August 15, 2016
Subway is one of the largest franchisors in the world, with over 26,000 restaurants in the United States alone. It is also in one of the industries most prone to wage and hour claims, a fact reflected in both Department of Labor (DOL)...
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Employment Class Action Blog
Ninth Circuit Grants 23(f) Review of Denial of Class Certification for Inadequate Representation
August 12, 2016
We’re all familiar with the basic requirements of Rule 23(a), with the focus most frequently on the issues of commonality and typicality under Rules 23(a)(2) and (3). Numerosity under Rule 23(a)(1) can on occasion be an issue with smaller...
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Employment Law Spotlight
Pokémon – A Wake-up Call to Employers on the Importance of Electronic Use Policies
August 8, 2016
As my 11-year-old begs to borrow my mobile device to catch a Pokémon, I become one more Generation X member unwittingly joining the millions of millennials participating in an augmented reality game. For employers, Pokémon demonstrated...
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Employment Law Spotlight
Drawing the Line on Leave Policies for Employees With Disabilities
August 4, 2016
Within the past three months, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has secured nearly $9 million from companies that have committed violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by discriminating against and...
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