United States > Labor and employment > Labor and employment disputes (including collective actions): defense > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings
Index of tables
Labor and employment disputes (including collective actions): defense
- Nancy Abell - Paul Hastings LLP
- Michael Banks - Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
- Mark Batten - Proskauer Rose LLP
- Barbara Brown - Paul Hastings LLP
Apalla Chopra -
O’Melveny & Myers LLP
- Joseph Costello - Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
- Mike Delikat - Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
- Lawrence DiNardo - Jones Day
- Gary Friedman - Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
- Michael Gray - Jones Day
- Lynne Hermle - Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
- William Kilberg - Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
- Jeffrey Klein - Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
- Gerald Maatman - Seyfarth Shaw LLP
- Camille Olson - Seyfarth Shaw LLP
- Bettina Plevan - Proskauer Rose LLP
- Eugene Scalia - Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
- Grace Speights - Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP leads in high-stakes cases across the complete range of employment matters, including non-compete agreements and trade secrets, employment discrimination class actions, ERISA, and employee benefits. The group is particularly active before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and recently scored an en banc victory for Ford against the commission, which alleged that it had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by not providing accommodation for an employee seeking authorization to work from home on an ad hoc basis. In a later ruling, the Sixth Circuit reversed the panel’s decision to find that attendance is essential and that employers should not need to provide unpredictable telecommuting arrangements as an accommodation. In other work highlights, the firm acted alongside co-counsel Littler Mendelson, P.C. to take over as lead trial and appellate counsel in a series of putative class actions against thousands of drivers claiming that they have been misclassified as independent contractors. Catherine Conway jointly leads the practice with Jason Schwartz. Also recommended are, Eugene Scalia, Michele Maryott, Jesse Cripps, Julian Poon and Karl Nelson. In recent personnel developments, Katherine Smith and Gabrielle Levin were promoted to partner, and William Kilberg retired. Named attorneys practice in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Orange County, Dallas and New York.
Jones Day reaches ‘the gold standard when it comes to Railway Labor Act and Federal Railroad Safety Act issues’. ‘Skilled litigator’ Donald Munro defended BNSF Railway against the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers’ attempt to enjoin the implementation of new rail freight services through alleging that changes to the way employees were called to work presented major disputes under the RLA; these were, in fact, minor and the changes were found to be justified under existing collective bargaining agreements. The group also handled several class actions for McDonald’s, including the wage and hour case, Ochoa et al v McDonald’s Corp et al, which saw Elizabeth McRee, Lawrence DiNardo and Fred Alvarez represent the company against claims that it had violated the California Labor Code and Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA); missed meal and rest breaks, unpaid overtime and inaccurate wage statements allegations were asserted with claims that the chain acted as a joint employer with its co-defendant franchisee. The firm has ‘a deep bench in a wide variety of areas’; other names to note include practice co-heads Michael Gray and Matthew Lampe, as well as Eric Dreiband, Willis Goldsmith, Doreen Davis, Terri Chase, Alison Marshall and Robert Naeve. Also recommended are Jonathan Linas, Patricia Dunn and David Birnbaum, who were all recently made up to partner. Attorneys work in Chicago, New York, Washington DC, Silicon Valley, and Irvine. Robert Ford, Amy Dias and Thomas Jerman retired from practice.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP is ‘outstanding’ in a range of areas, including single-plaintiff and class action discrimination suits, trade secrets litigation, and ERISA matters. Rated as ‘one of the best’, the firm acted in a significant Supreme Court case for Amazon and its subsidiaries, in which Princeton-based Richard Rosenblatt and appellate attorney Allyson Ho (splits time between Dallas and Houston) defended against 15 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) wage and hour class and collective actions concerning the compensability of security screening time after employees’ shifts had ended. Philadelphia-based practice head Joseph Costello worked with Washington DC’s Grace Speights to obtain a summary judgment for The Vanguard Group in a discrimination case filed by a demoted employee alleging that Vanguard managed out minorities based on pretextual performance issues; the plaintiff made disparate impact retaliation and hostile work environment claims. Other clients include The Cheesecake Factory, Lionsgate and Burberry. Miami-based Anne Marie Estevez, San Francisco’s Eric Meckley, and Philadelphia’s Michael Burkhardt, Michael Banks and Sarah Bouchard are recommended along with New York-based Samuel Shaulson and the ‘top-notch’ Melinda Riechert in Silicon Valley. Former National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) member Harry Johnson joined the Santa Monica office, Dallas-based Ann Marie Arcadi arrived from K&L Gates and several new partners came from the firm’s acquisition of Bingham McCutchen. On the promotion side, Michael Schlemmer made partner in Silicon Valley. William Doyle and Joel Allen departed to McGuireWoods LLP, Joseph Santucci is now senior counsel at Schwartz Hannum PC, George Stohner joined Faegre Baker Daniels, and Joyce Taber moved in-house at Actelion Pharmaceuticals. Rebecca Eisen and Rene Johnson retired from practice.
Proskauer Rose LLP fields ‘one of the best employment departments in the country’ and has a ‘very good handle on the relevant areas of law’ to provide full coverage through focused practices, including a sports law group, which is jointly led by Howard Ganz, and a class and collective actions practice, headed by Elise Bloom and Boston-based Mark Batten. Leading the way in unpaid internship class actions, the practice defended Fox Searchlight Pictures in the Second Circuit, where an earlier judgment stating that interns working on Black Swan were employees under the FLSA and New York State Department of Labor (DOL) was rejected on the proviso that determining employee status rests on whether the intern or employer is the primary beneficiary. The firm was also successful in the Second Circuit for Coca-Cola, which it defended against claims filed by current and former production operators alleging race discrimination, hostile work environment and retaliation. Litigators Joseph Baumgarten and Gregory Rasin jointly lead the department and work alongside Los Angeles’ ‘fantastic attorney’ Anthony Oncidi and the revered Bettina Plevan. Also recommended are Keisha-Ann Gray, Zachary Fasman, Allan Bloom and Adam Lupion, who leads the Major League Baseball salary arbitration practice. John Barry, who splits time between Newark and New York, ‘gets to the heart of the issue very quickly’ and co-chairs the non-compete and trade secrets group with newly promoted Washington DC partner Guy Brenner. ERISA litigator Russell Hirschhorn also made partner and Harris Mufson was promoted to senior counsel. Kenneth Sulzer is now with Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP in Los Angeles and Mark Saloman joined Ford & Harrison LLP in Berkeley Heights. Unless otherwise stated, all named lawyers are based in New York.
‘Recommended for strategic guidance’, O’Melveny & Myers LLP shines in high-profile litigation and handles the full range of issues, including wage and hour class actions, non-compete cases and negative covenant litigation. Silicon Valley’s Eric Amdursky defended Yahoo! and its executive Maria Zhang against sexual harassment allegations made by a former software engineer, who also alleged intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful termination. Zhang later filed a cross-complaint and in 2015 both suits were dismissed with the parties reaching a nonmonetary settlement. Los Angeles-based department head Apalla Chopra represented Coldwell Banker against a class action challenge to sales agents being classified as independent contractors rather than employees; Newport Beach’s Adam Karr and New York’s Jeffrey Kohn also worked on the matter and helped Chopra with issuing new independent contractor agreements for Coldwell, which included an arbitration clause and class action waiver that plaintiffs later contested; the court’s validation of agreements reduced the class size and led to a favorable resolution. The ‘very attentive’ team has an enviable client roster, which includes The Walt Disney Company, FedEx and DirecTV. Kohn provides ‘excellent judgment and guidance’ and Mark Robertson is also highly respected.
‘Among the top firms’, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP’s expertise includes Dodd-Frank whistleblower defense and internal investigations, trade secrets and employee mobility litigation, and wage and hour matters. In Silicon Valley, Lynne Hermle and Jessica Perry defended Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in a major gender discrimination and retaliation case filed by Ellen Pao, a former employee that alleged she had been passed over for a promotion and was subsequently terminated for making an internal complaint. New York’s Mike Delikat leads the practice and defended Jefferies in an arbitration before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority relating to allegations made by the former head of automotive investment, who claimed that the company owed the plaintiff $9m in bonuses and fees from an oral promise made by the bank to supply bonus compensation for transactions and that resigning to join a competitor would not forfeit these. San Francisco-based Andrew Livingston ‘knows the law in this area very well’ and represents clients including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Morgan Stanley and Sephora. New York’s James McQuade ‘has first-rate intelligence, litigation skills and judgment’ and Laura Becking is an employee benefits expert. San Francisco-based Michael Weil and Silicon Valley’s Joseph Liburt are also recommended. Patricia Gillette became special counsel in San Francisco and Christopher Wilkinson joined the Washington DC office from the DOL. Sacramento’s Lauri Damrell, New York’s Renee Phillips and Silicon Valley’s Julia Riechert made partner.
A go-to firm for high-stakes litigation, Paul Hastings LLP has established itself as a leader in class and collective actions, appellate and trial cases, employee mobility, and trade secret matters. Los Angeles-based Leslie Abbott obtained the dismissal of a class action for Advantage Sales & Marketing, where plaintiffs made wage and hour claims under the FLSA, which could have impacted thousands of employees nationwide. In San Francisco, Jeffrey Wohl and Zach Hutton defended Amgen against a putative class action brought against it by senior associate scientists. Department chair Patrick Shea, Marc Bernstein and Stephen Sonnenberg are key figures in New York, and Kenneth Willner, Barbara Brown, Neal Mollen and Carson Sullivan are impressive in Washington DC. Nancy Abell and George Abele are the names to note in Los Angeles. Leslie Dent departed to Littler Mendelson, P.C. and Geoff Weirich established Weirich Consulting & Mediation and at of counsel level, Cory Barker moved to an in-house role at AT&T and Erika Leonard joined Ogletree Deakins as a shareholder.
Seyfarth Shaw LLP attains the ‘gold standard’ in wage and hour class actions, EEOC matters, and has extensive experience in California employment law. In EEOC v Forge Industrial Staffing, the group successfully limited the commission’s subpoena enforcement authority connected to claims of sexual harassment and retaliation filed by a former employee. Gerald Maatman, with co-counsel Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, acted for Sterling Jewelers in a long-running class action concerning alleged nationwide pay and promotion discrimination against women. The plaintiff’s motions for class certification were recently denied, as were claims for punitive damages for 44,000 class members. Praise abounds attorneys at this firm: Maatman is a ‘leader in this discipline, always available and ready to refine a strategy’; ‘the practical, personable and knowledgeable’ Camille Olson ‘always makes time’ for her clients; Ada Dolph ‘is superior at litigation strategy’; and newly promoted partner Matthew Gagnon is ‘not paralyzed by the myriad of options’. Practice chair Lisa Damon, Richard Alfred, Brett Bartlett, Robert Stevens, and Richard Lapp are also highly experienced. Partner promotions include Kerry McCoy Friedrichs, Jeffrey Wortman, and Giselle Donado. Andrew Scroggins from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and Christina Janice from Signet Jewelers were new senior counsel hires while Arthur Rooney departed to Baker McKenzie LLP. Named individuals are based in Chicago, New York, Boston, Atlanta, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is ‘top of the class’ in areas such as restrictive covenant and trade secrets litigation, internal investigations, benefit-related disputes, and class and collective actions involving discrimination and wage violation claims. Practice leader Jeffrey Klein, ‘excellent employment litigator’ Gary Friedman, ERISA expert Nicholas Pappas, and counsel Lawrence Baer are the primary contacts, whose clients include Godiva Chocolatier, Ralph Lauren Corporation, MasterCard, and other large corporates. Friedman scored two significant victories for Forest Laboratories (now Allergan) and its subsidiary Forest Pharmaceuticals in a putative class and collective action brought against it by eleven former sales representatives alleging gender discrimination claims, including family responsibility discrimination and compensation disparity; Millie Warner also worked on the case and was recently promoted to counsel. Klein, an ‘exceptional legal mind’ with ‘incomparable judgment’, was retained by Hudson’s Bay Company regarding the termination of Saks Fifth Avenue’s CEO and hire of chief information officer Janet Schalk. All individuals mentioned are based in New York.
At boutique Fisher & Phillips, nationwide coverage spans Atlanta, Orlando, Chicago, Memphis and Los Angeles. Managing partners Suzanne Bogdan and Joseph Ambash, based in Fort Lauderdale and Boston respectively, are the primary contacts. Bogdan handles a range of work, including family leave issues and breach of contract cases, and Ambash represents clients before the NLRB and DOL, and has wrongful termination expertise. San Diego’s David Monks won a jury verdict for Ryder and one of its employees against a former mechanic alleging racial harassment and various other claims relating to constructive discharge in violation of public policy. James Polkinghorn, who divides his time between Fort Lauderdale and Washington DC, heads the litigation practice and recently represented a law firm against the widow of a deceased former partner claiming unfair dismissal following a cancer diagnosis. Fort Lauderdale of counsel Candice Pinares-Baez was also involved in the aforementioned case. Dallas-based Janet Hendrick and Columbia’s Reyburn Lominack were among recent partner promotions.
The team at Greenberg Traurig, LLP has ‘deep industry knowledge’ in a plethora of matters involving unfair labor practices, ERISA, alleged workplace violence and employment discrimination before state, federal and local agencies. Atlanta’s David Long-Daniels, New York’s Jonathan Sulds and Tampa’s Peter Zinober jointly lead the practice, which includes New Jersey lawyers Robert Bernstein (a ‘top labor litigator’), Wendy Johnson Lario, Micala Campbell Robinson and Kristine Feher. New York’s Jerrold Goldberg ‘has a wealth of knowledge’ in labor law and is recommended along with Los Angeles-based Mark Kemple and Atlanta’s resident ERISA and employee benefits and executive compensation expert Todd Wozniak. Philadelphia’s James Boudreau leads the class and collective action group and is handling a series of FLSA and Pennsylvania state law putative nationwide collective actions for Tenet Healthcare relating to automatic meal break deductions and overtime compensation. New hires include McLean-based Ronda Esaw from McGuireWoods LLP and Houston’s Shira Yoshor, formerly of Baker Botts L.L.P.. John Richards was promoted to shareholder in Atlanta.
Clients have ‘extraordinary confidence’ in Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP for the lawyers’ ‘expertise in all areas of employment law’. Department head Kevin Leblang ‘consistently offers practical guidance along with astute legal analysis’ and ‘fantastic’ special counsel Eliza Kaiser is also highly regarded. ‘Incredibly client-focused’, the practice acts for a remarkable base of financial institutions, including BlackRock and Société Générale. Leblang represented the Royal Bank of Canada in three significant cases concerning compensation claims as well as age and gender discrimination allegations, which involved high-level executives, large monetary sums and reputational risk. Robert Holtzman defended Alex Toys against Crayola’s claims of confidential information theft and breach of restrictive covenants by three former employees; the new executive vice president of sales faced termination soon after the plaintiff sought to enforce a non-compete agreement. All named attorneys reside in New York.
Under co-presidents and managing directors Thomas Bender (Philadelphia) and Jeremy Roth (San Diego), Littler Mendelson, P.C.’s sizeable and specialist practice has garnered experience in EEOC litigation, whistleblower and retaliation claims, unfair competition, and multiple other areas. Danielle Kitson (Denver) defended NewFields and several of its employees before a jury, which found that the company had not conspired to raid AMEC (now Amec Foster Wheeler) following its hire of three principles and 67 employees from the plaintiff, which based its $20m suit upon various alleged breaches of non-compete agreements. In Los Angeles, the main contacts are Kevin Lilly and Helene Wasserman, who heads the litigation and trials group with Richard Harris in Philadelphia. The Atlanta team grew significantly in a slew of hires that brought former Ogletree Deakins shareholders Daniel Turner, Tracey Barbaree, Beth Moeller and Lauren Zeldin into the fold. San Francisco’s Kai-Ching Cha and Houston’s Alexis Knapp were among shareholder promotions and Denise Drake departed to Polsinelli PC.
With over 40 nationwide locations, Ogletree Deakins provides targeted advice through specialist groups, individually focusing on governmental affairs and ethics compliance, appellate, class action, and drug testing work. The firm also has sector expertise in areas such as construction, higher education and energy. Houston’s managing shareholder Jeffrey Londa won a long-running national class action for Continental Airlines (now United Airlines) relating to claims of hostile environment, harassment and military service discrimination made under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. In Los Angeles, Jack Sholkoff acted for DR Horton and its subsidiary in a major case stemming from allegations that the defendant failed to provide meal and rest breaks. Also recommended are Dallas-based Ron Chapman and Indianapolis-based managing shareholder Kim Ebert. New offices in Seattle and Milwaukee opened in a rapid expansion that led to new hires, including Minneapolis-based Andrew Tanick from Ford & Harrison LLP and former Figari & Davenport LLP attorney Gary Eisenstat in Dallas. Shareholder promotions include Catherine Coble and Clark Whitney in Los Angeles and Philadelphia respectively.
Reed Smith LLP’s ‘top-notch’ practice provides a coast-to-coast service to an impressive array of clients, including Estée Lauder Companies, NBCUniversal, and Hertz. Sara Begley (‘responsive, practical and tough’) leads the ‘excellent’ team and takes on a varied caseload of litigation including all forms of discrimination and wage and hour matters under the FLSA. In 2015, the practice handled the full panoply of issues, from putative nationwide class actions under the FLSA and PAGA to substantial claims for unpaid overtime. Carolyn Short represented Unilife in a Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank whistleblower action filed by a former employee alleging that the company’s publications mislead investors; the plaintiff sought various expenses, but later agreed to pay the company to settle its counterclaims. Named partners are based in Philadelphia and Mark Temple is also noted in Houston and Chicago.
Expertise at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP spans stock option disputes, class certification, invasion of privacy and prevailing wage matters. Los Angeles’ Kelly Hensley, Orange County’s Greg Labate and New York’s Jonathan Stoler head the department, which counts Landry’s, Hyundai America Technical Center and Taco Bell as clients. Through the efforts of Los Angeles-based Richard Simmons, the California Courts of Appeal reversed a jury verdict and court judgment that originally found Burke Williams Day Spa to be liable for failing to prevent harassment to an employee that alleged sex discrimination, racial and sexual harassment, and other claims. The new decision stated that juries should not award damages for failure to prevent harassment or unlawful discrimination if they find no actionable harassment or adverse employment action. In Chicago, Jill Vorobiev arrived from Dykema Gossett PLLC, and in Silicon Valley, Nancy Pritikin joined from Littler Mendelson, P.C.. Brian Murphy and Christopher Collins were promoted to partner in New York, as was Morgan Forsey in San Francisco.
The lawyers at Winston & Strawn LLP produce ‘phenomenal work’ through ‘experienced litigators with deep knowledge of employment law’, particularly ERISA and wage and hour class actions. Michael Roche now manages the group while former head Rex Sessions maintains an active practice. San Francisco’s managing partner Joan Tucker Fife shines in ‘difficult litigation and the most serious internal investigations’ and Michael Mulhern is ‘more than a highly qualified attorney’. ‘Setting the standard’ are John Dickman, Washington DC’s William Miossi, New York’s Stephen Sheinfeld, and Marcus Torrano and Laura Petroff (both in Los Angeles). Torrano defended International Paper against two California suits regarding thousands of hours of unused vacation time, which had allegedly accrued over decades and could have amounted to damages worth millions of dollars. Caterpillar, Abbott Laboratories, Tesoro and Marsh & McLennan Companies are other key clients. Daniel Fazio and Aviva Grumet-Morris made partner and of counsel Julie Hall moved to AlvaradoSmith APC. All individuals are based in Chicago, unless otherwise stated.
Baker & Hostetler LLP’s national practice includes offices in Washington DC, Orlando, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles and Columbus. David Grant leads the team from Washington DC and is a leading figure with Orlando’s Kevin Shaughnessy, who specializes in class actions. Los Angeles-based Margaret Rosenthal formed part of the team that decertified a class of over 200 former and current assistant store managers on behalf of Host International, after a former assistant store manager filed a putative collective action for allegedly being misclassified as exempt from the FLSA overtime compensation and minimum wage requirements. The department was also active in single-plaintiff matters involving age, disability and race discrimination, wrongful termination, breach of contract, and retaliation claims. New York’s Paul Rosenberg, Cleveland’s Jeffrey Vlasek and Columbus’ Jennifer Edwards were promoted to the partnership. Tracey Ellerson now works in-house at Brambles.
Baker McKenzie LLP ‘sets the bar by which many firms are measured’. In Houston, practice head Scott Nelson and Richard Hammett are highly regarded, as is Cynthia Jackson in Palo Alto, praised for her ‘superior skillset’. She defended OK International and its parent company Dover Corporation against a wage and hour class action concerning allegations of unpaid overtime, missed breaks, unfair business practices and off-the-clock time as well as PAGA issues regarding employees’ time entries. Other mandates include representing clients in EEOC discrimination matters, NLRB proceedings and Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank whistleblower claims. Chicago’s Douglas Darch and New York’s Robert Lewis are also revered. Arthur Rooney joined from Seyfarth Shaw LLP in Chicago, Celina Joachim returned to the Houston office from Direct Energy, and Palo Alto-based Kevin Whittaker arrived from Reed Smith LLP as of counsel. Houston’s Jordan Faykus and Emily Paige Harbison made partner, as did Chicago’s Ryan Vann.
Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP expanded significantly, adding a number of partners from Littler Mendelson, P.C. in New York and Kansas City, namely Donald Prophete, Nikki Howell, Nicholas Walker and Anjanette Cabrera. Additional hires include Jim Goh and Steven Moore (also based in Los Angeles Century City), who left Ogletree Deakins to establish the Denver office. Atlanta-based Neil Wasser heads the practice, which opened further sites in Memphis, Los Angeles, Miami and Minneapolis. Prophete, Goh and Moore scored a major victory for the National Collegiate Athletic Association and Division I universities in dismissing a wage and hour class action asserting that student athletes should be classified as employees under the FLSA. Other team changes saw Jack Wallace (Kansas City and New York) and Kate Scarbrough (Nashville) make partner. Scott Agthe departed to FisherBroyles, LLP and Arthur Lambert joined Fisher & Phillips.
As well as its class action strength, DLA Piper LLP (US) has garnered expertise in an array of claims, including trade secrets, whistleblowing, and non-solicitation covenants. Dividing his time between New York and Chicago, Michael Sheehan leads the practice, which expanded its presence in the former by hiring Brian Kaplan, Joseph Alan Piesco, Daniel Turinsky and Eric Wallach from Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP. Wallach represented PVH, with its brands Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger USA in several matters, including three putative class actions concerning intern classification and Fair Credit Reporting Act violation claims. Also recommended are Chicago’s Rachel Cowen and Los Angeles’ Maria Rodriguez. Russell Gardner retired and Phillip Wang departed to Fox Rothschild LLP.
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s ‘excellent subject matter knowledge’ includes wrongful termination, where it handles all actions brought by senior-level employees and whistleblower cases; corporate raiding involving disputes over non-compete agreements and various issues connected to hiring executives; contract disputes centered on highly paid executives and sophisticated compensation agreements; and matters involving alleged sexual harassment, employee fraud and other misconduct. The practice is led from New York by Jyotin Hamid, who ‘gives sound, practical advice’, and Mary Beth Hogan. In ERISA-related work, Hamid acted for GoldenTree Asset Management in three cases against three pension funds arising out of investment management and advisory services provided by GoldenTree through Source Interlink, which was an employer that ceased making contributions to the funds.
Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. is recognized for its ‘strength in depth’, ‘value for money’ and ‘superb advice’ across areas such as class actions, wrongful termination, independent contractor misclassification, and workplace violence. David Garland, who splits his time between New York and Newark, heads the department and recently obtained a summary judgment for Baxter Healthcare Corporation in a case against a former director of regulatory affairs, who asserted breach of contract and ERISA violations relating to the denial of a stay bonus and severance benefits following their termination. The ‘superb’ Newark-based Patrick Brady and New York-based Allen Roberts are ‘timely, practical, tactical, and well informed’, and Frank Morris in Washington DC is ‘knowledgeable, experienced, thoughtful, and responsive’. Los Angeles’ Marisa Ratinoff is also respected, as are Carmine Iannaccone and newly promoted partner Daniel Levy (both in Newark).
Pre-eminent boutique Jackson Lewis P.C. has undergone significant expansion recently; managing principal Mark Tilkens joined from Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP with his team in the new Madison office; Laura Prather joined from Akerman LLP and replaced Barnett Quinton Brooks, who has moved in-house, as managing principal in Tampa; Joseph DeBlasio became Monmouth County’s litigation manager and brought his team over from Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla, P.C.; and Thomas Berry was a key addition in St. Louis from Sandberg Phoenix & Von Gontard P.C.. Vincent Cino chairs the firm from Morristown and works alongside Philadelphia-based managing principal John Nolan and Chicago’s Nadine Abrahams; both run the general employment litigation practice following Joan Ackerstein’s retirement. Clients, which include Pfizer, IBM and Toys “R” Us, call upon the firm for issues spanning employee privacy, breach of contract, and allegations of discrimination. Neil Dishman defended the City of Chicago - where he is based - in a putative collective action that claimed taxicab drivers are entitled to minimum wage and overtime payments that would cover expenses and make them government employees under the FLSA and Illinois state law. William Anthony, who splits his time between Abany and Hartford, co-heads the class actions and complex litigation practice and is noted alongside Los Angeles’ managing principal Mia Farber and John Bennett in Morristown.
K&L Gates defends employers across a wide expanse of class action and single-plaintiff cases, including agency-initiated enforcement actions and litigation, FLSA wage and hour collective actions, alleged ADA discrimination, breach of contract disputes and ERISA matters. In Seattle, Mark Filipini and Daniel Hurley won a jury verdict for Hertz in a high-profile case concerning the termination and alleged discrimination of Muslim employees, who did not clock out for paid prayer breaks. Newark-based practice head Rosemary Alito is relationship partner to Alcoa and serves as national litigation counsel in Washington DC, Iowa, Ohio, New York and numerous other states. Former co-head Patrick Madden remains integral to the group in Seattle. Portland’s Román Hernández was hired from Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt while John Morrison and John Roache joined Akerman LLP.
Ropes & Gray LLP has gained extensive experience in lawsuits filed by highly compensated senior executives. In a recent example, practice head Jeffrey Webb represented Covidien, with its ex-president and CEO, in a federal lawsuit brought against it by a former senior executive who joined a competitor prior to Medtronic’s acquisition of the company. It was alleged that the plaintiff was misled about the sale and that they would have maintained their position had they known about the deal; Webb, who splits his time between Boston and San Francisco, and Boston counsel Jenny Cooper (a former partner at Bingham McCutchen) are awaiting a decision to dismiss the claim. Wrongful termination cases, putative wage and hour class actions, and whistleblower claims also formed part of the recent workload.
Brian Gold, Wendy Lazerson and Jennifer Zargarof lead the team at Sidley Austin LLP, which acts for clients such as Aon, Exelon, and Archer Daniels Midland. The firm handles a varied caseload of Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification Act claims, discrimination class actions, executive contract disputes, and unfair labor practice charges, among other matters. Zargarof and Douglas Hart acted for CVS Caremark and Pizza Hut in major class actions concerning a range of wage and hour issues; with regards to the former client, the firm successfully achieved decertification of a class containing over 60,000 employees. Geoffrey DeBoskey and Sarah Konsky, who were part of the team that worked on the aforementioned matters, now work in-house. Counsel Eric Suits was a new addition from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Named attorneys are spread across Chicago, Palo Alto, Los Angeles and New York.
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s ‘outstanding’ practice is adept at handling complex discrimination cases, senior executive transition and retention issues, and restrictive covenant cases involving non-compete, non-solicitation and trade secret claims as well as issues concerning the forfeiture of stock awards. The team also has experience in FLSA classification and other wage and hour matters. In New York, department head Theodore Rogers is ‘highly rated’ alongside litigator Robin Fessel. The practice continued to represent Goldman Sachs in a major gender discrimination class action involving allegations of women receiving less pay and fewer promotions than their male counterparts. The motion for class certification was denied on recommendation by Magistrate Judge James Francis in 2015 and is pending review in the District Court.
The Dallas-based team at Thompson & Knight LLP ‘provides quality advice and assists with all legal matters in the most cost-effective manner’. BNSF Railway engaged Bryan Neal, appellate and trial attorney Stephen Fink, and Micah Prude in a number of matters, including FRSA whistleblower discrimination claims and an EEOC challenge to rejecting a job applicant based on a hand impairment that did not comply with safety regulations; the court’s summary judgment found that the applicant was not disabled under the ADA and BNSF, and therefore did not violate the act’s prohibition on the improper use of post-job offer medical evaluations. The team’s ‘in-depth understanding’ extends to Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Sarbanes-Oxley and FLSA collective actions. Anthony Campiti leads the practice, which also acts for clients such as Approach Resources, Johnson & Johnson and T-Mobile US. David Ongaro left to establish Ongaro PC Law.
Vedder Price acts for clients such as Warner Music Group, Chevron and Sears Holdings. Chicago-based Thomas Wilde leads the practice, which handled California and nationwide wage and hour class actions, joint employer issues, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs discrimination claims, restrictive covenants in employee agreements, and arbitrations involving executives. San Francisco’s Heather Sager obtained a summary judgment for Hewlett-Packard, involving a high-profile wrongful termination, age and race discrimination, unfair business practices, and whistleblower litigation in the Ninth Circuit. In Chicago, Nicholas Anaclerio and newly promoted shareholder Patrick Spangler are highly regarded. In other personnel changes, Thomas Petrides joined from K&L Gates in Los Angeles, and Lawrence Casazza, Michael Cleveland, Steven Hamann and Theodore Tierney retired from practice. Laura Sack, Roy Salins and Lyle Zuckerman are now with Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.