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Paul Hastings LLP

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Donna Melby

Work (213) 683-6098
Paul Hastings LLP

Work Department

Employment Law Department


Partner, Employment Law Donna Melby is a nationally recognized business jury trial lawyer who co-chairs the Paul Hastings Employment Law practice in Los Angeles, and is chair of Global Diversity and the Women’s Initiative at the firm. Paul Hastings’ employment law practice was named Labor & Employment Litigation Firm of the Year 2010 by The American Lawyer. Ms. Melby has successfully tried multiple jury cases to conclusion in the state and federal courts and has successfully litigated international and domestic arbitrations across the United States and abroad. She has been invited to fellowship to America’s top trial lawyer organizations, including the American College of Trial Lawyers, which limits membership to the top one percent of trial lawyers in the country, the American Board of Trial Advocates, where she served as National President, and the International Society of Barristers, which limits membership to the 500 of most accomplished trial lawyers in the United States. Donna Melby is a trusted advisor to Boards of Directors and the senior executive leadership of the country’s leading businesses, regularly consulting on matters of the utmost importance and highest sensitivity. Her solution oriented focus is on the prevention, litigation, trial, and arbitration of complex employment and complex commercial cases, particularly class actions, trade secret, whistleblower, retaliation, and discrimination claims. Recently, her clients scored major wins in defeating class certification in the complex division of the state court and in the federal court. In the central district of California, simultaneously litigated in international arbitration, she won a permanent injunction for her manufacturing client following another win in the Ninth Circuit which established the precedent that injunctive relief is available in the district court pending and in aid of arbitration. Complete summary judgment was awarded to her pharmaceutical company client whose senior executive sued for wrongful termination and fraud. She won summary judgment again on an affirmative cross complaint against a claimed whistleblower executive who took privileged and confidential information from his former employer and then sued it on multiple employment related causes of action. Because of her track record of success in averting high stakes confidential threatened litigation in the most important matters for her clients, she is regularly called upon by Fortune 50 companies and their Boards when threatened with whistleblower claims by their CEO’s, their General Counsels, officers, and top executive leadership. Class actions, trade secrets, executive mobility, discrimination, corporate organization, retaliation, whistleblower, harassment, partnership contract disputes and complex litigation are key practice areas in which Ms. Melby has an established record of client successes.


Recent Representations: Dunlap v. McKesson: Won summary judgment on behalf of McKesson in a suit filed by its former executive Kaewsawang v. Sara Lee: Defeated class certification in the trial court and on appeal in a case filed on behalf of independent distributors of fresh baked goods alleging misclassification as independent contractors instead of employees. Ms. Melby now represents Sara Lee and Bimbo Bakeries in an alternately plead antitrust class action Kaewsawang v. Sara Lee: Successfully demurred to alternate antitrust claims of vertical and horizontal price fixing Johnson et al v. United Continental Airlines, et al: In a race discrimination case filed in the Northern District of California on behalf of 21 African American pilots and two others, Donna Melby is lead trial counsel. Silverman v. Glaxo Smith Kline: Defeated conditional class certification in the Central District of California Christopher v. Glaxo Smith Kline: Paul Hastings trial team won summary adjudication in this misclassification class action, which was affirmed on appeal to the Ninth Circuit and thereafter affirmed by the United States Supreme Court in a precedent setting opinion holding that pharmaceutical sales representatives are covered by the administrative exemption and therefore exempt. In an international arbitration which was simultaneously litigated in the United States District Court, Ms. Melby lead the Paul Hastings team to victory on behalf of a manufacturer in both the Ninth Circuit and in the United States District Court. In a precedent setting published 2010 decision, the Ninth Circuit agreed with Paul Hastings’ client in holding that interim injunctive relief is available in the United States District Court pending and in aid of arbitration (Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas Inc. vs. Continental Tire North America, Inc., et al., USDC Case No. SACV10-52-JVS-(RNBx)). Paul Hastings won injunctive relief over opposition from four national law firms representing three opposing corporate defendants. Ms. Melby is lead counsel in the successful representation of Fortune 50 companies and top executive leadership in the litigation, trial, and threatened litigation of whistleblower/retaliation (including Sarbanes Oxley and Dodd Frank), trade secret, Title VII, discrimination, harassment and contract cases. These matters include threats, theft and misappropriation of privileged and confidential information by executives/officers. Ms. Melby won summary judgment in an affirmative cross complaint for conversion filed against the former executive of a printer manufacturer. Damages on the cross complaint far exceeded any potential damage alleged in the complaint by the former executive Donna Melby is regularly retained by and currently represents Fortune 50 companies and their Boards of Directors to confidentially negotiate, resolve and counsel on prevention and remediation and early confidential resolution threatened litigation by President/CEO, General Counsel, and senior executive leadership, to advise on organizational change, and on whistleblower, retaliation, Sarbanes Oxley, Dodd Frank, discrimination, compliance and harassment issues. Lead counsel in two retaliation jury trials brought by a senior deputy district attorney against the Los Angeles County District Attorney and his senior staff. Donna Melby won two defense verdicts in two separate jury trials with post trial attorney’s fees awarded to Ms. Melby’s clients. Jury trial and injunctive relief wins in trade secret, harassment, retaliation, contract and race, sex, and disability discrimination trials. Ms. Melby has tried and won jury cases on all of these claims. Accolades and Recognitions: Order of the Coif: Loyola Law School: For professional and scholarly distinction Fellow: American College of Trial Lawyers: Membership by invitation only and limited to the top one percent of trial lawyers in the United States Fellow of the International Society of Barristers: Membership limited to 500 by invitation. American Board of Trial Advocates: National President (2005); Los Angeles Chapter President (2004); Member National Board of Directors; Member Executive Committee Los Angeles Chapter Fifty Most Influential Women in the United States: The National Law Journal honored Ms. Melby in its inaugural list of the Fifty Most Influential Women in the United States Best Lawyers In America: Donna Melby is consistently included in The Best Lawyers in America as a top Labor and Employment lawyer and Commercial Litigator Top Women Litigators (2002 through 2013): Los Angeles Daily Journal: Donna Melby has been recognized every year by the Los Angeles Daily Journal as one of California’s Top Women Litigators Top 50 California Employment and Labor Lawyers Los Angeles Daily Journal: Ms. Melby is regularly included in the list of California’s Top Employment and Labor Attorneys; Top 100 Lawyers: Los Angeles Daily Journal: In recent years Donna Melby has been recognized as one of the “Top 100 Lawyers” in the state of California. America’s Top 500 Litigators: Lawdragon: In recent years, Donna Melby has been included among Lawdragon’s Top 500 Litigators Top Los Angeles Lawyers (Commercial and Employment Litigation) and Top Women Lawyers: Super Lawyers by Los Angeles Magazine Prisoner’s Rights Advocacy Award: Ms. Melby received the Prisoner’s Rights Advocacy Award from the ACLU of Southern California for her pro bono advocacy and work in successfully litigating the rights of abused prisoners in the County of Los Angeles Champion of Justice: Loyola Law School: In September 2011, Ms. Melby was one of two California trial lawyers presented with the “Champion of Justice” award by Loyola Law School Civil Justice Program for her exemplary service and dedication to the legal profession Rothschild Pro Bono Award: For her pro bono work for the Landmine Survivors Network Donna Melby received the Rothschild Pro Bono Award. Sheremains committed to the pro bono work on behalf of many other clients The Los Angeles Daily Journal selected one of Donna Melby’s many jury trials as one of the Top Ten Defense Verdicts in the state of California for jury trial win International Association of Defense Counsel


Speaking Engagements and Publications: Ms. Melby regularly speaks on employment law, jury trial practice, and judicial independence at judicial conferences and at bar associations across the United States NITA Faculty: Trial School Masters In Trial: Donna Melby has been an invited speaker and mock trial faculty member in more than 35 mock trial demonstrations across the United States and abroad on behalf of the American Board of Trial Advocates Masters In Trial Programs Faculty: International Association of Defense Counsel Trial School at Stanford Law School Donna Melby speaks annually at the Journalist Law School held at Loyola Law School on the civil justice system Faculty: ABA TIPS Trial School at the Judicial College, Sparks, Nevada Professional and Community Involvement: Board of Directors, Executive Committee and Development Chair: National Center for State Courts Board of Visitors: Loyola Law School Fellow: American College of Trial Lawyers; State Membership Committee American College of Trial Lawyers Past National President: American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) and member of the National Board of Directors Past President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates and member of the Executive Committee Fellow: International Society of Barristers; chair of statewide Membership Fellow: Litigation Counsel of America Resource Board : National Association of Women Judges Member: International Association of Defense Counsel, the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel California Employment Law Council Ms. Melby has served on the Executive Committee of the Litigation Section of the Los Angeles County Bar and also served for eight years as a member of the Los Angeles County Bar delegation to the State Bar of California. She has also served on the Legal Services Trust Fund Commission of the State Bar of California and later as counsel to the Legal Services Trust Fund Commission Ms. Melby is a longtime member of the National Trial Competition Committee for the American College of Trial Lawyers and serves as a judge each year for the National Trial Competition sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers and the Texas Young Lawyers Association Ms. Melby was involved in the facilitation of a partnership between ABOTA and Loyola Law School, which contributed to the launch and continuing support of the first ever Journalist Law School which is now in its eighth successful year


California Western School of Law, J.D., 1978 University of California Santa Barbara, B.A., 1972

United States: Labor and employment

Labor and employment disputes (including collective actions): defense

Within: Labor and employment disputes (including collective actions): defense

Paul Hastings LLP has strong capabilities in the labor and employment sphere. Clients regularly engage the team to handle class actions and high-stakes claims relating to wage and hour, discrimination and trade secrets. New York-based practice head Patrick Shea has more than 35 years of experience; together with Barbara Brown and Carson Sullivan, both in Washington DC, he continues to represent Goldman Sachs in a nationwide gender discrimination class action. The group also handles a variety of matters for Google; in a recent work highlight, Cameron Fox is defending the tech giant in a widely publicized class action against a former employee, who claims that caucasians, males and political conservatives have suffered discrimination at Google. Elena Baca successfully acted for Fiber Systems International after a former executive and his new employer, Glenair, tried to invalidate the executive’s lawful post-employment restraints as well as the ones in every FSI contract on a nationwide level; Baca, alongside Fox and Jennifer Baldocchi, was able to dismiss the claims. Other members of the practice group include Nancy Abell, who is a widely recognized employment specialist, and Paul Grossman. Zach Hutton, Paul Cane and Jeffrey Wohl are key practitioners in the San Francisco office. Further recommended individuals are Neal Mollen and Kenneth Willner in Washington DC, Kenneth Gage and Marc Bernstein in New York, Bradford Newman in Palo Alto, as well as Donna Melby and Leslie Abbott. Felicia Davis made partner in February 2018. Stephen Sonnenberg retired. Named attorneys are based in Los Angeles except where indicated otherwise.

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