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Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Work +1 713 225 2300
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Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Hong Kong, Houston, London and 9 more

Scott Nelson

Work (713) 238-1845
Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Work Department

Labor & Employment Department; Wage & Hour Litigation Practice Group; ERISA/Employee Benefits Litigation Practice Group


Scott M. Nelson is a partner in the Labor and Employment Practice Group of Seyfarth Shaw LLP's Houston office.  Scott has significant experience with high-profile domestic and international labor and employment matters, as well as complex commercial litigation.  Legal 500 has recognized him as a leading US lawyer in three categories:  Labor & Employment Litigation, Workplace & Employment Counseling, and ERISA Litigation.  Texas Monthly magazine has recognized him as a Texas Super Lawyer.  Additionally, he is board certified in labor an employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

A veteran litigator, Scott has prevailed for clients in a wide variety of cases before trial courts, appellate courts, arbitrators, and government agencies.  He has litigated all major types of employment law claims, including:  discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims, wage and hour claims, ERISA claims, non-compete and employee trade secrets cases, ADA claims, FMLA claims, Pregnancy Discrimination Act claims, whistleblower claims (including Dodd-Frank and SOX whistleblower, among others), employment contract claims, employee defamation claims, negligent hiring/retention/supervision claims, OSHA retaliation claims, Sabine Pilot claims, class actions, collective actions, traditional labor law matters, and workers’ compensation retaliation claims.

While his record on summary judgment is impressive, Scott is a trial lawyer at heart.  Comfortable and compelling in the courtroom, Scott has prevailed for clients in cases ranging from simple labor arbitrations to jury and bench trials with hundreds of millions of dollars in potential liability exposure.  He is known for his ease in working with clients, his thoughtful strategic approach, his artful use of diplomacy, and his relentless pursuit of victory.

Among his more notable cases, Scott successfully defended multinational chemical companies in one of the largest employee trade secrets cases to go to a jury trial, a case in which plaintiffs sought $800 million through economic espionage-type trade secrets claims.  He also achieved a total bench trial victory for a multinational mining and chemical company in a large ERISA class action in which plaintiffs sought in excess of $200 million.  In arbitration, he recently won over $3.2 million, including $1.2 million in attorneys’ fees, for an employer seeking to claw back signing bonuses from energy traders.

On the advice side, Scott is a seasoned, trusted, and regular advisor to many clients on compliance and strategy issues.  He gets to know his clients, their business, and their industry.  He offers business-practical advice on everything from sensitive employee terminations to leave law issues, complicated ADA accommodation issues, sensitive employee investigations, difficult employee discipline and counseling, workplace safety issues, reductions in force, restructurings, post-acquisition integration matters, international employment law issues, WARN Act issues, OWBPA compliance, employee background check issues, drug testing issues, employee agreements, pay discrimination matters, independent contractor issues, joint employer matters, contingent worker/gig economy issues, staff leasing services agreements, master service agreements, employee privacy issues, employee hotline issues, wage and hour law compliance, tip pooling issues, and workplace policies.  Because of his mastery of the subject matter, his business-practical approach, and his dynamic presentation style, he is often asked to train groups of executives and legal professionals.  Scott gets to the heart of the issue quickly and provides sound, practical advice that clients can trust.


J.D., Creighton University, cum laude (1996), Assistant Editor Creighton Law Review, Secretary, International Moot Court Board; B.S.B.A. Finance, Creighton University (1993), magna cum laude

United States: Labor and employment

ERISA litigation

Within: ERISA litigation

The ERISA litigation team at Seyfarth Shaw LLP experienced considerable growth in 2018 with the addition of San Francisco’s Bradley Perkins, who was formerly a senior counsel at Pacific Maritime Association, and Houston’s Scott Nelson, who joined from Baker McKenzie LLP. In addition to acting on 401(k) fiduciary breach, prohibited transaction and executive top-hat plan cases, the team also works laterally with the firm’s employee benefits lawyers to deploy unique litigation-avoidance strategies. Chicago-based practice co-head Ian Morrison defended a publicly listed paper manufacturer against a claim for breach of collective bargaining agreements. Practice co-leader Amanda Sonneborn in noted for her experience of complex DOL audits, ERISA Section 510 employment discrimination and cash balance plan claims. Also recommended are San Francisco-based Ward Kallstrom and Chicago-based Mark Casciari. University of Chicago, Burroughs and Kaiser Permanente are also among the team's clients.

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Labor and employment disputes (including collective actions): defense

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

Seyfarth Shaw LLP fields a team of 'good experts, comprising seasoned lawyers supervising stellar long-term associates'. Noted for its expertise in wage-and-hour class actions and workplace litigation alleging discrimination, the nationwide group is praised for being 'hands on, extremely thorough, and extraordinarily knowledgeable'. Work highlights included Noah Finkel and Andrew Scroggins acting for Epic Systems as co-counsel (alongside Hogan Lovells US LLP and Kirkland & Ellis LLP) in a landmark case decided by the Supreme Court in May 2018, relating to the enforceability of the agreement into which the plaintiff entered requiring the parties to resolve wage-hour disputes through individual arbitration and waive class and collective proceedings. The 'one-of-a-kind' Gerald Maatman continues to lead a team acting for Sterling Jewelers (together with co-counsel Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP) in an employment discrimination class action. Brian Ashe successfully acted for Digital Realty Trust before the Supreme Court in a case relating to the definition and statutory application of the term 'whistleblower'. Camille Olson is a 'world class lawyer' and Washington DC-based Raymond Baldwin is a ' zealous advocate for his clients with a practical approach'. In Los Angeles, Andrew Paley is an 'extremely well-versed adviser', and Jon Meer is praised for his 'immense knowledge and trial practice'. Atlanta's Robert Stevens is described as an 'expert in restrictive covenant work'; clients also appreciate Kerry Friedrichs in San Francisco and Pamela Devata for 'being leaders in their field and being able to answer questions on the spot'. Further recommended individuals are practice head Laura Maechtlen and Christian Rowley in San Francisco, Boston's Richard Alfred and the 'greatly experienced and knowledgeable' Lisa Damon, Lorie Almon and Gina Merrill in New York, as well as Richard Lapp. In Houston, the team was strengthen by the arrival of Scott Nelson from Baker McKenzie LLP in May 2018, while John Yslas joined the Los Angeles office from Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP in July 2018. Named attorneys are based in Chicago except where indicated otherwise.

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Workplace and employment counseling

Within: Workplace and employment counseling

Clients appreciate Seyfarth Shaw LLP for being ‘smart, creative, practical and for genuinely caring about getting the best quality’. The team has experience in advising on organizational change and developing innovative technology tools as well as in workplace discrimination and harassment counseling. Chicago-based David Baffa chairs the workplace compliance solutions practice group and is an expert on a variety of employment-related matters, such as workforce reductions and restructurings, pay equity and training. Senior counsel Lawrence Lorber in Washington DC is regularly engaged by the US Chamber of Commerce in connection with employment issues, including regulatory representation on pending rule making. Ellen McLaughlin, who is based in Chicago, assisted an automotive manufacturer in increasing productivity while staying compliant with federal and state laws. The firm also has a dedicated group advising on pay equity, which is led by Christine Hendrickson (recently promoted to partner) and Annette Tyman in Chicago. Lisa Damon in Boston has ‘detailed knowledge of the law and is pragmatic and unfailingly responsive’. Further notable practitioners are the ‘fantastic’ Daniel Waldman in New York, the ‘excellent strategist’ Jon Meer in Los Angeles and Frederick Smith in Atlanta, who has a ‘great amount of experience to lean on’. In New York, William Perkins is well versed in the different forms of discrimination and harassment claims, while associate Joshua Seidman specializes in paid sick leave matters. Chelsea Mesa in Los Angeles has a ‘meticulous no-nonsense approach’. Scott Nelson was a new arrival in May 2018 in the Houston office, joining from Baker McKenzie LLP.

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