|Gibson Dunn & Crutcher|
|Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein|
|Morgan Lewis & Bockius|
|Outten & Golden|
|Katz Marshall & Banks|
|Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart|
|O'Melveny & Myers|
|Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe|
|Sanford Heisler Sharp|
|Weil Gotshal & Manges|
Gibson Dunn & Crutcher is nationally recognized for its labor and employment litigation practice. Peers in the employment space comment on the firm’s presence, describing it as “well known nationally in employment” and “on the national stage.” In addition to its Los Angeles headquarters, the firm provides, as a peer notes, “very good lawyers”, in key hubs such as Washington DC and New York. Another peer notes the firm’s focus on significant cases saying, “I still see Gibson having really interesting matters.” The group frequently represents industry-leading companies in novel cases that have the potential to set precedents in labor and employment law. The practice group is accustomed to defending multinational companies in such high-profile matters.
The co-chairs of the firm’s labor and employment practice group are Los Angeles-based Catherine Conway and DC-based Jason Schwartz. Conway handles high-stakes employment trials, especially in the wage and hour litigation area. Schwartz has served as lead partner on several successful matters for clients over the last year. Schwartz and DC partner Greta Williams represented Amazon in a high profile, novel class action alleging age discrimination for employment advertising, recruiting, and hiring that targets younger applicants through Facebook.
Former co-chair of the practice group, Eugene Scalia, hails from the DC office. In 2017, Scalia led Ford to victory in the sixth circuit, which affirmed a district court’s ruling of summary judgment in a case filed against the company for an ADA violation. A peer states, “Gene Scalia is really just a great lawyer.”
In regards to the firm’s talent, a peer says, “You don’t need to look any farther than Ted Boutrous.” Located in the Los Angeles office, Boutrous serves as co-chair of the litigation group and recently, along with California’s Michele Maryott and Theane Evangelis, successfully represented Grubhub in an important trial for similar companies in the “gig economy” dealing with independent contractor issues.
Located across the US, but with Missouri origins, Polsinelli maintains a national presence in the labor and employment realm. The firm handles both traditional labor issues and employment disputes. The practice is comprised of over 50 dedicated lawyers with experience in handling matters for various industries. Within the labor and employment realm, the firm’s lawyers regularly represent companies in class and collective actions, trade secrets disputes, discrimination claims, and many other practice-related matters.
Nancy Rafuse serves as the labor and employment department chair and resides in the firm’s Georgia office. Rafuse frequently counsels and represents companies in complex and significant class actions and individual matters.
Chairing the firm’s traditional labor relations practice is San Francisco’s Michele Haydel Gehrke, who successfully defends clients in both labor and employment disputes. Haydel Gehrke is frequently called upon by airline companies for her exceptional experience in handling disputes brought under the Railway Labor Act; most recently, she represented Southwest Airlines in two separate matters brought against the client by a former flight attendant who sent graphic social media videos and messages to the union president and was terminated. Haydel Gehrke successfully arbitrated the matter, and she continues to represent Southwest Airlines in a companion federal case in Texas.
Kansas City houses star partners Denise Drake, James Sullivan and Eric Packel. Drake, chair of the employment disputes, litigation, and arbitration practice, is a highly experienced litigator and arbitrator, having defended companies in numerous lawsuits. Sullivan is the vice-chair of the employment class actions group whose central focus is on defending companies against an array of employment claims. Packelchairs the restrictive covenants and trade secrets practice and was recently retained by Red Rock Packaging, a meat film supplier, to represent them in a misappropriate of trade secrets case that is ongoing. So far, Packel has been successful in obtaining a TRO and then a Temporary Injunction on behalf of the client until a trial on the merits scheduled for July of 2019.
Housing one of the largest labor and employment groups in the country, Proskauer Rose is nationally recognized for its preeminence in the practice area. Peers frequently highlight the firm for its “big presence” in the field and, as one puts it, the firm’s “huge stable of lawyers.” A majority of lawyers reside in the New York office, but the practice covers key cities including Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Boston. The firm is also highly regarded by a peer for having “a lot of expertise [and] a lot of great people” in the group. Lawyers at the firm continually represent clients in high profile and significant matters. The practice has a deep expertise in handling labor and employment issues for the sports industry in particular. Another peer describes the firm’s labor and employment practice as “phenomenal”. The team’s high-profile clients have included NBC Universal and the MTA in labor and employment matters.
New York’s Neil Abramson and Elise Bloom serve as co-chairs of the labor and employment law department at the firm. Abramson handles a wide variety of labor and employment issues. Bloom, co-head of the class and collective actions group, is representing the MLB in a wage and hour class and collective action against minor league players before the Ninth Circuit with fellow partners Adam Lupion andHoward Ganz. Ganz is the co-head of the sports law group and previous co-chair of the labor and employment law department.
A peer regards Bloom and Bettina Plevan as two partners who are “really formidable”. Based in New York, Plevan expertly leads clients through all issues related to labor and employment law.
Chicago’s Steven Pearlman and New York’s Lloyd Chinn have recently handled cases for firms in the financial industry, including JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank, respectively. Pearlman successfully led the team defending JP Morgan in a Sarbanes-Oxley Act whistleblower retaliation case in Massachusetts. Chinn has represented Deutsche Bank in multiple successful FINRA arbitrations.
Anthony Oncidi heads the group in the Los Angeles office and represents a wide array of clients in both labor relations and employment litigation. A peer says, “He’s definitely a player – well respected.” Oncidi has recently represented the Chicago Cubs Baseball Club in a single plaintiff lawsuit that alleged multiple wage and hour and related labor and employment claims
Sanford Heisler Sharp is a plaintiff firm that represents individuals in significant employment-related disputes across the US. The firm is located in major market hubs including District of Columbia, New York, Baltimore, and Nashville on the East Coast, as well as San Diego and San Francisco on the West Coast. A New York peer considers it a “first rate firm” and “creative in pressing the envelope.” The team routinely handles class and collective actions against a wide array of nationwide companies, universities, law firms and multinational corporations.
In the New York office, David Sanford, Jeremy Heisler and Alexandra Harwin represent clients challenging employers in various class and collective actions. Sanford has recently handled multiple actions, including a class and collective action against Qualcomm and one against Chadbourne & Parke. In the Qualcomm case, Sanford led the team in representing multiple women alleging claims of unequal pay and gender discrimination. Not only did Sanford secure a multi-million settlement, the case also set forth new diversity policies at the company as well. In the case against Chadbourne & Parke, Sanford along with Harwin led the team in representing numerous women in the class and collective action alleging unequal pay and gender discrimination.
The firm’s DC office is similarly equipped with strong attorneys including Kate Mueting and H. Vincent McKnight. Sanford and Mueting represent several women against one of the “big four” auditors, KPMG, in a class action in the Southern District of New York. Sanford and Mueting have led the team to numerous victories, including conditional class certification.
Edward Chapin of the firm’s San Diego office has defended plaintiffs in employment-
related individual and class action disputes. Chapin, a seasoned trial lawyer, recently represented an individual against the Board of Turstees of the California State University in a matter alleging wrongful termination as the plaintiff was protected as a whistleblower. The matter settled after a significant jury award for damages.
Nationally recognized full-service law firm, Seyfarth Shaw is renowned for its deep bench of over 400 layers with expertise in labor and employment matters. The firm has a dominant presence throughout major market hubs like Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington DC. A competitor in the space comments, “I was impressed with the attorneys that I’ve interacted with.” Peers and competitors throughout the space provide their high regard for the firms, saying, “Seyfarth Shaw has a great group” and “Seyfarth would be at the top of my list”. Another competitor who has frequently dealt with the firm says it is “always top notch.”
In 2017 and 2018, the firm counseled two cases to the Supreme Court. San Francisco’s Brian Ashe served as lead partner representing Digital Realty Trust in a case that went up to the Supreme Court. The 9-0 decision in favor of the firm’s client narrowed the scope of whistleblower protections for employees of publicly traded companies.
In May of 2018, the Supreme Court decided in favor of the firm’s client, Epic Systems, in a landmark decision regarding the enforceability of class action waivers in favor of arbitrations. Of the Chicago office, Noah Finkel and Andrew Scroggins led the team in representing Epic Systems, defending the client in its class and collective action up to the Supreme Court. Finkel is the co-chair of the wage and hour litigation practice group, and a peer regards him as a “wage and hour specialist,” calling it his “bread and butter.” The peer goes on to say, “[He’s not] some guy that plays golf with clients, [he] does the work.”
The firm was also involved in representing Sterling Jewelers in a complex and strategically novel class action alleging systematic gender discrimination. Chicago’s Gerald Maatman led the firm’s team that assisted in obtaining the victorious decision at the Second Circuit.
Sidley Austin’s labor and employment practice has a highly regarded national presence with offices in hubs like Los Angeles, Palo Alto, Chicago, Dallas, and New York. With over 40 lawyers, the firm provides clients with expertise in a variety of areas related to labor and employment law. A peer considers it “a great firm” and another comments, “It’s a good firm, a good practice.”
Ami Wynne and Jennifer Zargarof serve as co-leaders of the firm’s labor and employment practice. Hailing from the Chicago office, Wynne’s practice spans the scope of employment litigation, handling disputes on behalf of employers of all sizes.
Los Angeles’ Douglas Hart and Zargarof represented CVS in several class actions and individual disputes throughout the US. In California last year, the team led a carefully watched case that sought to weaken class certification requirements and change the scope of employers’ obligations. The team, however, was successful in trial, which not only denied class certification but also resolved the merits in favorof CVS. The California Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s decision.
Hart has also represented numerous industry-leading companies, including a multinational telecommunications company in a wage and hour class and collective action. Chicago’s Jonathan Lotsoff and fellow Los Angeles partner Max Fischer assisted in the case.
In 2017, Fischer led the team in representing Novo Nordisk as first chairs in an employment discrimination matter. In district court, Fischer led the way to summary judgement in district court and handled the Ninth Circuit oral argument that affirmed the district court’s decision.
In the firm’s Palo Alto office, Wendy Lazerson serves as head of the Northern California labor and employment group. As lead counsel, Lazerson represented Huafa Industrial in a single-plaintiff case with severe allegations, making it a significantly important matter to the client.