Employment

REPRESENTATIVE CASES AND PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES

 

Employment Class Actions

In Wahid and Saavedra v. Nations, Alameda County Superior Court Nos. RG 05246866 and RG 08421015, we represented restaurant managers who had been misclassified as exempt and denied overtime as well as rest and meal breaks and thereby achieved a fair settlement.

NeuHelms v. (defendant’s identity is confidential), involves a group of nonexempt employees who, allegedly by the nature of the work, were made to sign a waiver of their labor code rights to off duty meal and rest breaks.  We certified a class and settled.

In Kauffman v. Bank of America MDL No. 2138 In re: B of A Wage and Hour Employment Practices Litigation, we represented personal bankers throughout California who were forced to work overtime in order to meet sales quotas but were not allowed to record the overtime and were not paid for it.  The case was removed to Federal Court, coordinated as part of a multidistrict litigation in the District of Kansas and settled for a confidential amount.

At least six other employment class actions are pending or just settled in 2013, including one where we sought to compel class arbitration despite that the individual arbitration agreement signed by all employees was silent about arbitration on a class wide basis and contained no waiver.

Also pending is Stockwell v. City and County of San Francisco, 9th Cir. No. 12-15070. Plaintiffs appeal the denial of a motion to certify a class of police officers over the age of 40 who were qualified for promotion to investigator positions. The City blocked plaintiffs’ career advancement and created a disparate impact on the older eligible candidates by its practice of ignoring their eligibility list and instead promoting younger officers from a different classification. Stockwell is set for oral argument on September 10, 2013.

 

Employment Discrimination

In 2011, the firm settled its first discrimination case involving immigrant workers, Figueroa v. DCD, Alameda Superior Court Case No. RG10532465.

In Moralez v. Chao, N.D. Ca. No. C073807 EDL, we secured in 2010 a substantial settlement for a failure of reasonable accommodation by which the OFCCP, contrary to its very mission, forced plaintiff, an EEO Specialist, to take a disability retirement. In 2011 we settled disability discrimination cases for Pearl Howell against the City of San Francisco and for Carolyn Epple against CSU Sonoma (including a bridge to retirement). Disability rights in employment is a significant part of our law practice.

In Taybron v. City and County of San Francisco (9th Cir. 2003) 341 F.3d 957, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment on claims of two San Francisco Municipal Railway employees who were subjected to vulgar and pervasive sexual harassment. The case settled after remand to the District Court.

In Walker v. SFHA (2003) 100 Cal. App. 4th 685, the San Francisco Superior Court awarded judgment to the plaintiff in a sexual harassment case against the San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA), which was subsequently upheld by the California Court of Appeal, and SFHA’s petition to the California Supreme Court was denied.

In Hall v. Bay Area Air Quality Management District (2001) Case No. 311038, a San Francisco Superior Court jury awarded damages to an African American employee who had been subjected to illegal race-based discrimination and retaliation in the denial of promotions. Persistence paid off in Mayfield v. Bay Area Air Quality Management District and in Harris v. City & County of San Francisco (1998) 65 Cal. App. 4th 1306, where the plaintiff lost a split decision in the California Court of Appeal, but then pursued related claims in federal court and parlayed them into a promotion and a substantial settlement.

We successfully represented five plaintiffs who opted out of a class settlement in Ling, et al. v. Regents of the University of California, Alameda Superior Court No. 2001035654, in which AsianAmerican scientists and engineers at the Lawrence Livermore Lab claimed racial discrimination in pay and promotion. After defeating summary judgment, our five individual plaintiffs settled for more than defendant had paid for the entire class.

Norris v. City and County of San Francisco, 900 F.2d 1326 (9th Cir.1990), was a race discrimination case where the 9th Circuit reversed the trial judge decision on the merits and ordered that a finding of discrimination be made in the plaintiff’s favor.  The case settled after remand.

 

Whistleblower Retaliation

In August 2003 an Alameda Superior Court jury awarded damages to an employee who suffered illegal retaliation for reporting waste and misuse of government funds. Tolchin v. Bay Area Rapid Transit District et al., Case No. C8333144. After more than half a million dollars in attorneys’ fees were also awarded, the case settled during defendant’s appeal.

In Nguyen v. City & County of San Francisco, N.D. Ca. No. C982077 SBA (2001), we obtained a jury verdict affirming the First Amendment rights of an orchid vendor to protest graft and corruption at the City-operated Farmer’s Market.

Allen v. Scribner, 812 F.2d 426 (9th Cir. 1987), is a leading 9th Circuit case on First Amendment whistle blowing and involved the chief entomologist during the Med Fly crisis, who was transferred, demoted and physically threatened for speaking out on the status of the Med Fly and its potential threat to consumers of California agricultural produce.