Employment Litigation and Disputes

Our employment litigation expertise is broad and diverse. We have a long history of successful employment defense litigation, including single plaintiff, class, collective, and PAGA and other representative actions. Click on a practice area to the left to find out more.

Employment Litigation and Disputes

‹ Back to What We Do
Our employment litigation expertise is broad and diverse. We have a long history of successful employment defense litigation, including single plaintiff, class, collective, and PAGA and other representative actions. Click on a practice area to the left to find out more.
EMPLOYMENT CLASS ACTION DEFENSE
Before you hire an army of big-firm lawyers with high rates, let us evaluate your case and customize a solution that may save you tens of thousands of dollars.

Click here
for a short video about solutions for businesses facing employment class actions.

Our lawyers have successfully defended Fortune 500 companies, large privately held companies, and medium to small businesses in employment class actions with millions of dollars in exposure. We have handled class and collective litigation in a wide number of industries, including manufacturing, food processing, elder/home care and transportation, wine making, warehouse and supply chain, shipping and trucking, grocery, retail, mortgage, insurance, computer and information technology, financial and professional services, specialized and temporary staffing, education, and construction.

We can provide you with experienced class action defense lawyers for a lower price and a defense strategy that fits the needs of your business and budget.
WAGE AND HOUR CLASS ACTION DEFENSE
Wage and hour class action cases are on the rise, especially in the Central Valley. Our lawyers have successfully defended large, medium, and small companies in cases alleging company-wide or statewide wage and hour violations. We have represented some of the largest companies in California and defended wage and hour class actions in every federal court in California, in every major county in the Central Valley and Bay Area, and on appeal at both the federal and state levels.

Our lawyers have successfully defended a variety of large wage and hour class and collective actions alleging unpaid wages, misclassification of salaried employees, off-the-clock work, meal and rest period violations, wage statement violations, misclassification of independent contractors, unreimbursed expenses, breach of contract, forfeiture of commissions or incentive bonuses, unfair business practices, and other federal and state wage claims.
WAGE AND HOUR TRIAGE: INITIAL CLASS ACTION EVALUATION
Contact us before you hire a big law firm and before you start receiving exorbitant bills for a scorched-earth defense. BigLaw often blindly charges into litigation without realistically assessing exposure, determining your needs and budget, or exploring early and inexpensive resolution.

We will assess your case to help you (1) understand potential exposure, (2) determine what your legal spend should be, and (3) evaluate whether early settlement is viable.

Although we are accomplished defense lawyers, we have a successful track record of effectively negotiating pre-litigation settlements with plaintiffs’ lawyers that save clients tens of thousands in legal fees.  More than 95% of all civil cases settle before trial, and this percentage is higher with wage and hour litigation.  Before spending tens of thousands on lawyers, you should obtain an initial evaluation that fully explores early and efficient resolution options.
CA OVERTIME, MEAL AND REST PERIOD, AND WAGE STATEMENT CLASS ACTION DEFENSE AND COMPLIANCE
Overtime, breaks, and wage statements are three of the hottest claims in California wage and hour law right now.  Most class actions filed against employers focus on one or more of these claims. Our lawyers have a successful track record of efficiently defending or favorably resolving class actions.

Brandon McKelvey has handled wage and hour class action cases for over twelve years involving thousands of employees with potential seven- to eight-figure exposure.  He has argued class action cases in front of numerous state and federal courts throughout California, including the California Court of Appeal.

Our firm uses this experience to help employers (1) dispose of cases prior to class certification, (2) narrow the scope of class discovery to reduce legal spend, (3) defeat class certification, or (4) negotiate a favorable individual or class action settlement where appropriate.  We also assists employers in evaluating timekeeping and break policies and wage statements to avoid litigation in the first place.
EXEMPT CLASSIFICATIONS CLASS ACTION DEFENSE AND COMPLIANCE
Our employment lawyers have successfully defended employers in a wide range of industries in cases alleging that employees were misclassified under the administrative, executive, professional, or outside sales exemptions. We have represented employers in exemption cases in courts throughout California and the nation.
We have a strong track record of defeating class certification in exemption cases, including a first-of-its-kind ruling denying class certification before discovery. In addition to defending these cases, we help employers evaluate exempt classifications to avoid litigation in the first place by revising job descriptions, evaluations, and other personnel documents.
WAGE, BONUS, OR COMMISSION DISPUTES
Compensation disputes can take many forms such as Labor Commissioner complaints, lawsuits, or even class actions. It is important for companies to have a lawyer who understands the legal requirements for compensation as well as experience litigating compensation disputes.
Brandon McKelvey has significant experience advising employers on compensation plans (including incentive, bonus, and commission plans) and defending employers in compensation disputes.
LABOR COMMISSIONER CONFERENCES AND HEARINGS
Labor Commissioner conferences and hearings with the California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) should not be taken lightly. Employers often try to handle these on their own or hire inexpensive counsel to appear with little information about the claim. These claims can be the spark that ignites a wage and hour class action. As such, these claims should be handled with care.

 

You should call us when you first receive a Notice of Claim Filed and Conference, Notice of Hearing from a Labor Commissioner at the DLSE, or any kind of DLSE wage complaint or investigation. We can evaluate whether there is potential exposure beyond the claimant and help you prepare for the conference and hearing. Our lawyers have handled multiple conference and hearings and have successfully defended employers in these proceedings or carefully negotiated settlements to avoid larger exposure.
FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT COLLECTIVE ACTION DEFENSE
Our lawyers have defended companies in collective actions under the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA). Plaintiffs’ lawyers are increasingly bringing FLSA claims along with state class action claims in actions known as collective and class action hybrids. Understanding the difference between the FLSA collective action procedures and Rule 23 class action procedures is important to effectively litigating these hybrid cases. We have successfully represented clients in hybrid actions and helped companies decertify collective actions.

 

Our attorneys have the rare experience of handling a decertified nationwide collective action, which consisted of 37 individual FLSA lawsuits and over 100 arbitrations across the country. It is vital for a company to understand what the end game is in collective actions and realize that it may end up with multiple individual lawsuits in many jurisdictions, which is the latest strategy from plaintiffs’ lawyers to increase their leverage in negotiations. We can help companies look down the road at the outset of the litigation and help them navigate their way through hybrid actions.
INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR ADVICE AND CLASS ACTION DEFENSE
Various government agencies and plaintiffs’ lawyers all over California have targeted independent contractors and are challenging their status. These cases often take the form of class actions or government audits. The potential exposure in these situations can be overwhelming. Our lawyers have represented companies in audits and in cases alleging independent contractors should have been classified as employees.

If you are facing an independent contractor misclassification class action or audit, we can help you assess the classification and prepare a defense. We also assists businesses in evaluating independent contractor engagements to avoid litigation in the first place. We have helped businesses prepare comprehensive independent contractor agreements, acknowledgments, training, and other documentation to prepare for potential challenges to the independent contractor relationship.
CALIFORNIA EMPLOYMENT DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT (EDD) OR US DEPARTMENT OF LABOR (DOL) AUDITS
Government agencies, like the US Department of Labor (DOL) and the California Employment Development Department (EDD), are increasing their audits of businesses utilizing independent contractors.  These agencies, particularly the EDD, have become aggressive in their auditing of businesses and are often inclined to find that independent contractors should have been classified as employees.  In some audits, the EDD will only interview a small number of independent contractors, but make a determination that all of a business’s independent contractors are misclassified.  This opens up the business to significant tax liability, potential back wage payments, and other penalties and fines.  Current law allows the EDD to go back three years to seek reimbursement for unpaid payroll taxes, employer insurance payments, and to asses both fines and penalties.  Even worse, a government audit can be the catalyst for a wage and hour class action, which allows independent contractors to go back four years and to potentially recover additional damages, penalties, and attorneys’ fees.  Even if a business only utilizes a few independent contractors, the potential fines, penalties, and damages can add up.  If a business has numerous independent contractors, then the exposure can be crippling.

 

It is not uncommon for businesses to go along with an audit and to cooperate with what seems like a friendly auditor only to ultimately be lead to the point where the agency finds misclassification and assesses massive fines and penalties.  For this reason, it is critical for a business to obtain counsel to receive advice and guidance during the audit.  Our lawyers have experience advising businesses in the midst of an audit and have devised solutions to help businesses defend the independent contractor classification during an audit.  This may include an analysis and presentation of data and documents to an auditor or obtaining written statements from independent contractors explaining their independence and autonomy.  A business facing an audit should also consider preparing a comprehensive position statement for the auditor that explains all the reasons the independent contractors are classified as such.

 

If you are currently facing an audit, our firm can help guide you through the process.  If you currently utilize independent contractors but are not facing an audit, we can help you evaluate your potential audit risk and develop solutions (such as independent contractor agreements, acknowledgments, training, and other documentation) to prepare your business for potential challenges to the independent contractor relationship.
GENERAL EMPLOYMENT LAW DEFENSE AND COUNSELING
Our lawyers have seen employment litigation from both sides of the bar and they use this experience to provide practical advice to clients that helps them steer clear of litigation. Our lawyers regularly advise employers in the following situations:
Hiring: When you have questions about hiring or drafting offer letters.
Employee Handbook Revisions: When you need to create, revise, or update your employee handbook.
Mandatory Harassment-Prevention Training: When you want fun and interactive mandatory anti-harassment and prevention training.
Employee Discipline: When you need help disciplining, demoting, counseling, or writing up an employee.
Employee Termination: When you are getting ready to terminate an employee.
EEOC Complaint or Investigation: When you get notice of an employee filing a complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or are facing an EEOC investigation.
DFEH Complaint or Investigation: When you receive notice of an employee filing a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or are facing a DFEH investigation.
Independent Contractors: When you are getting ready to engage or are evaluating your relationship with an independent contractor, or if you are facing a lawsuit alleging that you misclassified one or more independent contractors.
Co-Employment: When you are considering using temporary staffing or have questions about joint employer issues or when you have been sued as a joint employer.
 
HARASSMENT, DISCRIMINATION, AND WRONGFUL TERMINATION LAWSUITS
Our lawyers have successfully represented employers in wrongful termination, discrimination, failure to accommodate, and wrongful termination lawsuits. We have defended employers of different sizes and from various industries in emotionally charged cases where an employee is seeking significant damages. We can provide the big-firm experience and acumen to defend companies in these high-stakes employment disputes at a lower price and with an approach that is customized for your business.

 

INTERNAL PERSONNEL INVESTIGATIONS
For today’s employers, it is unfortunately an issue of “when,” not “if” they will need to perform an internal investigation into employee or vendor misconduct. Whether it involves issues of fraud, embezzlement, misuse of proprietary information and trade secrets, client raiding, or harassment, we have helped many clients by providing internal investigative services. When done properly, these investigations can be indispensable tools in identifying and correcting misconduct, preventing further risk exposure, and, ultimately, getting business back on track with minimal disruption. We know how and when to investigate, bringing confidence and peace of mind to our clients, with minimal disruption to their business.
TRADE SECRET PROTECTION
In today’s business world, information is more important than ever, whether it is “know how,” specialized systems, or customer data. With modern technology, it also gets easier every day for unscrupulous employees, competitors, and others to steal and misuse that information. The fact is, no matter what type of business you are in, you have trade secrets and confidential and other sensitive information that you want to protect because it would give an advantage to others at your harm. We help our clients by identifying what information is sensitive, drafting policies and contracts and designing systems to protect it, performing audits, and taking other measures to ensure sensitive information is protected. When necessary, we also help our clients bring swift enforcement actions against those that attempt to steal or otherwise misuse sensitive information, all so that their most valuable information remains intact. We also help business owners ensure they minimize risk associated with claims that they have misused other businesses’ trade secrets, intellectual property, or confidential information of others.
UNFAIR COMPETITION
We firmly believe that marketplace competition is healthy for our economy and consumers. But sometimes competitors engage in unfair competition, through false advertising, failure to comply with applicable laws such as the Labor Code, or other improper conduct. When that happens to our clients, we are ready and able to help them put a stop to that unfair competition, restoring order and fairness to the marketplace. We also vigorously and effectively defend against such actions brought against our clients.
CRISIS MANAGEMENT
By definition, a crisis is an unexpected event. We help clients establish structures and procedures ahead of time, so that they are as prepared as they can be in the event a crisis strikes. For clients who do experience a crisis, we are there, by their side, helping them navigate the situation. So, whether you are facing an outbreak of TB or another contagious disease in your workplace, a workplace violence situation, a wildfire tearing through the community, a scandal of tabloidian proportions, or anything else you can imagine, our clients can rest assured that we will be there with our sleeves rolled up to help them navigate practical and legal issues that arise with crises.

Learn more about our other Employment Law focuses