• Employment and Labor

    Experience and Insight That Works for Employers

    Technology, new regulations and globalization are changing the workplace—and presenting companies with more challenging decisions than ever regarding their workforce.

    Given the complexities of today’s labor climate, building a relationship with a legal team that can guide you through new developments, explain your options clearly and help you make thoughtful, informed decisions is key. At Manatt, our Employment and Labor attorneys work closely with our clients, often serving as an extension of their in-house human resources and legal departments.

    We provide comprehensive counseling on employment issues to employers of all sizes, from startups to multinational corporations, across a wide spectrum of businesses and industries. Our attorneys put to work years of experience, extensive employment law skills and the firm’s substantial national resources to help clients in the following areas:

    • Preventing problems by helping create policies and procedures, as well as designing training and auditing programs, that keep our clients in compliance with the law
    • Educating and guiding clients through the maze of federal and state regulatory employment and labor laws
    • Providing clients with aggressive and goal-oriented representation before courts, administrative agencies, arbitrators and mediators
    • Handling the collective bargaining process and advancing client interests in their interactions with labor unions

    Keeping Litigation From Getting in the Way of Work

    Few things are less productive to businesses than litigation. That’s why our Employment and Labor attorneys excel in preventative advice and compliance.

    Terminations and reductions in force. We guide employers through mass workforce reductions, layoffs, restructurings, plant closings and incentivized retirement plans. Working with your HR personnel, we help plan a fair reduction process and appropriate separation terms, develop full documentation and help manage communication.

    Employment agreements and executive compensation. We design and help negotiate executive employment agreements that protect your business interests. We also help companies establish incentive, nonstatutory stock option plans and nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements.

    Discrimination and harassment policies. We counsel companies regarding federal and state equal employment opportunity and discrimination laws and regulations. If federal or state agencies become involved in a dispute, we are effective advocates in hearings and proceedings, often concluding matters with no penalties or other remedial actions.

    Wage and hour law. Courts are increasingly holding employers liable for violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and its state law counterparts. Our attorneys advise employers on wage-and-hour issues, evaluate classifications, help implement alternative work schedules and audit wage-and-hour practices for compliance. We also analyze job categories to ensure they meet the criteria for exempt status, and determine whether particular individuals should be classified as employees or independent contractors. If wage-and-hour disputes become class action lawsuits, we mount a vigorous defenses to defeat class certification and secure a favorable settlement.

    Trade secrets and unfair competition. Our lawyers often handle disputes involving confidential business and technology information and trade secrets, including those involving the recruitment and movement of employees. We also advise companies on the antitrust aspects of noncompetition agreements, including nondisclosure and confidentiality agreements as part of licensing arrangements.

    Investigations and audits. Our employment team will visit individual facilities within your company to review compliance with employment laws, as well as conduct a complete assessment of performance according to internal policies and expectations. We advise you on changes necessary to reduce the likelihood of employee complaints, government enforcement actions, business crimes and litigation.

    Our team also conducts internal and special investigations for clients, their boards of directors and their audit committees to help uncover wrongdoing, to comply with government rules and regulations, and to take advantage of voluntary disclosure under the federal Sentencing Guidelines for businesses that have compliance programs.

    Workplace security. We have handled the most sensitive issues involving employee misconduct, including alleged fraud, theft, violence, drug and weapon possession, and harassment. Our team can help you evaluate the information collected and determine the right response.

    Leased workers and temporary employee agency issues. Our team is familiar with the complex issues involving leased employees. We help you weigh the positives and negatives so you can decide whether leasing is right for you, as well as navigate any conflicts that might arise if the relationship sours.

    Tough Litigators—When You Need It

    Regardless of their size, all companies are exposed to the risks of employment-related litigation. Whatever the issue, our goal is to help you prevent as many of these actions as possible—and to successfully defend against the rest.

    Manatt offers high-level strategic advice and an effective defense involving a wide variety of legal issues, including complex wage-and-hour class actions, discrimination and wrongful termination cases, tort and contract actions, workplace security-related litigation, and lawsuits containing trade secret and unfair trade practice claims.

    Going to Bat for Employers in Their Dealings with Unions

    Since the 1930s, federal and state labor laws have created an adversarial relationship between employers, employees and labor unions in the workplace. Our goal is to diffuse the tensions while creating favorable outcomes for our business clients. We are especially skilled at handling collective bargaining agreements, and will advance your interests in all other dealings with labor unions, including:

    • Organizing efforts and union elections
    • Collective bargaining
    • Dispute arbitration
    • Unfair labor practice controversies

    Whether you have 15 employees or 15,000, Manatt’s Employment and Labor team offers the varied experience and services needed to help organizations analyze options, make informed decisions and take effective action in today’s complex work environment.

    Attorneys & Professionals

    Bauman, Sharon B. San Francisco 415.291.7425
    Binder, Yoanna Los Angeles 310.312.4362
    Brunswick, Alan M. Los Angeles 310.312.4213
    Chen, Eric Los Angeles 310.312.4167
    Davis, Reid Los Angeles 310.312.4235
    Golper, Matthew Orange County 714.371.2511
    Grutman, Judd Los Angeles 310.312.4282
    Hu, Carol Los Angeles 310.312.4307
    Hudson, Esra A. Los Angeles 310.312.4381
    King, Sandra R. Los Angeles 310.312.4278
    Knudson, Kelly L. San Francisco 415.291.7465
    Laska, Joseph E. Los Angeles 310.312.4352
    Latortue, Cherise S. Orange County 714.371.2503
    Leung, Jade H Los Angeles 310.312.4114
    Levy, Stanley W. Los Angeles 310.312.4379
    Mannisto, Jeffrey A. Los Angeles 310.312.4212
    Massoumi, Mandana Orange County 714.338.2726
    Meaders, Donald W. Los Angeles 310.312.4345
    Mehta, Viral Los Angeles 310.312.4348
    Mendoza, Lydia M. Los Angeles 310.312.4257
    Person, Philip I. San Francisco 415.291.7540
    Platt, Robert H. Los Angeles 310.312.4221
    Punnakanta, Luke Los Angeles 310.312.4179
    Rosen, Jessica Shpall New York 212.790.4599
    Satenberg, Andrew L. Los Angeles 310.312.4312
    Seiling, Brad W. Los Angeles 310.312.4234
    Shatz, Benjamin G. Los Angeles 310.312.4383
    Showole, Olufunmilayo Los Angeles 310.312.4374
    Topper, Prana A. New York 212.790.4615
    Torrey, Rebecca L. Los Angeles 310.312.4172
    White, Alison Sultan Los Angeles 310.312.4135

    Employment & Labor

    Selected Clients

    • Activision
    • AMC Theaters
    • Blue Shield of California
    • Del Taco
    • Match.com
    • Ticketmaster

    Employment & Labor

    Representative Matters

    • Harris v. CashCall. The plaintiff in this case, who had been terminated as part of a reduction in force, brought a seven-count action against our client CashCall, Inc., and her former supervisor, alleging pregnancy discrimination, failure to accommodate, interference with her pregnancy leave rights, and wrongful termination. The case proceeded to a jury trial, but the plaintiff later waived a jury in favor of a bench trial, where a verdict was rendered in favor of our clients on all causes of action. 
    • Caliber Body Works v. Superior Court. In this class action overtime, meal and rest period case, we secured an appellate court ruling which resulted in the dismissal of three of the plaintiffs' causes of action, as well as a ruling that the plaintiffs were not entitled to civil penalties on three other causes of action against the company. This ruling marked the first time a California appellate court held that the payments owed to employees who have missed meal and rest periods are penalties and not wages. 
    • Davenport v. Beverly Hills Properties and Donald T. Sterling. We successfully defended Beverly Hills Properties and Donald Sterling in a jury trial alleging sexual harassment, retaliation, and wrongful discharge. After a nine-week trial, the jury ruled in our clients' favor on all claims. 
    • Figueroa v. Northridge Hospital Medical Center, et al. In this case, on behalf of Dignity Health (formerly known as Catholic Healthcare West), we blocked the plaintiff's attempt to amend her complaint and add class allegations, which would have created a state-wide class action for missed meals and rest breaks, on behalf of more than 40,000 employees. Although such amendments are liberally granted by California courts, we convinced the court that such an amendment was inappropriate in this case. Among other things, we successfully argued that the plaintiff would not be an adequate class representative because her claims were not typical of the class she purported to represent. The court's ruling was later upheld by the Court of Appeal in a published decision. 
    • Abrams v. CashCall.  In this case, we defended CashCall against claims for disability and perceived sexual orientation discrimination and for wrongful termination. Plaintiff's wrongful termination claim stemmed from the termination of his employment after violating the company's absenteeism policy. We persuaded the Orange County Superior Court to grant summary judgment and dismiss plaintiff's case in its entirety.
    • Strawder v. Pacific Sunwear of California, Inc. We defeated class certification on all grounds on behalf of Pacific Sunwear in a case that was originally filed as a putative California-wide class action for overtime, missed meal, and rest breaks, and related wage and hour remedies.
    • Troy Jemerson et al. v. Del Taco, Inc.  We defeated class certification of a class action alleging overtime violations in connection with misclassification allegations.
    • Zhu v. Tawa Supermarket, Inc. We defeated class certification of a class action alleging violations of meal and rest breaks.
    • Alcover v. W.L. Gore & Associates. We successfully obtained summary judgment of a lawsuit pursued by an ex-employee for national origin and age discrimination, fraud, and breach of contract.
    • Humphrey v. Cast & Crew Entertainment Services, LLC. We successfully defended Cast & Crew Entertainment in a putative class action seeking relief for unpaid wages and waiting time penalties. The trial court sustained our demurrers to the class claims on the ground that a prior settlement barred the plaintiff's claims.
    • Taylor v. Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc. We obtained summary judgment in Los Angeles County Superior Court with regard to a former employee's claims for race discrimination, retaliation, and defamation.
    • Tortora  v. Kindred Healthcare, Inc. We successfully resolved a wage and hour class action brought against 20 California hospitals. The complaint initially contained broad allegations for overtime, missed meal and rest breaks, and related wage and hour claims. After targeted fact-finding, we convinced the plaintiffs voluntarily to dismiss all of their claims for overtime and missed meal and rest breaks. 
    • We successfully negotiated a settlement, on behalf of a high-profile producer of several popular motion pictures, with the pension & health plans that covered many of the producer's employees. The plans had claimed several million dollars in additional pension and health contributions (plus related interest, liquidated damages, attorneys' fees and audit costs) for crew members on a library of 17 pictures. We settled the plans' claim for about 17 cents on the dollar.
    • We advised a food industry client in its defeat of the Teamsters Union in an election administered by the NLRB following a Petition for Recognition filed by the union. We also successfully defended against four separate unfair labor practice charges filed against the same client by the Union or individual employees; all four cases were either withdrawn or dismissed by the NLRB.
    • We successfully defended a client in the construction industry in the very contentious negotiation of its initial collective bargaining agreement with the Operating Engineers Union. During the course of those negotiations, in an attempt to convince the company to accept its proposals, the union filed 21 separate unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the company. We successfully defended those unfair labor practice charges so that by the time the company and union finally reached agreement, 17 of the union's charges had either been dismissed by the NLRB or withdrawn by the union.   
    • We achieved a very favorable result for a major toy manufacturer in a settlement with other union benefit plans. Those plans had been seeking more than $500K in additional pension and health contributions (plus related interest, liquidated damages, attorneys' fees and audit costs) on celebrities who had licensed their likenesses to be used as dolls and in games. We settled the plans' claims for less than 7 cents on the dollar.
    • We advised an animation company in its defeat of the Animation Guild in an election administered by the NLRB.


  • Awards & Rankings

    logo/img/@altRanked in California for Labor & Employment 2013–2015

    logo/img/@altRanked Nationally for Labor Law – Management 2014–2016

    logo/img/@altRanked in Los Angeles for Litigation – Labor & Employment 2011–2016

    logo/img/@altRanked in Los Angeles for Employment Law – Management for 2016