Labor and Employment - West


Labor and employment
Labor and Employment - West


*Please note: Nationally ranked firms can find editorial analysis here.



Lewis Roca

The offices spanning several Western states give full-service firm Lewis Roca its strong reputation in dispute resolution. The firm’s mainstay is in Phoenix and this  office hosts labor and employment litigators who dedicate their practices to handling many clients’ most significant cases.

Mary Ellen Simonson assists employers in various jurisdictions, recently handling a dispute in Hawaii representing the Medical Executive Committee in a case related to her successful representation of the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific and its CEO. The plaintiff, an employee,  alleges that a doctor with the hospital sexually harassed and assaulted her. The case against the hospital was resolved in 2019, but Simonson continues to work with investigators and the case involving the MEC specifically is ongoing.

Melanie Pate is litigating an ongoing potential class action in Austin representing Guy & Larry Restaurants, which owns ATX Cocina where the plaintiff is employed. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the restaurant elected to pool tips and pay their employees minimum wage in accordance with the law; however, plaintiff alleges the client stole tips from servers and shared them with managers and supervisors in violation of the FLSA. 

Laura Pasqualone is lead co-counsel in defending AB Staffing Solutions in a wrongful termination dispute. The plaintiff filed several claims against the clients, but Pasqualone and co-counsel narrowed the claims and additionally reduced the damages claim during discovery. The team also filed counterclaims, which persisted against a motion for summary judgment filed against them. The contentious dispute is set for a six-day jury trial scheduled in 2022. 



Glaser Weil

Strategically based in Los Angeles, Glaser Weil maintains a reputation for handling labor and employment matters, especially those involving the entertainment industry. Being centralized in California, the firm also assists clients in Silicon Valley’s tech industry, as well as industries such as real estate development, and banking and finances. The labor and employment practice also assists high-profile individuals in disputes and investigations.

Kerry Garvis Wright is one of the leading lawyers handling the firm’s employment work. She has recently represented the National Academy of Recording Arts & Science’s Director of Administration, who filed a complaint against the Academy’s then CEO Deborah Dugan. The matter was not only strategizing and navigating the litigation in court – the team faced substantial media attention, which added to the complexity of the case.

Jill Basinger is one of the renowned litigators in the entertainment industry. Her practice involves more than labor and employment litigation; however, she maintains a significant portion of her practice to assisting individuals and businesses in employment-related disputes. She was retained to represent ICM Partners and agent Rob Prinz who alleged non-payment of commissions claims against Celine Dion. Basinger represented the clients in a multi-day evidentiary hearing with the California Labor Commissioner who found in favor of the clients and gave an order asserting that ICM Partners and Prinz were entitled to commissions on all shows. Basinger is also called upon to handle high-profile matters that involve clients outside the entertainment industry. Over the last year, she has been actively representing one of the first women to come forward with sexual harassment allegations against former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.


McNicholas & McNicholas

Plaintiff firm McNicholas & McNicholas maintains a highly active labor and employment practice. The firm handles everything from class-action lawsuits to single-plaintiff discrimination, retaliation, and whistleblower claims. The practice works with clients in the public and private sectors.

The firm is well-known for assisting public employees in disputes, especially for representing officers and firefighters. Matthew McNicholas is one of the lawyers often leading clients through these complex and contentious matters. Last year, he obtained a $3.5 million settlement for six Whittier Police Department officers in a retaliation case that arose after the officers reported and refused to participate in the allegedly unlawful citation and arrest quota imposed by the police department. McNicholas is currently leading a similar lawsuit against the LAPD; however, in this case, the department retaliated against an officer based on the belief that he would blow the whistle on unlawful arrest quotas. McNicholas is also representing four additional officers in the matter.

Patrick McNicholas is awaiting the approval of a $6.5 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit against CarMax California Auto Superstore. He represents the class of employees who allege that the company violated wage-and-hour laws by forcing them to take calls and messages to and from customers, managers, and supervisors after hours.


Reed Smith

The four California offices of Reed Smith maintain a full-service labor and employment practice equipped to handle both traditional labor and employment matters. While the California practice as a whole handles matters for clients operating in a wide array of industries, it is most well-known for its work for the transportation and aviation industries.

Michele Haydel Gehrke is one of the leading labor and employment lawyers specializing in handling litigation for major transportation and aviation clients, including United Airlines. In November and December of last year, she obtained back-to-back dismissals in the two separate cases, both of which  alleged breach of contract claims under the Railway Labor Act. In addition to the wins for United, she also obtained a dismissal for Vertex Aerospace/L3 Technologies of both individual and PAGA claims. The dismissal was awarded based on the argument that the claims were preempted by the Labor Management Relations Act and National Labor Relations Act. Her labor practice involves handling disputes with unions before the NLRB. She obtained dismissals of unfair labor practice charges filed at the NLRB against the client Wise Connect.


Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton

In California, full-service firm Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton is widely recognized for its litigation practices. The labor and employment group is actively engaged in all types of employment litigation, from class actions to complex single-plaintiff disputes.

Los Angeles-based Tracey Kennedy is routinely involved in litigation, handling matters that go to trial or arbitration proceedings. Recently, Kennedy handled a single-plaintiff lawsuit that went to arbitration. She defended Comerica Bank against a current bank teller who filed numerous employment-related claims. The arbitrator found in favor of the client .

Also operating out of the Los Angeles office, Richard Simmons’ practice is also dedicated to labor and employment litigation almost exclusively. Over the last year, Simmons averted class actions for three different clients in separate matters. The courts denied class certification in all three actions.  Of note, he obtained a win for Chipotle at the Second Circuit that denied class certification in six states.


Sidley Austin

Sidley Austin maintains a labor and employment practice in California that continues to be active in representing clients in litigation, arbitrations and through investigations.  Co-chair of the practice Wendy Lazerson splits her time between the two of the offices in California: San Francisco and Palo Alto.

Over the last year, Lazerson has been lead counsel in numerous matters for clients in a wide variety of industries – education, biotechnology, retail and technology, among others. She has handled multiple arbitrations, including a two-week matter that resulted in a defense award that won costs and partial attorney fees. A JAMS arbitration is also pending; she is defending a biotech company against breach of contract, retaliation, and whistleblowing retaliation claims brought by a high-level executive. Lazerson is also active in district courts. She has a pending mater in the district court of Washington in which an employee alleges they are misclassified as a contractor. In addition to litigation, she has also been retained to lead independent investigations for clients. One case involved allegations of sexual abuse and the other was prompted by a female executive who alleged gender discrimination against C-Suite members of a technology company.



Husch Blackwell

Husch Blackwell’s labor and employment practice maintains a presence throughout several states. The group in Colorado is headed by lawyers well-versed in employment litigation. Most recently, the group has been engaged in several disputes involving a wide variety of related claims – from discrimination to trade secrets and restrictive covenants.

Barbara Grandjean is recognized for her employment practice that specializes in handling matters for clients in the healthcare industry. She represented Beacon Home Care in a potential class action after the plaintiff filed a lawsuit individually and on behalf of similarly situated individuals. The lawsuit alleged violations of the FLSA in addition to the Colorado Wage Act and the Minimum Wage Order Number 31.

Fellow partner in the Denver office Chris Ottele also maintains an active employment litigation practice. Most of his clients recently have stemmed from the banking and financial industry. He is currently defending Heartland Financial and Citywide Banks in a sex discrimination and retaliation case in the district court for city and county of Denver. Ottele has successfully resolved two matters over the last year as well. He was granted summary judgment in an age discrimination and retaliation case. Additionally, he obtained a successful resolution defending an executive and their firm, Schoolcraft Capital, against alleged trade secrets and non-compete claims filed under Colorado law.


Nelson Mullins Riley & Scaborough

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough is a full-service firm with offices all throughout  the country. The firm’s labor and employment practice recently expanded to include prominent two Colorado-based lawyers.

Colin Barnacle and Chris Eby both moved to the firm last year, expanding the firm’s presence to Denver. Both Barnacle and Eby are actively representing an international manufacturing company in dispute with a former employee, and a potential class, alleging failure to pay overtime compensation claims under the FLSA. The duo had several important wins early that limited the number of class members significantly. The team is gearing up to pursue summary judgment and decertification. Barnacle and Eby have deep experience in resolving single-plaintiff matters as well, especially those involving trade secrets and restrictive covenants.


Moye White

Denver-based Moye White is a full-service shop that houses an employment litigation group deeply experienced in resolving related disputes. Commercial and employment litigator Rebecca DeCook is co-chair of the practice who is regularly engaged in both single-plaintiff and class and collective actions. She recently favorably settled a collective action filed under the FLSA by oilfield pipe layers who alleged unpaid wages and overtime claims against the client, American Casing & Equipment. DeCook currently has an employee misclassification matter for Vita Locators. The company hired locators as independent contractors and they allege that they should be classified as employees. She is also currently defending MH Companies in a matter arising from a reduction in force. Three employees filed claims of gender and age discrimination, as well as sexual harassment, under the Colorado Civil Rights Division. DeCook litigates beyond the bounds of Colorado; she recently handling disputes for clients in North Dakota, Idaho and California.



Cades Schutte

Cades Schutte is headquartered in Honolulu and services clients on Oahu as well as other neighboring islands. A full-service  firm, it operates a labor and employment practice that is noted by a peer for having “some very good employment [lawyers]”. The group is equipped to handle complex issues that arise out of the employer-employee relationship. Partners in the labor and employment group are also seasoned in traditional labor issues.

David F.E. Banks chairs the employment law and labor relations practice, as well as the corporate practice, which puts him in a unique position to handle matters for businesses. Banks’ practice in the labor and employment realm mostly focuses on labor relations. His recent matters have included several collective bargaining disputes. He is also experienced in employment issues.

Also in the Honolulu office is Amanda Jones who brings a deep experience in employment litigation. Her practice encompasses all types of claims, most recently cases alleging claims of discrimination and retaliation. In addition to employment work, she is also experienced in traditional labor. 


Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel

From its headquarters in Honolulu, full-service law firm Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel houses a labor and employment practice comprised of sharp litigators. The season lawyers within the practice bring experience in both employment and labor relations. John Mackey is among the firm’s top labor and employment lawyers. In his practice, he handles a wide variety of labor and employment matters.  His clients include companies within industries such as food and beverage, healthcare, oil and gas and transportation. Recently he has been engaged in several single-plaintiff matters.



K&L Gates

Full-service firm K&L Gates has had a long-standing reputation in the labor and employment space in Washington. The firm’s practice in the Seattle area continues to be well-known for employment litigation with seasoned lawyer Patrick Madden, who holds over two decades of experience in employment disputes, especially class and collective actions.  Madden represents major market-leading clients, including most recently AutoZone and T-Mobile. Both clients were facing class and collective actions. Madden resolved the matter for AutoZone last June at the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which affirmed the denial of class certification and the dismissal of the matter. He also represented T-Mobile in a putative class action in which a nationwide class of about 18,000 current and former employees of call centers alleged several claims including violations of the FLSA and state wage laws. The FLSA matter was limited to only 1,200 employees and Madden negotiated a successful settlement which is pending an approval.

Summit Law Group

Seattle-based Summit Law Group maintains a distinguished labor and employment lawyers that handle the collective bargaining and labor relations issues for public entities, including several Washington counties, as well as private companies.

On the employment side, Shannon Phillips is routinely engaged in litigation along with Quinn Oppenheim. Phillips is representing a call center in a $3 million  wage-and-hour class action that has gone up to the Washington Court of Appeals after she obtained a judgment in the client’s favor. Phillips and Oppenheim defended a large public transportation company based in Everett, Community Transit, against the threat of a wage-and-hour class action. The team averted the litigation with a favorably negotiated settlement.