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M&R’s Labor & Employment Department prides itself on the innovative and client-focused approach it takes to the representation of employers in a range of industries; hospitality, retail, insurance, advertising and digital media, health care, luxury goods, fashion and technology, among them. Whether embroiled in litigation or handling transactional matters, the firm’s labor and employment lawyers advance strategies completely aligned with their clients’ stated objectives and business goals.

Much of the guidance M&R attorneys furnish employer clients is aimed at minimizing the risk of potential lawsuits. That begins with the creation of policies, practices and procedures that serve to limit litigation and otherwise minimize exposure. But when disputes do arise, the firm’s labor and employment litigators stand ready to zealously represent client interests, be it in state or federal court, at arbitration or mediation, or in the administrative setting. Indeed, M&R has a proven track record of success defending employers in an array of cases involving wage and hour issues; benefits and compensation; disability, harassment and discrimination; employee hiring, discipline and termination; employment contracts; privacy rights; whistleblower claims; unfair competition and trade secrets; and union organization and collective bargaining.

The firm’s Labor & Employment Department is particularly renowned for its work in class action employment litigation, having obtained extraordinary results for clients facing catastrophic exposure. In so doing, our attorneys have implemented cutting edge defense strategies that have resulted in new law in California as well as clarification of the state’s unfair competition codes as well as the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Beyond the courtroom, M&R’s labor and employment lawyers routinely perform workplace audits and compliance reviews, create handbooks and operations manuals, conduct training sessions, and help employers structure their organizations so as to optimize operations. No doubt about it, with the firm’s Labor & Employment Department in their corner, employer clients are well represented.

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Areas Of Expertise

Breach of Contract, Fraud and Negligent Representation Litigation: A former physician employee brought arbitration proceedings against our client, a medical group, for breach of contract. M&R cross-claimed for breach of contract, fraud and negligent misrepresentation, and obtained a significant damages award by establishing that the former employee misrepresented his qualifications and intentions to the client, and engaged in a competing practice in breach of his employment contract. At the conclusion of the arbitration, the former employee’s claim was dismissed and our client was awarded nearly 15 times more in damages 15 times greater than the initial claim. The award was paid within six months.

Department of Insurance: Successfully defended an employer against a whistleblowing claim brought by the employee who deported the employer to the California Department of Insurance despite failing to understand regulatory distinction between commercial and personal lines.

Employment Counsel: Counseled two prominent Southern-California-based hospitals on workplace investigations, training and drafting of employment policies and procedures, and represented them in wrongful termination, breach of contract, employee fraud and sex/race/age/disability harassment and discrimination suits. 

Employment, Trade Secrets, and Business Litigation: The former regional president of a national insurance brokerage left the company, along with trade secrets, client lists and customers. The former president was allegedly entitled to a multi-million dollar buyout of his shares in the company. A lawsuit was filed against the former president for breach of contract and theft of trade secrets. It was argued that the value of those claims resulted in a complete offset of the value of the buyout of the shares. The case settled for $5,000, in favor of M&R’s clients, with an order barring the former president from use of the stolen trade secrets.

Executive Employment Agreements: Prepared numerous executive employment agreements involving industry-specific compensation packages for educational institutions, health care providers, financial services firms and entertainment, automotive, insurance, construction, restaurant, food and beverage companies.

Insurance Employment Class Action: A prominent insurance brokerage was held liable for violating California’s wage and hour overtime laws, among related issues. Facing a $42 million judgment, the client retained M&R. After conducting in-depth analysis, M&R designed a defense around the argument that the $42 million judgment should be reduced to $1.2 million because of a conflict in federal and state employment laws that were being misapplied by the plaintiffs' lawyers. Specifically, the plaintiffs contended that pursuant to California’s Business & Professions Code section 17200 (Unfair Competition Laws), it could expand the “class” under federal law. M&R countered that the United States Congress changed the law in the 1930’s, and again in 1949, to prohibit the expansion of federal law as being applied in this case. After intense litigation regarding the legislative intent, the federal court agreed with M&R’s argument, limiting the judgment to $1.2 million. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit upheld the ruling.

Insurance Industry Counsel: Advised insurance industry employers on numerous issues relating to independent contractors, commissions, broker compensation, theft of client lists, announcements vs. solicitation, broker of record matters, non-competition and trade secrets.

Labor Arbitrations; Strikes; Collective Bargaining: M&R represented major hospitals’ nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Northern and Southern California during labor arbitrations, strikes, collective bargaining negotiations and matters brought before the National Labor Relations Board.

Misappropriation of Trade Secrets: Successfully defended a large insurance brokerage firm in a wrongful termination case filed by former employees by establishing the plaintiffs’ wrongful solicitation of brokerage’s client. M&R won a cross-complaint for misappropriation of trade secrets, and secured a dismissal by summary judgment, and obtained $500,000 for our clients.

National Origin and Age Discrimination, Retaliation: While representing one of the largest national restaurant franchisees within the fast-casual space, we successfully litigated a discrimination and retaliation matter, settling for a mere 5% of the original demand. By strategically conducting key witness interviews during mediation, the mediator heard the pivotal witnesses’ account of the factual events, which led to the low settlement.

Retaliation and Age Discrimination: Two former employees filed separate lawsuits for identical causes of action against a well-known medical group, alleging age discrimination and retaliation. Both employees were terminated for cause, one for performance and the other for stealing. During discovery, M&R attorneys learned that the latter had potentially mishandled sensitive company documents and stolen company property. Armed with this information and with the threat of a cross-complaint against one of the plaintiffs, M&R was able to resolve both matters for a significant discount at mediation.

Unfair Competition: Prepared a motion for summary judgment on behalf of a major Southern California hospital when hundreds of nurses brought a $50 million unfair competition claim and alleged failure to pay overtime. M&R obtained a motion to dismiss on behalf of our clients.

Wage and Hour Audits: Prepared numerous wage and hour audits of restaurant industry clients, including analysis of potential unpaid overtime, meal and rest break liability, pay stub violations and related issues.

Wage and Hour Class ActionDefended an insurance brokerage in lawsuit brought by former employees seeking $15 million in unpaid overtime. M&R resolved the case favorably by obtaining $2 million in contributions from a third party.

Wage and Hour Class ActionRepresented property managers in a $1 million class action lawsuit in which plaintiffs alleged they were misclassified as exempt employees and entitled to overtime, meal penalties and related damages. Successfully attacked the size of the class and established plaintiffs were bound by arbitration agreement.

Whistleblower Defense: Human resources director of a Los Angeles-based national meat packing plant set up her employer by hiring illegal immigrants, only to then blow the whistle on the employer for employing an illegal workforce. At our direction, the employer conducted a tactical investigation designed to establish the HR director’s involvement in hiring the illegal workforce. By seeking an early resolution through mediation prior to a lawsuit filing, damage was greatly mitigated and exposure was reduced to one tenth of what it would have been had litigation commenced.

Whistleblower Defense: Defended a hospitality industry vendor against a whistleblower lawsuit in which the employee claimed our client failed to comply with immigration law requirements. M&R resolved the case by establishing that the plaintiff had falsified time records and embezzled funds.

Whistleblower Litigation: Successfully defended an environmental consultant in an employment retaliation and discrimination lawsuit while concurrently defending a Qui Tam whistleblower case that involved a related criminal investigation. M&R attorneys regularly counsel clients and handles matters arising out of the California State Water Resource Control Board’s Office of Enforcement and involving the Underground Storage Tank Fund. 

Wrongful Termination Class Action: Successfully defended a large insurance brokerage firm in a wrongful termination case filed by former employees, by establishing their wrongful solicitation of brokerage’s clients. Sought and won a cross-complaint for misappropriation of trade secrets, obtaining an award of over $500,000 after securing a case dismissal by summary judgment.

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