West Coast Labor and Employment

Venable understands that when it comes to labor and employment issues, employers benefit most from counsel that is not only well versed in local laws and regulations, but is finely attuned to their needs and concerns. We bring a nationally recognized team of labor and employment attorneys to bear on the wide range of issues that affect California employers, helping them draft effective policies, avoid disputes, and, when necessary, defend themselves.

Venable's nationally recognized Labor and Employment group includes a team of attorneys focused on representing clients on the West Coast in a variety of employment-related issues and disputes. Based in Los Angeles, this regional practice is complemented and supported by a broad range of related practice groups in litigation, employee benefits and executive compensation, intellectual property litigation, and business transactions.

Our West Coast Labor and Employment Group has advised and represented both national and California-based clients on a broad spectrum of complex labor and employment law matters, including:

  • Employment litigation involving discrimination
  • Employment class actions
  • Harassment
  • Unpaid wages
  • Retaliation
  • Privacy invasion
  • Unfair competition
  • Trade secret misappropriation
  • Wrongful termination
  • Breach of contract
  • California employment tort and wage and hour claims

Attorneys Who Know California Labor Law

Our attorneys are at the forefront in defending clients against employment-related claims unique to California, including the California Private Attorney General Act and California Business and Professions Code Section 17200. 

We have defended employers at trial in state and federal courts, and before numerous government agencies, including the following:

  • California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement
  • California Department of Fair Employment and Housing
  • National Labor Relations Board
  • California Employment Development Department
  • Workers Compensation Appeals Board, among others

Counsel to the Entertainment Industry

Venable attorneys have significant experience representing motion picture and television producers and distributors in connection with various entertainment guild and union issues, including collective bargaining, handling credits and residuals audits and disputes, and defending employers in industry arbitrations.

Proactive Counseling to Resolve—and Prevent—Disputes

While all of our partners have first-chair trial experience, we recognize the significant financial and human resources costs of litigating in court. Where appropriate, we use alternative dispute resolution techniques, such as mediation and arbitration, to resolve employment-related disputes and litigation.

Our attorneys also provide preventative counseling in all aspects of California and federal employment law. Our experience includes, but is not limited to, the areas below.

Employee Hiring, Benefits, and Disciplinary Procedures
  • Conducting glass-ceiling/corporate management reviews related to Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs
  • Developing and implementing comprehensive recruitment, selection, and evaluation systems
  • Performing diversity audits and/or implementing national diversity programs
  • Completely restructuring a company's health plans, including health and sickness, dental, and prescription drug benefits
  • Design of an internal appeals process for disability, health, and pension claims covering a workforce of more than 90,000 employees
  • Affirmative action plan development
Employee Mobility and Trade Secrets
  • Review pertinent agreements relevant to hiring and retaining employees
  • Counseling related to the protection of trade secrets and avoiding misappropriation claims
  • Strategic counseling related to the hiring of a competitor's employees
  • Drafting employment agreements and related agreements relevant to protecting trade secrets and retaining key employees
Employee Severance and Termination Strategies
  • Development and negotiation of severance and separation agreements
  • Design and implementation of voluntary early retirement and severance programs
  • Educating managers and staff on the proper procedures for completing and maintaining required immigration-related employment records ("I-9" forms)
  • Auditing clients' current I-9 records and practices, and helping employers perform self-audits and develop plans for regular internal reviews. Helping clients to correct errors and discrepancies in existing I-9 records
  • Advising clients on appropriate responses to Social Security Administration "No-Match" letters and Department of Homeland Security notices of suspect documents
  • Establishing systems to ensure that required re-verifications of employment eligibility are regularly scheduled and performed
  • Conducting due diligence during mergers and acquisitions, and helping clients minimize liability related to acquired companies' Form I-9 errors
  • Developing response plans and preparing clients for immigration-related requests, raids, and audits by government agencies
  • Advising multiple clients on preparations to be made in wake of stepped-up enforcement of immigration laws
Labor Contract Negotiation and Arbitration
  • We successfully represented a large county board of education in numerous arbitrations of employee discharges and contract interpretation issues
  • Venable successfully represented a national food service company in numerous arbitrations of employee discharges
  • Our attorneys represented a network television station in numerous arbitrations of employee discharges and age discrimination claims
  • Venable was engaged by a large county in connection with labor contract negotiations with its police and fire department bargaining units. Although not present at the bargaining table, as part of the county's designated bargaining team, Venable attorneys advised the county on bargaining strategy and formulation of contract proposal issues. Venable's engagement included serving as counsel in mediation/interest arbitration procedures under the county's amended labor code when contract negotiations reached an impasse
  • Venable served as chief negotiator and strategist for a mayor and city council in their contract negotiations with a local union for a contract covering employees in the city's parks, recreation, and sanitation divisions for the period July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2008. Venable served in an identical capacity with regard to the negotiation of the three immediately preceding labor agreements covering that same bargaining unit. Venable continues to serve as outside labor counsel and advisor to the city
  • A large county engaged Venable to serve as outside counsel for mediation/interest arbitration proceedings anticipated to result from mid-term reopened negotiations covering retirement and health insurance benefits with several unions
  • Venable acted as chief negotiator for the transportation administrator, David Gilmore, in developing a groundbreaking contract with AFSCME, which tied future pay increases for 1,200 bus drivers and attendants to improved workforce performance. In addition, Venable was selected by the transportation administrator, the DCPS Office of General Counsel, and the DC Attorney General's Office to act as lead counsel for Mr. Gilmore, the DCPS, and the mayor, in response to an illegal job action by 1,200 DCPS drivers and attendants for DCPS special education students. Venable obtained injunctive relief against AFSCME in Superior Court for the District of Columbia. We also joined DCPS negotiators in bargaining with Teamsters Local 639
Wage and Hour
  • Drafting policies governing all wage and hour issues, such as overtime, breaks, vacation, and leave
  • Counseling related to resolution of employee complaints regarding wage and hour issues
  • Responding to wage and hour audits or investigations from federal and state administrative agencies, such as the Department of Labor and the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement
  • Determining whether employees should be classified as exempt or non-exempt to comply with federal and state laws regarding the payment of overtime
  • Litigating federal and state class actions or individual actions for unpaid wages, such as off-the-clock cases, missed break cases, and misclassification
Workplace Safety
  • Conducting on-site reviews to identify potential hazards
  • Performing OSHA and EPA audits
  • Reviewing corporate safety and health policies and practices, and developing compliance strategies

Members of our practice have substantial experience drafting pay plans for salaried and hourly employees and a broad range of employment agreements and policies covering nearly every aspect of the employer-employee and employer-contractor relationship.

In addition, we offer extensive knowledge of employee mobility issues, including significant experience advising companies concerning executive issues in the merger and acquisition context.

Services for a Spanish-Speaking Workforce

In light of the unique demographics in California, our attorneys are adept at meeting the needs of employers with large Spanish-speaking workforces. We assist our clients with the development and production of Spanish language sexual harassment and discrimination prevention programs and training, employee handbooks, personnel policies, workplace investigations, witness preparation, wage and hour policy enforcement, and union-free workplace support.

In addition, we offer clients counseling on issues unique to the Spanish-speaking workplace, such as English-only rules, national origin discrimination issues, accent bias, and foreign language posting requirements.

Employment Litigation

Members of our practice have a proven record of providing employment litigation defense services of the highest quality and efficiency. Our attorneys have the litigation experience and knowledge to defend management's rights, aggressively and successfully, in all types of employment disputes, including:

Class Action Defense
  • We defended a national hospital supply company in a California wage and hour class action in which hundreds of employees claimed overtime violations and penalties. The case was settled on terms favorable to the company
  • On behalf of a large gaming client, our attorneys obtained the dismissal of a widely publicized federal wage and hour class action brought by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • Our attorneys defended 40 commercial production companies in a series of wage and hour class actions. The actions were successfully resolved on terms favorable to the production companies
  • Venable attorneys successfully defended a public entity in a class action brought by thousands of employees who claimed they were denied equal protection in connection with their employment benefits
  • We are currently defending a merchandise supplier in a class action involving employee claims of unpaid overtime, misclassification, unreimbursed expenses, and missed meal and rest periods. To date, our attorneys have persuaded plaintiffs to abandon half of their claims
  • On behalf of a major financial institution in Delaware, Venable defended a client against class action and hiring discrimination litigation brought by the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)
Defense Against Labor and Employment Claims
  • Our attorneys were successful in defending a medical center at trial in a wrongful termination suit brought by six employees
  • We successfully defended an employer at trial in an age and national origin suit
  • Venable attorneys successfully defended an employer at trial in a wage and hour collective action
  • We were successful in the defense of an independent producer in a Writers Guild of America (WGA) arbitration concerning credits to writers working beyond WGA jurisdiction
  • We defended against glass ceiling claims against one of the nation's largest government contractors, a software company, and a major consumer packaging company, and against investigations of the hiring practices of a major hotel
  • Our attorneys obtained a defense verdict in a breach of contract case demanding almost $10 million in damages asserted against a hospital client
  • Our attorneys obtained a defense verdict in a sexual harassment case, representing the interests of a commercial real estate company
  • Venable obtained a defense verdict on claims of national origin and gender discrimination for an international travel company
  • Our attorneys defeated claims of breach of restrictive covenants after a client hired an executive from a rival insurance company
  • We defended a national compressed gas supplier against non-compete and trade secrets claims arising out of hiring a competitor's employees
  • Venable defended a national supermarket against Title VII race and retaliation claims
  • Our attorneys successfully defended an airline against Family Medical Leave Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, and wrongful retaliatory discharge claims, with counterclaims under the Computer Crimes Act
  • We defended a law firm against claims for age discrimination under the ADEA and the DC Human Rights Act, and claims of tortious interference with contract
  • Venable successfully represented a financial services client facing a national collective action, defeating preliminary certification of the class action, and resolving a case with potential recoveries far in excess of a million dollars for nuisance value
  • We successfully litigated against a competitor of a financial services client in connection with the surreptitious hiring of current employees and diversion of business to the competitor

Practice Focus

  • Arbitrations
  • Audits
  • California Labor Law
  • Class actions
  • Collective bargaining
  • Diversity / affirmative action
  • EEO / harassment claims
  • Employee benefits
  • Employment agreements
  • Employment disputes
  • ERISA compliance
  • Financial services wage compliance
  • Government contracts
  • Healthcare cost reduction
  • Intellectual property litigation
  • Immigration sanctions
  • Labor cost reductions in mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcy, and healthcare
  • Litigation
  • NLRB, union campaigns, and ULPs
  • OSHA counseling and litigation
  • Personnel policies
  • Trade secrets / non-competes
  • Wage and overtime claims
  • WARN Act compliance
  • Whistleblower

Industry Focus

  • Colleges and universities
  • Construction
  • Energy
  • Entertainment / media
  • Financial services
  • Government contracting
  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality
  • Independent schools
  • Information technology
  • Manufacturing
  • Nonprofits / trade associations
  • Public employers
  • Retail
  • Telecommunications
  • Transportation


  • Chambers USA
    • Labor & Employment, Virginia, 2016
    • Labor & Employment, Maryland, 2004 – 2023
  • The Best Lawyers in America, 2006 – 2022 (Venable attorneys selected for inclusion)
  • Legal 500, Labor and Employment – Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation and Retirement Plans: Design, 2016 – 2022
  • U.S. News–Best Lawyers, Best Law Firms, Litigation – Labor & Employment (Tier 1), National, 2011 – 2019