Employment

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Skane Wilcox represents clients who are insured under employment practices liability policies as well as uninsured employers. We represent individuals and companies involving claims of wrongful (or retaliatory) discharge, sexual harassment or discrimination. We advise companies on all human resources areas, including assisting companies in creating and managing employee handbooks. The firm’s approach is to work closely with the clients to quickly identify and value such claims and to resolve or terminate them quickly and economically by settlement, arbitration, motion or, only where necessary, trial.

The plaintiff, a former short-term employee of our client, one of the leading early childhood public entity advocates in Los Angeles County, alleged wrongful termination, whistleblower retaliation and a litany of wage and hour violations, including failure to pay minimum wages and PAGA claims. The plaintiff also alleged that after she complained about the various labor code violations, she was terminated.  Before filing a responsive pleading, we obtained dismissals of two other named Los Angeles public entities.  We also successfully argued that, as a public entity, our client is not liable for wrongful termination based on the plaintiff’s allegations and it is not subject to the daily overtime or many other state wage requirements.  We presented the plaintiff’s time sheets, payroll information and pay stubs, establishing she was paid overtime compensation for all hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek. During the early stages of litigation, after a first round of discovery was served and days before the plaintiff’s deposition was scheduled to take place, we obtained an unprecedented favorable settlement on behalf of our client.

The plaintiff, a former 10+ year employee of our client, an Orange County public entity which is a leader in responding to children’s needs and supporting programs and policy best practices for children’s health and development, filed a lawsuit alleging disability discrimination, failure to accommodate and engage in the interactive process and retaliation. The plaintiff alleged over the course of her employment, she developed a serious medical condition that forced her to seek accommodations at work. She claimed she sought treatment for her medical condition and was diagnosed with anxiety disorder, which impaired her ability to concentrate at work.  As a form of reasonable accommodation, the plaintiff alleged she requested a finite leave of absence. She also claimed she immediately notified our client of her medical condition and need for accommodation. We argued the plaintiff did not notify our client of her alleged medical condition until after the decision was made to terminate her employment. We further argued that our client had legitimate, non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory reasons to terminate the plaintiff’s employment, which included poor work performance and excessive absences.  At the settlement conference (which took place only 6 months after a responsive pleading was filed and before a dispositive motion could be filed) the judge (who was also the judge overseeing trial) advised plaintiff’s counsel that his client’s claims were weak and strongly encouraged settlement based solely on the arguments raised in our settlement conference brief. Also during the settlement conference, we advised the judge and plaintiff that we were recommending a CCP 998 offer to compromise. The plaintiff advised she would reject the offer if made. The following day, we formally served the CCP 998 offer, after which plaintiff’s counsel called eager to settle for the terms originally suggested by our attorneys, which was less than 10% of plaintiff’s high six-figure demand at mediation.

We recently negotiated a favorable settlement on behalf of a corporate employer and its supervisors in a multi-party sexual harassment lawsuit. In this case, the alleged harassers were arrested based on plaintiffs’ claims of rape, sexual battery and assault. We successfully settled the action on behalf of the corporate employer reducing its risk of significant exposure for punitive damages and where plaintiffs’ initial demand exceeded seven figures.

We also recently obtained summary judgment in federal court on behalf of a major national retail employer in a multi-party lawsuit involving claims of disability and race discrimination as well as unlawful employment practices. Further, our attorneys obtained summary judgment in favor of a national employer and its management in a multi-party action in state court for wrongful termination and sexual harassment brought by bargaining unit employees.