Transactional Matters, Advice & Counseling
Advice & Counseling on Day-to-Day Personnel Matters (a.k.a. Outside/Inside Counsel): Early in my career as a labor lawyer I was seconded two days a week to the general counsel office of an international company where I provided employment law advice directly to HR professionals and business partners. This is where I “cut my teeth” as labor counsel, fielding hundreds of questions and managing the legal concerns emanating from hundreds of real life employee situations. Matters included reorganizations and reductions in force, employee relations and conflicts, managing long term disability leaves, legal claims, internal investigations, wage and hour audits, DFEH and EEOC charges, and mediations to resolve demands made before a civil lawsuit was filed.
Start-ups & Niche Service Businesses: California attracts creative entrepreneurs and as a result, I have been fortunate to work with many smart, ambitious and innovative business people who are themselves providing niche services or products in the marketplace. These clients may have less hierarchical staffing models and favor progressive, atypical policies and personnel practices. I enjoy the challenge of adapting 20th century practices to 21st century needs, aligned with the external landscape of federal, state and municipal employment law rules. National trends start here, so let’s go there together.
Non-profit Organizations: I have worked with numerous non-profit boards on high-level matters typically involving an organization’s CEO or executive director. This includes investigation of wrongdoing (if applicable), managing board communication and decision-making process, internal and external communications strategies, negotiated exit packages and/or mediation of disputes. Often these are sensitive matters where the prospect of negative publicity and conflict within the board serve as existential threats alongside the personnel matter. I am experienced at navigating this complex landscape to achieve resolution.
Religious Organizations: My non-profit client base includes multiple synagogues, faith-based organizations, and religious schools. I am familiar with the uniquely complicated issues that arise in clergy discipline, terminations or contract non-renewals, including the need to evaluate conduct under faith-based ethical standards along with secular legal obligations, the risk of community or board fracture and managing the rumor mill.
Paramour Sexual Harassment Cases: I have represented businesses and executives in highly sensitive matters involving harassment or retaliation claims from an employee (or former employee) who had a consensual, but secret, romantic relationship with the boss. These relationships rarely end well, and the messy aftermath inevitably translates over to the employment relationship yielding claims of sexual harassment and retaliation. I assist clients in disentangling business from personal concerns, navigating the conflicting contentions around consent, and de-escalating high emotions to achieve a peaceful and confidential resolution.
Misconduct Investigations: I have directed workplace investigations for my own clients conducted by third-party investigators. I have also served as a neutral investigator myself for misconduct investigations involving entities and organizations with which I have no prior relationship. I bring many years of experience in working with witnesses to this task, and am practiced at putting them at ease in order to glean their unvarnished narratives and render well-founded findings as required by the questions posed.
Executive Agreements & Work-Outs: Although I predominantly represent employers, from time to time I work with executives on the way in or out of a job (provided no conflict of interest exists). For executives leaving involuntarily or under contentious circumstances, I provide straightforward advice as to contract, common law and statutory rights so that an informed decision can be made regarding severance terms, whether to negotiate further or whether to hire litigation counsel.
Confidentiality & Non-Disclosure Agreements: Every client has information it (or they) would like to keep out of the public domain. This can be proprietary or financial business information, or personal and family information or both. I have worked with businesses and high net worth/high profile individuals to draft confidentiality agreements appropriate to their needs and advise on best practices to educate employees and safeguard the information to minimize the risk of a breach. I have also assisted clients in addressing harsh reviews on Glassdoor or Indeed.
Elder Care and Nanny Agreements & Claims: Many household employers are unaware of the rules governing wage payment and overtime for personal care attendants for the elderly and for nannies including whether paying for sleeping time is required. Consequently, most are paying their household help incorrectly, accumulating significant liability. To make matters worse, the witnesses on the employer side who could testify as to job duties and hours worked are usually unable to – either because they are children or they are deceased. I have worked with many clients to resolve these matters and set-up proper payroll procedures and controls going forward to prevent future claims.
Family Office: I have developed a niche practice of advising and representing high net worth individuals and celebrities with regard to managing their personal household and family office staff. I draft contracts at the outset of employment, provide required employment policies, and I have resolved numerous claims by former nannies, housekeepers, personal assistants and pilots for wages, tort and statutory claims always in a highly confidential manner.