Employment

From counseling to litigation, Munger, Tolles & Olson attorneys spend most of their time defending employers in high-stakes individual and class action suits involving alleged wage and hour violations, discrimination, wrongful termination, harassment and retaliation. We also regularly handle trade secret and unfair competition disputes, as well as collective bargaining negotiations and arbitrations.

The firm counsels clients to develop sound policies and procedures that avoid potential liabilities and comply with California’s complex –– and at times surprising –– employment laws and decisions.

Our employment practice serves a wide range of companies, with a particular understanding of the financial services, entertainment, utilities, telecommunications and retail sectors.

Discrimination, Harassment and Wrongful Discharge

Munger Tolles represents numerous companies sued by employees, from chief executive officers to front-line employees, alleging wrongful discharge, employment discrimination, harassment and common law torts.

Internal Corporate Investigations

Employers increasingly use internal investigations to detect, prevent and remedy improper corporate conduct. These investigations have become particularly critical for employers in California and other jurisdictions when faced with whistle blowing allegations and/or the need to establish the factual basis for employment decisions. Munger Tolles both conducts and guides employers in conducting such investigations.

Strategic Counseling

We advise numerous clients about how state and federal laws and judicial decisions affect their employment relationships. In doing so, we structure personnel policies, counsel clients on litigation avoidance and advise on labor law considerations in the context of acquisitions, mergers and reductions in force. In addition, we negotiate and draft significant employment contracts and severance agreements.

Our firm has also developed a counseling practice advising major corporations on the issues of privacy in the workplace, drug testing and workplace security. These issues are especially sensitive for our clients with national security and related statutory and regulatory obligations. We have successfully defended the legality of a client’s security and drug-screening programs and have formulated such programs for other clients.

Wage and Hour Litigation

Attorneys at Munger Tolles have handled many California and nationwide class actions alleging California and federal wage and hour law violations. Firm attorneys have won our clients dismissals, de-certifications and other precedent-setting verdicts.

A sample of the firm’s diverse employment experience includes representing:

  • Guardsmark, a large private security provider:
    • in a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmation of our client’s summary judgment victory, staving off a statewide putative class action alleging failure to provide meal periods.
    • in denial of class certification on the lead claims in a putative class action seeking to assert wage and hour violations threatening millions of dollars in damages for thousands of class members.
  • Merrill Lynch in:
    • its settlement of a nationwide class action covering more than 21,000 financial advisors. That settlement followed a prior California class action settlement handled by us, with the two settlements setting the standard for a series of such settlements throughout the industry.
    • winning summary judgment in a putative Fair Labor Standards Act collective action in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for overtime based on alleged misclassification.
  • NBC Universal in achieving very favorable settlements in two putative class actions alleging age discrimination against television writers by all the major TV networks, studios and talent agencies.
  • Southern California Edison Company in obtaining dismissal of a putative class action alleging a pattern and practice of racial discrimination.
  • Warner Bros., in its dispute with Charlie Sheen for his termination from “Two and a Half Men.” Mr. Sheen brought claims against Warner Bros. totaling $100 million for breach of contract, wrongful termination and unlawful retaliation. The Munger Tolles employment team tackled the numerous employment law issues involved, successfully compelling the matter to arbitration and then through settlement.
  • Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and Pierce, Fenner & Smith, in obtaining a dismissal of two so-called “forced patronage” class actions in U.S. District Court of the Central District of California, which involved claims seeking to invalidate requirements by these securities companies that their employees use the trading arm of the employer. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed in 2013.
  • Raytheon in obtaining summary judgment against a quality engineer’s allegations that the company had violated the False Claims Act. The firm also obtained affirmance of the summary judgment from the 9th Circuit.

We also maintain an active practice representing individuals and companies in issues related to trade secret and employee mobility.

Contact:
Katherine M. Forster (213) 683-9538
Alan V. Friedman (213) 683-9169
Malcolm A. Heinicke (415) 512-4029
Kathleen M. McDowell (213) 683-9134
Terry E. Sanchez (213) 683-9179