Education

  • Columbia Law School, J.D., Articles Editor, Columbia Law Review, 1984
  • Wellesley College, B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, 1981

Admissions

  • California, 1985
  • U.S. Supreme Court
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T: 415-433-6830
F: 415-433-7104
E: ggrunfeld@rbgg.com

Gay Grunfeld is the managing partner of Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP in San Francisco where she focuses her practice on complex civil litigation, with an emphasis on business, civil rights, and employment litigation. She has 25 years of experience practicing before trial and appellate courts at both the state and federal levels, and was named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in California for 2014, 2015 and 2016 by the Daily Journal.

Ms. Grunfeld was also honored as one of the Top Women Lawyers in California for 2011 and 2013-2018 by the Daily Journal and as a Northern California Super Lawyer for 2012-2018. Ms. Grunfeld was named one of the Top 100 Northern California Super Lawyers for 2013 and 2016 and one of the Top 50 Women Northern California Super Lawyers for 2013-2018. Full bio »

vCard icon

Download vCard
T: 415-433-6830
F: 415-433-7104
E: ggrunfeld@rbgg.com

Gay Grunfeld is the managing partner of Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP in San Francisco where she focuses her practice on complex civil litigation, with an emphasis on business, civil rights, and employment litigation. She has 25 years of experience practicing before trial and appellate courts at both the state and federal levels, and was named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in California for 2014, 2015 and 2016 by the Daily Journal.

Ms. Grunfeld was also honored as one of the Top Women Lawyers in California for 2011 and 2013-2018 by the Daily Journal and as a Northern California Super Lawyer for 2012-2018. Ms. Grunfeld was named one of the Top 100 Northern California Super Lawyers for 2013 and 2016 and one of the Top 50 Women Northern California Super Lawyers for 2013-2018.

AV-rated, Ms. Grunfeld maintains an active and diverse litigation practice, successfully representing clients in a variety of employment, copyright, attorneys’ fees, trade secrets and commercial disputes. She has successfully negotiated several high-profile employment and business disputes, including obtaining confidential settlements in excess of $6 million. Ms. Grunfeld also obtained a $4.3 million attorneys’ fee award on behalf of the plaintiffs in L.H. v. Schwarzenegger, a constitutional and ADA challenge to California’s juvenile parole system.

Ms. Grunfeld served as a Lawyer Representative to the Northern District of California Judicial Conference for three years before becoming an at-large representative to the Conference Executive Committee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. For six years she served as a member of the Board of Directors of Equal Rights Advocates (and as Vice-Chair for three years) and Past President and Board Member of the San Francisco Women Lawyers Alliance. Ms. Grunfeld received a CLAY award in 2012 and 2015, was named one of The Recorder’s 20 Attorneys of the Year for 2012, and was the 1995 recipient of the Fay Stender Award from California Women Lawyers for her work in establishing children’s waiting rooms in San Francisco Bay Area courthouses. She has also served on a number of boards and committees for community organizations.

Ms. Grunfeld received a J.D. in 1984 from Columbia Law School where she was an Articles Editor of the Columbia Law Review and a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar from 1982 to 1984. She received a B.A. in Philosophy in 1981 from Wellesley College where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and with highest honors. After completing law school, Ms. Grunfeld clerked for the Honorable Jack Weinstein, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

REPRESENTATIVE CASES
  • Ex-Spouse v. Spouse’s Business et al.:  Our clients, two businesswomen and the small business they own, had been sued in superior court by one of the women’s ex-husband for allegedly interfering with his interests in a joint commercial lease. RBGG argued that defendant’s statement to the landlord, informing the landlord of the ex-husband’s threat to evict the women’s business from the office space, was protected pre-litigation speech.  The court agreed and granted a motion RBGG filed under the California Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (“SLAPP”).  The court also found that defendants’ claims, which included intentional interference with contract and intentional and negligent interference with prospective economic advantage, had no probability of success.  As a result, the case will be dismissed and defendants recovered significant attorneys’ fees and costs in connection with the motion.
  • Lyft, Inc.:  RBGG represents the National Federation of the Blind and blind individuals in structured negotiations with Lyft, Inc. concerning access to Lyft transportation services for riders with service animals, which resulted in a comprehensive nationwide agreement in January 2017 subject to RBGG and co-counsel’s ongoing compliance monitoring.
  • Structured Negotiations with Airbnb:  RBGG’s clients, California Council of the Blind and California Foundation for Independent Living Centers, and Airbnb announced on November 20, 2017, that they had reach an agreement to work together to expand Airbnb’s efforts to improve access to its platform for guests with disabilities.  Under the voluntary agreement, Airbnb will continue to implement a series of initiatives including improvements to its nondiscrimination policy, making its website easier for guests with disabilities to search for listings that accommodate them, providing greater assistance to those who use animal support, increasing anti-bias training for Airbnb team members, and ensuring that anyone who is discriminated against because of a disability is promptly rebooked at no additional cost.  RBGG continues to monitor Airbnb’s progress in complying with the voluntary agreement.
  • Eidler v. Brookdale Senior Living, Inc.: RBGG and co-counsel filed a federal class action lawsuit in July 2017 accusing Brookdale Senior Living, the largest provider of assisted living for senior citizens and persons with disabilities in the U.S., of financial abuse and widespread violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”).  More than 5,000 residents live in Brookdale’s 89 California assisted living facilities.  This is believed to be the first class action lawsuit against an assisted living provider to be brought under the ADA.
  • Amici Curiae Brief on Behalf of Advocacy Groups in NIFLA v. Becerra, 16-1140:  In February 2018, RBGG filed an amicus brief on behalf of several California and national advocacy organizations in the U.S. Surpreme Court in an important reproductive rights and First Amendment case challenging California’s Reproductive FACT Act.  The Act requires “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” (CPCs) to disclose whether they are licensed to provide medical care and to non-intrusively notify women who enter their facilities of comprehensive family planning services available through state-funded clinics. The brief supports California’s law by marshaling abundant facts about the epidemic of deceptive and plainly false information pushed by CPCs. 
  • Employee v. Technology Company: We successfully represented a female engineer in pre-litigation resolution of sexual harassment claims against a major technology company, achieving a substantial confidential settlement.
  • Software Company v. Software Company:  We represented a small software company whose trademark was infringed by a well-known local company.  We achieved a successful pre-litigation settlement for our client.
  • Internal Investigation:  RBGG conducted a confidential investigation on behalf of a local labor union into the allegations of a complainant to advise the union of any potential liability arising under contract, tort, employment, and/or labor law.  As part of our investigation, we reviewed pertinent documents, interviewed percipient witnesses, and provided findings and recommendations.
  • Junior Bondholder v. Non-Profit:  The firm represented a non-profit provider of high quality eldercare and its management company in litigation by the holder of a subordinated tax exempt bond in San Francisco Superior Court.  We twice successfully demurred to the complaint, later obtained a stay of the litigation, and ultimately resolved the entire case.
  • Shareholders and Directors v. Company:  We represent shareholders and directors of a software company suing in Marin Superior Court for breach of contract and fraud to recover over $1.5 million invested in the company.
  • Employee v. Financial Institution: We represented a whistleblower fired by a major financial institution for objecting to the company’s practice of making loans without sufficient underwriting. Shortly after we took the deposition of the Fortune 500 corporation’s former chief executive officer, the company favorably settled our client’s claims on a confidential basis.
  • Former Shareholders v. Corporation: The firm represented a corporation that manages elder care communities in the Bay Area in a dispute over the value of various business holdings upon the departure of two shareholders.  After extensive motion practice (including partial summary adjudication in our client’s favor) and a bench trial in San Francisco Superior Court, the case ended on terms favorable to the corporation.
  • Quinby v. ULTA: We achieved final approval of a $3.65 million settlement in a class action on behalf of 263 current and former store managers of ULTA Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance, Inc. (“ULTA”) stores in California.  We contended that ULTA misclassifies its store managers as exempt from overtime pay, even though they spend the majority of their time performing non-managerial tasks such as stocking shelves, working the cash register, and greeting customers.  Judge Orrick of the Northern District of California granted final approval of the class action settlement in January 2017.
  • Sunner v. Kenneth R. Turnage II General Contractor, Inc., d/b/a K2GC, Inc.: We obtained final approval of a settlement that included injunctive relief and payment of $297,000 in this class action in Alameda County Superior Court on behalf of 60 laborers for a Bay Area construction company and its owner.  The alleged violations included requiring class members to perform hours of uncompensated work each week and forcing class members to drive their own vehicles to perform company business without mileage reimbursement. Judge Hernandez granted final approval of the settlement in February 2017.
  • Founder v. High-Tech Company: RBGG assisted a company founder in obtaining a confidential settlement with her former company, the maker of a high-tech corporate communications program.
  • Corporation v. Law Firm:  The firm obtained a confidential settlement on behalf of a Bay Area corporation in claims that its long-time counsel failed to disclose conflicts of interest and to offer proper advice concerning a complex series of real estate investment transactions.
  • Consulting Firm v. Former Employee:  RBGG successfully represented a small biotech consulting firm that makes cutting edge battery products and medical device parts in a dispute with a shareholder and former executive officer who stole company customer lists and other trade secrets. We obtained a temporary restraining order in Santa Clara Superior Court and later a stipulated confidential injunction protecting the company’s intellectual property.
  • Former CEO v. Software Company: We successfully obtained a favorable confidential settlement on behalf of a former chief executive and major shareholder of a software company after hard-fought litigation including a cross-complaint in Alameda Superior Court.
  • Ramirez v. Ghilotti Bros.: In this complex class action on behalf of laborers alleging wage and hour violations against a major construction company, we obtained final approval of a $950,000 settlement with injunctive relief for the class. We also defeated company supervisors’ claims that they should share in the settlement, even though they had perpetrated the alleged wage and hour violations against class members. Before the settlement was reached, we obtained a conditional certification of Fair Labor Standards Act claims and a published decision striking all of the defendant’s affirmative defenses. See Ramirez v. Ghilotti Bros., Inc., 941 F. Supp. 2d 1197 (N.D. Cal. 2013).
  • Employee v. Financial Institution: We represented a whistleblower fired by a major financial institution for objecting to the company’s practice of making loans without sufficient underwriting. Shortly after we took the deposition of the Fortune 500 corporation’s former chief executive officer, the company favorably settled our client’s claims on a confidential basis.
  • Resmex Partners LLC v. Kimomex Santa Clara LLC: The firm represented a San Jose restaurateur and his group of restaurants in a dispute over the sale of two popular restaurants to a third party. We obtained a favorable settlement on behalf of the clients in the main action and in a related real estate action.
  • Executives v. Hotel Chain: We represented three terminated executives over the age of 40 against a major hotel chain, achieving a highly favorable settlement of our clients’ age discrimination claims.
  • Employees v. National Retailer: We represented three individuals against a major national retailer in federal court. The employees alleged age and disability discrimination, as well as violations of federal and state medical leave laws. We obtained a favorable settlement for the clients early in the litigation.
  • Hedrick, et al. v. Grant, et. al:  RBGG and the UC Davis Civil Rights Clinic represent a class of pre-trial detainees, convicted prisoners, and immigration detainees challenging conditions of confinement at California’s Yuba County Jail.  In 2013, the federal district court denied Yuba’s attempt to terminate a long-standing consent decree requiring the County to maintain certain minimum standards for those incarcerated at the Jail, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed the decision in 2016.  In the fall of 2016, RBGG filed an enforcement motion, seeking to require the County to improve its policies regarding safety cells, suicide screening, out of cell time, intake, and other critical issues, as well as a motion to add claims under the ADA.  Since the spring of 2017, at the district court’s request, the parties have been engaged in court-supervised settlement negotiations.
  • Sassman v. Brown and Berman v. Brown:  RBGG brought two Equal Protection Clause challenges to California’s Alternative Custody Program (ACP), a voluntary program that allows certain female low-level prisoners to serve up to the last 24 months of their sentences in the community in lieu of confinement in state prison.  RBGG demonstrated that allowing qualified male inmates to also participate in the ACP is not only required by the Fourteenth Amendment, but will also benefit children and families, reduce recidivism, and save the State money.  In 2014, the Sassman court found it likely that California illegally discriminates on the basis of gender by excluding males from the ACP.  See Sassman v. Brown, 73 F.Supp.3d 1241 (E.D. Cal. 2014).  In ruling for RBGG’s client on cross-motions for summary judgment, the court in 2015 permanently enjoined the State from enforcing the female-only provisions of California Penal Code § 1170.05(a) and ordered Defendants to immediately accept male applicants if they are otherwise eligible.  Mr. Sassman and a number of other male former prisoners are now free and participating in the ACP.  See Sassman v. Brown, 99 F. Supp. 3d 1223 (E.D. Cal. 2015). 
  • Armstrong v. Brown: RBGG proved in federal court that California’s prison and parole systems violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by discriminating against prisoners and parolees with mobility, sight, hearing, learning, mental and kidney disabilities. We secured systemwide injunctive relief to end the discrimination, which was upheld on appeal.  See Armstrong v. Wilson, 942 F. Supp. 1252 (N.D. Cal. 1996), aff’d 124 F.3d 1019 (9th Cir. 1997). Ms. Grunfeld also established in two Ninth Circuit decisions that she argued as co-lead counsel that the State is responsible for taking steps to ensure the rights of prisoners and parolees with disabilities are accommodated when it chooses to house them in third-party county jail facilities. See Armstrong v. Brown, 857 F. Supp. 2d 919 (N.D. Cal. 2012), aff’d 732 F.3d 955 (9th Cir. 2013), cert denied, 134 S. Ct. 2725 (2014); and 622 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir. 2010).
  • Gonzales v. City of Compton: We represented three Latina women in a challenge to the City of Compton’s at-large method of elections under the California Voting Rights Act. We obtained a settlement in which the City agreed to place a measure on the ballot to change the city’s method of elections from at-large to district elections. The ballot initiative passed and, in the next election, Compton residents voted in the first Latino member of the City Council in the City’s history. We also obtained a highly favorable confidential attorneys’ fees settlement.
  • L.H. v. Schwarzenegger: RBGG secured the rights of all juvenile parolees in California to fair hearings when they are accused of violating the terms of their parole. As a result of our lawsuit, the State agreed to provide attorneys to all juvenile parolees accused of parole violations, as well notice of the charges and evidence against them, the right to confront their accusers in a hearing, assistance for those parolees with disabilities, and the right to be considered for community-based alternative sanctions instead of return to the juvenile prison system. See L.H. v. Schwarzenegger, 519 F. Supp. 2d 1072 (2007).
  • Hernandez v. County of Monterey: We sued the County of Monterey and its private medical provider, California Forensic Medical Group, challenging dangerous and unconstitutional conditions in the County’s Jail, a system plagued by severe overcrowding, outdated facilities, and chronic understaffing.  In 2014, we defeated the defendants’ motions to dismiss and obtained a unique ruling holding that our clients could assert ADA Title III claims against the Jail’s private medical provider.  See Hernandez v. County of Monterey, 70 F.Supp.3d 963 (N.D. Cal. 2014).  The federal court subsequently certified a class of the approximately 950 prisoners in the Jail, along with a sub-class of prisoners with disabilities.  See Hernandez v. County of Monterey, 305 F.R.D. 132 (N.D. Cal. 2015).  On April 14, 2015, the court granted a sweeping preliminary injunction on behalf of the class and sub-class, finding rampant violations of the Constitution and federal law.  See Hernandez v. County of Monterey, 110 F. Supp. 3d 929 (N.D. Cal. 2015).  The court approved the parties’ settlement on August 18, 2015, which requires defendants to comply with the requirements of the preliminary injunction and to develop and implement a comprehensive set of plans to enhance services at the Jail.  In November 2015, the Court approved a $4.8 million dollar award of fees and costs to counsel for the plaintiff class.

Published Decisions

  • Armstrong v. Brown, 103 F.Supp. 3d 1070 (N.D. Cal. 2015)
  • Hernandez v. County of Monterey, 110 F. Supp. 3d 929 (N.D. Cal. 2015)
  • Hernandez v. County of Monterey, 305 F.R.D. 132 (N.D. Cal. 2015)
  • Sassman v. Brown, 99 F.Supp.3d 1223 (E.D. Cal 2015)
  • Sassman v. Brown, 73 F.Supp.3d 1241 (E.D. Cal. 2014)
  • Hernandez v. County of Monterey, 70 F.Supp.3d 963 (N.D. Cal. 2014)
  • Armstrong v. Brown, 732 F.3d 955 (9th Cir. 2013), cert denied, 134 S. Ct. 2725 (2014)
  • Ramirez v. Ghilotti Bros. Inc., 941 F. Supp. 2d 1197 (N.D. Cal. 2013)
  • Armstrong v. Brown, 939 F. Supp. 2d 1012 (N.D. Cal. 2013)
  • Armstrong v. Brown, 857 F. Supp. 2d 919 (N.D. Cal. 2012)
  • Valdivia v. Brown, 848 F. Supp. 2d 1141 (E.D. Cal. 2011)
  • Armstrong v. Brown, 805 F. Supp. 2d 918 (N.D. Cal. 2011)
  • Armstrong v. Schwarzenegger, 622 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir. 2010)
  • Armstrong v. Schwarzenegger, 261 F.R.D. 173 (N.D. Cal. 2009)
  • L.H. v. Schwarzenegger, 645 F. Supp. 2d 888 (E.D. Cal. 2009)
  • L.H. v. Schwarzenegger, 519 F. Supp. 2d 1072 (E.D. Cal. 2007)
  • Sacramento Old City Ass’n v. City Council of Sacramento, 229 Cal. App. 3d 1011 (1991)
  • AFL-CIO v. Deukmejian, 212 Cal. App. 3d 425 (1989)
  • Patel v. Quality Inn South, 846 F.2d 700 (11th Cir. 1988)
  • International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers v. Brock, 816 F.2d 761 (D.C. Cir. 1987)
  • County of Los Angeles v. State of California, 43 Cal. 3d 46 (1987)
  • K & M Glass Co. v. International Brotherhood of Painters, 121 L.R.R.M. 3005 (N.D. Cal. 1986)

Honors & Awards

  • Top 100 Lawyers in California, Daily Journal, 2014-2016
  • California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award, 2012 and 2015
  • Best Lawyers in America, Employment Law, 2016-2018
  • 2016 Gender Justice Award, Equal Rights Advocates
  • Northern California Super Lawyer, 2012-2018
  • 2013 and 2016 Top 100 Northern California Super Lawyers
  • 2013-2018 Top 50 Women Northern California Super Lawyers
  • Top Women Lawyers in California for 2011 and 2013-2018, Daily Journal
  • California Women Lawyers, 1995 Fay Stender Award, for Work in Establishing Children’s Waiting Rooms in Bay Area Courthouses
  • The Recorder’s 20 Attorneys of the Year, 2012

Education

  • Columbia Law School, J.D., Articles Editor, Columbia Law Review, 1984
  • Wellesley College, B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, 1981

Admissions

  • California, 1985
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Professional Experience

  • Martindale-Hubbell A-V Rated.
  • Associate:
    • Rosen, Bien & Galvan, 2005-2007
    • Bryant, Clohan & Baruh, 2001-2005
    • Fenwick & West, 1996-1997
    • Dickson-Ross, 1989-1991
    • Altshuler Berzon, 1985-1989
  • Consultant, Judicial Council of California, 1993-1995
  • Law Clerk to the Honorable Jack B. Weinstein, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, 1984-1985

Community Service

  • Member and Former Vice Chair, Equal Rights Advocates Board of Directors
  • Lawyer Representative to the Northern District of California Judicial Conference
  • Trustee, San Francisco Law Library
  • Past Co-Chair, Rights of Women Committee, ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities
  • Past Member, California Women Lawyers Committee on Gender Equity (2011-2014)
  • Past President and Board Member, San Francisco Women Lawyers Alliance and Alliance Foundation
  • Past Board or Committee Member for several community organizations, including the San Francisco Chronicle Community Advisory Board, Northern California Service League, and Walter Hays School Site Council

Gay Grunfeld is the managing partner of Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP in San Francisco where she focuses her practice on complex civil litigation, with an emphasis on business, civil rights, and employment litigation. She has 25 years of experience practicing before trial and appellate courts at both the state and federal levels, and was named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in California for 2014, 2015 and 2016 by the Daily Journal.

Ms. Grunfeld was also honored as one of the Top Women Lawyers in California for 2011 and 2013-2018 by the Daily Journal and as a Northern California Super Lawyer for 2012-2018. Ms. Grunfeld was named one of the Top 100 Northern California Super Lawyers for 2013 and 2016 and one of the Top 50 Women Northern California Super Lawyers for 2013-2018.

AV-rated, Ms. Grunfeld maintains an active and diverse litigation practice, successfully representing clients in a variety of employment, copyright, attorneys’ fees, trade secrets and commercial disputes. She has successfully negotiated several high-profile employment and business disputes, including obtaining confidential settlements in excess of $6 million. Ms. Grunfeld also obtained a $4.3 million attorneys’ fee award on behalf of the plaintiffs in L.H. v. Schwarzenegger, a constitutional and ADA challenge to California’s juvenile parole system.

Ms. Grunfeld served as a Lawyer Representative to the Northern District of California Judicial Conference for three years before becoming an at-large representative to the Conference Executive Committee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. For six years she served as a member of the Board of Directors of Equal Rights Advocates (and as Vice-Chair for three years) and Past President and Board Member of the San Francisco Women Lawyers Alliance. Ms. Grunfeld received a CLAY award in 2012 and 2015, was named one of The Recorder’s 20 Attorneys of the Year for 2012, and was the 1995 recipient of the Fay Stender Award from California Women Lawyers for her work in establishing children’s waiting rooms in San Francisco Bay Area courthouses. She has also served on a number of boards and committees for community organizations.

Ms. Grunfeld received a J.D. in 1984 from Columbia Law School where she was an Articles Editor of the Columbia Law Review and a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar from 1982 to 1984. She received a B.A. in Philosophy in 1981 from Wellesley College where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and with highest honors. After completing law school, Ms. Grunfeld clerked for the Honorable Jack Weinstein, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

REPRESENTATIVE CASES
  • Ex-Spouse v. Spouse’s Business et al.:  Our clients, two businesswomen and the small business they own, had been sued in superior court by one of the women’s ex-husband for allegedly interfering with his interests in a joint commercial lease. RBGG argued that defendant’s statement to the landlord, informing the landlord of the ex-husband’s threat to evict the women’s business from the office space, was protected pre-litigation speech.  The court agreed and granted a motion RBGG filed under the California Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (“SLAPP”).  The court also found that defendants’ claims, which included intentional interference with contract and intentional and negligent interference with prospective economic advantage, had no probability of success.  As a result, the case will be dismissed and defendants recovered significant attorneys’ fees and costs in connection with the motion.
  • Lyft, Inc.:  RBGG represents the National Federation of the Blind and blind individuals in structured negotiations with Lyft, Inc. concerning access to Lyft transportation services for riders with service animals, which resulted in a comprehensive nationwide agreement in January 2017 subject to RBGG and co-counsel’s ongoing compliance monitoring.
  • Structured Negotiations with Airbnb:  RBGG’s clients, California Council of the Blind and California Foundation for Independent Living Centers, and Airbnb announced on November 20, 2017, that they had reach an agreement to work together to expand Airbnb’s efforts to improve access to its platform for guests with disabilities.  Under the voluntary agreement, Airbnb will continue to implement a series of initiatives including improvements to its nondiscrimination policy, making its website easier for guests with disabilities to search for listings that accommodate them, providing greater assistance to those who use animal support, increasing anti-bias training for Airbnb team members, and ensuring that anyone who is discriminated against because of a disability is promptly rebooked at no additional cost.  RBGG continues to monitor Airbnb’s progress in complying with the voluntary agreement.
  • Eidler v. Brookdale Senior Living, Inc.: RBGG and co-counsel filed a federal class action lawsuit in July 2017 accusing Brookdale Senior Living, the largest provider of assisted living for senior citizens and persons with disabilities in the U.S., of financial abuse and widespread violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”).  More than 5,000 residents live in Brookdale’s 89 California assisted living facilities.  This is believed to be the first class action lawsuit against an assisted living provider to be brought under the ADA.
  • Amici Curiae Brief on Behalf of Advocacy Groups in NIFLA v. Becerra, 16-1140:  In February 2018, RBGG filed an amicus brief on behalf of several California and national advocacy organizations in the U.S. Surpreme Court in an important reproductive rights and First Amendment case challenging California’s Reproductive FACT Act.  The Act requires “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” (CPCs) to disclose whether they are licensed to provide medical care and to non-intrusively notify women who enter their facilities of comprehensive family planning services available through state-funded clinics. The brief supports California’s law by marshaling abundant facts about the epidemic of deceptive and plainly false information pushed by CPCs. 
  • Employee v. Technology Company: We successfully represented a female engineer in pre-litigation resolution of sexual harassment claims against a major technology company, achieving a substantial confidential settlement.
  • Software Company v. Software Company:  We represented a small software company whose trademark was infringed by a well-known local company.  We achieved a successful pre-litigation settlement for our client.
  • Internal Investigation:  RBGG conducted a confidential investigation on behalf of a local labor union into the allegations of a complainant to advise the union of any potential liability arising under contract, tort, employment, and/or labor law.  As part of our investigation, we reviewed pertinent documents, interviewed percipient witnesses, and provided findings and recommendations.
  • Junior Bondholder v. Non-Profit:  The firm represented a non-profit provider of high quality eldercare and its management company in litigation by the holder of a subordinated tax exempt bond in San Francisco Superior Court.  We twice successfully demurred to the complaint, later obtained a stay of the litigation, and ultimately resolved the entire case.
  • Shareholders and Directors v. Company:  We represent shareholders and directors of a software company suing in Marin Superior Court for breach of contract and fraud to recover over $1.5 million invested in the company.
  • Employee v. Financial Institution: We represented a whistleblower fired by a major financial institution for objecting to the company’s practice of making loans without sufficient underwriting. Shortly after we took the deposition of the Fortune 500 corporation’s former chief executive officer, the company favorably settled our client’s claims on a confidential basis.
  • Former Shareholders v. Corporation: The firm represented a corporation that manages elder care communities in the Bay Area in a dispute over the value of various business holdings upon the departure of two shareholders.  After extensive motion practice (including partial summary adjudication in our client’s favor) and a bench trial in San Francisco Superior Court, the case ended on terms favorable to the corporation.
  • Quinby v. ULTA: We achieved final approval of a $3.65 million settlement in a class action on behalf of 263 current and former store managers of ULTA Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance, Inc. (“ULTA”) stores in California.  We contended that ULTA misclassifies its store managers as exempt from overtime pay, even though they spend the majority of their time performing non-managerial tasks such as stocking shelves, working the cash register, and greeting customers.  Judge Orrick of the Northern District of California granted final approval of the class action settlement in January 2017.
  • Sunner v. Kenneth R. Turnage II General Contractor, Inc., d/b/a K2GC, Inc.: We obtained final approval of a settlement that included injunctive relief and payment of $297,000 in this class action in Alameda County Superior Court on behalf of 60 laborers for a Bay Area construction company and its owner.  The alleged violations included requiring class members to perform hours of uncompensated work each week and forcing class members to drive their own vehicles to perform company business without mileage reimbursement. Judge Hernandez granted final approval of the settlement in February 2017.
  • Founder v. High-Tech Company: RBGG assisted a company founder in obtaining a confidential settlement with her former company, the maker of a high-tech corporate communications program.
  • Corporation v. Law Firm:  The firm obtained a confidential settlement on behalf of a Bay Area corporation in claims that its long-time counsel failed to disclose conflicts of interest and to offer proper advice concerning a complex series of real estate investment transactions.
  • Consulting Firm v. Former Employee:  RBGG successfully represented a small biotech consulting firm that makes cutting edge battery products and medical device parts in a dispute with a shareholder and former executive officer who stole company customer lists and other trade secrets. We obtained a temporary restraining order in Santa Clara Superior Court and later a stipulated confidential injunction protecting the company’s intellectual property.
  • Former CEO v. Software Company: We successfully obtained a favorable confidential settlement on behalf of a former chief executive and major shareholder of a software company after hard-fought litigation including a cross-complaint in Alameda Superior Court.
  • Ramirez v. Ghilotti Bros.: In this complex class action on behalf of laborers alleging wage and hour violations against a major construction company, we obtained final approval of a $950,000 settlement with injunctive relief for the class. We also defeated company supervisors’ claims that they should share in the settlement, even though they had perpetrated the alleged wage and hour violations against class members. Before the settlement was reached, we obtained a conditional certification of Fair Labor Standards Act claims and a published decision striking all of the defendant’s affirmative defenses. See Ramirez v. Ghilotti Bros., Inc., 941 F. Supp. 2d 1197 (N.D. Cal. 2013).
  • Employee v. Financial Institution: We represented a whistleblower fired by a major financial institution for objecting to the company’s practice of making loans without sufficient underwriting. Shortly after we took the deposition of the Fortune 500 corporation’s former chief executive officer, the company favorably settled our client’s claims on a confidential basis.
  • Resmex Partners LLC v. Kimomex Santa Clara LLC: The firm represented a San Jose restaurateur and his group of restaurants in a dispute over the sale of two popular restaurants to a third party. We obtained a favorable settlement on behalf of the clients in the main action and in a related real estate action.
  • Executives v. Hotel Chain: We represented three terminated executives over the age of 40 against a major hotel chain, achieving a highly favorable settlement of our clients’ age discrimination claims.
  • Employees v. National Retailer: We represented three individuals against a major national retailer in federal court. The employees alleged age and disability discrimination, as well as violations of federal and state medical leave laws. We obtained a favorable settlement for the clients early in the litigation.
  • Hedrick, et al. v. Grant, et. al:  RBGG and the UC Davis Civil Rights Clinic represent a class of pre-trial detainees, convicted prisoners, and immigration detainees challenging conditions of confinement at California’s Yuba County Jail.  In 2013, the federal district court denied Yuba’s attempt to terminate a long-standing consent decree requiring the County to maintain certain minimum standards for those incarcerated at the Jail, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed the decision in 2016.  In the fall of 2016, RBGG filed an enforcement motion, seeking to require the County to improve its policies regarding safety cells, suicide screening, out of cell time, intake, and other critical issues, as well as a motion to add claims under the ADA.  Since the spring of 2017, at the district court’s request, the parties have been engaged in court-supervised settlement negotiations.
  • Sassman v. Brown and Berman v. Brown:  RBGG brought two Equal Protection Clause challenges to California’s Alternative Custody Program (ACP), a voluntary program that allows certain female low-level prisoners to serve up to the last 24 months of their sentences in the community in lieu of confinement in state prison.  RBGG demonstrated that allowing qualified male inmates to also participate in the ACP is not only required by the Fourteenth Amendment, but will also benefit children and families, reduce recidivism, and save the State money.  In 2014, the Sassman court found it likely that California illegally discriminates on the basis of gender by excluding males from the ACP.  See Sassman v. Brown, 73 F.Supp.3d 1241 (E.D. Cal. 2014).  In ruling for RBGG’s client on cross-motions for summary judgment, the court in 2015 permanently enjoined the State from enforcing the female-only provisions of California Penal Code § 1170.05(a) and ordered Defendants to immediately accept male applicants if they are otherwise eligible.  Mr. Sassman and a number of other male former prisoners are now free and participating in the ACP.  See Sassman v. Brown, 99 F. Supp. 3d 1223 (E.D. Cal. 2015). 
  • Armstrong v. Brown: RBGG proved in federal court that California’s prison and parole systems violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by discriminating against prisoners and parolees with mobility, sight, hearing, learning, mental and kidney disabilities. We secured systemwide injunctive relief to end the discrimination, which was upheld on appeal.  See Armstrong v. Wilson, 942 F. Supp. 1252 (N.D. Cal. 1996), aff’d 124 F.3d 1019 (9th Cir. 1997). Ms. Grunfeld also established in two Ninth Circuit decisions that she argued as co-lead counsel that the State is responsible for taking steps to ensure the rights of prisoners and parolees with disabilities are accommodated when it chooses to house them in third-party county jail facilities. See Armstrong v. Brown, 857 F. Supp. 2d 919 (N.D. Cal. 2012), aff’d 732 F.3d 955 (9th Cir. 2013), cert denied, 134 S. Ct. 2725 (2014); and 622 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir. 2010).
  • Gonzales v. City of Compton: We represented three Latina women in a challenge to the City of Compton’s at-large method of elections under the California Voting Rights Act. We obtained a settlement in which the City agreed to place a measure on the ballot to change the city’s method of elections from at-large to district elections. The ballot initiative passed and, in the next election, Compton residents voted in the first Latino member of the City Council in the City’s history. We also obtained a highly favorable confidential attorneys’ fees settlement.
  • L.H. v. Schwarzenegger: RBGG secured the rights of all juvenile parolees in California to fair hearings when they are accused of violating the terms of their parole. As a result of our lawsuit, the State agreed to provide attorneys to all juvenile parolees accused of parole violations, as well notice of the charges and evidence against them, the right to confront their accusers in a hearing, assistance for those parolees with disabilities, and the right to be considered for community-based alternative sanctions instead of return to the juvenile prison system. See L.H. v. Schwarzenegger, 519 F. Supp. 2d 1072 (2007).
  • Hernandez v. County of Monterey: We sued the County of Monterey and its private medical provider, California Forensic Medical Group, challenging dangerous and unconstitutional conditions in the County’s Jail, a system plagued by severe overcrowding, outdated facilities, and chronic understaffing.  In 2014, we defeated the defendants’ motions to dismiss and obtained a unique ruling holding that our clients could assert ADA Title III claims against the Jail’s private medical provider.  See Hernandez v. County of Monterey, 70 F.Supp.3d 963 (N.D. Cal. 2014).  The federal court subsequently certified a class of the approximately 950 prisoners in the Jail, along with a sub-class of prisoners with disabilities.  See Hernandez v. County of Monterey, 305 F.R.D. 132 (N.D. Cal. 2015).  On April 14, 2015, the court granted a sweeping preliminary injunction on behalf of the class and sub-class, finding rampant violations of the Constitution and federal law.  See Hernandez v. County of Monterey, 110 F. Supp. 3d 929 (N.D. Cal. 2015).  The court approved the parties’ settlement on August 18, 2015, which requires defendants to comply with the requirements of the preliminary injunction and to develop and implement a comprehensive set of plans to enhance services at the Jail.  In November 2015, the Court approved a $4.8 million dollar award of fees and costs to counsel for the plaintiff class.

Published Decisions

  • Armstrong v. Brown, 103 F.Supp. 3d 1070 (N.D. Cal. 2015)
  • Hernandez v. County of Monterey, 110 F. Supp. 3d 929 (N.D. Cal. 2015)
  • Hernandez v. County of Monterey, 305 F.R.D. 132 (N.D. Cal. 2015)
  • Sassman v. Brown, 99 F.Supp.3d 1223 (E.D. Cal 2015)
  • Sassman v. Brown, 73 F.Supp.3d 1241 (E.D. Cal. 2014)
  • Hernandez v. County of Monterey, 70 F.Supp.3d 963 (N.D. Cal. 2014)
  • Armstrong v. Brown, 732 F.3d 955 (9th Cir. 2013), cert denied, 134 S. Ct. 2725 (2014)
  • Ramirez v. Ghilotti Bros. Inc., 941 F. Supp. 2d 1197 (N.D. Cal. 2013)
  • Armstrong v. Brown, 939 F. Supp. 2d 1012 (N.D. Cal. 2013)
  • Armstrong v. Brown, 857 F. Supp. 2d 919 (N.D. Cal. 2012)
  • Valdivia v. Brown, 848 F. Supp. 2d 1141 (E.D. Cal. 2011)
  • Armstrong v. Brown, 805 F. Supp. 2d 918 (N.D. Cal. 2011)
  • Armstrong v. Schwarzenegger, 622 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir. 2010)
  • Armstrong v. Schwarzenegger, 261 F.R.D. 173 (N.D. Cal. 2009)
  • L.H. v. Schwarzenegger, 645 F. Supp. 2d 888 (E.D. Cal. 2009)
  • L.H. v. Schwarzenegger, 519 F. Supp. 2d 1072 (E.D. Cal. 2007)
  • Sacramento Old City Ass’n v. City Council of Sacramento, 229 Cal. App. 3d 1011 (1991)
  • AFL-CIO v. Deukmejian, 212 Cal. App. 3d 425 (1989)
  • Patel v. Quality Inn South, 846 F.2d 700 (11th Cir. 1988)
  • International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers v. Brock, 816 F.2d 761 (D.C. Cir. 1987)
  • County of Los Angeles v. State of California, 43 Cal. 3d 46 (1987)
  • K & M Glass Co. v. International Brotherhood of Painters, 121 L.R.R.M. 3005 (N.D. Cal. 1986)

Honors & Awards

  • Top 100 Lawyers in California, Daily Journal, 2014-2016
  • California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award, 2012 and 2015
  • Best Lawyers in America, Employment Law, 2016-2018
  • 2016 Gender Justice Award, Equal Rights Advocates
  • Northern California Super Lawyer, 2012-2018
  • 2013 and 2016 Top 100 Northern California Super Lawyers
  • 2013-2018 Top 50 Women Northern California Super Lawyers
  • Top Women Lawyers in California for 2011 and 2013-2018, Daily Journal
  • California Women Lawyers, 1995 Fay Stender Award, for Work in Establishing Children’s Waiting Rooms in Bay Area Courthouses
  • The Recorder’s 20 Attorneys of the Year, 2012

Publications

Presentations

  • “Best Practices for Promoting Fair Pay,” Moderator, Association of Corporate Counsel Diversity and Inclusion Committee Event Featuring Equal Rights Advocates, September 8, 2016
  • “Rule 23(b)(2) Revisited:  Institutional Reform Cases,” Panel at the Impact Fund’s 12th Annual Class Action Conference Agenda, February 28, 2014
  • “How to Litigate a Wage and Hour Case: Challenges with Representing Foreign Language FLSA Clients,” American Association of Justice Annual Conference, July 26, 2013, San Francisco, California
Full list of presentations »
  • “Best Practices for Promoting Fair Pay,” Moderator, Association of Corporate Counsel Diversity and Inclusion Committee Event Featuring Equal Rights Advocates, September 8, 2016
  • “Rule 23(b)(2) Revisited:  Institutional Reform Cases,” Panel at the Impact Fund’s 12th Annual Class Action Conference Agenda, February 28, 2014
  • “How to Litigate a Wage and Hour Case: Challenges with Representing Foreign Language FLSA Clients,” American Association of Justice Annual Conference, July 26, 2013, San Francisco, California
  • “Let’s Get Real: From ‘Win – Win’ to ‘Can Live With – Can Live With,’” ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Spring Conference, April 5, 2013, Chicago Ilinois
  • “Representing Classes with Special Challenges,” Impact Fund, 11th Annual Class Action Conference, March 1, 2013, Berkeley, California
  • “ADA in Jails & Prisons,” Workshop at the 2010 Training & Advocacy Support Center of the National Disability Rights Network, P & A/CAP Annual Conference, June 10, 2010, Los Angeles, California.
  • Due Process for Juvenile Parolees: What comes Next After L.H. v. Schwarzenegger?,” Administrative Office of the Courts’ Beyond the Bench XIX: Communicating and Collaborating Conference (December 11-12, 2008).