The lawyers at RBGG are experienced in handling legal issues arising under all state and federal labor and employment laws, as well as complex class action litigation. Our lawyers have the knowledge and expertise to counsel clients on the rights and responsibilities involved with the complex laws governing today’s workplace. We assist clients in dealing with a wide range of employment law issues, including discrimination, harassment, wrongful discharge, retaliation, wage and hour issues, unfair labor practices, employment contracts and restrictive covenants.
We have successfully represented clients in a variety of forums, including investigations and hearings before administrative agencies, arbitration proceedings, and state and federal court litigation. Our lawyers counsel clients in some of the most difficult workplace disputes, such as those involving Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, harassment, discrimination, termination of executives and employees, and representation of clients in trade secret and non-compete disputes.
We have been successful in handling multiple wage and hour class actions as well as those instituted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice and private litigants and compliance actions by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. We also are advocates for our clients in administrative hearings and actions before the National Labor Relations Board, U.S. Department of Justice, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, U.S. Department of Labor, and California state labor and employment agencies.
- Hernandez Gomez v. The GEO Group, Inc.: In July 2022, RBGG, along with co-counsel, sued GEO Group, Inc., a private prison corporation, in the federal district court for the Eastern District of California for unlawfully forcing detained immigrants to work for $1 a day or less. GEO’s business model and profitability rely on this unlawful pay scheme, whereby the people it civilly detains earn far less than California’s $15 hourly minimum wage and are forced to perform basic janitorial, sanitation, and other services or be punished, placed in segregation, and deprived of basic necessities like adequate food, water, hygiene supplies, exercise time, and contact with loved ones. The lawsuit seeks to end GEO’s unlawful business practices, which rely on the exploitation and forced labor of the immigrants in its custody.
- Salvation Army National Cases. RBGG together with co-counsel represents participants in Salvation Army adult rehabilitation centers and adult rehabilitation programs (“ARC workers”), who perform labor in support of the organization as a condition of their enrollment, in three lawsuits alleging that The Salvation Army violated federal law and many states’ laws when it failed to pay minimum wage to ARC workers. These lawsuits seek to hold The Salvation Army liable for these wages as the ARC workers’ employer. The cases were filed on March 9, 2022: Michael Clancy, et al. v. The Salvation Army, Case No. 1:22-cv-00979-LMM, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois; Raymon Alvear, et al. v. The Salvation Army, Case No. 1:22-cv-01250, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia; and Robert Geiser, et al. v. The Salvation Army, Case No. 1:22-cv-01968, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.
- Olabi v. Neutron Holdings, Inc. dba Lime: RBGG and co-counsel filed an action in the San Francisco Superior Court under California’s Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) against Lime, a startup that rents dockless motorized scooters throughout the United States. Lime classified all of its “Juicers”–who pickup scooters off the street in the evening, charge them at their homes overnight, and redistribute them in the morning and without whom Lime could not operate—as independent contractors. Plaintiff alleged that under California law, including the California Supreme Court’s recent decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court, all Juicers are actually employees. Plaintiff further claimed that Lime, by misclassifying Juicers as independent contractors, violated various provisions of California’s Labor Code regarding the payment of minimum wage, reimbursement for necessary business expenditures, and the provision of accurate wage statements. Plaintiff sought to recover civil penalties available under PAGA on behalf of all Lime Juicers in California. On September 9, 2019 the Court granted plaintiffs’ motion to coordinate all four statewide misclassification cases against Lime in San Francisco Superior Court. In July 2021, the Court granted approval of a $8.5 million settlement of all four cases against Lime.
- Moore et al. v. California Department of State Hospitals: Together with co-counsel, RBGG sued the Department of State Hospitals (DSH) in Los Angeles Superior Court in 2019 for blatant wage and hour violations. DSH paid patients at its hospitals as little as one dollar per hour to perform work essential to the functioning of the hospitals, including janitorial, dining, laundry, plumbing, clerical, library, and landscaping services. On March 18, 2021, the Honorable Elihu M. Berle granted preliminary approval to a $2 million settlement on behalf of 2276 patient workers. On December 14, 2021, the Court approved the $2 million settlement, including $5000 to each Named Plaintiff. Payments will be sent to class members shortly.
- Spilman v. Salvation Army: RBGG, along with co-counsel, filed this class action in San Francisco Superior Court in May 2021 against the Salvation Army alleging that it violates a host of California labor laws protecting patient-workers and fails to properly compensate its employees. The case seeks to hold the Salvation Army accountable for its California adult drug and rehabilitation centers that unlawfully require thousands of people to work long hours for essentially no compensation. The case is Spilman et al. v. The Salvation Army, San Francisco Superior Court Case No. CGC-21-591364.
- Executive v. Technology Company: We obtained a substantial confidential settlement for a female Chief Financial Officer who had claims against her former employer, a Bay Area technology startup, for whistleblower retaliation, unequal pay, discrimination, and harassment.
- Jay Brome v. California Highway Patrol: RBGG secured a unanimous reversal in the First Appellate District of the California Court of Appeals of a summary judgment order dismissing on statute of limitations grounds retired CHP Officer Jay Brome’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) claims, which arose out of the severe and pervasive discrimination and harassment he faced during his nearly twenty-year career because he is gay. The opinion affirms the importance of applying equitable doctrines— equitable tolling, the continuing violation doctrine, and constructive discharge—to allow employment discrimination and harassment claims to be heard on the merits by a jury. See Brome v. California Highway Patrol, 44 Cal.App.5th 786 (2020). The case will be tried in Solano County Superior Court in August 2021.
- 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.
- Security Guards v. Theater Company: The Superior Court approved a settlement of this wage and hour class action filed in 2016 on behalf of security guards responsible for customer safety at local theaters. These guards endure late nights in an area with a high crime rate, yet the highly successful employer refused to comply with a number of wage and hour laws. The settlement provided significant pay-outs to current and former security guards. As a result of the lawsuit, the company stopped its unlawful practices.
- Physician v. Medical Technology Company: We successfully concluded an action filed in 2018 on behalf of a physician alleging that a medical technology company violated California’s wage and hour laws and California public policy. The plaintiff worked as a telemediine provider. The action sought unpaid compensations for all of the hours worked, mandatory lactation breaks, and expense reimbursements.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 involving multiple causes of action and a cross-complaint in Alameda Superior Court.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Individual v. Fire Agency: Through pre-litigation negotiations, RBGG secured reinstatement of a job offer to a woman whose offer of employment as a firefighter was revoked because she had insulin-dependent diabetes.
- Employee v. Retail Store: RBGG obtained a favorable settlement for a store cashier summarily terminated for treating her low blood sugar by purchasing a small snack while on the job.
- Employee v. Fire Agency: We helped a state fire agency employee secure reasonable accommodations to allow him to manage his diabetes on the job and to successfully complete the rigorous Fire Academy course.
- Gober v. Ralphs Grocery Company: RBGG secured a unanimous affirmance of our clients’ entitlement to a substantial award for workplace harassment, including a punitive damages award. See Gober v. Ralphs Grocery Co., 137 Cal. App. 4th 204 (2006).
- EEOC v. Pan American World Airways, Inc.: After we represented a class of Pan Am pilots on age discrimination claims in a two-month jury trial, we secured a $20 million dollar settlement. The settlement, which the Ninth Circuit affirmed, was the largest ADEA settlement to date. See EEOC v. Pan Am. World Airways, Inc., 796 F.2d 314 (9th Cir. 1986), and 897 F.2d 1499 (9th Cir. 1990).
- Greene v. Dillingham Construction Company: Our firm secured a unanimous affirmance of a million-dollar fee award for plaintiffs’ counsel in a workplace racial harassment case, and remanding for consideration of a multiplier. See Greene v. Dillingham Constr. Co., 101 Cal. App. 4th 418 (2002).
- Yarborough v. PeopleSoft: We represented a woman who was discharged by her employer for discriminatory reasons, securing a judgment of $5.45 million.
- Weeks v. Baker & McKenzie: As appellate and fees counsel, we convinced the court to uphold a judgment awarding our client damages, including $3.5 million in punitives, as well as fees after a ground-breaking sexual harassment trial. See Weeks v. Baker & McKenzie, 63 Cal. App. 4th 1128 (1998).
- Sergeants for a Fair Lieutenants’ Exam vs. City and County of San Francisco: We tried this challenge to the San Francisco Police Department’s promotional exam on behalf of approximately 100 police officers, securing relief for many of our clients as well as attorney’s fees.