Skip to main content

Cutting-Edge Employment Law Issues 2016: The California Difference

Speaker(s): Aaron L. Agenbroad, Christopher B. Wilkinson, David E. Schlesinger, George Woods, Jr., M.D., L.F.A.P.A., Jahan C. Sagafi, Jason C. Marsili, Laura L. Ho, Lloyd W. Aubry, Jr., Mary D. Baker, Ph.D., Oswald B. Cousins, Robert A. Hawley, Robert R. Roginson, Roberta L. Steele, Stephen M. Rich, Stephen P. Sonnenberg
Recorded on: Sep. 21, 2016
PLI Program #: 150457

Chris Wilkinson maintains a broad litigation and advice practice in labor and employment, wage-and-hour, federal contractor compliance, equal pay, government relations, and administrative law. He represents multinational employers, advising and counseling on the full range of employment and compliance matters arising out of federal and state laws.

Chris’ current practice focuses on counseling employers and litigating pay equity matters arising out of federal and state claims. He helps clients navigate large-scale government investigations and litigation arising out of discrimination, retaliation, whistleblower, and other enforcement matters. He also investigates highly sensitive matters at the executive level, ensures legal compliance in diversity and inclusion efforts, and strategizes regarding labor and employment risks arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the former associate solicitor for civil rights and labor management for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Chris led the legal division responsible for the regulatory, policy, and enforcement matters for seven DOL agencies including the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Civil Rights Center, and Office of Labor Management Standards. In that senior executive role, Chris counseled the DOL on equal employment opportunity, enforcement, regulatory and policy initiatives and advised on a wide range of constitutional and statutory matters in federal courts including the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition to equal employment opportunity matters, Chris led union election and reporting enforcement work, counseled on transit labor certification matters, and advised on appellate matters related to labor union practices.

As a trial attorney and former counsel for Civil Rights Programs in the DOL’s San Francisco region, Chris litigated numerous complex class wage-and-hour, class discrimination, health and safety, and Sarbanes-Oxley and other whistleblower matters.

Chris serves as the president of the board of governors of the Washington Latin Public Charter School.

Dr. George Woods is a licensed physician specializing in neuropsychiatry. His private practice focuses on neurodevelopmental disorders, acquired neurocognitive disorders, cognitive impairments secondary to neuropsychiatric disorders, traumatic brain injury, ethnopsychopharmacology and workplace safety. In addition to his clinical practice, George consults with legal teams dealing with complex criminal and civil litigation.

He has worked with Vulcan Industries, Microsoft, Walmart and other companies to develop employment practices, ADA compliance, Artificial Intelligence, and security measures. Dr. Woods is Chief Scientific Officer for Crestwood Behavioral Health, Inc., a major provider of Behavioral Health services. Dr. Woods was appointed to the Governing Board of the Stanford University Medicare Shared Services Program (MSSP) University Health Alliance Accountable Care Organization, LLC.

Dr. Woods is President of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health (IALMH).  This is his second term in 6 years.  He is the recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Utah Medical Center, the first psychiatrist to receive this honor. George also received the Historical Prixe from the University of Milan in July 2019.

Dr. Woods is a lecturer at Berkeley Law at University of California, and has taught at the University of Washington-Bothell, the University of California-Davis, and Morehouse School of Medicine. George has taught at PLI for 8 years.

Dr. Mary Dunn Baker, Managing Director at Berkeley Research Group (BRG), is a labor economist with extensive experience in statistical and economic analyses for all aspects of employment discrimination matters.  She conducts analyses to determine how the outcomes of employment decision-making processes (e.g., hiring, promotion, termination and pay) relate to demographic group status (e.g., gender, race/ethnicity and age).  She also provides services in wage and hour cases analyzing issues such as misclassification, off-the-clock work and time-shaving.

Dr. Baker has given expert testimony in more than 60 cases in federal courts and other judicial settings.  Among the cases in which she has prepared analyses or given testimony are EEOC v. CRST Van Expedited, Inc.; Serrano, et al., and Avalos, et al., v. Cintas Corporation; and EEOC v. BMW Manufacturing Company, LLC.  She has analyzed employment data for numerous organizations such as Microsoft Corporation, The Boeing Company, Dollar Tree, FedEx Express, The University of Kentucky, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration, the United States Postal Service and the U.S. Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

She also designs programs to proactively monitor the outcomes of selection and compensation systems and works with federal government contractors to prepare for OFCCP audits and defend against notices of violation. On numerous occasions, she has been invited by organizations such as the American Employment Law Counsel, the American Bar Association’s Labor & Employment Section and EEO Committee, the American Association of Affirmative Action and various Industry Liaison Groups to give lectures, conduct workshops and participate in panel discussions about the use of economics and statistics in employment discrimination and wage/hour cases.

Prior to joining BRG in December 2015, Dr. Baker was employed by ERS Group from July 1986-November 2015.  She has also served as a member of the Economics faculty at Auburn University at Montgomery and as an Adjunct Professor of Economics at Florida State University.  Dr. Baker received the Ph.D. in Economics from Florida State University in 1986.

Jason C. Marsili is a partner at Rosen Marsili Rapp LLP in Los Angeles.  His practice focuses on class and collective wage and hour litigation on behalf of both unrepresented and unionized employees involving violations of the FLSA and state law.  Additionally, Mr. Marsili handles individual matters concerning medical leaves, employment discrimination, sexual harassment, and wrongful termination, as well as labor-management relations and executive compensation.  He holds a Master’s Degree in Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution and teaches negotiation and mediation advocacy courses at USC School of Law.  Mr. Marsili is an active member of both the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Labor & Employment Law and the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA) Labor & Employment Law Section.  He currently serves as a Co-Chair of the ABA Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee.  He also serves as an officer on the Executive Committee for the LACBA Labor & Employment Law Section and is a member of the Board of Governors for the Italian American Lawyers Association.

Laura L. Ho joined Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho in 1998 and has been a partner since 2005. Her current practice focuses on California and federal wage and hour class and collective actions. Ms. Ho has also represented non-profit organizations as amici curiae in a number of cases affecting California employees in the California Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  She also regularly gives presentations on the subjects of California and federal wage and hour class and collective actions. Ms. Ho speaks Mandarin Chinese.

Ms. Ho received California Lawyer magazine’s California Lawyer of the Year Award (CLAY) in 2009 for her achievements in employment law, was named Best Lawyer’s 2014 Lawyer of the Year for Oakland in Litigation—Labor and Employment, and is regularly recognized as a Northern California Super Lawyer.

Lloyd W. Aubry, Jr. is a member of our Employment and Labor Group. Mr. Aubry’s practice encompasses all aspects of employment and labor law, including litigation and counseling. He represents public and private clients in a variety of matters relating to wage and hour law, employment discrimination, wrongful discharge, safety and health issues, and National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) issues.

Mr. Aubry represents clients before administrative agencies and in state and federal court. A significant part of his practice involves expert testimony and consulting on issues relating to the Department of Industrial Relations. In this capacity, he has served for both employers and employees.

Prior to joining Morrison & Foerster, Mr. Aubry served as the Director of the California Department of Industrial Relations, a cabinet level position, from 1991 to 1997. During his tenure as Director, the department successfully updated wage and hour regulations, including elimination of the daily overtime rule; reformed the state’s workers’ compensation laws resulting in a $4 billion decrease in premiums; and modernized the prevailing wage regulations. Mr. Aubry, during his term as Director, served as President of the National Association of Government Labor Officials, a national organization of state labor commissioners, secretaries, and directors.

From 1989 to 1991, Mr. Aubry practiced labor law in San Francisco, and from 1985 to 1989, he served as the State Labor Commissioner. In this position he headed the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, and was responsible for enforcing and interpreting wage and hour law, prevailing wage law, various retaliation statutes, and a number of licensing provisions. From 1981 to 1984, he served as a Special Assistant and Counsel to the U.S. Secretary of Labor and to the Assistant Secretary for Policy, advising them on legal and policy issues. During this period he also served as a member, appointed by President Reagan, of the Commission on Agricultural Workers, a study commission created by the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986.

Mr. Aubry received his J.D. degree in 1975 from UCLA Law School and his B.A. degree in 1972 from Stanford University (Phi Beta Kappa, with distinction). He is a frequent lecturer and author on employment law matters and is the author of California Wage and Hour Guide, published by the Employers’ Group. He is also the editor of the firm’s Employment Law Commentary.


Stanford University,
(B.A., 1972)

UCLA Law School
(J.D., 1975)


LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell

AV (highest) Peer Review Rating

Robert Hawley served as Deputy Executive Director of the State Bar of California and then Acting Executive Director.  His areas of responsibility for the State Bar, included oversight of the State Bar’s Professional Competence Unit which administers the Ethics Hotline, the Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct (COPRAC), the State Bar’s professional responsibility publications and other functions related to the development of California's Rules of Professional Conduct.  He also oversaw the State Bar’s internal operations and served as the State Bar’s employee relations officer overseeing all labor and employment functions.

He received his Juris Doctorate (J.D.) degree from the University of California, Hastings College of Law and his Masters in Law (LL.M) in labor law from New York University, School of Law.

Mr. Hawley began his legal career as a disciplinary prosecutor for the State Bar.  He then entered private practice for over ten years representing management in labor and employment matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies.  He served as a member of the State Bar’s Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct (COPRAC) as well as its Chair and Special Advisor, as a hearing officer in the former voluntary State Bar Court, as a frequent MCLE speaker, and as a qualified expert witness in professional responsibility and labor law matters.  Prior to rejoining the State Bar’s staff as its chief labor counsel, he served as Risk Management Chair and Deputy Managing Partner for a major Bay Area law firm.

Mr. Hawley has taught Professional Responsibility and labor law at various Bay Area law schools for the past twenty years, and is currently on the adjunct faculty of Pacific McGeorge School of Law.

Mr. Hawley is the recipient of the National Organization of Bar Counsel’s 2014 President’s Award, recognizing lifetime achievement and service in attorney regulation.

Robert Roginson is a shareholder in the firm’s Los Angeles office. His practice includes all aspects of employment and labor law litigation and counseling for employers.

Mr. Roginson has represented private and public employers in state and federal courts and administrative agencies. Mr. Roginson has defended dozens of employers in class actions involving a variety of allegations, including employee misclassification, meal and rest period violations, off-the-clock claims, and record keeping violations. Mr. Roginson focuses on bringing creative solutions to complex legal problems. He has negotiated several settlements of wage/hour class and representative actions on terms favorable to the companies. He also counsels employers and companies on California and federal wage/hour and pay practice laws, prevailing wage laws, project labor agreements (PLAs), reduction in force issues and WARN notification requirements, labor relations and union matters, tribal immunity and sovereignty issues, and retaliation and discrimination claims.

From November 2007 until March 2010, Mr. Roginson served as Chief Counsel for the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). Appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mr. Roginson represented and advised the California Labor Commissioner and her staff in all aspects of enforcement and interpretation of California’s labor and wage/hour laws, licensing requirements, and retaliation statutes. He also managed and directed the Division’s litigation and handled matters involving meal and rest period compliance and enforcements, public works and prevailing wage requirements, child labor and work permit issues, the Talent Agency Act, farm labor contracting, garment manufacturing, and the Private Attorney General Act (PAGA).

As Chief Counsel, Mr. Roginson authored DLSE amicus briefs and opinion letters, including:

  • DLSE amicus brief in the California Supreme Court meal period case, Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court (Hohnbaum)
  • DLSE opinion letter affirming California’s on-duty meal period requirements
  • DLSE opinion letter affirming an employer’s right to take deductions for vacation and sick time for partial-day absences for exempt employees
  • DLSE opinion letter affirming an employer’s right to implement proportionate salary and work schedule reductions for exempt employees
  • DLSE opinion letter authorizing the use of debit paycards and convenience checks
  • DLSE opinion letter approving summertime alternative workweek schedule

Mr. Roginson also co-wrote and edited the DLSE’s Public Works Manual.

Prior to joining Ogletree Deakins, Mr. Roginson worked in the industrial relations department for the Associated General Contractors of California (AGC of California), where he represented construction contractors in labor grievance and arbitration matters in addition to the negotiation of the Southern California Basic Trades Master Labor Agreements.

Stephen P. Sonnenberg, Esq. has deep experience in understanding and resolving complex labor and employment disputes. Mr. Sonnenberg’s unique background, which allows him to understand both plaintiff and defendant concerns, comes from the practice of law, experience as a mediator, and prior experience as a psychotherapist. Mr. Sonnenberg is known for his attention to detail, thoughtful approach to emotion-laden disputes, and demeanor conducive to settlement.

Mr. Sonnenberg practiced labor and employment law at the highest levels for 25 years at Paul Hastings, and achieved a prestigious ranking from Chambers USA, within the Labor & Employment band. Leadership roles at the firm included a term as Chair of the New York Employment Law Practice (2014-2017), Vice Chair of the Employment Law Department (International) (2003-2014) and Co-Chair of the Employment Law Department’s national wage and hour law practice (2005-2014). Resident for an equal amount of time in the firm’s Los Angeles and New York offices, Mr. Sonnenberg represented and advised clients in a wide range of employment disputes, including wage and hour class and collective actions, retaliation, wrongful discharge, restrictive covenant, discrimination and harassment lawsuits. He has also overseen and conducted privileged internal investigations in response to complaints of misconduct.

Before practicing law, Mr. Sonnenberg devoted himself to a 15-year career as a clinical social worker in Michigan and California. Mr. Sonnenberg worked in diverse psychiatric settings and community organizations, assisting individuals with a wide range of emotional, vocational and financial challenges, including facilitating the resolution of disputes with family members, employers and other third parties.  Settings included psychiatric hospitals, a community mental health center, and the private practice of psychotherapy working with individuals, couples and families.

Mr. Sonnenberg has mediated numerous matters not only at JAMS but as a member of the Mediation Panels of the U.S. District Court, Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. He has taught employment law to members of the federal judiciary through the Federal Judicial Center, has provided employment law training and advice in a variety of settings, and is an adjunct faculty member at Cardozo Law School.

Stephen Rich is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Southern California, Gould School of Law.  Professor Rich arrived at USC Law in 2007 as a Visiting Assistant Professor and joined the faculty full time in 2009.  Professor Rich has published in the areas of employment discrimination law and constitutional law in George Washington Law Review and Virginia Law Review, and he has articles on these and related topics forthcoming in Iowa Law Review, Southern California Law Review, and Texas Law Review.  His research interests include the intersection of antidiscrimination law and social psychology, workplace diversity, statutory interpretation, equal protection, and affirmative action.  Professor Rich is currently working on a project concerning the applicability of the concept of diversity developed by the U.S. Supreme Court in its constitutional jurisprudence on education to employment settings governed primarily by statutory rules.

Before transitioning to law teaching, Professor Rich practiced law as a litigator in the New York office of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.  While in practice, he litigated a variety of high profile matters concerning freedom of speech, securities fraud, trademark infringement, and the right to counsel.  Professor Rich is a graduate of Yale Law School and former Fulbright Fellow.  Immediately following his graduation from law school, Professor Rich was awarded Harvard Law School’s Reginald Lewis Fellowship, and he then clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the chambers of the Honorable Betty B. Fletcher.  Professor Rich is a recipient of the William A. Rutter Distinguished Teaching Award for his contributions as a teacher at USC Law.

Oswald Cousins defends and advises clients on complex employment law challenges. His 25 years of experience as a trial lawyer and high-level advisor to both established and emerging companies on all aspects of employment law further strengthen the capabilities of Morrison & Foerster’s Employment + Labor practice. Mr. Cousins’ experience includes: wage-and-hour compliance and litigation, Private Attorney General Act litigation, equal pay claims, discrimination and harassment, whistleblower and retaliation, reductions in force and disability accommodation.

He has tried cases to verdict before federal and state court juries and judges, and has served as lead counsel in arbitrations and administrative proceedings.

In addition to his legal work, Mr. Cousins is a frequent speaker and authority on legal developments, theories, and practical aspects related to employment law and litigation. He is a member of the American Employment Law Council (AELC), the American Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law Section, and the Bar Association of San Francisco.

Mr. Cousins is admitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and to the U.S. Supreme Court.


  • Large national retailer misclassification case: As co-lead counsel, Mr. Cousins successfully tried a store manager misclassification case to verdict for a large national retailer. This was a significant victory, because if plaintiff had won, it would have opened the door to hundreds of other claims.
  • Emerging tech companies counsel: Advise and counsel emerging tech companies, including leading software development hosting organization and prominent social media website, on variety of employment issues, including wage-and-hour compliance, and ongoing employee-relations issues.
  • Cybersecurity company counsel: Lead counsel for cyber-security company in FCRA background check class action.
  • Whistleblower actions litigation: Litigated multi-plaintiff whistleblower actions for large health care provider; obtaining favorable settlements.
  • National photography chain defense: Successfully defended national photography chain in arbitration of wrongful termination claims by former executive.
  • Bio-sciences company defense: Defended emerging bio-sciences company in trade secret and wrongful termination litigation by former CEO.
  • Large hospitality defense: Defended large hospitality organization in complex, multi-plaintiff discrimination lawsuits, including two jury trials.


  • California


  • University of Vermont (B.A., 1990)
  • University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law (J.D., 1994)


David Schlesinger is an experienced, effective attorney who has been recognized for the quality of his work for employees.  He is an MSBA Certified Labor and Employment Law Specialist, has been selected multiple times as a Super Lawyer, is past President of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association and teaches Law in Practice at the University of Minnesota Law School.  David has successfully litigated a wide variety of employment claims, from discrimination, to wage and hour, to claims under the Family and Medical Leave Act. His practice includes an emphasis on the intersection of employment and business disputes, including litigation of breach of fiduciary duty and minority shareholder claims. He has effectively defended employees from non-compete and trade secret claims brought by their former employers.

Jahan C. Sagafi is the partner in charge of the Outten & Golden San Francisco office, where he represents employees in class actions asserting wage and hour, discrimination, and other claims. Mr. Sagafi is active in the legal community, having served on the boards of Alliance for Justice, the San Francisco American Constitution Society (ACS) chapter, the ACLU of Northern California, and Public Advocates. He has also served as a member of the Board of Advisors of the San Francisco ACS chapter and a member of the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Judicial Evaluations Committee. He is a frequent speaker and writer regarding employment litigation, class action jurisprudence, and other issues.

Prior to joining Outten & Golden, he was a partner at Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, and clerked for the Honorable William W Schwarzer of the Northern District of California. Mr. Sagafi graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

Roberta L. Steele is the Regional Attorney for the San Francisco District Office of the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  She is responsible for the agency’s litigation program to enforce the federal anti- discrimination laws in Northern California and Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.   Before joining the EEOC, Ms. Steele was a partner at the law firm then known as Goldstein, Demchak, Baller, Borgen & Dardarian (Oakland, CA), where she spent 17 years litigating plaintiffs’ employment discrimination and wage and hour class and collective actions nationally. She also served as the Program Director for the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) for two years directing the organization’s broad range of continuing legal education and advocacy initiatives, including NELA’s Amicus and Judicial Nominations Programs.  Ms. Steele was an Executive Editor for Lindemann & Grossman, Employment Discrimination Law, 5th ed. (2013). She was a member of the Board of Directors of Equal Rights Advocates for eight years, including serving on the Executive Committee and as Chair of the Litigation Committee. Ms. Steele has been active in the American Bar Association’s Labor & Employment Law Section for many years. She is a frequent lecturer and panelist on subjects relating to the fair employment and wage and hour laws, class and collective actions, and litigation practice and procedure. Ms. Steele received her J.D. from Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Cleveland, OH, in 1993, where she was an Associate Editor and Notes Editor for its Law Review. In 1990, Ms. Steele graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA.

Aaron Agenbroad's practice includes all aspects of labor and employment law, with a focus on representing corporate clients in complex labor and employment disputes. In the employment arena, his practice includes litigation of California wage and hour class actions and FLSA collective actions, California discrimination cases under FEHA and CFRA, and federal discrimination cases, including ADEA, FMLA, ADA, and Title VII claims. Aaron has experience with all phases of litigation and has tried multiple cases to verdict. He also regularly counsels employers in employment matters, including reductions in force, employee terminations, FMLA and CFRA issues, and EEOC and FEHA charges.

In his traditional labor work, Aaron's experience includes representation of management in labor arbitrations in the telecommunications, health care, refining, and manufacturing industries. He also has represented clients in NLRB and PERB unfair labor practice proceedings, led collective bargaining negotiations, and worked in defending union organizing campaigns. His NLRB election experience includes successful results in certification and decertification elections involving retail facilities, newspapers, casinos, and health care institutions.

Recent successes include full defense verdicts as lead counsel in trials on behalf of R.J. Reynolds and the Port of Oakland, the resolution of three statewide wage and hour class actions on behalf of Chevron Stations, and leading successful collective bargaining negotiations in the health care, shipping, and gaming industries. Representative clients include Alameda Health System, AstraZeneca, IBM, Macy's, McDonald's, R.J. Reynolds, United Airlines, and Verizon Wireless.

Aaron is Partner-in-Charge of the Firm's San Francisco Office. 


Chevron obtains summary judgment in California FEHA age discrimination case

Alameda Health System prevails on grievance regarding independent contractor status of anesthesiologists.

R. J. Reynolds wins full defense verdict after trial of race discrimination and wrongful termination claims


Legal 500 US (2012-2015) — recommended attorney: labor & employment litigation and labor-management relations


Georgetown University (J.D. 1997); University of Washington (B.A. 1992)

Bar Admissions

California and U.S. District Courts for the Central, Eastern, Northern, and Southern Districts of California