Skip to main content

Wage & Hour Litigation and Compliance 2021


Speaker(s): C. Andrew Head, Catherine K. Ruckelshaus, Dane Steffenson, David S. Fortney, Ellen C. Kearns, Eric C. de los Santos, George A. Hanson, Hon. James C. Francis IV (Ret.), Melissa Lardo Stewart, Michael L. Russell, Michele R. Fisher, Paul DeCamp, Paula J. Frederick, R. Nelson Williams, Rachhana T. Srey, Shafeeqa W. Giarratani, Timothy J. Long
Recorded on: Jan. 26, 2021
PLI Program #: 306574

C. Andrew (“Andy”) Head is a plaintiff’s side wage and hour law attorney with over twenty-five years of employment law practice experience. Mr. Head is the managing owner of Head Law Firm, LLC, an employee rights class and collective action litigation firm with offices in Atlanta and Chicago. He began his career exclusively representing management and corporate clients as an associate and then partner at Holland & Knight, LLP, followed by a mixed employer/employee-side practice as a partner at two Atlanta area firms before forming Head Law Firm, LLC and dedicating his practice primarily to the representation of employees in class and collective action wage and hour litigation.

Through his nationwide wage and hour litigation practice, his active service in various employment law organizations, and as a frequent presenter at continuing legal education seminars by the ABA, PLI, NELA, ICLE, and others, Mr. Head has developed a national reputation as a leading practitioner in wage and hour class and collective actions. He has litigated over a hundred class and collective actions involving complex challenges such as fluctuating workweek pay plans, misclassification of employees as exempt from applicable state and federal overtime laws, regular rate violations, and other highly technical issues of wage and hour law compliance.

Mr. Head currently serves as the Co-Chair of the FMLA Subcommittee of the American Bar Association’s Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee, Chapter Editor for the ABA’s Fair Labor Standards Act Treatise published by BNA, and Chapter Editor for the ABA’s Wage and Hour Laws: A State-by-State Survey also published by BNA. He has received many peer recognition honors, including being named to Super Lawyers, Georgia’s Legal Elite, Georgia Top Lawyers, Top Attorneys in Georgia, and invitation to Lawyers of Distinction.

Mr. Head graduated cum laude from Vanderbilt University, and received his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1995.


Catherine Ruckelshaus is general counsel and legal director at the National Employment Law Project, where she leads the Legal Department’s work fighting to support workers’ rights and economic security for all.

Her primary areas of expertise are the labor and employment rights of low-wage contingent and immigrant workers and the barriers those workers face in gaining access to baseline job protections.

Cathy co-founded the National Wage & Hour Clearinghouse, a network of attorneys and advocates from legal services, the private bar, academia, and government, dedicated to advancing labor standards for all workers, and regularly advises national allies to promote state and federal public agency enforcement reforms in the workers’ rights arena.

Cathy has litigated complex cases and written amicus briefs in most federal circuits and the U.S. Supreme Court on wage and hour and low-wage worker topics.  She regularly provides testimony to Congress and state legislatures, and comments frequently in the national media on these issues. Ms. Ruckelshaus is a graduate of Princeton University and Stanford Law School. She was in the first class of Skadden Arps Fellows in 1989. Cathy is admitted to practice law in New York.


Dane Steffenson joined Littler Mendelson’s Atlanta office after more than 17 years litigating some of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) most complex, novel and high-profile cases.   Dane trained many DOL attorneys and investigators and served as lead counsel on hundreds of employment law cases, including more than 25 trials and many mediations under the

  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA);
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA);
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA);
  • Service Contract Act (SCA);
  • Executive Order 11246, H1-B and various whistleblower statutes

Dane’s experience provides him unique insight into the DOL’s enforcement strategies, policies and procedures.  In 2016, Dane’s peers and the Solicitor of Labor recognized him as the DOL’s top litigator. 

Dane focuses his practice on the FLSA and other wage and hour litigation, ERISA, OSHA, and assisting clients successfully navigate DOL investigations.  His FLSA and ERISA practice ranges from single plaintiff to large, complex class or collective actions, with particular expertise in contingent workforces, independent contractor misclassification and Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs). 

Dane regularly speaks and writes on issues related to wage and hour, OSHA, ERISA and DOL investigations including co-producing FLSA training for the federal judiciary.  He was a co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Fair Labor Legislation Standards committee, Editor for the Collective Actions and “Hybrid” Class Actions chapter of the Fair Labor Standards Act (BNA Third Edition), and regular contributor to FLSA and ERISA annual case updates. 


Eric C. de los Santos recently joined Facebook as an Associate General Counsel, Labor and Employment, and his advising focuses on benefits, compensation, leave absence management, employment discrimination, and diversity and inclusion. Prior to this, he was Deputy General Counsel, VP of Legal, Employment, & Ethics for TrueBlue where he led a team responsible for investigating and responding to all employment and labor related matters, fraud, and code of conduct violations for the company’s brands operating in the U.S. and globally. He also chaired TrueBlue’s Diversity & Inclusion Council and worked directly with the CEO and senior leadership to advance the company’s D&I strategy.

He is a frequent speaker on employment law, and diversity and inclusion issues at the national and local levels. He is very active with the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) and last year served as Chair of the Employment and Labor Law Network (ELLN). Several years ago, ACC presented Eric with the Matthew J. Whitehead, II Diversity Award, which is the highest award given to an in-house attorney for improving the employment, retention, advancement and career path opportunities for lawyers of diverse constituencies.

He is a member of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and also a founding member of the National Filipino American Lawyers Association (NFALA). Last year, he served as NFALA President.

Eric received his degree in Public Policy from Brown University and his J.D. from the University of Washington School Of Law. He was born and raised in Honolulu, and now resides in Seattle with his husband Chad and Chihuahua, Paul Patches.


George Hanson is a partner at Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP in Kansas City, Missouri. George has earned a national reputation for prosecuting wage and hour cases on behalf of disenfranchised workers, protecting their right to “a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.” After a landmark trial where he delivered a victory for a class of meat-packing workers, a distinguished federal judge described George’s wage and hour experience as having “matchless depth.”

George has been named lead or co-lead attorney in more than 100 wage and hour actions filed in state and federal courts across the country and been appointed lead counsel in three Multidistrict Litigations (MDLs). He has appeared in 34 states, litigating matters involving overtime, minimum wage, work without pay, unreimbursed business expenses, donning and doffing, and independent contractor misclassification. George is passionate about leveling the playing field for workers and closing the gender wage gap. As a result of George’s work, employees have recovered more than $250 million in settlements and judgments in wage and hour cases.

George has been named among the Kansas City Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar,” is a Missouri/Kansas Super Lawyer and is listed in Best Lawyers in America in three categories: commercial litigation, employment law, and mass torts/class actions. He has been honored by the National Law Journal as a Plaintiffs’ Lawyer “Trailblazer,” named a Best Lawyers in America “Lawyer of the Year” for mass tort/class action litigation and both a “Local Litigation Star” and a “Labor and Employment Star” by Benchmark Plaintiffs.

George frequently presents on wage-and-hour law at seminars and continuing legal education programs across the country. George also has been a guest lecturer at the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law, the University of Kansas School of Law, and the Washington University School of Law. He is an author of multiple publications in wage-and-hour law and has served as a Senior Editor for the American Bar Association’s “Fair Labor Standards Act,” a leading treatise in the field.

 


Melissa Lardo Stewart is a partner at Outten & Golden LLP in New York, where she represents employees in class action wage and discrimination cases.  She has represented workers across many industries and job functions, including retail, sales, food service, hospitality, financial services, accounting, and telecommunications.  She has prosecuted wage theft claims on behalf of workers who were required to work off-the-clock, subjected to time-shaving, wrongly classified as exempt from overtime protections, and improperly treated as independent contractors.  Ms. Stewart also currently represents employees and applicants in class and collective action gender and age discrimination cases.

Before Ms. Stewart joined Outten & Golden LLP in November 2013, she clerked for the Honorable James Orenstein in the Eastern District of New York and the Honorable Dickinson R. Debevoise in the District of New Jersey, and represented workers and labor unions as an associate at Woodley & McGillivary in Washington, D.C.  She graduated magna cum laude from Fordham University School of Law in 2009.


Michael L. Russell is a Nashville based mediator and arbitrator who serves as a neutral throughout the United States.  He also teaches alternative dispute resolution at the Belmont University College of Law.

As a mediator, Mr. Russell has successfully mediated almost every type of civil action, from single party employment cases to nation-wide class actions.  Because of his background in employment law, he is especially sought after by the labor and employment bar. His mediation experience, however, includes business disputes, law firm dissolutions, personal injury cases, intellectual property matters, and consumer class actions.

Various publications and organizations have recognized Mr. Russell’s work as a mediator and lawyer.  He has regularly been listed in Best Lawyers in America and Mid-South Super LawyersBest Lawyers recognized him as their 2018 Nashville Lawyer of the Year-Labor and 2020 Nashville Lawyer of the Year-Employment.  Mid-South Super Lawyers has named him one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Tennessee and one of the Top 50 Lawyers in Nashville.  Martindale Hubbell has ranked him AV Preeminent, with a peer review rating of 5.0 out of 5.0.  Mr. Russell has also been elected to the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals.  He is a Fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, the Nashville Bar Foundation, and the Tennessee Bar Foundation.

Mr. Russell graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from the University of Tennessee. He received his law degree from the University of Memphis, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude and was a Humphreys Law Fellow.

Mr. Russell is also a sought-after speaker and writer.  His writings have been published in the American Journal of Trial Advocacy, the University of Memphis Law Review, the Ohio Northern University Law Review, the Seton Hall Constitutional Law Journal, and Employee Rights Quarterly. His articles have been cited by courts, scholars, and in testimony before the United States Congress. 

A former chair of the Tennessee Bar Association Labor and Employment Section, Mr. Russell has been very active in civic and professional organizations.   He has served on the boards of the University of Tennessee Alumni Association, the UT Alumni Legislative Council, the National Conference of Law Reviews, and the TBA Leadership Law Alumni Association.  He served for a number of years on the TBA Leadership Law Steering Committee. He was a co-founder of the Howell Edmunds Jackson American Inn of Court and served as president of the Nashville Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.

In his spare time, Mr. Russell enjoys reading, travel, and spending as much time on the tennis court as he can.  He and his wife, Heather, live in suburban Nashville. 

 


Michele Fisher is a managing partner at Nichols Kaster, PLLP, and the Chair of the Firm’s Business Development and Marketing Groups, which originate class and collective actions and market the firm.  She has dedicated her career to litigating wage and hour cases in an aggressive, creative, and strategic manner. She is one of the leaders of a practice group that has been described as a "powerhouse" for mass wage and hour litigation and arbitration. Michele has the experience, resources, and staff to take on any company regardless of size.  She has handled several jury trials and arbitrations in her fight for employee rights and prides herself on the firm's reputation as a leader in national wage and hour class and collective action litigation. Michele has litigated hundreds of class and collective actions involving positions such as home health aides, delivery drivers, loan officers, retail salespersons, oil and gas workers, assistant managers, branch managers, field service engineers, call center representatives, exotic dancers, inside sales representatives, restaurant workers, insurance adjusters, property specialists, property managers, installers, service technicians, and road construction laborers. 

Michele is active in several organizations. She is a Co-Chair and faculty member of the Practicing Law Institute’s Wage & Hour Litigation and Compliance conference, the Vice Co-Chair of the ABA Labor and Employment Law Section’s Annual Conference Plaining Committee, the Co-Chair of the ABA Labor and Employment Law Section's Revenue and Partnership Development Committee, and a wage and hour track coordinator for the ABA Labor and Employment Law Section’s annual conference. She has also served as the Co-Chair of the ABA Labor and Employment Law Section’s Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee, Co-Editor-in-Chief of the ABA Labor and Employment Law Section’s Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee FLSA Midwinter Report, an editorial board member for BNA’s the Fair Labor Standards Act Treatise, and a chapter editor for BNA’s Wage and Hour Laws: A State-by-State Survey. She has been named to the Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, Top Women Attorneys, and Rising Star lists repeatedly, is a member of the Top 10 Wage and Hour Lawyers, Top 100 National Trial Lawyers, Top 100 High Stakes Litigators, and LawDragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Employment Lawyers, and has been named a Lawyer of Distinction. Michele volunteers as an attorney for a foster child through the Children's Law Center.


Mr. Fortney is a co-founder of Fortney & Scott, LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm counseling and advising clients on the full spectrum of work-place related matters, including employment discrimination and labor matters, compliance programs, government contracting, and developing strategies for avoiding or responding to workplace-related crises. Mr. Fortney’s broad-based practice includes equal employment opportunity requirements, wage and hour matters, federal contractor’s affirmative action and non-discrimination obligations, collective bargaining, and workplace health and safety. He brings experience from the public and private sectors, and he represents clients before federal and state agencies, including the U.S. Department of Labor’s agencies, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the National Labor Relations Board.

Previously, Mr. Fortney served as the chief legal officer and other positions at the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. during the term of President George H.W.  Bush.

Mr. Fortney is on the Board of Directors of the American Employment Law Council, a co-founder of the Institute for Workplace Equality, and a Member of the ABA Council for the Labor & Employment Section.  Mr. Fortney has been recognized as one of the leading employment lawyers in Washington, D.C. by the CHAMBERS USA survey of America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in all years from 2005 through present.  He was selected for inclusion in the 2008 through present editions of The Best Lawyers in America, Washington D.C.’s, Washington D.C.’s Best Lawyers, and Super Lawyers.  Mr. Fortney received an AV rating (the highest level) by Martindale-Hubbell.


Nelson represents employers in various aspects of employment law and litigation.  His work for clients covers several industries, including telecommunications, software development, banking, and agriculture.

Nelson has developed a special focus on defending class and conditional certification actions under the FLSA.  In multiple jurisdictions, he has handled class litigation for both large and small companies.  His work has resulted in the outright dismissal of class claims, as well as the denial and decertification of wage and hour class and collective actions.  In 20113, Nelson contributed to a major victory for a global computer software company when it obtained decertification of a collective action under the FLSA, and concurrently defeated the plaintiffs’ motion for Rule 23 class certification.  In 2017, Nelson helped secure the dismissal of a class and collective action for $0, after five years of litigation.

Unlike many attorneys, Nelson has also first-chaired and second-chaired multiple jury trials to verdict.  These cases include federal and state court litigation, as well as multi-million dollar claims.  Most recently, in 2019, Nelson argued a motion for directed verdict during trial, which was granted in part and resulted in the dismissal of half of the claims.  He went on to obtain a complete defense jury verdict.

He has successfully represented employers in matters involving the ADEA, ADA, FMLA, and Title VII.  In each matter, Nelson takes an aggressive but thought approach to litigation.  He enjoys researching the specific needs of a client and developing a tailored litigation strategy that aligns with a clients goals and helps them achieve the best outcome.

Nelson has also represented employers in union arbitrations on a host of issues, ranging from work slowdowns to defending a company’s decision to discharge employees for sexual harassment. 

Nelson is Chair of Thompson Coburn’s African-American Affinity Group, where he helps create a positive and supportive environment for the Firm’s African-American attorneys, as well as enhance the Firm’s development and retention efforts.  Nelson also serves on the Firm’s Employment Committee, and is an active member of the Diversity Committee, where he mentors several Associates through their careers. 

Nelson is a 2007 graduate of Duke University.  In 2010, he obtained his law degree from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.


Paul DeCamp is a Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice in the Washington, D.C. office of Epstein Becker Green, where he co-chairs the firm’s national Wage and Hour practice group.  A former Administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division—the chief federal officer appointed by the President of the United States to interpret and to enforce the Nation’s wage and hour laws—he has more than two decades of experience representing employers and trade associations in the most complex and challenging wage and hour litigations, government investigations, and counseling matters.  He has served as lead counsel in class and collective actions across the country.  His work spans a broad range of industries, including aerospace, financial services, gaming, health care, hospitality, manufacturing, restaurants, retail, and transportation, as well as many others.

Paul has testified in Congress on several occasions regarding wage and hour matters, most recently in 2019.  He is a frequent speaker at national employment law conferences, and his commentary has appeared extensively on NPR and in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Politico, Daily Labor Report, Employment Law360, and Employment Law Daily.  In 2020, he was selected to the Law360 Employment Editorial Advisory Board.  He is a member of the American Employment Law Council and has received recognition by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, The Best Lawyers in America, The Legal 500 United States, and Washington DC Super Lawyers.

Paul received his A.B. from Harvard College magna cum laude in 1992 and his J.D. in 1995 from the Columbia University School of Law, where he was a Notes Editor for the Columbia Law Review.  After law school, he clerked for the Honorable Alan E. Norris of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

You can reach Paul at 202-861-1819 or PDeCamp@ebglaw.com.


Paula Frederick is General Counsel for the State Bar of Georgia, a unified bar organization with over 50,000 members.  As General Counsel Ms. Frederick is responsible for interpreting the ethics rules for lawyers, prosecuting lawyer discipline cases, and providing legal advice to the officers and directors of the organization.  She has served in the Office of the General Counsel for 32 years and was Deputy General Counsel for Discipline before becoming General Counsel in 2009.

Ms. Frederick is a 1982 graduate of the Vanderbilt University School of Law and a 1979 graduate of Duke University.  Prior to joining the Office of the General Counsel, she spent six years as a staff attorney with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society handling civil legal matters for low-income people.

Ms. Frederick is a Past President of both the Atlanta Bar Association and the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys.  She is also an active member of the American Bar Association, where she serves as State Delegate for Georgia.  She sits on the ABA Standing Committee on Bar Activities and Services and recently chaired the Standing Committee on Professional Regulation.  In the past she served on the Commission on the Future of Legal Services, chaired the Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility and the ABA Diversity Center, and served as a member of the Board of Governors.   


Rachhana T. Srey is a partner at Nichols Kaster, PLLP whose practice is primarily dedicated to class and collective action employment litigation.  Rachhana primarily handles large-scale wage and hour and discrimination cases. She has been a zealous advocate for thousands of employees over her 16 years of practice, representing a wide variety of workers in many industries including employees who work in the health, insurance, financial services, communications, retail, manufacturing, security and also federal sector employees.  Rachhana’s exceptional case management and advocacy skills, dedication to her clients, and hard work ethic have earned her the respect of her clients and of her colleagues in the legal community.  She is active in several organizations, taking on leadership roles as the Co-Chair of the National Employment Lawyer Association's Wage & Hour Committee and Practice Group, the Co-Chair of the Association of Justice's Wage & Hour Group, and Board President of Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid.  Rachhana is often invited to speak nationally and locally on a wide range of topics including wage and hour litigation and trials, class action litigation strategies, discovery issues, and recent developments in the law. 


Shafeeqa Giarratani is a shareholder in the Austin office of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., and a member of the firm’s Board of Directors. She represents employers in federal and state court and before administrative agencies and regulatory agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Texas Workforce Commission, and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

She regularly handles litigation matters at both the trial and appellate level, in alternative dispute resolution and before governmental agencies. Shafeeqa has represented management in civil rights, wrongful discharge, Family and Medical Leave Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, employment tort, defamation, breach of contract, tortious interference and other employment-related charges and litigation.

She advises clients on appropriate handling of whistleblowers, regularly handles litigation in this area, and performs in-depth investigations of all types.  She also advises clients that are federal contractors on affirmative action, legislative and regulatory changes affecting employment matters for federal contractors and Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program (OFCCP) compliance issues, from developing affirmative action plans to representing companies during the audit process.


Timothy Long has deep experience litigating complex labor and employment issues, having served as lead counsel in multiple class, collective, and representative actions and advising on dozens more. Tim litigates wage-and-hour matters, including exemption, incentive compensation, independent contractor, off-the-clock, and pay practice claims. He also has defeated class and collective certification (including at Stage One) in exemption, off-the-clock, and pay practice cases.

Tim advises businesses on employment litigation and other types of claims. He litigates employment discrimination and wrongful termination claims, as well as matters involving trade secrets. Tim provides counsel on many corporate matters and often advises entertainment industry employers on emerging issues. Tim has both prosecuted and defended employers in trade secret and unfair business practices litigation. He has also resisted competitor efforts to enjoin the lawful practices of his clients.

Tim represents employers before state and federal administrative agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH), Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), and Employment Development Department (EDD). He also conducts workplace investigations and audits.

Tim has wide-ranging experience handling traditional labor relations matters, including advising on certification and decertification elections. Throughout his career, he has litigated dozens of traditional labor disputes, representing clients in courts, before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and in private arbitration. Tim also advises clients on labor relations issues that arise in mergers and acquisitions.


The Honorable James C. Francis IV (Ret.) is a Mediator, Arbitrator, and Special Master affiliated with JAMS. From 1985-2017, he served as a United States Magistrate Judge in the Southern District of New York, including a two-year term as chief magistrate judge. During his tenure, Judge Francis was responsible for conducting pretrial proceedings, mediating settlements, and presiding over trial in thousands of cases. The matters he handled include financial markets claims, employment discrimination class actions, wage and hour collective actions, multidistrict product liability litigation, civil rights class actions, mass torts, securities class actions, admiralty cases, copyright and trademark claims, patent infringement cases, and a wide array of complex commercial litigation. Judge Francis is nationally recognized as an expert in electronic discovery.

After stepping down from the bench in 2017, Judge Francis served as distinguished lecturer at the CUNY School of Law, where he taught Civil Procedure, Evidence, Electronic Discovery, Constitutional Torts, and Federal Courts.  Judge Francis has been an active member of several bar groups and currently serves on the Labor and Employment Committee of the New York City Bar Association.

Judge Francis graduated summa cum laude from Yale College, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.  He received his juris doctor degree from the Yale Law School and a masters degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.  Following graduation from law school, Judge Francis clerked for the Honorable Robert L. Carter in the Southern District of New York.  After his clerkship, Judge Francis served an attorney with the impact litigation unit of the Legal Aid Society of New York. There, he litigated class actions and test cases in the areas of housing and education. He also established the Disability Rights Unit to provide legal services for persons with physical and mental disabilities. 


Ellen Kearns is the office head and senior partner in the Boston office of Constangy Brooks Smith & Prophete, LLP, a law firm specializing in labor and employment law.

Ellen represents management in a full range of traditional labor and employment law matters. She has appeared before federal and state courts and administrative agencies with respect to employment discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, wage and hour, and other employment related litigation. Ellen is recognized nationally for her wage and hour expertise, having served as Editor-in-Chief of the first, second, third and fourth editions of the ABA/BNA Treatise, The Fair Labor Standards Act. She is the former chair of the ABA Editorial Board for the Journal of Labor & Employment Law.

Ellen has been recognized by Chambers USA Guide, Best Lawyers in America, American Registry, and Super Lawyers (Top 100 in Massachusetts, Top 50 Women in Massachusetts, Top 50 Women in New England). She is a frequent speaker on wage and hour law.

Ellen graduated from Boston College Law School and Regis College.