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Cutting-Edge Employment Law Issues 2015: The California Difference

Speaker(s): Aaron L. Agenbroad, Aashish Y. Desai, Andrea L. Brown, Anne G. Purcell, George Woods, Jr., M.D., L.F.A.P.A., Hilda M. Gonzalez, Jahan C. Sagafi, Jennifer B. Zargarof, Laura L. Ho, Margaret A. Keane, Michael D. Weil, Nelson Chan, Richard P. Carlton, MPH, Robert P. Bonsall, Robert R. Roginson, Stephen M. Rich, Stephen P. Sonnenberg, Timothy J. Long
Recorded on: Sep. 30, 2015
PLI Program #: 58968

Anne Purcell has spent her entire legal career with the National Labor Relations Board.  After graduating from the University of Missouri Law School, she began her career in the Kansas City office as a field attorney investigating alleged unfair labor practices and litigating those charges found to be meritorious.  In 1986 she moved to Washington DC where she served as Chief Counsel to Board Member Mary Cracraft.  Unfair labor practices are initially litigated before administrative law judges.  If a party disagrees with the administrative law judge, then the party has the right to file exceptions (i.e. appeal) to the full National Labor Relations Board.  The Board through its decisions establishes national labor policy.  As Chief Counsel to one of the five Board members, she managed the Board member’s staff, advised the Board member on the cases coming before her as well as the implications for labor law policy.  From that position, Anne moved to the Division of Operations-Management, starting as a Deputy to the Assistant General Counsel and then moving up the ladder to the Associate General Counsel position.  The Associate General Counsel in the Division of Operations-Management oversees a staff who in turn manages all field operations.  There are 50 field offices across the country and it is the Division’s responsibility to ensure that the field is well informed about the General Counsel’s positions and is enforcing the law consistent with those positions.  The Division oversees all aspects of performance as well as managing budgetary, personnel and the Agency’s internal labor relations issues.  In all,   Anne has now spent 38 years with the National Labor Relations Board.

Since the firm’s founding in the 1930’s, the prime focus of the practice of Beeson Tayer & Bodine has been the representation of Unions in the public and private sectors.

Robert regularly deals with any and all issues confronting labor unions, including labor arbitration, contract negotiations and enforcement, organizing, picketing, strike-related issues, elections and unfair labor practice proceedings before administrative agencies and in the courts.  He also routinely addresses various matters pertaining to Union internal governance and administration, including issues concerning dues (and the agency fee payer requirements of the Supreme Court’s Beck and Hudson cases), Landrum-Griffin obligations, and Department of Labor regulation of Unions.

In addition, Robert has had extensive experience as a neutral offering interest-based training and contract facilitation to assist both labor and management negotiators to utilize alternative bargaining techniques, skills and strategies designed to maximize the parties success at the bargaining table, while preserving and building long-term relationships and partnerships between labor and management representatives.

Bar Membership

California State Bar

United States District Court for the Central, Eastern, Northern and Southern Districts of California

United States Court of Appeal Ninth Circuit

Supreme Court of the United States


Member, American Bar Association – Labor & Employment Section

Member, State Bar of California – Labor & Employment Section

Member, Sacramento County Bar Association – Labor & Employment Section

Member, Industrial Relations Association of Northern California


McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific

University of California, Davis

Sacramento County Bar Association Labor and Employer Section

Industrial Relation Association of Northern California

National Academy of Arbitrators

Practicing Law Institute


San Francisco State University (1980) B.A. magna cum laude

University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law (1985) J.D.

AASHISH Y. DESAI is an experienced and polished advocate.  He has a reputation as both an ethical and determined attorney and a long history of success.  Clients and attorneys seek him out not only for his professionalism, intelligence and strong desire to win, but perhaps more importantly, because of his proactive, solution-oriented style of litigation.  He takes his role as an advocate very seriously — whether it’s a multi-million dollar class action or a pro bono matter.  He recently filed an amicus brief and appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue of whether the outside salesperson exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 applies to pharmaceutical representatives.

He has written countless legal articles and co-authored the leading CEB practice manual for California Wage and Hour Law, published by The Regents of the University of California.  He is also a Chapter Editor for The Fair Labor Standards Act, a preeminent labor treatise published by BNA.


Mr. Desai has worked on both sides of the fence, initially with a prominent defense firm and then with a boutique class action group.  For two-years he served as an Adjunct Professor at Chapman University School of Law, teaching Legal Research and Writing (2004-2006).  He also worked as a judicial extern to the Honorable Frances Maloney at the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Texas in 1995.

As the Managing Partner at Desai Law Firm, he primarily handles class and collective actions involving:

  • State and Federal Wage and Hour
  • Employment Law
  • Antitrust Law
  • Personal Injury/Mass Tort
  • Consumer Fraud
  • Unfair Business Practices

Andrea Brown is Counsel in the employment law group in Sutter Health's Office of General Counsel.  Prior to joining Sutter Health, she was a Senior Associate in Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe’s Sacramento office, and a member of the employment law group.

Ms. Brown’s practice at Orrick focused on complex employment matters including wage and hour class actions, employment discrimination and wrongful termination claims.

Before joining Orrick, Ms. Brown was an associate at Heller Ehrman LLP. Prior to law school, Ms. Brown served in various press-related roles for the Office of Governor Pete Wilson.


  • J.D., Dean's List, Northwestern University School of Law, 2003
  • B.A., History, University of California, Berkeley, 1995


  • Hon. Marcia A. Crone, United States District Court, 2003 - 2005

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 currently a Senior Consultant to Crestwood Behavioral Health, Inc., a major provider of Behavioral Health services. Recently George 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 currently President-Elect 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. 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. He also teaches a continuing education webinar with Jennifer Johnson, Esq., “Where Mental Health Meets the Law,” through Thomson Reuters-West Legal Education. George has taught at PLI for 6 years.

Jennifer B. Zargarof is a labor and employment partner based in Los Angeles. Jennifer advocates for employers in a broad range of employment-related disputes, with a focus on class actions and multi-plaintiff litigation. She serves as defense counsel in wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation, wage and hour, Fair Credit Reporting Act, and other varied employment-related matters at both the trial and appellate levels. She also counsels clients on myriad labor and employment issues, including personnel policies and procedures, employee discipline matters, and employment contracts. Jennifer practices across several industries, including retail, healthcare, transportation, financial services, media, and technology.

Jennifer has nearly 20 years of experience arguing before US state and federal courts and in arbitration. She has received defense verdicts on behalf of clients, including jury verdicts in a whistleblower and retaliation case; a sexual harassment and retaliation case; and a multi-plaintiff meal and rest period case. She also received judgment in an overtime exemption class action at the conclusion of court trial.

Jennifer is a frequent speaker on various employment-related topics and conducts trainings on sexual harassment, discrimination, wage and hour issues, and other employment law issues.

Awards and Affiliations

Labor & Employment Star, West, Benchmark Labor & Employment (2018)

Recommended, Labor and Employment Litigation, The Legal 500 US (2015–2017)

Member, Labor Law Section, Los Angeles County Bar Association

Executive board member, Litigation Section, Los Angeles County Bar Association


New York University School of Law, 1999, J.D.

University of California, Los Angeles, 1995, B.A.

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.

Michael Weil, an Employment and Trade Secrets Practice Group partner in the San Francisco office, represents clients in high-stakes employment, trade secrets and employee mobility litigation throughout the United States.  Mr. Weil was recently recognized as a Rising Star in his field by Law360.

Mr. Weil's practice focuses on matters involving trade secrets, restrictive covenants, employee mobility issues, Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) whistleblower claims, wrongful termination and discrimination. Mr. Weil has also defended numerous wage-and-hour class actions and representative actions under state and federal laws, including claims for overtime, vacation, meal and rest break penalties, waiting-time penalties and other alleged Labor Code violations.  Finally, Mr. Weil counsels clients on a wide variety of employment and related corporate issues. 

In addition, Orrick’s Employment Law and Litigation group was recently named Labor & Employment Department of the Year in California by The Recorder, the premier source for legal news, in recognition of their significant wins on behalf of leading multinational companies on today’s most complex and challenging employment law matters.

Some of Mr. Weil's representative litigation engagements include the following:

Trade Secrets Matters:

  • eBay v. Google. Mr. Weil represented eBay in this lawsuit alleging trade secrets misappropriation in connection with Google’s hiring of a former PayPal employee. The case resolved confidentially.
  • Varian Medical Systems v. Elekta, Inc. Mr. Weil represented Varian in this trade secrets dispute alleging that a former employee and her new employer misappropriated trade secrets. Following a two-day evidentiary hearing, the Court granted Varian’s motion for a temporary injunction. The case resolved confidentially thereafter.

Related Practice Areas

  • Trade Secrets Litigation
  • Employment Law & Litigation
  • Wage-and-Hour
  • Corporate Whistleblowing
  • Discrimination, Harassment & Retaliation


  • J.D., University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, 2000
  • B.S., Physiological Science, University of California, Los Angeles, 1996


  • 2014 Law360 Rising Star
  • The Recorder California Labor & Employment Department of the Year (2013-2014)
  • The Recorder California Litigation Department of the Year (2013-2014)
  • Orrick's Trade Secrets Watch, Co-Editor In Chief
  • UCLA Law Review, Editor

Nelson Chan serves on the DFEH Executive Team as Chief of Public Policy and Education for the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.  In addition to maintaining an active civil litigation practice, Nelson speaks extensively on issues regarding the enforcement of the state’s civil rights laws and serves as the department’s civil rights officer.

Nelson earned his B.A. in Political Science/Public Service from the University of California, Davis and his J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.

Richard Carlton is the former Director of the Lawyer Assistance Program of the State Bar of California.  He is currently a Principal Consultant for the firm Coping Skills for Legal Professionals.  Additionally, he is a consultant to the US Courts for the Ninth Circuit, the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, and to the Idaho Judicial Branch on matters of judicial stress and wellness.

Mr. Carlton regularly delivers continuing legal education presentations to local bar associations, specialty bars, State Bar sections, and law firms throughout California on addressing substance abuse and managing stress.  His articles have appeared in Judicature, The Judges Journal of the ABA, California Bar Journal, and other legal publications.  He has been addressing mental health and disability concerns in the legal profession for nearly thirty years.  Richard holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from UC Berkeley, where his studies focused on treatment interventions and behavioral science research.

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 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.

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.

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, a prominent AMLAW 100 firm, 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.

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.

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.

Hilda M. Gonzalez:  Hilda is Executive Counsel for Health Net, Inc. (“Health Net”) in Health Net’s corporate headquarters located in Woodland Hills, California.  She is Health Net’s in-house employment counsel managing all employment related matters both at the federal and state levels. She has extensive experience managing and counseling on a variety of employment-related matters, including wrongful discharge, disability, race, age, national origin, and gender discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims, wage-and-hour issues, affirmative action, and class actions.  She advises on matters involving the EEOC, the Department of Labor (federal and state) and local state agencies. She provides guidance on compliance audits. In addition, Hilda provides day to day counseling  on a myriad of employee relations issues such as hiring practices, compensation plans, reductions-in-force, internal investigations,  and leave administration.   She also provides guidance to human resources and management regarding work place policies and procedures. In addition, Hilda has extensive experience handling and managing health care related matters both in litigation and arbitration involving single plaintiff matters as well as putative class actions.  Hilda graduated from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, and received her J.D. from Loyola Law School.

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.

Margaret Keane is a Partner in the employment group at the international firm of DLA Piper LLP.  She is based in San Francisco and works with clients to address the challenges of today’s workplace, including workplace privacy, employee mobility issues, mobile devices, wage and hour compliance, and related workplace issues.

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