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Wage & Hour Litigation and Compliance 2018


Speaker(s): Bernie Mazaheri, David M. Jaffe, Ellen C. Kearns, George A. Hanson, Jahan C. Sagafi, Joel M. Cohn, Lisa "Lee" A. Schreter, Matthew H. Morgan, Michael C. Schmidt, Michael E. Dickstein, Michele R. Fisher, Richard Blum, Shafeeqa W. Giarratani, Troy L. Kessler, Wendy C. Butler
Recorded on: Feb. 13, 2018
PLI Program #: 221009

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, loan officers, retail salespersons, oil and gas workers, assistant 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 the Co-Chair and a faculty member of the Practicing Law Institute’s Wage & Hour Litigation and Compliance conference, the Co-Chair of the ABA Labor and Employment Law Section’s Federal Labor Standards Legislation 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-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 100 National Trial Lawyers, and Top 10 Wage and Hour Lawyers, and has been named a Lawyer of Distinction.  Michele volunteers as an attorney for a foster child through the Children's Law Center.


Shafeeqa Giarratani is managing shareholder of the Austin office of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.  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.

Shafeeqa has been recognized both locally and nationally as a skilled advocate. Shafeeqa was named by Law 360 as a 2016 Rising Star, one of only seven employment lawyers in the country to receive such a distinction. Shafeeqa has also been named repeatedly as a Super Lawyer–Texas Rising Star and was featured in Bloomberg BNA for her commitment to her clients.

She is a strong advocate for her clients.  She regularly represents clients in 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.

Shafeeqa specializes in advising clients on whistleblower employment issues, in particular retaliation cases under the False Claims Act, and performs in-depth workplace investigations of all types.

Shafeeqa regularly advises clients 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.

Shafeeqa also performs supervisory training seminars, prepares and reviews personnel handbooks and policies, and advises clients regarding employee retention and termination.


Bernie Mazaheri is a graduate of Auburn University and Loyola Law School. He solely represents employees in labor and employment matters, with a focus on wage and hour issues. Mazaheri is an attorney at Morgan & Morgan in Lexington, Kentucky. He is admitted in Florida, Kentucky, New York and Texas, as well as a number of United States District Courts, the Sixth and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeal. Mazaheri is active with the American Bar Association Labor & Employment Section, the Federal Labor Standards Legislative Committee and U.S. Supreme Court Historical Society. 


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 is the Editor-in-Chief of the first, second and third editions of the ABA/BNA Treatise, The Fair Labor Standards Act. She also chairs 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 also serves as Chair of the Corporate Board of the Sisters of St. Joseph’s Sponsored Ministries. She graduated from Boston College Law School and Regis College.


George Hanson was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas. In 1988, George graduated with High Honors from Oberlin College with a B.A. in History. In 1992, George obtained his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Minnesota Law School. George is one of the region's leading commercial litigators and trial lawyers. George has been named "Best of the Bar" by the Kansas City Business Journal for eleven years and has also been elected a Missouri Super Lawyer every year since 2006. George has been named a "Local Litigation Star" by Benchmark Plaintiffs and was recently selected by his peers for inclusion in Best Lawyers® in America 2014 and 2015. Additionally, he was named the Best Lawyers’ 2014 Kansas City, MO – Class Actions - Plaintiffs “Lawyer of the Year.” George is rated AV - the highest designation a lawyer can achieve from publisher Martindale Hubbell.

George is an experienced commercial litigator and trial attorney. George has successfully tried many cases to judges and juries in both state and federal court, and has extensive experience representing clients in arbitration. In addition to complex commercial litigation and trial work, George's practice currently focuses on the representation of employees in large wage and hour class and collective actions, including workers in the financial services, meat processing, pharmaceutical and call center industries. In the past fifteen years, George has been lead or co-lead counsel in more than 100 wage and hour actions filed in state and federal courts across the country. George is also a frequent speaker regarding trial practice and wage and hour matters nationwide, and served on the Senior Editorial Board of the ABA’s Fair Labor Standards Act Treatise, 3rd Edition.


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.


Lisa "Lee" A. Schreter is co-chair of the Wage and Hour Practice Group and former chair of Littler’s Board of Directors. Lee focuses on representing employers in complex class and collective actions involving discrimination, overtime and other wage-related claims and specializes in helping employers to develop forward-thinking compliance measures that reduce employment disputes.

Lee also specializes in representing management clients in negotiations with the U.S. Department Labor in national matters that involve such issues as the exempt status of employees and compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Lee represents and counsels clients in connection with many other labor and employment matters arising under federal and state laws such as The Equal Pay Act, The Service Contract Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and state law wage and hour requirements.

Prior to becoming an attorney, Lee worked in human resources where she gained extensive experience in wage and hour issues, employee relations, salary and benefit administration and general employment matters.


Matthew H. Morgan is a skilled trial lawyer who uses his creativity and practical insight to achieve successful results for clients.
 
Matt works on nationwide multi-plaintiff collective and class action cases. He also represents individual clients in a variety of employment-related matters involving non-competition and non-solicitation provisions of employment and separation agreements, discrimination, retaliation, professional licensure, sexual harassment, breach of duty of loyalty, unfair competition, and breach of contract.
 
Matt is a MSBA Certified Civil Trial Law Specialist. The individual plaintiff cases that Matt has tried include retaliation, breach of contract, discrimination and medical licensure. Matt also first-chaired a collective action trial under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Matt is a frequent lecturer on various litigation-related topics, including trial, and in 2014, 2015 and 2017 he taught trial skills at the National Employment Lawyers Association’s Trial Boot Camp—a national conference teaching trial skills.
 
Matt is committed to protecting employee rights in the workplace.
 
Matt is also a member of Nichols Kaster’s Management Committee charged with running the day-to-day operations of the firm. He has been an adjunct faculty member at William Mitchell College of Law where he taught representation skills to first-year students and advanced advocacy to second and third-year law students. He volunteers as an attorney for the Children's Law Center. Matt has been named to the Super Lawyers and Rising Star lists repeatedly.


Michael C. Schmidt is the vice chair of the firm’s Labor & Employment Department, and the office managing partner of the New York Midtown office, where he is resident.

For more than two decades, Mike has concentrated his practice on representing companies and management in all facets of employment law, such as: (i) defense in litigation involving wage and hour (overtime and unpaid compensation), discrimination, harassment, retaliation and whistle-blowing, non-competes and trade secrets, and disability and other leave-related issues, including claims covered under EPLI (employment practices liability insurance) policies; (ii) day-to-day counseling and in-house training on issues from hiring to firing, and other questions unique to his client’s industries and business; and (iii) drafting and reviewing employment agreements, termination and severance agreements, confidentiality and non-competes, and employment policies and manuals. A substantial portion of Mike’s practice is devoted to maintaining collaborative relationships with his clients, and developing appropriate strategies to avoid litigation and minimize potential exposure in the area of employee relations. He has tried cases and argued appeals in federal and state courts, and has represented companies (non-union and union) in arbitration and before federal and state administrative agencies such as the EEOC, the New York State Division of Human Rights, the New York City Commission on Human Rights, the Department of Labor (state and federal), OSHA, and the National Labor Relations Board.

Mike is an adjunct professor of law at Touro Law School (Central Islip, N.Y.), where he teaches a course on Employment Law, and is called upon regularly as a course planner and speaker for conferences, seminars and continuing legal education programs addressing employment law issues and developments. Mike has been frequently quoted on employment law topics, and is regularly interviewed by trade publications and national journals (online and “traditional”) for his opinions on legal trends. He is proud to be the publisher and editor of a blog devoted to the interplay between social media and employment law, an extremely topical and significant area of law for employers in this new technology era (Social Media Employment Law Blog). Mike also records and produces a podcast called "Employment Law Now", which brings listeners the latest trends, news, and updates in employment law topics. Mike is also an Advisory Board member for Bloomberg BNA's Social Media & Policy Report. 
Beyond his regular client practice, Mike serves as the chairman of the board of directors of After-School All-Stars of New York, a New York chapter of a national charitable organization founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the mid-1990s to provide after-school and summer programs for inner-city youth. He also spends significant time providing pro bono counsel to various organizations and individuals who are less able to afford representation in times of need. 

Mike earned his undergraduate degree, with honors, from Brandeis University in 1990. He earned his law degree, with distinction, from Hofstra University School of Law in 1993, where he was a notes and comments editor of the Hofstra Law Review.


Michael Dickstein is a full-time mediator, arbitrator, and negotiation/ADR teacher. Mr. Dickstein teaches negotiation and mediation at Stanford Law School, and is a former partner in one of America’s leading law firms (Heller Ehrman et al.).
 
Mr. Dickstein has mediated and successfully settled cases on a wide variety of topics (including class action, commercial, employment, contract, intellectual property, franchise, real estate, personal injury, discrimination, malpractice, construction defect, and defamation issues). Mr. Dickstein has mediated approximately 250 class actions across North America (including in New York, Toronto, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Nashville, Houston, Minneapolis, Columbus, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County), with class sizes ranging from fewer than 100 class members to over 70,000. Examples of Mr. Dickstein’s work include: mediating a nationwide wage and hour class action brought against a major financial institution, with over 60,000 class members and hundreds of millions of dollars in dispute; facilitating the contract negotiations between Canada’s theatre actors and major theatre owners; mediating an international trademark dispute involving the wine labels of a leading American and European wine producer; mediating a discrimination class action, involving a university’s structuring of its sports program, and provision of facilities and opportunities for women; mediating claims between one of the world’s leading automobile manufacturers and its franchisees; and arbitrating employment claims against a pre-eminent securities company. Mr. Dickstein has also served as a judge pro tem for the San Francisco and Alameda Courts.
 
In addition to teaching at Stanford, Mr. Dickstein has taught classes on negotiation, mediation, and ADR worldwide (including in the US, Canada, China, France, Germany, England, Ireland, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and St. Lucia). In addition, Mr. Dickstein has published various works on mediation and negotiation, including the chapter on “Preparing for, and Attending, Mediation” in the Alternative Dispute Resolution Practice Manual published by CCH Canadian Limited (2000) and “8 Steps to Negotiating a Deal” published as a “Must Read” on CNN.com (2013).
 
Mr. Dickstein earned his A.B. with honors from Harvard College in 1981, and J.D. with honors from Harvard Law School in 1985. Mr. Dickstein has been chosen to appear in “Who is Who of American Lawyers”; “Who is Who in America”; “Who is Who in the World”; and “Northern California Super Lawyers” 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.


Troy L. Kessler is a partner at Shulman Kessler LLP. He has extensive experience representing employees who have been the victims of discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, retaliation, overtime and minimum wage violations. 

Troy has spoken at CLE events sponsored by the American Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, the National Employment Lawyers Association, and the Suffolk County Bar Association, on topics covering the white-collar exemptions to the FLSA, amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and drafting and negotiating proper settlement agreements. 

Troy is also a contributing author for the American Bar Association’s FLSA Midwinter Report, which serves as the annual supplement to the Ellen C. Kearns et al. eds., Fair Labor Standards Act (2d. ed. 2010). Troy is a board member of the National Employment Lawyers Association – New York, and an executive board member of the Federal Bar Association – Eastern District of New York Chapter. Troy is also serves on the Advisory Board of the Center for Labor and Employment Law at New York University School of Law.

Troy is licensed to practice law in the State of New York. He is also admitted in the United States District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. He received his law degree from Loyola University School of Law – Chicago, and his his bachelor's degree in Political Science and History from the University of Wisconsin. 

Troy has been a mentor at a Long Island middle school since 2003. He has been selected as a New York Super Lawyer from 2012 to 2017.


Wendy Butler has over 20 years of experience defending employment-related litigation and advising employers on legal compliance. She focuses on the defense of class and collective claims under various federal and state employment laws. In these high exposure and often high profile cases, she has had repeated success defeating class and/or collective action certification and obtaining favorable decisions on the merits. She also has extensive experience defending individual and multiplaintiff cases under the ADA, ADEA, FMLA, Title VII, ERISA, and numerous state laws. Her practice includes counseling on a variety of employment issues, including Human Resources policies, litigation avoidance, employment agreements, restrictive covenants, reductions in force, wage hour audits and compliance, pay equity audits, and internal investigations.

Wendy has written and spoken on a variety of topics, including wage and hour laws, whistleblower and discrimination litigation, and the defense and settlement of class actions. She is a member of the New York State Bar Association Labor & Employment Section, where she has served on the Wage and Hour Committee.


David leads CVS Health’s Labor and Employment team where their practice covers all aspects of the employer-employee relationship including, but not limited to: project work on all programs impacting employees, all aspects of class and individual employment litigation against the company and counseling to ensure that our work environment is free from unlawful harassment and/or discrimination and otherwise compliant with federal, state and local laws governing the employer-employee relationship. CVS Health has approximately 250,000 employees in several different business lines in all 50 states.  

David received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Tufts University in 1993, a Master of Science in Print Journalism from Boston University College of Communication in 1994, and a Juris Doctor degree from Boston College School of Law in 1998. Prior to joining CVS Health in 2009, David worked for large law firms in Boston and Denver. David began his legal career on active duty in the United States Air Force where he was both a military prosecutor and defense counsel and, among other things, tried many courts-martial. David is currently a Colonel in the Air National Guard where he is the Staff Judge Advocate (senior legal advisor to the Air Commander) at Joint Force Headquarters in New Hampshire. 


Joel M. Cohn is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP in Washington, D.C. He represents management in federal and state court complex employment litigation.

Practice & Background

Mr. Cohn has substantial experience defending wage and hour and employment discrimination collective and class actions. His experience includes federal court jury trials and arguments in most of the U.S. courts of appeals. Mr. Cohn has worked extensively with expert witnesses in the areas of statistics and surveys. He has represented employers in the retail, food processing, financial services, manufacturing and restaurant industries.

Mr. Cohn leads the firm’s national wage and hour practice. He is a member of the board of editors of The Fair Labor Standards Act (BNA, 2015) and is a member of the editorial advisory board of the Employer’s Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act (Thompson Publishing Group). He is a frequent participant in programs discussing wage and hour issues.

Mr. Cohn joined Akin Gump in 1983 after serving as a staff attorney in the Appellate Litigation Division at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and in the Office of Representation Appeals at the National Labor Relations Board.

Following law school, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable Milton D. Korman of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Mr. Cohn is a member of the American Bar Association and its Section of Labor and Employment Law.

Representative Matters
Mr. Cohn’s representations include:

  • acting as strategic counsel for national retailer in series of wage and hour collective and class actions
  • acting as national trial counsel for major retailer in all wage and hour collective and class actions
  • successfully trying Fair Labor Standards Act collective and Department of Labor actions before federal juries in Alabama and Pennsylvania
  • successfully representing California Highway Patrol in state-wide Title VII promotion and assignment discrimination class action before a federal jury in Los Angeles; the jury verdict and judgment on parallel disparate impact claim were affirmed by the Ninth Circuit
  • defeating class and collective action treatment in multiple lawsuits alleging wide range of wage and hour claims under federal and state law including misclassification, off-the-clock work, unpaid overtime for preliminary and postliminary activities, missed or interrupted rest breaks and meal periods, failure to calculate correctly the regular rate, and failure to compensate for travel time obtaining summary judgment in multiple lawsuits alleging wide range of wage and hour claims under federal and state law.

Awards & Accolades
  • Akin Gump’s labor and employment practice named as Law360 Employment Practice Group of the Year four times in the past seven years, including in 2009, 2013, 2015 and 2016
  • Washington, D.C. Super Lawyer (2014-2016)
  • Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business (2006-2017) – labor and employment.

Speaking Engagements
Mr. Cohn has been a frequent speaker at programs focused on wage and hour issues.


Richard is a member of The Legal Aid Society’s Employment Law Unit, and his practice focuses on wage and hour law and discrimination law. He litigates in federal and state court and before a variety of administrative agencies. Richard also co-teaches the labor docket of the Community and Economic Development Clinic of the CUNY School of Law. Previously, he taught a seminar on welfare law at the New York University School of Law.

Richard received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University in 1984, and a Juris Doctor degree from New York University School of Law in 1989. In 2015, Richard received a Master of Arts degree in labor studies from the Murphy Institute of the City University of New York. Prior to joining Legal Aid in 1990, Richard clerked for the Honorable Constance Baker Motley in the Southern District of New York.

Richard is a contributor to the ABA’s treatise on the Fair Labor Standards Act. He is also the author of articles on constitutional issues in labor law, one published in the Seattle University Law Review, one forthcoming in the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Law and Social Change.