Employers of all sizes face personnel challenges, daily. Taking the right steps to encourage employee productivity is essential, as is keeping up with dozens of employment laws and city ordinances that are added each year. When you consider the number of hours—and dollars—consumed in managing disgruntled or difficult employees, threats of lawsuits, or actual lawsuits, the stakes are high for all employers.

For the most complex organizations that rely on workforces of thousands, as well as for the smaller, yet highly successful enterprises that operate with far fewer, Farella’s employment law capabilities are up to any task. We offer world-class experience, personal attention, and pragmatic representation in contentious matters, and provide day-to-day counseling and management training to avoid them. Our emphasis is always on finding expedient resolutions that strike a balance between business goals, costs, and reputational risks.

Employment Litigation

From the exceptional to the routine, our team can be trusted to guide employer decisions in addressing potential, pending, or in-progress litigation—when to fight or when to settle. Our experience in handling every type of employment law case allows us to offer clients the closest estimate of costs and outcomes. We help employers carefully weigh the benefits and drawbacks of multiple options to achieve minimum disruption and maximum impact.

A critical skill we possess is the ability to get to the bottom line as quickly as possible—to get the matter off of everyone’s plate. We work with the “other side” to understand motivations and alleged facts in a non-threatening manner, yet we are always ready to communicate our ability to take a case all the way through to court, if necessary.

We have successfully represented employers before arbitrators, juries, administrative agencies, and appellate courts on issues such as wage compliance, disability accommodation, and leaves of absence. We defend charges of sexual harassment, discrimination, and “whistleblower” retaliation. Our experience includes union relations, trade secret protection, unfair competition, non-compete/solicitation agreements, and the federal and state WARN Acts and have represented national and multinational corporations in federal and state class actions arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the California Labor Code, and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Pre-emptive Litigation Counseling

Often our varied clients—technology corporations, credit card and e-commerce companies, professional services providers, growers, producers, manufacturers, and more—require pre-emptive counseling when launching new initiatives. They rely on our litigators to walk them through any potential employment law risks should actions be challenged in federal, state, or local jurisdictions. In many cases, we are called upon to help executives negotiate with difficult people before issues rise to a level that merits litigation. When needed, our full service team can advise in related areas of corporate transactions, intellectual property, tax, and insurance matters.

Business Counseling and Training

Many companies engage us for general business counsel in the employment law area, where we employ a unique approach. Our employment law counselors go beyond reiterating what the law insists; we explain the parallel between the legal impetus and what society and good management practices dictate. We aim to help our clients get the most out of their people and how to maintain an exemplary reputation for a positive working environment that protects their brand in the hiring marketplace.

Because our lawyers have seen nearly every way that things can go wrong in the workplace, we can train managers on best practices that help people succeed. We give them the knowledge and tools they need to foster a healthy workforce. Among the many counseling and training programs we offer are:

  • Effective and lawful hiring processes, including interviews and background checks
  • Preparation and implementation of personnel manuals and policies
  • Training of both management and non-management employees concerning harassment, performance management, hiring, diversity, disability accommodation, wage & hour compliance, and leaves of absence
  • Overtime classification, breaks, hours worked, wage payment, and other compliance with California and federal wage and hour laws
  • Labor union relations, including collective bargaining agreement negotiations
  • Protection of trade secrets as employees depart, and how to avoid litigation when hiring employees from competitors
  • Investigation and remedy of illegal harassment allegations
  • Legal obligations to grant leaves of absence and otherwise accommodate disabilities, balanced against the employer's ability to regulate attendance and performance
  • Proper selection and processing of workforce reductions
  • Discipline, discharge, and severance
  • Investigations of workplace violence and appropriate protective measures
  • Employee privacy protections
  • Insurance coverage for various employment-related disputes

Firm Highlights


Employment Law Updates for Nonprofits in the New Normal

Farella's Nonprofit Education Series features Rebecca Stephens and Jaya Bajaj discussing "Employment Law Updates for Nonprofits in the New Normal." Nonprofit organizations are subject to both state and federal employment laws and regulations. The...

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Farella Braun + Martel Ranked Among “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers

SAN FRANCISCO, November 5, 2020: Farella Braun + Martel earned national and regional rankings across a number of practice areas in the U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers® release of the “Best...

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Farella Braun + Martel Elevates Five to Partner

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California Employers Face Various New Laws in January 2021

The California Legislature passed and Governor Newsom signed several new laws covering topics ranging from COVID-19 to leaves of absence to data reporting. Most of these laws take effect January 1, so now is a...

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Equal Pay Data Reporting, An Asset for the Strategic Employer

Holly Sutton with Farella Braun + Martel, and co-speaker Erin Hastings with Seiler, discuss "Equal Pay Data Reporting, an Asset for the Strategic Employer." California’s recently passed SB973 requires certain employers to collect and...

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Guidance on Directive to Defer Payroll Tax Obligations Leaves Unanswered Questions

On August 8, 2020, the President directed the Secretary of the Treasury to authorize the deferment of certain payroll tax withholding, depositing, and payment obligations otherwise incurred on wages and compensation paid between September...

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California Expands Family and Medical Leave Law to Cover Small Employers

California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed SB 1383, which expands employees’ leave entitlements under California’s Family Rights Act and New Parent Leave Act. Effective January 1, 2021, these leave provisions will apply to employers with...

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The Election Season Is Upon Us: Guidance for Managing Political Expression in the California Workplace

In a year of extraordinary events, this election has been more divisive and controversial than any other in recent history. Many employers are grappling with how they should manage political expression in the workplace...

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Law Updates for California Employers: COVID Sick Leave Obligations, Meal-Period Rules, COBRA Benefits

New legislation and a recent court decision have significant implications for California employers. Certain California employers must now provide supplemental paid sick leave to employees who miss work for specified reasons related to the...

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BASF Political Speech in the Workplace

Holly Sutton is a featured panelist at the BASF Labor and Employment Section of the Barristers Club live webinar, "Political Speech in the Workplace." Details: Although the 2020 election cycle has ended, employees and...

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