In another discrimination case brought on behalf of a young African-American, SMITH PATTEN has sent a message to employers in public and quasi-public entities that they double-check how supervisors discipline their employees. Latent bias in the workplace can rear its ugly head in a number of different ways, including the failure to promote, failure to hire, in addition to discipline and termination. In each case in which latent bias appears, SMITH PATTEN calls out these latent biases, and ensures that the employer understands the danger posed by not reviewing actions for latent bias.
Emerson v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. After substantial litigation and prevailing at summary judgment, SMITH PATTEN obtained a six-figure settlement, along with a confirmation of resignation for a California State employee terminated after making complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace. Despite the changes of attorneys over a period of several years, SMITH PATTEN prevailed at summary judgment, and eventually settled the case in a manner that allowed the Plaintiff to continue her service to the State in a different area, while obtaining a substantial settlement for the Plaintiff.
In a major published decision, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a summary judgment in favor of United Airlines in a race harassment case. Spencer Smith of SMITH PATTEN argued the case before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals sitting in Baltimore, Maryland, just days before the riots following the in-custody death of Freddie Gray. The decision, which establishes strong precedent that a large employer, such as United Airlines cannot disregard its own policies, and must take decisive action when racist death threats occur in the workplace, will be cited as establishing clear standards for employers when racist death threats permeate the workplace.
In a case involving numerous statutory and regulatory issues, SMITH PATTEN obtained a significant victory for a whistleblower who was terminated for raising numerous issues of non-compliance by a major subdivision of the State. SMITH PATTEN’s attorneys worked creatively with a federal magistrate judge to craft a set of remedies that remediated the harm caused by the retaliation.
In a case involving the outsourcing of jobs overseas, and the problems and changes in how employers service their customers, SMITH PATTEN settled a lawsuit against a Fortune 500 company involving disability discrimination. When employers know about the physical toll that the work takes on the employees and don’t take steps to understand how that toll impacts the employee’s major life activities, SMITH PATTEN will be there to remind even the largest and wealthiest companies that they cannot violate the law, use their employees up, and discard them. This settlement drives that message home to the Forturne 500.
In a major victory for whistleblowers and persons with disabilities in industries under federal regulation, SMITH PATTEN resolved claims by a worker who had raised violations of various federal laws and regulations repeatedly with upper-level management, and whose disabilities were not accommodated. By engaging in intense factual analysis and engaging the employer on various fronts, SMITH PATTEN’s attorneys brought the employer to the table and resolved the matter without the filing of a lawsuit.
SMITH PATTEN negotiated a settlement for a long-time management employee of a major pre-IPO tech company who claimed he was terminated in retaliation for requesting leave protected by the California Family Rights Act and the Family Medical Leave Act for his wife’s pregnancy. SMITH PATTEN’s factual development and analysis convinced the company that settlement was in its best interest rather than facing a jury having terminated a well-performing management employee after he exercised his rights under the California Family Rights Act.
SMITH PATTEN settled this matter without the filing of a lawsuit, based upon an intense and thorough pre-litigation investigation, and an in-depth legal analysis of multiple claims of retaliation against a management-level employee who refused to “manage out” the older workers from the workforce. By engaging in intense pre-litigation investigation and analysis, SMITH PATTEN was able to bring the wrongful termination to a quick closure and resolve the matter in a way that got the client back to work and closed the door on a difficult chapter.
SMITH PATTEN has worked with numerous employees of the University of California system to root out discrimination based upon race within the ranks of California’s premiere pubic education system. In a confidential settlement, SMITH PATTEN resolved the claims that a long-term employee was told not to apply for a promotion, that the promotions were being held for Caucasian persons, despite the fact that the client had excellent performance any many more years of experience in the department. Having resolved the matter, and now in a different position at a higher salary than previously, SMITH PATTEN is proud to help the University of California fulfill its stated goals of opportunity for all Californians, regardless of race.
Surbey v. PG&E. In this whistleblower retaliation case, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an Order noting that the case had been settled. This action was a Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblower retaliation case against PG&E, which resolved after PG&E was indicated for criminal violations of the Pipeline Safety Act, in part for its failure to maintain records concerning its natural gas pipelines. The Complaint alleged that Plaintiff was terminated shortly after bringing to the attention of management that the Geographic Information Systems proffered by PG&E were not functional according to what had been promised, and that the continuing requests to the California Public Utilities Commission for rate increases to build GIS systems was an ongoing morass of revolving-door consultancies being awarded millions in sweetheart contracts with no tangible GIS results.
In a case that reinforces the fact that even short-term employees are protected from retaliation by state and federal law when the complain of age discrimination in the workplace, SMITH PATTEN’s representation of an employee who was terminated after having been on the job for a matter of weeks. When an employee reasonably believes that the employer is discriminating against its older employees in the terms and conditions of employment, and voices that concern in the hopes of remedying the unlawful practice, they are protected by the law, whether they have worked there for three days or three years. This case has sent a strong message to the Insurance Services Industry that terminating an employee who voices serious concerns about age discrimination in the workplace is unacceptable, and no amount of “employment at will” or “probationary periods” can shield an employer from intentional retaliation.
After obtaining a default judgment against the perpetrator of sex harassment of a female retail worker, SMITH PATTEN negotiated a favorable settlement of the Plaintiff’s sexual harassment claims against a large regional retailer as the employer of a supervisor who harassed his subordinate. Key to the resolution of the litigation was SMITH PATTEN’s motion work which correctly shifted the burden and costs of searching all of the client’s emails and text messages to the employer. SMITH PATTEN takes defense lawyers’ attempts to invade employees’ privacy very seriously, and has been very successful in making legal precedent protecting plaintiff employees from abusive tactics by defense lawyers.
In a case litigated by a public University in a fashion that required numerous motions to compel the Dean’s email correspondence, which finally resulted in the production of emails discussing the ages of long-term employees being subject to layoff, and the hiring and retention of substantially-younger workers as part of a “strategic plan”, SMITH PATTEN obtained a confidential settlement for the plaintiff, despite the obstruction of email evidence during the discovery process.
In another victory for persons with disabilities and whistleblowers, SMITH PATTEN has obtained a favorable settlement for senior manager in Risk Management and Environmental Health and Safety at San Francisco State University. SMITH PATTEN is proud to represent high-level leaders in public employment, including the California State University System, the University of California system, and State and Local Government who experience retaliation in the workplace. SMITH PATTEN’s experience representing high-level managers and executives, and familiarity with prior litigation and bad actors in public sector employment provides the the firm an advantage in negotiations with institutional decisionmakers.
Confidential Settlement with Fortune 100 Company for depriving long-term employees of disability benefits
In a major victory for disabled employees, SMITH PATTEN has obtained a confidential settlement on behalf of a long-term disabled employee in an action filed for failure to accommodate disability and for retaliation in violation of the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act’s anti-retaliation provisions. As the Fortune 100 look to reduce and eliminate benefits for their long-term employees, SMITH PATTEN is holding these companies to account when demotions and terminations occur on the eve of substantial payouts of the benefits these employees have worked many years to obtain.
As the baby-boomer generation begins to approach retirement age, the Fortune 100 are looking to cut costs and bring in a younger and lower-paid workforce. In addition to age and disability discrimination claims, SMITH PATTEN is actively pursuing ERISA anti-retaliation claims against large employers who look to their most senior workers’ pensions and benefit plans as a place where money can be made by demoting and terminating their most senior employees. It is illegal to terminate an employee to deprive that employee of a pension or health benefit under ERISA, and SMITH PATTEN is proud to have obtained a confidential settlement of these claims for our client.
Confidential Wrongful Termination Settlement for African-American Management at Fortune 100 Company.
SMITH PATTEN, representing the first African-American to hold a mid-level management position at a Fortune 100 Company, has obtained a confidential settlement, in a hotly contested case involving multiple investigations and high-level corporate actors. SMITH PATTEN has experience in “investigating the investigation”, showing that employers who use non-industry-standard corporate investigation practices as cover for unlawful and invidious discrimination. In many instances, SMITH PATTEN has found substantial evidence that corporate security investigations are being misused by management to fabricate reasons for termination, rather than to investigate any violation of corporate policy. When employers use surveillance and investigations as cover-up for retaliation and discrimination in the workplace, SMITH PATTEN’s attorneys have the experience to show it for what it truly is: coverup for unlawful employment practices.
Settlement of discrimination and retaliation action by African-American female against AT&T.
Six-figure settlement for pregnancy discrimination and retaliation against major central valley construction company.
Settlement of Alameda Superior Court case on behalf of Eritrean-American female against Olive Garden corporate parent for discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
Favorable settlement of Santa Clara Superior Court age and disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against Deutsche Bank subsidiary and Texas-based real estate developer by female cancer survivor executive.
Settlement of wrongful termination action against high-profile non-profit in Alameda County.
Settlement after defeating AT&T motion for summary judgment in multiple-plaintiff discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against African-American female Yellow Pages employees.
Settlement of discrimination and retaliation claims against Contra Costa County on behalf of long-term African-American employee whose position was eliminated in what the County alleged to be “downsizing” on account of fiscal problems.
Negotiated favorable severance and share purchase agreement for long-term software marketing and sales executive.
Settlement of Federal Civil Rights lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California against Contra Costa County for brutality at the Martinez Detention Facility.
Prevailed on a Petition for Writ of Mandate in Alameda County Superior Court – over vigorous opposition by the California Interscholastic Federation and California Interscholastic Federation North Coast Section – overturning the decision of the California Interscholastic Federation denying Berkeley High School girl’s varsity basketball star eligibility to play.
The Employment Law Firm San Francisco and Los Angeles of Smith Patten has reached a favorable settlement with Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. — one of the Kaiser Permanente entities — in a lawsuit alleging discrimination and retaliation in the workplace on behalf of multiple Plaintiffs. The lawsuit alleged that Kaiser terminated more than one enrollment processor for allegedly using the Internet in violation of its policies. In reaching the favorable settlement, Law Office of Smith Patten argued that the investigation into the employee’s Internet usage was pretextual and that the results of the “investigation” did not bear any relation to the actual time spent online.
In a heavily-litigated case, SMITH PATTEN obtained a mediated settlement for a long-term Pacific Bell/AT&T worker who had suffered tragic losses in her family, and was retaliated against for taking time off to grieve her losses. The Plaintiff alleged she was terminated for taking leave protected by the California Family Rights Act and the Family Medical Leave Act. In this result, SMITH PATTEN sent a clear message to the company calling itself AT&T that California is different than other states, and the tactics used by SBC in other states to violate employees’ rights will not work for them in the State of California.
The lawyers of SMITH PATTEN obtained a mediated settlement from Napa Valley’s largest wine tour operator, California Wine Tours in a wrongful termination, Labor Code Violations, and Unfair Competition under the California Business and Professions Code Section 17200 et. seq. lawsuit. The lawsuit alleged that California Wine Tours failed to pay overtime, and when the Plaintiff complained, she was retaliated against in violation of the Labor Code. Napa Valley is known for its friendliness and hospitality, but the business that support the hospitality industry in Northern California often do so at the expense of their employees. SMITH PATTEN sees this result as a victory for Napa Valley itself by ensuring that the employees who make the wine capital of North America what it is are not taken advantage of. SMITH PATTEN continues to represent individuals throughout Northern California in both State and Federal Court on cases like this
The lawyers of SMITH PATTEN obtained a settlement in favor of two enrollment processors at Kaiser in a heavily-litigated race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit, Washington and Jackson v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, alleged that Kaiser had hired a Hispanic manager with no previous managerial experience at Kaiser to target and terminate the employment of employees who had made complaints of unlawful workplace practices. Even non-profit organizations that are geared towards helping people live healthy lives violate employment laws, and when Kaiser does, SMITH PATTEN will be there to leverage its hard-won knowledge of Kaiser’s employment practices to hold Kaiser live up to its promise to help not only its patients, but its employees “thrive”.
Race Discrimination Attorney Northern California
In another victory for employee rights in the workplace, SMITH PATTEN has obtained a very favorable but confidential race discrimination and retaliation settlement in favor of a long-term employee of PG&E. The case, Tinsely v. PG&E alleged a pattern of race discrimination, harassment, and retaliation against California’s largest public utility. The complaint alleged that as a Substation Maintenance Electrician, the Plaintiff was retaliated against for having complained of workplace harassment and discrimination.
Central to the Plaintiff’s theory of the case was the unfair methodology used by PG&E to increase the disciplinary effect of written warnings by using a rapid-fire compound discipline tactic to escalate discipline before the Plaintiff’s union could have time to grieve each unfounded discipline. SMITH PATTEN continues to closely monitor PG&E’s disciplinary practices due to the system-wide problems that California’s largest public utility continues to have with non-Caucasian employees.
Race Discrimination Attorney San Francisco
In substantial vindication of whistleblower’s rights to be free from retaliation, SMITH PATTEN has obtained a very favorable but confidential Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblower retaliation settlement in favor of a another employee of PG&E. The case, Paul v. PG&E alleged that PG&E had engaged in a multi-faceted investigation of the Plaintiff after he complained that PG&E’s internal systems for tracking its purchasing system were non-functional and did not assess the risks posed by a multi-million-dollar boondoggle by Accenture in the so-called “business transformation” for which California ratepayers have paid dearly.
The complaint alleged that as a Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance analyst, the Plaintiff was shocked by the lack of real analysis of the risks posed by the PG&E’s supply chain. The complaint details that when the Plaintiff formalized his complaints, PG&E began to use another of its tactics in its pattern of unlawful workplace retaliation, by making false and unfounded allegations about the employee’s Honesty, Integrity, and use of Time. SMITH PATTEN has dubbed this pattern and practice the “PG&E H.I.T. set”. PG&E runs this set as a character assassination vehicle to attempt to discredit those who would shed light on PG&E’s unlawful practices.
When PG&E retaliates against its employees for standing up for the ratepayers and the shareholders, SMITH PATTEN is there to hold PG&E to account.
In a victory for both whistleblowers and persons with disabilities, SMITH PATTEN obtained a judicially supervised settlement in the representation of an employee of the Regional Center of the East Bay who blew the whistle on unsafe conditions for persons with mental disabilities. After winning back the wrongfully-terminated employee’s unemployment benefits, SMITH PATTEN litigated this whistleblower case under the California Labor Code’s prohibition on retaliation against employees who report unlawful behavior and refuse to go along with an employer’s illegal conduct.
In another substantial vindication of employee’s rights, the SMITH PATTEN has obtained a confidential favorable settlement on behalf of a former employee of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). Brought in Sacramento Superior Court Ms. Perkins alleged that SMUD had engaged in multiple discriminatory and retaliatory practices both before and at the time it wrongfully terminated her 19 years of employment with SMUD. SMUD settled the case before its defense lawyers, Littler Mendleson, had to respond to a motion to disqualify their firm. Because of the favorable confidential settlement, the Sacramento Superior Court will not have an opportunity to correct what we at the SMITH PATTEN believe to be the illegal and unethical practice of defense firms “soliciting” and “representing” former employees at their depositions without that former employee retaining the law firm. We at the Law Office of SMITH PATTEN are dedicated to vigorously fighting for the rights of employees and changing the practices that defense firms use to pollute witnesses’ testimony in order to obtain testimony favorable to the employer.
Favorable settlement for a healthcare professional from one of Northern California’s largest healthcare providers.
In a confidential settlement, SMITH PATTEN, negotiated a severance on favorable terms for a healthcare professional who had suffered retaliation and failure to accommodate the disabilities suffered after a catastrophic automobile/semi truck accident. While all employers must make reasonable accommodations for disabilities under the law, this employer, a large Northern California healthcare provider, should know better than other employers the needs of employees who have become disabled from catastrophic injuries. In this type of situation, when a disabled employee is still employed, we at SMITH PATTEN make the employer either accommodate the disability or pay. In this case, the employer paid, a sum sufficient to enable the employee to make a new start.
After obtaining monetary discovery sanctions against the City of Riverbank, and uncovering through lengthy discovery and deposition testimony evidence of a highly-sexually-charged Hostile Work Environment, the City of Riverbank settled with SMITH PATTEN, who obtained a favorable settlement in a Hostile Work Environment, Gender, and Age Discrimination against the City of Riverbank by a City Employee with substantial Geographical Information Systems experience. SMITH PATTEN uncovered evidence that the Human Resources personnel had not only almost no formal training, but laughed when witnessing the sexually-charged jokes and atmosphere. This case sends the message that even small city governments are not above the law when it comes to protecting those who choose to serve the public in the careers. SMITH PATTEN is a worker has a right to work in an atmosphere free of sexually charged words and actions.
SMITH PATTEN negotiated favorable settlements on behalf of several current African-American employees of the University of California San Francisco for claims of hostile work environment and harassment surrounding the placement of an operational hangman’s noose in an employee area of the University. SMITH PATTEN vigorously pursues hate speech and conduct in the workplace, especially those which involve threats of physical harm and death. The hangman’s noose is long infamous for its cruel and inhuman treatment of African-Americans in America. Conjuring the worst periods of this country’s history of lynchings, slavery, terror, and intimidation of African-Americans and minorities, the appearance of this symbol of overt racism and oppression will not stand. SMITH PATTEN’s swift response to this abhorrent treatment sends a message to both private and public employers: if you allow these hate crimes in your workplace, if you look the other way or call it “horseplay”, SMITH PATTEN will be there to hold you to account.
In a hotly contested employment matter, SMITH PATTEN pursued claims for retaliatory discharge by a high-tech company against its former employee. The Complaint alleged that the employee had complained about being misclassified as exempt from overtime, and that he had been terminated shortly after those complaints. SMITH PATTEN successfully litigated the matter to a negotiated conclusion, resulting in an undisclosed monetary settlement and complete dismissal of the employer’s counterclaims against the employee for violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. SMITH PATTEN believes that employers will increase their use of this tactic in the future to deter employees from pursuing their rights. SMITH PATTEN’s technical expertise, and litigation record of success in countering these types of attacks by employers will enable the firm to continue to lead in this growing area of the law.
In a substantial victory for African-Americans in the residential property management market, SMITH PATTEN pursued claims for failing to promote highly-qualified African-American property managers (termed “Community Directors”) at one of the nation’s largest multi-unit apartment management companies. SMITH PATTEN pursued not only the property management company who ostensibly employed the Plaintiff but the property owner on a joint employer theory of liability for discrimination in promotions based upon race. The complaint, Ashanna Brown v. FPI Management, Inc., Case No. 11-CV-5414, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, (alleged that the property management company allowed African-Americans to promote only on-site, to have a minority face on site at the apartment complex, but withheld opportunities for advancement into management from these same highly-qualified African-Americans. The case resolved prior to trial.
In an action filed against one of California’s largest private earthquake insurers, SMITH PATTEN again fought for the rights of persons with disabilities to be free from retaliation in the workplace. The complaint alleged that insurance company retaliated against a long-term employee whose medical condition required dialysis. SMITH PATTEN successfully fought against the insurance company’s attempt to blame its disabled employee for policy processing issues by leveraging the Department of Insurance’s investigation into the company.
In a rare defense case, SMITH PATTEN obtained a complete dismissal of all claims with prejudice for the payment of zero dollars ($0.00) in a Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (“TVPRA”) case. The TVPRA is a law designed to protect victims of human trafficking, and has been used by the U.S. Attorneys office to bring to justice evildoers who trade in human slavery. However, the TVPRA is being abused by unscrupulous individuals in foreign countries gaming the system to obtain permanent residency in the United States under false claims of being trafficked into servitude. In this substantial victory, a would-be Russian immigrant stalked the U.S. Citizen Defendant on E-Harmony, prevailed upon him to bring her and her daughter to the United States, and upon arrival claimed that she was trafficked into servitude. In order to obtain the visa provided to victims of violence, the Plaintiffs made outrageous and ridiculous claims of being held against their will and false claims of abuse. In a complete vindication for the Defendants, the case was quickly dismissed after the depositions of Plaintiffs. SMITH PATTEN stands ready to defend the laws of the United States from attack and abuse by illegitimate and unfounded claims.
In another victory for African-Americans in the residential property management market, SMITH PATTEN pursued claims of discrimination and hostile work environment harassment against FPI Management Inc. on behalf of an African-American Community Director. Like the Brown case, the complaint alleged that Plaintiff witnessed her less experienced non-African-American counterparts whom she trained be promoted into management positions. In a heavily-litigated matter SMITH PATTEN prevailed in numerous motions by one of the nation’s largest law firms calling into question the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s on-line complaint system. In a substantial victory for all California Employees, SMITH PATTEN vindicated the DFEH’s implementation of its on-line system, and preserved employees’ rights to seek relief in the California Superior Court using that system. The case resolved prior to jury trial.
SMITH PATTEN continued its representation of highly-skilled senior engineers and technical workers in successfully negotiating the severance of a long-term key software build engineer. SMITH PATTEN’s in-depth knowledge and expertise in the representation of senior engineers and technicians again led to a positive result for the client, including the evaluation of stock options and other remuneration. As Silicon Valley continues to lead the nation and the world in innovation, SMITH PATTEN stands behind those who make all the innovation possible. SMITH PATTEN has the unique ability to articulate the value and contributions provided by the senior workforce. SMITH PATTEN pierces through employers’ attempts to create a younger and cheaper workforce by displacing those who have made Silicon Valley what it is today. SMITH PATTEN firmly believes that the key to Silicon Valley’s success is the genius and diligence of those who make technology possible.
In a federal lawsuit against Safeway, SMITH PATTEN represented a long-term checker against the company he served for decades. The federal complaint detailed the defects in Safeway’s approach to Human Resources investigations and its retaliation against its long-term employees who suffered debilitating injuries. SMITH PATTEN’s representation of employee’s rights against Safeway will continue to improve the working conditions at Safeway stores and help ensure that Safeway toes the line with its workers.
In a first of its kind lawsuit, SMITH PATTEN obtained a $260,000 settlement for the former Senior Manager of the Non-Discrimination Division of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission in a lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco and the former Head of the Human Rights Commission Theresa Sparks for discriminating against him because he was heterosexual, among other claims. The case, Willis v. CCSF, brought to light the tragic downfall of the groundbreaking San Francisco Human Rights Commission. The first of its kind in the nation and the pride of San Francisco, the Human Rights Commission turned from being the protector of those who faced race discrimination and retaliation into a backwater of discrimination against straight, African-American males. Although the trial of this case would have brought much more public scrutiny to the operations of the Human Rights Commission, SMITH PATTEN believes that the lawsuit and the monetary settlement which resulted will stand as a reminder that the San Francisco Human Rights Commission must walk the walk and rehabilitate itself to stand as the guardian against race discrimination it once was.