Established global public companies, small startups, and all kinds of companies in between rely on our Employment + Labor lawyers for help with their most important asset: their people. Our team in the U.S., Europe, and Asia understands the complex employment laws, client business needs, and unique personal relationships between employer and employee that together drive the world of the workplace. At some firms, employment lawyers do not litigate and litigators do not know employment law. At Morrison & Foerster, our Employment + Labor lawyers have decades of experience as counselors, litigators, and trial lawyers. This combination of experience allows us to achieve the best outcomes for our clients in matters that are often fraught with high emotions and high risk of significant monetary and reputational damage.

Clients rely on us, as adept litigators and trial lawyers in court, arbitration, and other forums, to obtain the best results for their high-stakes employment disputes that cannot be resolved amicably. While we litigate aggressively where necessary, we help employers avoid litigation where possible. Whether we are protecting trade secrets, responding to whistleblowers, investigating claims, guiding clients through the employment aspects of M&A transactions, drafting agreements, or counseling clients through sensitive HR issues, clients trust that we will efficiently and effectively help them find solutions that are good for the client and treat workers fairly.

Trade Secrets and Employee Mobility

Trade secrets theft and employee raiding can cause employers irreparable harm if not stopped immediately. We frequently litigate requests for emergency restraining orders and preliminary injunctions that can make or break a trade secrets or employee mobility case. We also defend clients against aggressive actions by former employers seeking to prevent our clients from recruiting or retaining key talent. When disputes cannot be resolved early, we are prepared to try and have tried a number of these disputes. Our success in these cases is driven in part by our deep knowledge of the law. Our lawyers are contributing editors to the highly regarded treatise Trade Secrets (Law and Business) and on the board of review for the leading treatises Trade Secrets: A State-by-State Survey; Covenants Not to Compete; Employee Duty of Loyalty; and Tortious Interference in the Employment Context.

Class Actions

Clients come to us to defend them in their most significant wage-and-hour class, collective, and representative actions. We have a preeminent wage-and-hour practice, with a virtually unbroken record of defeating class certification in our class action cases. Our experience also includes developing innovative strategies to prevail in actions seeking civil penalties under the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA).

Whistleblower Actions

When an employee blows the whistle on alleged illegal conduct, clients need immediate advice: They want to know how to investigate the allegations properly and how to protect the whistleblower from retaliation while continuing to supervise his or her work and working relationships. As authors of the leading treatise Whistleblowing: The Law of Retaliatory Discharge, Third Edition, which has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court, we have a deep understanding of the law and strategies that will help our clients. And, when whistleblowers sue, we are there to defend whistleblower retaliation claims under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the many other state and federal whistleblower protection laws.


In the U.S., Europe, and Asia, we advise companies across a broad spectrum of industries regarding strategic human resource issues that span the life cycle of the employment relationship. We are available every day to provide clients practical and proactive strategies in real time to navigate time-sensitive employee relations matters, including performance management, employee disputes and complaints, disability accommodation requests, leaves of absence, internal investigations, pay equity, employment tests, background checks, joint employer liabilities, misclassification of contractors, wage-and-hour compliance, and restrictive covenants. We draft a full range of employment agreements for clients, including offer letters, executive employment agreements, confidentiality agreements, employee handbooks, warnings, consulting agreements, board advisory, staffing arrangements, termination notices, and separation agreements. We help clients plan and execute layoffs that achieve the clients’ business needs while complying with anti-discrimination laws, the WARN Act, and other applicable laws. We keep clients up to date on important legal developments with our blog and monthly newsletter, the Employment Law Commentary.

Employee Privacy and Data Protection

We regularly advise on employee data protection matters. Our employment and data privacy practices are closely aligned, allowing us unique depth of practice in this area. Of significant note is our experience in dealing with employee relations issues arising from major data security incidents in which employee data has been compromised. We work closely with clients to manage communications with employees and data protection regulators, and have designed processes for client management of multiple requests for data access from employees across Europe.

M&A and Outsourcing Transactions

Working as members of cross-practice U.S. and cross-border teams, we advise on all employment issues important to corporate transactions, such as due diligence, transferring and hiring employees, moving from seller to buyer, terminating employees who are not transferring to or being hired by the buyer, and negotiating and drafting agreements with key employees. Whether it is the WARN Act in the U.S. or TUPE in the U.K. or elsewhere in the E.U., we apply our extensive knowledge of applicable laws to minimize risk and effect the changes necessary in the workforce for a successful transaction. In Europe, we regularly negotiate with works councils, often in connection with outsourcing deals, business transfers, or business restructurings.

Employment Issues for Government Contractors

We have in-depth experience with the unique legal and business challenges that companies experience when contracting with the U.S. government. Our lawyers regularly assist federal contractors and subcontractors with a wide range of employment-related compliance issues, including complying with the laws administered by the OFCCP and defending OFCCP audits, developing compliance programs and defending audits related to prevailing wage laws, including the Service Contract Act (SCA), developing policies and practices to meet the requirements for hiring employees working on federal contracts, such as adhering to the “revolving-door” rules, resolving denied-party screening (such as screening for ITAR/EAR), advising on compliance with the federal Drug-Free Workplace Act, and navigating reductions-in-force due to sequestration and temporary government shutdowns. Government contractors can rely on our team’s collective knowledge and experience to minimize risk and uncertainty to meet their business strategies and objectives when seeking and doing business with the government.

Defense Verdict in an Employment Trial
Obtained a defense verdict for our client in a 3-week trial in San Diego County Superior Court. The plaintiff claimed our client had caused him to suffer economic and non-economic damages and sought an award of $13 million, not including punitive damages. The jury took a little more than one hour to deliberate and found in favor of our client on all claims.
Technology Integrated Group v. FusionStorm
Won a $10.8 million jury verdict and successfully defended all counterclaims in 2010. After a five-week trial involving the value-added reseller industry, a jury found that multiple defendants had violated their duty of care to their former employer and willfully misappropriated three trade secrets. The jury also found that the new employer aided, abetted, and ratified those acts, and awarded punitive damages against plaintiff’s former manager, the new employer, and three of its officers.
Independent Contractor Misclassification Trial Victory
Won a bench trial in which the plaintiff, a local pick-up and delivery driver, challenged his status as an independent contractor, arguing that he was in fact a common law employee despite the parties’ agreement to the contrary. The court found in favor of our client on all causes of action, holding that the plaintiff was an independent contractor in accordance with the parties’ agreement. Decision was affirmed on appeal.
Morris v. Ralphs Grocery Co.
Won our preemptive motion to strike class allegations in a putative class action on behalf of current and former store cashiers alleging failure to provide suitable seating for the cashiers. The plaintiff subsequently dismissed her case against our client Ralphs Grocery Company.

U.S. News – Best Lawyers® Best Law Firms 2017
National: Employment Law – Management (Tier 1)
National: Litigation – Labor & Employment (Tier 1)
National: Labor Law – Management (Tier 1)
Los Angeles: Litigation – Labor & Employment (Tier 1)
Los Angeles: Labor Law – Management (Tier 1)
San Francisco: Employment Law - Management (Tier 1)
San Francisco: Litigation: Labor & Employment (Tier 1)

Chambers USA 2018
California: Labor and Employment

Legal 500 US 2017
Intellectual Property: Trade Secrets (Litigation and Non-Contentious Matters)

View our latest Employment Law Commentary blog post

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Workplace Misconduct Investigations Task Force
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