Employment Law & Litigation

We’re known for winning some of the biggest employment cases in the tech, retail, finance and professional services sectors, often disposing of these complex disputes long before trial.

We’ve secured important precedents in the wage and hour arena. And we bring deep subject area knowledge in areas most important to employers throughout the world.

Leading companies turn to us for help avoiding the courtroom in the first place. We partner with our in-house teams to conduct investigations and audits, draft employment policies, and tailor executive compensation agreements that attract top C-suite talent. And we do it on a global basis.

In selecting us as Employment Group of the Year three times, Law360 highlighted our high-profile wins for Microsoft and X (formerly Twitter) and our position as “a leader in the employment sector.” The Recorder has named us "Litigation Department of the Year: Labor and Employment" in California four times, while Chambers USA praises us for our "deep subject matter expertise in employment law." Orrick's clients have shared with Chambers USA that, "in any high-stakes employment matter, [Orrick] would be my first call."

Trial Savvy

Employers turn to our team when they are headed to trial and their reputations are on the line. Each of our employment partners has broad experience before judges and juries, defending clients in single-plaintiff and multi-plaintiff trials and arbitrations. After headline-making allegations of employment discrimination went to a jury trial, we won a total defense verdict for venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins over former partner Ellen Pao. The Recorder called our cross-examination of the plaintiff "masterful," while The New York Times billed the case as a "battle between legal powerhouses."

Class Action Defense

We’re helping employers fight the flood of class action litigation filed in recent years, particularly in the areas of wage and hour (including Private Attorney General Act matters), equal employment opportunity, pay equity and pay transparency, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). We’ve successfully defended over 150 wage class actions on behalf of clients like SS&C Technologies, Genentech, Roche Sequencing Solutions, US Foods, Gap and Sephora.

The Orrick team has succeeded in several recent class action matters, including our current representation of Oracle in a state-wide pay equity and pay discrimination class action in California. In June 2022, our team won a second motion for decertification for Oracle, earning us recognition by the American Lawyer as “Litigators of the Week Runners Up.” We also defeated class certification in a state-wide class case alleging discrimination in promotions for X (formerly Twitter.)

Enforcement

There’s been an unprecedented increase in government enforcement and litigation in the employment arena. We’re helping clients navigate regulatory investigations and litigation involving pay equality, discrimination, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and whistleblowing, among other areas of increased enforcement.

Managing a Global Workforce

We have employment lawyers in markets worldwide, helping our clients manage their global workforce. We handle a wide range of claims before UK-based employment tribunals, including wrongful and unfair dismissal, discrimination, and breach of contract. From our Paris office, we advise national and international companies on all aspects of French employment law, including employee representation, collective bargaining, collective redundancies, and mergers and acquisitions. We also have a strong record in collective litigation. And we work with our European Tech Companies team to advise on the myriad human resources issues that arise for early-stage companies.

Through our Global Employment & Equity Compensation service, we offer our clients unique and cost-effective strategies for addressing employment issues in more than 80 jurisdictions worldwide. Using this model, we partnered with one of our fast-growing tech company clients to successfully expand its global presence from seven countries to 28 in three years.

  • Handling the Most Complex Legal Issues

    Wage and Hour

    When plaintiffs lawyers have attempted to push the boundaries of existing wage and hour law, we’ve beat them back with cases that have become precedent setting and that deter future copycat suits. One such win came on behalf of our longtime client Morgan Stanley. At issue was the industry practice of prohibiting brokers from opening trading accounts at other institutions. In this case of first impression, we convinced the trial court that California state law prohibiting forced patronage is pre-empted by federal insider trading laws. Our appellate team secured the win before the Ninth Circuit.

    EEO Litigation

    Our lawyers tackle complex EEOC issues for our clients relating to discrimination, harassment and retaliation. We recently defeated class certification in a nationwide class case alleging gender discrimination in pay and promotions for Microsoft. The denial of class certification was upheld by the Ninth Circuit.

    Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblowers

    We are at the forefront of whistleblower-related issues in the post-Sarbanes-Oxley era. We’ve defended dozens of whistleblower actions for leading financial institutions, including some of the most important cases addressing what constitutes "protected activity." We’ve authored the leading treatise on whistleblower defense. To craft the best possible strategy for each matter, we field teams with backgrounds in employment law, SEC regulatory law, securities litigation, corporate governance and ethics, as well as white collar and investigations.

    Trade Secrets

    In this highly competitive, mobile global marketplace, protecting trade secrets is one of our clients' highest priorities. We advise employers on hiring employees subject to restrictive covenants with other employers. And we partner with clients to develop preventative measures to minimize trade secret losses in the United States and across borders. We've handled a wide range of trade secrets disputes, from cases that hinge on quick injunctive relief to drawn-out, complex jury trials.

    Our successes include favorably resolving a complex matter for Wells Fargo (Eastdil Secured) after filing a lawsuit against a former employee and asserting claims for breach of certain post-employment restrictive convenants and misappropriation of trade secrets. We also succeeded while representing AllianceBernstein in an arbitration against a group of former employees who created their own competitive investment advisory firm. The case, which included a full evidentiary hearing, involved claims for breaches of various post-employment restrictive covenants and misappropriation of trade secrets and retaliation case.

  • Oracle

    Won the dismissal of one of the largest lawsuits the OFCCP has ever brought against an employer involving claims of compensation discrimination.

    Microsoft

    Achieved victory and extensive publicity in a high-profile trade secrets case that cast light on the hot topic of diversity in the tech industry.

    X (formerly Twitter)

    Won denial of class certification for our client in a gender class action filed by a former software engineer, which was affirmed on appeal.

    SpaceX

    Handed a complete defense verdict in a sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation trial.

    Williams-Sonoma

    Won an appellate victory in a putative class action in the California Court of Appeals.

    Kleiner Perkins

    Complete defense victory in Pao v. Kleiner Perkins, the high-stakes gender discrimination and retaliation case.

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