Phyllis W. Cheng, Esq.

Profile

Phyllis W. Cheng, Esq. has excelled at every stage of her career. For nearly seven years, Ms. Cheng was Director of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), the largest state civil rights agency in the United States. As Director, Ms. Cheng oversaw six and seven-figure settlements, including the largest settlements in DFEH history. She was also a Senior Appellate Court Attorney; a Deputy Attorney General with the Civil Rights Enforcement Section of the California Department of Justice; a partner with DLA Piper’s employment practice; and a two-term Commissioner and Vice-Chair of the Fair Employment and Housing Commission.

Recognized as the 2012 Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year, Ms. Cheng brings her unwavering work ethic and extensive experience to her dispute resolution practice. As a private mediator and as a panelist for the U.S. District Court and the California Court of Appeal, Ms. Cheng has settled significant matters in the areas of employment, including discrimination, harassment, and retaliation; wage and hour; class actions; civil rights; attorney’s fees; housing discrimination; and public accommodations and disability access. For more information, including case summaries, please visit her website at www.mediate.work.

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

  • Employment
  • Wage & Hour
  • Class Actions
  • Civil Rights
  • Government Entities
  • Housing
  • Public Accommodations
  • Disability Access
  • Education
  • Attorney’s Fees
  • Appeals

MEDIATION & ARBITRATION EXPERIENCE

  • Private Mediator (2016-Present)
  • United States District Court, Central District of California, Mediation Panel (2016-Present)
  • California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Mediation Program (2016-Present)
  • Certified Arbitrator, State Bar of California Committee on Mandatory Fee Arbitration; Los Angeles County Bar Association Dispute Resolution Services, Inc.; and National Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc., (1994-1999)
  • Settlement Officer, Los Angeles Superior and Municipal Courts (1998-1999)

LEGAL EXPERIENCE

  • Partner, DLA Piper LLP (US) (2014-2016)
  • Director, California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (2008-2014)
    • Appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, retained by Governor Jerry Brown, and unanimously confirmed by the Senate
  • Of Counsel, Littler Mendelson, P.C. (2007-2008)
  • Senior Appellate Court Attorney, California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District (2003-2007)
  • Deputy Attorney General, California Department of Justice (1999-2003)
    • Civil Rights Enforcement Section, Attorney General’s Office
  • Commissioner & Vice Chair, California Fair Employment and Housing Commission (1993-1999)
    • Appointed and reappointed by Governor Pete Wilson
  • Attorney at Law, Solo Practice (1995-1999)
  • Associate, Hadsell & Stormer, Inc. (1993-1995)

EDUCATION

  • J.D., Southwestern University School of Law (1993)
  • Ph.D. in Planning, University of Southern California (1987)
  • M.Ed. & Teaching Credential, University of California Los Angeles (1976)
  • B.A. in Painting, Sculpture, Graphic Arts, University of California Los Angeles (1974)

AWARDS

  • 2012 Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year, State Bar of California Public Law Section
  • 1993 Annual CLE Essay Contest, American Law Institute American Bar Association
  • 1992 Writing Competition, State Bar of California Labor & Employment Law Section
  • 1992 Writing Competition, Workers’ Compensation Defense Attorneys’ Association

MEMBERSHIPS AND APPOINTMENTS

  • State Bar of California
  • United States District Court, Central, Eastern, Southern, and Northern Districts of California
  • United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Southern California Mediation Association (2016-2017)
  • Private Counsel Panel (Criminal, Juvenile Delinquency and Dependency Appeals), California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District (1994-1999)
  • California Lawyers Association (formerly State Bar of California), Labor & Employment Law Section (2003-Present)

LANGUAGES

Chinese (Cantonese, Shanghai, Mandarin dialects)

SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS

As a leading scholar in California employment law, Ms. Cheng has made over 500 keynote, panel, webinar, and other multimedia presentations to bar, business, human resources, employer, employee, housing, realtor, apartment, homeowner, condominium association, mediation, civil rights, education, private and public sector groups.

PUBLICATIONS

Ms. Cheng is a prolific writer and has been published numerous times in various law treatises, legal publications, and law journals. She is the Co-Editor of California Fair Housing & Public Accommodations, part of the Rutter Group California Civil Litigation Series, and Attorney Editor of several chapters of Employment Litigation, the Rutter Group California Practice Guide. For a complete list of her publications, please visit her website at www.mediate.work.

Representative Cases

Employment

  • Action by dishwasher alleging that her former employer, a restaurant, discriminated against and harassed her on the basis of her disability, retaliated against her, failed to engage in the interactive process and reasonably accommodate her, failed to take all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and harassment, violated various wage and hour statutes, and committed other torts. The restaurant alleged the employee was terminated for disruptive behavior and poor performance, and she could not perform the essential functions of her job with or without accommodation. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by records technician with a physical disability alleging that her former employer, a municipality, failed to engage in the interactive process and reasonably accommodate her disability; that her former supervisor harassed and retaliated against her because of her disability; and that the municipality’s contractor performing fitness for duty examinations failed to provide her with a copy of her medical report. The municipality alleged the former employee could not perform the essential functions of the job with or without accommodation; and the contractor alleged lack of standing and mootness. Resolved through mediation.
  • Action by emergency management coordinator alleging that her employer, a municipal fire department, and a firefighter engaged in sexual harassment, retaliation, failure to take all reasonable steps to prevent harassment, negligent hiring, sexual battery, battery, and gender violence. The defendants alleged the firefighter’s conduct was neither unwelcome nor serious or pervasive enough to constitute a hostile work environment. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by customer service agent alleging that her former employer, a shipping business, discriminated against her on the basis of disability following her return from taking family leave for her own serious health condition, retaliated against her for taking such leave, and terminated her on the pretext that she was not punctual. Former employer alleged it had provided former employee with leave under the law, fully accommodated her, and terminated her following counseling for repeated instances of unsatisfactory attendance. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Appeal by employer, a management services organization for hospital-based physician groups, and its lead doctor challenging the trial court’s denial of their motion to compel arbitration. Former employee, a hospital coordinator, alleged that doctor had created a hostile work environment by his sexually explicit texts and conduct, and that employer had retaliated by wrongfully terminating her after she complained. The defense alleged employee was terminated for poor performance. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by 69-year-old teacher alleging her former employer, a school district, discriminated against and harassed her on the basis of her age, and retaliated against her after she complained. The former employer alleged the teacher refused to accept constructive feedback on her performance, was the subject of complaints and an investigation for acting out toward students, and had had elected to retire. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by professor alleging his former employer, a public university, retaliated against him following an administrative settlement of his complaint for age, race and disability discrimination. The professor claimed that the university failed to honor the terms of the settlement agreement, impeded his research and reaching opportunities, and barred him from attending professional conferences. The university alleged the professor had earlier elected to benefit from a faculty early retirement program that permitted him to both collect a pension and work part-time, an option that naturally limited his teaching and research activities, and travel had not been authorized under the federal program that funded the professor’s work. The trial court granted summary judgment for the university. The appellate court found triable issues and overturned the trial court. Resolved by mediator’s proposal
  • Action by truck driver with a mental disability alleging his former employer, a multinational corporation operating a chain of warehouse clubs, engaged in disability discrimination, failed to prevent discrimination and harassment, did not reasonably accommodate him, failed to engage in the interactive process, did not provide him with statutory family leave rights, and retaliated against and wrongfully terminated him. The employer alleged the former employee behaved unprofessionally and could not perform the essential functions of his job with or without accommodation. Resolved in mediation.
  • Appeal by confirmation director with 32 years of service alleging her former employer, a church, wrongfully terminated her in retaliation for being a whistleblower about its financial, employment, record keeping and clergy activities. She also alleged the church breached its oral and implied contract to not terminate her except for good cause, defamed her, and intentionally caused her emotional distress. The employer alleged that the former employee was terminated for insubordination and disruptive behavior. The trial court sustained the church's demurrers, granted summary adjudication, and assessed costs in favor of the employer. The former employee alleged insufficient evidence, reversible error and abuse of discretion on appeal. Resolved in mediation.
  • Action by a dialysis technician alleging his former employer, a medical provider, retaliated against him for being a whistleblower on a potential HIPAA violation by wrongfully terminating his employment. The employer alleged that the employee had abandoned patients in the middle of their treatment by leaving work without permission. Resolved in mediation.
  • Action by female physician alleging her employer, a medical provider, discriminated against her by paying her less than a male counterpart performing substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions. She further alleged that employer retaliated against her for demanding wage parity and for being a whistleblower. Employer alleged that any difference in compensation was due to bona fide factors other than sex, including merit, the quality or quantity of work and seniority, and denied any retaliation occurred. Resolved by mediator's proposal.
  • Action by former employee, a construction worker, alleging former employer, a construction company, wrongfully terminated him, and discriminated against him on the bases of disability and perceived disability. Former employer alleged that the matter was preempted by a collective bargaining agreement compelling arbitration, that employee failed to take advantage of his union's grievance procedure, that employee did not engage in the interactive process, and that employee could not perform the essential functions of the job with or without accommodation. Resolved by mediator's proposal.
  • Action by 58-year-old foreman with 20 years of tenure alleging that his former employer, a manufacturer, wrongfully terminated him and because of his age and disability, and retaliated against him for taking family and medical leave for his own serious health condition. The employer alleged that the employee failed to perform and business necessity required his dismissal. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by foreclosure specialist alleging that her former employer, a financial services company, wrongfully terminated her because she had taken family and medical leave as well as disability leave for surgeries related to her serious cancer-related genetic condition, and because she had complained about unpaid commissions. The employer alleged that the employee’s job was eliminated as part of a layoff. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by sales customer service representative alleging that her former employer, an auto parts business, discriminated against and harassed her because of her sex and sexual orientation, retaliated against her for having complained, failed to prevent discrimination and harassment, and committed various torts. The employer alleged that the employee did not suffer adverse job action and had failed to report her complaints to human resources. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by district manager alleging his former employer, an auto parts business, discriminated and retaliated against him for taking family and medical leave for the birth of his child and wrongfully terminated him. The employer alleged the employee failed to perform. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by cook alleging her former employer, a restaurant, retaliated against her on account of her association with a family member’s disability, and for complaining about health and safety as well as meal and rest break violations. The restaurant alleged the employee had elected to quit her job to appear on a televised cooking show and had no return rights. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by facilities manager alleging her former employer, a university, discriminated and harassed her because of her race and sex, retaliated against her for complaining, constructively terminated her, and committed other compensation violations and torts against her. The university alleged the employee failed to exhaust her administrative remedies. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by a seasonal employee alleging her former supervisor and former employer, a governmental agency, sexually harassed, battered, assaulted, discriminated, retaliated, created a hostile work environment, failed to prevent such conduct, and intentionally inflicted emotional distress against her. The employer alleged that it took reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and retaliation from occurring, and the employee failed to avoid the consequences by not using the employer's complaint procedure. Resolved following mediation.
  • Action by a tenure-track professor alleging her former employer, a university, discriminated against her when it denied her tenure and terminated her on account of her sex, age and marital status. The employer alleged that the professor had not met the standards for research and teaching required for tenure following a seven-year probationary period. Discovery continuing after early mediation.

view all

Wage and Hour

  • Action by former 24-hour, live-in caregiver alleging his former employer, a residential care facility for the elderly, failed to compensate him for overtime, double time and minimum wage, and committed other wage and hour violations. Former employer alleged that plaintiff requested to live at its facility, was not required to work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours per week, slept on the job, and failed to perform. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Class action in federal court by individuals performing production work alleging the company that retained them had misclassified them as independent contractors, failed to pay timely wages, minimum wage and overtime, failed to provide adequate pay stubs, committed unfair business practices, and violated PAGA. The hiring company alleged the individuals were independent contractors and not employees. Following an initial settlement agreement between those parties subject to court approval, plaintiffs then added a defendant, the company that had originally contracted with the one that retained plaintiffs, alleging joint liability. The contracting company opposed the settlement, alleged it had no involvement in the alleged wrongdoing, and filed a cross-claim against the hiring company for indemnity, contribution, and declaratory relief. The court rejected a good faith settlement determination and struck plaintiff’s class action allegations, ordering the parties back to mediation. Meanwhile, plaintiffs filed another wage and hour class action against the contracting company in state court. Mediation continuing.
  • Action by caregiver alleging her former employer, an octogenarian who required a live-in caregiver at home, failed to pay her time-and-a-half overtime after she worked nine hours per day or 45 hours per week. Former employer alleged caregiver was not required to and did not perform any work when she slept at night, and should not be compensated for those hours. Resolved in mediation.
  • Appeal by former employer, a solar company, challenging an order denying its motion to compel arbitration of a wage-and-hour and Private Attorney General’s Act (PAGA) action brought by its former employee, an installation supervisor. The employer alleged the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempts PAGA. The employee alleged the FAA does not preempt PAGA. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Class action by personal bankers alleging their employer, a national bank, committed wage and hour violations. The bank alleged it had fulfilled its duty to provide meal periods as a matter of law. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

Class Action

  • Class action in federal court by individuals performing production work alleging the company that retained them had misclassified them as independent contractors, failed to pay timely wages, minimum wage and overtime, failed to provide adequate pay stubs, committed unfair business practices, and violated PAGA. The hiring company alleged the individuals were independent contractors and not employees. Following an initial settlement agreement between those parties subject to court approval, plaintiffs then added a defendant, the company that had originally contracted with the one that retained plaintiffs, alleging joint liability. The contracting company opposed the settlement, alleged it had no involvement in the alleged wrongdoing, and filed a cross-claim against the hiring company for indemnity, contribution, and declaratory relief. The court rejected a good faith settlement determination and struck plaintiff’s class action allegations, ordering the parties back to mediation. Meanwhile, plaintiffs filed another wage and hour class action against the contracting company in state court. Mediation continuing.
  • Class action by weld shop supervisor alleging that his former employer and its successor, both construction companies, discriminated against and harassed him and others similarly situated because of his disability and race, retaliated against him for having complained, failed to investigate his complaints, failed to prevent discrimination and harassment, and violated various wage-and-hour provisions. The former employer had dissolved its business, but its insurance policy was still in effect for the period in question. The successor employer alleged that plaintiff was never its employee. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Class action by personal bankers alleging their employer, a national bank, committed wage and hour violations. The bank alleged it had fulfilled its duty to provide meal periods as a matter of law. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Class action by a deaf undocumented immigrant with a criminal record and a non-profit organization alleging that the U.S. government and a municipality had discriminated against deaf detainees by failing to provide American Sign Language interpreters. The detainee alleged she was not accommodated during her five months incarceration in city jail, where she underwent oral surgery without informed consent and could not communicate readily with her lawyers. The government agencies alleged that their policies and procedures were in compliance with applicable law. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Class action by 18 to 21-year-old, disabled incarcerated inmates in county jails alleging failure of multiple state, regional and local agencies to provide them with special education required by federal law. The public agencies alleged their policies and procedures comply with applicable law. This case commenced in 2008, was removed to federal court, and had been appealed at various levels, including the California Supreme Court. Portions of the class action were settled over nine years. Fully resolved by mediator’s proposal.

Government | Civil Rights

  • Action by records technician with a physical disability alleging that her former employer, a municipality, failed to engage in the interactive process and reasonably accommodate her disability; that her former supervisor harassed and retaliated against her because of her disability; and that the municipality’s contractor performing fitness for duty examinations failed to provide her with a copy of her medical report. The municipality alleged the former employee could not perform the essential functions of the job with or without accommodation; and the contractor alleged lack of standing and mootness. Resolved through mediation.
  • Appeal by a county after plaintiff, mother of a deceased newborn, won a jury verdict. Mother alleged that the county coroner’s office had violated a mandatory duty under statute by cremating her baby without adequate notice and prior authorization, and that county had waited too long to perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death, actions that caused mother serious emotional distress. County alleged that it had not violated a mandatory duty under statute, that it had left a voice mail notice for mother about the cremation, and that mother had failed to timely pick up her voice mail. Mother cross appealed on some of the claims not adjudicated at trial. Her attorneys’ fee motion was pending. Resolved in mediation.
  • Action by former male student alleging officials responsible for his Title IX process at a public university violated his due process rights by deliberately pursuing, investigating, trying, and convicting him of the alleged sexual assault of a female student, when witnesses and exculpatory evidence showed no sexual assault occurred. University officials alleged they had provided male student with an appropriate disciplinary hearing, and claimed qualified immunity. The state trial court denied male student’s petition for writ of administrative mandate. In a published opinion, the state appellate court reversed and issued a remittitur in favor of male student. A separate federal court action by male student alleging violation of constitutional due process and various torts had been stayed pending resolution of the state court proceedings. Resolved globally through mediation.
  • Action by emergency management coordinator alleging that her employer, a municipal fire department, and a firefighter engaged in sexual harassment, retaliation, failure to take all reasonable steps to prevent harassment, negligent hiring, sexual battery, battery, and gender violence. The defendants alleged the firefighter’s conduct was neither unwelcome nor serious or pervasive enough to constitute a hostile work environment. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by minor through his guardian ad litem alleging that a county and its law enforcement agents violated his civil rights and used excessive force when they tasered him for refusing to show what was hidden inside his hat. The county alleged that its law enforcement agents had been called to investigate an attempted robbery involving the minor, that the minor had run away from a juvenile facility, that he had refused to cooperate with the deputies, that he had a history of attempting to use a deadly weapon, that a weapon could have been hidden in his hat, and that law enforcement followed protocol. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by husband and wife alleging that a county and its law enforcement agents violated their civil rights by executing a warrant without probable cause, breaking into their apartment in the night to search for a suspect unknown to them, roughly handling the husband and causing him physical injury and the couple emotional injury, and destroying their personal property. The county and law enforcement alleged the warrant was issued with probable cause, was executed in good faith and according to protocol, and the government was entitled to qualified immunity in carrying out its police powers. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by 69-year-old teacher alleging her former employer, a school district, discriminated against and harassed her on the basis of her age, and retaliated against her after she complained. The former employer alleged the teacher refused to accept constructive feedback on her performance, was the subject of complaints and an investigation for acting out toward students, and had had elected to retire. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by professor alleging his former employer, a public university, retaliated against him following an administrative settlement of his complaint for age, race and disability discrimination. The professor claimed that the university failed to honor the terms of the settlement agreement, impeded his research and teaching opportunities, and barred him from attending professional conferences. The university alleged the professor had earlier elected to benefit from a faculty early retirement program that permitted him to both collect a pension and work part-time, an option that naturally limited his teaching and research activities, and travel had not been authorized under the federal program that funded the professor’s work. The trial court granted summary judgment for the university. The appellate court found triable issues and overturned the trial court. Resolved by mediator’s proposal
  • Action by applicant for tenancy in an apartment complex against landlord, a municipal housing authority and individual defendants, alleging retaliation for having complained in the past about discrimination under California and federal fair housing laws. Housing authority alleged breach of a prior settlement agreement between the parties under which applicant promised to never again apply for tenancy at the same apartment complex. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Class action by a deaf undocumented immigrant with a criminal record and a non-profit organization alleging that the U.S. government and a municipality had discriminated against deaf detainees by failing to provide American Sign Language interpreters. The detainee alleged she was not accommodated during her five-month incarceration in city jail, where she underwent oral surgery without informed consent and could not communicate readily with her lawyers. The government agencies alleged that their policies and procedures were in compliance with applicable law. Resolved in mediation.
  • Class action by 18 to 21-year-old disabled incarcerated inmates in county jails alleging failure of multiple state, regional and local agencies to provide them with special education required by federal law. The public agencies alleged their policies and procedures comply with applicable law. This case commenced in 2008, was removed to federal court, and had been appealed at various levels, including the California Supreme Court. Portions of the class action were settled over nine years. Fully resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Appeal by a parent alleging that a county government’s child protective services had discriminated against her for her perceived disability, violated her constitutional rights to due process and equal protection, and committed other torts by improperly removing her child. The county alleged that it followed appropriate protocol, did not discriminate against or denied the parent her constitutional rights. Following a trial in which the parent prevailed on a multimillion-dollar jury verdict, both parties appealed on different grounds. Following seven years of litigation and appeal, the matter is now close to resolution through continuing mediation.
  • Action by a group of deaf teachers in a public school for the deaf alleging their employer, a school district, failed to provide effective communication devices and reasonable accommodation under federal and state public accommodations and disability access laws. Following partial settlement on the case in chief, the parties disputed plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees. The school district alleged the attorneys’ fees demand was excessive. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by facilities manager alleging her former employer, a public university, discriminated against and harassed her because of her race and sex, retaliated against her for complaining, constructively terminated her, and committed other compensation violations and torts against her. The university alleged the employee failed to exhaust her administrative remedies. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by seasonal employee alleging her former supervisor and former employer, a governmental agency, sexually harassed, battered, assaulted, discriminated, retaliated, created a hostile work environment, failed to prevent such conduct, and intentionally inflicted emotional distress against her. The employer alleged that it took reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and retaliation from occurring, and the employee failed to avoid the consequences by not using the employer's complaint procedure. Resolved following mediation.
  • Action by tenure-track professor alleging her former employer, a public university, discriminated against her when it denied her tenure and terminated her on account of her sex, age and marital status. The employer alleged that the professor had not met the standards for research and teaching required for tenure following a seven-year probationary period. Discovery continuing after early mediation.
  • Action by disabled passenger in wheelchair alleging public transit authority failed to comply with disability access and public accommodations laws, and committed various torts when she was injured while boarding a bus. The public transit authority alleged it had complied with applicable law and the passenger was not injured. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by disabled passenger in wheelchair alleging a public transit agency failed to comply with disability access and public accommodations laws, and denied him and his companion use of the public transit. The agency alleged it did provide service to the passenger and his companion on the next available shuttle bus. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

view all

Public Accommodations | Disability Access

  • Action by consumer with mobility impairment alleging a smog test business violated federal and state public accommodations and disability access laws on its non-compliant disability parking spaces and signage. The business alleged it had corrected any non-conformities and plaintiff lacked standing. Resolved in mediation.
  • Action by consumer in wheelchair alleging an auto parts business violated federal and state public accommodations and disability access laws on its non-compliant disability parking spaces and signage. The business alleged it had corrected any non-conformities. Resolved by mediator's proposal.
  • Action by consumer in wheelchair alleging a cannabis business and the property owner violated federal and state public accommodations and disability access laws on their non-compliant disability parking space and point-of-sale counter. The business and landlord alleged they corrected any non-conformities. They also alleged the matter was moot, because new zoning regulations no longer permit retail stores at that location and the business was no longer at the property. Resolved by mediator's proposal.
  • Action by consumer in wheelchair alleging a department store violated federal and state public accommodations and disability access laws on its non-compliant point-of-sale machines, and the cashier had allegedly stated that the devices could not be removed to accommodate her, who then allegedly relied on another consumer to swipe her credit card and enter her pin number. The business alleged it was in compliance with applicable law. Resolved by mediator's proposal.
  • Appeal by mother alleging a county child protective agency had wrongfully and permanently removed her child without a warrant. She further alleged that the government made false statements about her perceived mental illness in violation of her constitutional due process under 42 U.S.C. §1983, and discriminated against her in violation of the ADA and the Unruh Civil Rights Act, warranting higher attorneys' fees than the amount awarded at trial. The government's cross-appeal alleged plaintiff was not regarded as having a disability, res judicata, instructional error, qualified immunity, lack of substantial evidence, and insufficiency of the evidence. Resolved through mediation.
  • Class action by a deaf undocumented immigrant with a criminal record and a non-profit organization alleging that the U.S. government and a municipality had discriminated against deaf detainees by failing to provide American Sign Language interpreters. The detainee alleged she was not accommodated during her five months incarceration in city jail, where she underwent oral surgery without informed consent and could not readily communicate with her lawyers. The government agencies alleged that their policies and procedures were in compliance with applicable law. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Class action by 18 to 21-year-old, disabled incarcerated inmates in county jails alleging failure of multiple state, regional and local agencies to provide them with special education required by federal law. The public agencies alleged their policies and procedures comply with applicable law. This case commenced in 2008, was removed to federal court, and had been appealed at various levels, including the California Supreme Court. Portions of the class action were settled over nine years. Fully resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by blind consumer alleging a restaurant denied access to her, her companions, and her guide dog in violation of federal and state disability access and public accommodations laws. The restaurant alleged that no dogs are allowed without exception. Resolved following mediation.
  • Action by disabled consumer in wheelchair alleging a print shop business violated federal and state public accommodations and disability access laws on a non-compliant handicapped parking space and signage. The business alleged it had corrected the non-conformance and the consumer never entered the establishment. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by disabled consumer in wheelchair alleging flight school discriminated against her for her disability and failed to provide any conforming handicapped parking space and signage for her to take a free test flight. The flight school alleged it did not have control over the common areas in its rented space and any nonconformance had been corrected. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by disabled consumer in wheelchair alleging auto shop discriminated against him for his disability by blocking access to handicapped parking at the premises. The business alleged it did not have control over the common areas in its rented space and any nonconformance had been corrected. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by disabled passenger in wheelchair alleging public transit authority failed to comply with disability access and public accommodations laws, and committed various torts when she was injured while boarding a bus. The public transit authority alleged it had complied with applicable law and the passenger was not injured. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by disabled passenger in wheelchair alleging shuttle bus company failed to comply with disability access and public accommodations laws, and denied him and his companion use of the public transit. The company alleged it did provide service to the passenger and his companion on the next available shuttle bus. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

view all

Housing | Landlord Tenant

  • Action by former tenants, husband and wife, alleging former landlord and managing agents discriminated against them on the basis of their familial status, race and national origin, retaliated against them for complaining, unfairly evicted them using the 2+1 occupancy standard that was not applied to other tenants, and caused them emotional distress. The landlord and managing agents alleged their policy of no loitering or playing in common areas and enforcement of occupancy standards were applied equally to all tenants irrespective of race, national origin or familial status. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by non-profit organization against landlord alleging disability discrimination in housing, because landlord allegedly did not feel comfortable using voice telecommunications relay service or video relay service in communicating with testers posing as deaf applicants, and because landlord had allegedly provided different information to able-bodied and disabled applicants. Landlord alleged applicants were given the same information regardless of disability, and alleged they were not denied housing. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by Section 8 tenant alleging landlord and managing agent engaged in breach of the implied warranty of habitability, negligence, premises liability, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and race discrimination in housing and public accommodations. Landlord and managing agent alleged tenant failed to timely pay rent. Resolved in mediation.
  • Action by tenant and non-profit organization against landlord and managing agent alleging national origin, familial status, and immigration status discrimination in housing. Landlord alleged the tenant on record had provided a fraudulent Social Security number to obtain the tenancy, members of the household had disturbed other tenants and vandalized the property, and tenant had unlawfully sublet the garage for inhabitation by others. Equitable relief reached in mediation.
  • Action by applicant for tenancy in an apartment complex against landlord, a municipal housing authority and individual defendants, alleging retaliation for having complained in the past about discrimination under California and federal fair housing laws. Housing authority alleged breach of a prior settlement agreement between the parties under which applicant promised to never again apply for tenancy at the same apartment complex. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by tenants alleging landlord and management company discriminated against families with children under federal and state fair housing and public accommodation laws. The landlord and management company alleged their policy of no loitering or playing in common areas was directed to all tenants, not only families with children. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by tenants alleging landlord discriminated, harassed and retaliated against families with children under federal and state fair housing and public accommodations law, violated their rights of privacy, and engaged in unfair business practices. The landlord alleged its policies were neutral and tenants were evicted for failure to pay rent. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by non-profit organization and prospective tenant alleging landlord discriminated against persons with disabilities under federal and state fair housing and public accommodations laws. The landlord and management company alleged plaintiffs lacked jurisdiction, because the property was constructed for occupancy prior to the applicable period and has not been remodeled. Reached global settlement of this and another pending matter in mediation.

view all

Attorneys’ Fees

  • Action by a group of deaf teachers in a school for the deaf alleging their employer, a school district, failed to provide effective communication devices and reasonable accommodation under federal and state public accommodations and disability access laws. Following partial settlement on the case in chief, the parties disputed plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees. The school district alleged the attorneys’ fees demand was excessive. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Appeal by former employer, a bank, challenging an arbitrator’s award of six figures in plaintiff's attorneys’ fees when the employee had lost on all but one of her many employment claims, awarding $100 out of her multi-million-dollar demand. The employer alleged that any attorneys’ fees should be commensurate with the limited arbitration award. The employee alleged that courts must defer to the arbitrator’s discretion. Resolved in mediation.

Appeals

  • Appeal by police officer, who prevailed below, challenging the trial court’s rulings and jury verdict in a personal injury action from a traffic accident. When defendant, a driver, made a left turn, the officer fell from his bicycle and sustained injury. The trial court precluded a non-retained, treating physician from opining as an expert witness on medical records the doctor had not reviewed. Defendant admitted liability, but disputed the nature and extent of plaintiff’s injuries. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Appeal by subcontractor, an electrical business, challenging the trial court’s judgment in a mechanic’s lien action against a building contractor and a property owner on construction of a condominium complex. Subcontractor alleged both the contractor and owner failed to fully compensate it for services rendered. Contractor alleged owner failed to fully compensate it for its work. Owner alleged contractor and subcontractor failed to complete the job and performed substandard work, creating delay, cost overruns and habitability problems. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Appeal by a county after plaintiff, mother of a deceased newborn, won a jury verdict. Mother alleged that the county coroner’s office had violated a mandatory duty under statute by cremating her baby without adequate notice and prior authorization, and that county had waited too long to perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death, actions that caused mother serious emotional distress. County alleged that it had not violated a mandatory duty under statute, that it had left a voice mail notice for mother about the cremation, and that mother had failed to timely pick up her voice mail. Mother cross appealed on some of the claims not adjudicated at trial. Her attorneys’ fee motion was pending. Resolved in mediation.
  • Appeal by employer, a management services organization for hospital-based physician groups, and its lead doctor challenging the trial court’s denial of their motion to compel arbitration. Former employee, a hospital coordinator, alleged that doctor had created a hostile work environment by his sexually explicit texts and conduct, and that employer had retaliated by wrongfully terminating her after she complained. The defense alleged employee was terminated for poor performance. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Appeal by parent, perceived as having a mental disability, alleging a county child protective agency had wrongfully and permanently removed her child without a warrant. She further alleged that the government made false statements about her perceived mental disability in violation of her constitutional due process under 42 U.S.C. §1983, and discriminated against her in violation of the ADA and the Unruh Civil Rights Act, warranting higher attorneys' fees than the amount awarded at trial. The government's cross-appeal alleged plaintiff was not regarded as having a disability, as well as res judicata, instructional error, qualified immunity, lack of substantial evidence, and insufficiency of the evidence. Case litigated for seven years. Resolved through mediation.
  • Appeal by confirmation director with 32 years of service alleging her former employer, a church, wrongfully terminated her in retaliation for being a whistleblower about its financial, employment, record keeping and clergy activities. She also alleged the church breached its oral and implied contract to not terminate her except for good cause, defamed her, and intentionally caused her emotional distress. The employer alleged that the former employee was terminated for insubordination and disruptive behavior. The trial court sustained the church's demurrers, granted summary adjudication, and assessed costs in favor of the employer. The former employee alleged insufficient evidence, reversible error and abuse of discretion on appeal. Resolved in mediation.
  • Appeal by former employer, a solar company, challenging an order denying its motion to compel arbitration of a wage-and-hour and Private Attorney General’s Act (PAGA) action brought by its former employee, an installation supervisor. The employer alleged the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempts PAGA. The employee alleged the FAA does not preempt PAGA. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Appeal by former employer, a bank, challenging an arbitrator’s award of six figures in plaintiff's attorneys’ fees when the employee had lost on all but one of her many employment claims, awarding $100 out of her multi-million-dollar demand. The employer alleged that any attorneys’ fees should be commensurate with the limited arbitration award. The employee alleged that courts must defer to the arbitrator’s discretion. Resolved in mediation.

view all

Education

  • Action by former male student alleging officials responsible for his Title IX process at a public university violated his due process rights by deliberately pursuing, investigating, trying, and convicting him of the alleged sexual assault of a female student, when witnesses and exculpatory evidence showed no sexual assault occurred. University officials alleged they had provided male student with an appropriate disciplinary hearing, and claimed qualified immunity. The state trial court denied male student’s petition for writ of administrative mandate. In a published opinion, the state appellate court reversed and issued a remittitur in favor of male student. A separate federal court action by male student alleging violation of constitutional due process and various torts had been stayed pending resolution of the state court proceedings. Resolved globally through mediation.
  • Action by 69-year-old teacher alleging her former employer, a school district, discriminated against and harassed her on the basis of her age, and retaliated against her after she complained. The former employer alleged the teacher refused to accept constructive feedback on her performance, was the subject of complaints and an investigation for acting out toward students, and had had elected to retire. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by professor alleging his former employer, a public university, retaliated against him following an administrative settlement of his complaint for age, race and disability discrimination. The professor claimed that the university failed to honor the terms of the settlement agreement, impeded his research and teaching opportunities, and barred him from attending professional conferences. The university alleged the professor had earlier elected to benefit from a faculty early retirement program that permitted him to both collect a pension and work part-time, an option that limited his teaching and research activities, and travel had not been authorized under the federal program that funded the professor’s work. The trial court granted summary judgment for the university. The appellate court found triable issues and overturned the trial court. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Class action by 18 to 21-year-old disabled incarcerated inmates in county jails alleging failure of multiple state, regional and local agencies to provide them with special education required by federal law. The public agencies alleged their policies and procedures comply with applicable law. This case commenced in 2008, was removed to federal court, and had been appealed at various levels, including the California Supreme Court. Portions of the class action were settled over nine years. Case litigated for 10 years of which portions of the class action were settled. Fully resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by a group of deaf teachers in a public school for the deaf alleging their employer, a school district, failed to provide effective communication devices and reasonable accommodation under federal and state public accommodations and disability access laws. Following partial settlement on the case in chief, the parties disputed plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees. The school district alleged the attorneys’ fees demand was excessive. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by facilities manager alleging her former employer, a public university, discriminated against and harassed her because of her race and sex, retaliated against her for complaining, constructively terminated her, and committed other compensation violations and torts against her. The university alleged the employee failed to exhaust her administrative remedies. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.
  • Action by tenure-track professor alleging her former employer, a public university, discriminated against her when it denied her tenure and terminated her on account of her sex, age and marital status. The employer alleged that the professor had not met the standards for research and teaching required for tenure following a seven-year probationary period. Discovery continuing after early mediation.

view all