The attorneys at Duggan McHugh have achieved positive and substantial results for our business clients in a wide range of employment law matters. Some examples of our results-driven advocacy include:
Class Action, Wage & Hour, & PAGA Defense
Class Action & PAGA. Duggan McHugh represented a national IT consulting services company in a multi-defendant wage and hour class action and Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) case brought by a former night-shift IT consultant employee who had been assigned to work on a project for the State of California. The employee claimed he was not paid overtime and did not receive his meal periods or rest breaks, among other alleged wage and hour violations. In deposition, we elicited numerous detrimental admissions from the employee and demonstrated that he was not a reliable witness, had a criminal record, and sued a former employer. We also produced evidence establishing that other employees were properly paid and did not want to be part of the class action. Consequently, the employee dismissed his class allegations and PAGA allegations. We then negotiated a favorable, nuisance value settlement.
Class Action & PAGA. The firm defended a parcel service franchisee with numerous locations in the Sacramento area in a wage and hour class action and PAGA case brought by a former employee who claimed she and other workers were not paid overtime, did not receive meal periods and rest breaks, and other Labor Code violations. The employee demanded over seven figures in mediation, but the case settled for a fraction of that after our firm successfully guided the employer through a “Pick-Up Stix” settlement process which separately settled the class claims with several potential class member employees. Our firm also demonstrated that the employee was not credible and spent significant time on the clock engaging in personal activities.
Wage & Hour Class Action. After Ms. McHugh defeated a motion for class certification, former sprinkler fitter employees dismissed their entire lawsuit against the company alleging missed meal periods and rest breaks and other Labor Code violations. McHugh assisted in defending the case on appeal, which resulted in a precedential California Supreme Court decision holding that neither employees nor employers may recover attorney’s fees as a “prevailing party” in actions for missed meal or rest periods. (Kirby v. Immoos Fire Protection, Inc.(2012) 53 Cal.4th 1244.)
PAGA & FCRA Class Action. Duggan McHugh represented a national property management company in an action brought by a former maintenance worker on behalf of himself and employees in several states, alleging: 1) a nationwide claim that background check disclosures provided to applicants and employees upon hire were non-compliant and violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and related California laws; and 2) wage and hour class and PAGA claims applying to California employees only, alleging missed meal and rest breaks, off-the-clock claims, unpaid overtime, failure to provide accurate wage statements, failure to timely pay all final wages, and unfair competition. Our firm attacked the claims on several fronts to drastically reduce the settlement value and enhance our chances of defeating class certification. We guided the client through a “Pick-Up Stix” settlement process whereby current and former employees accepted nominal sums in exchange for releasing their class claims. At mediation, we provided comprehensive evidence refuting the wage and hour claims. The parties resolved the claims for a combined class of nearly 500 applicants and employees for about approximately 2% of the initial demand, which included astronomical potential PAGA penalties and attorneys’ fees. Our client was able to allocate a large portion of the settlement to the State of California in resolution of the PAGA claims rather than the nominal amounts typically allocated in class action settlements.
Wage & Hour Class Action. McHugh was successful in decertifying a class action, after the court initially certified a class of plumbers on issues of unpaid overtime, off-the-clock work, banking of hours, inaccurate wage statements, and missed meal periods. She then co-chaired the trial of the case against the individual employee plaintiffs resulting in a jury verdict in favor of the company.
Wage & Hour Individual Action. Duggan defended a local business involved in the delivery of wood products from a lawsuit alleging wrongful termination and retaliation for complaining about working conditions, and multiple wage and hour related claims made by a delivery driver who worked for the company for less than six months. Ms. Duggan was able to negotiate a favorable settlement without the need for her client to spend any money on hard court costs and before any discovery was initiated.
Prevailing Wage Class Action. Ms. McHugh co-chaired a six-week trial involving a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of slurry workers alleging failure to pay proper prevailing wages, missed meal periods, missed rest breaks, PAGA penalties, waiting time penalties, unfair competition, inaccurate wage statements and related claims. Following the bench trial, the court ruled in favor of the employer on all claims except the unfair competition claim which later settled.
Prevailing Wage / Travel Time. Duggan McHugh defended a water pipeline company in an action brought by a former hydro vac operator who claimed he had kept records showing he was not paid the proper prevailing wage rate or travel time on public works projects. He also claimed missed meal periods and rest breaks. The firm negotiated a low value settlement early on in the case, after demonstrating that the operator’s records did not support his claims.
Workplace Harassment & Discrimination
Sexual Harassment. Duggan McHugh successfully defended a local restaurant against same-sex sexual harassment claims by a former employee that resulted in a nuisance value settlement of $1,000. The claimant was impeached numerous times during his deposition, exposing his lack of credibility.
Age, Race/National Origin & Sex Discrimination. McHugh prevailed in a five-day arbitration involving a former supervisor’s claims of wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, and retaliation based on age, race/national origin, and sex. Thereafter, the court denied the employee’s motion to vacate the arbitration award, and awarded the employer, a large slurry seal company, over $11,000 in sanctions against the employee’s attorneys under Code of Civil Procedure section 128.7.
Racial Harassment. The firm represented a local concrete and decking company against claims by a former employee that he was harassed and discriminated against based on his race. We negotiated a favorable settlement, saving the employer expensive prolonged litigation costs.
Gender Discrimination, Sexual Harassment & Wrongful Termination. Duggan McHugh represented a national property management company in an action for gender discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, defamation, and related claims brought by a former employee who worked as an on-site maintenance worker at a mobile home park for a few months. The worker complained to Human Resources about alleged sexual harassment by his female on-site manager. Meanwhile, the manager, unaware of the worker’s complaint, fired him for poor performance, insubordination, and poor attendance. In deposition, we elicited numerous damaging admissions from the worker. Although certain text messages between the worker and his manager showed unprofessional communication on both sides, the worker was unable to credibly articulate unlawful harassment. Consequently, we resolved this case at mediation for a drastically reduced amount pursuant to a confidential settlement agreement.
Race Discrimination. McHugh represented a transit company pro hac vice in Hawaii district court against an employee’s claim against several defendants, including the State of Hawaii, the transit company and the CEO of the transit company, alleging race discrimination, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence. The court granted the company’s motion for terminating sanctions and dismissed the employee’s lawsuit after the employee walked out on his deposition and engaged in other abusive discovery tactics.
Sexual Harassment & Retaliation. The firm represented a cannabis company who was sued, along with its owners, for sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about harassment by two former salespersons. One had engaged in a consensual relationship with her supervisor, but alleged she was forced due to his position of authority over her. Her teammate claimed she was also harassed and retaliated against, although through discovery, we established that her claims lacked merit. The case was successfully resolved in mediation.
Sexual Harassment & Discrimination, Failure to Prevent. McHugh obtained summary judgment in favor of a security services company in a case brought by a former employee security guard who alleged sexual harassment and discrimination, failure to investigate and prevent harassment, wrongful termination, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and libel. Ms. McHugh successfully obtained a dismissal of the employee’s entire case against the company and individual supervisors.
Retaliation / Meal & Rest Breaks. Duggan McHugh represented a well-respected endodontist in Sacramento in a lawsuit brought by two former dental assistants who claimed they had been denied meal and rest breaks and terminated in retaliation for complaining. Our investigation confirmed numerous instances of timecard falsification and other dishonest practices exercised by the employees to increase their compensation without the authority of their employer. When confronted with discrepancies in their depositions, neither employee was able to explain why she had submitted numerous handwritten time card entries for days she had not even worked. One employee admitted to unilaterally increasing her own monthly insurance benefit without authorization. The other admitted to seeking and receiving vacation payouts for vacation she had already taken. Based on these extremely damaging admissions, the firm was able to negotiate a confidential nuisance value settlement with each dental assistant which likely covered little more than their attorneys’ fees and costs. Six months earlier, both had rejected much larger statutory offers to compromise.
Retaliation / Same-Sex Sexual Harassment. McHugh obtained summary judgment in favor of a supervisor who worked for the State of California in a suit brought by a then-current employee against the State and three supervisors alleging hostile work environment, same-sex sexual harassment by her supervisor and retaliation for complaining about the harassment and participating in an investigation of her co-worker’s complaint of harassment.
Retaliation. Ms. McHugh obtained summary judgment in favor of a security services company in a retaliation case brought by a former security guard employee. After judgment was entered in favor of the company, Ms. McHugh then secured an award of costs in favor of the company.
Retaliation. Ms. McHugh assisted in obtaining partial summary judgment against a former employee who claimed he was retaliated against for attempting to protect a pregnant coworker in violation of Title VII and Arizona law. An Arizona federal district court dismissed the retaliatory discharge claims against the individual supervisors and the prayer for punitive damages. (Taylor v. Scottpolar Corporation (Arizona District Court, 1998) 995 F.Supp. 1072.)
Disability Accommodation & Discrimination
Failure to Engage in Interactive Process & Provide Reasonable Accommodation. Duggan McHugh represented a periodontal practice in a lawsuit brought by a former hygienist who alleged numerous claims including failure to engage in the interactive process, failure to accommodate her disability, wrongful termination and related claims. Early on, she claimed over six figures to settle her case. After the hygienist made several adverse admissions in her deposition and we threatened to file a motion for summary judgment, the case settled for nuisance value.
Failure to Provide Reasonable Accommodation. The firm represented a large California real estate company in a case brought by a district manager for alleged failure to provide a reasonable accommodation of her disability and wrongful demotion. The firm secured a favorable, low value settlement after it established that the company did provide a reasonable accommodation by allowing the employee close to a year leave of absence and that her job performance did not meet expectations and that the company.
Associational Disability Discrimination & Wrongful Termination. McHugh successfully moved to compel arbitration of a case against a slurry company by a former payroll clerk who claimed she was wrongfully terminated because her husband was diagnosed with cancer. The clerk was sympathetic, so it was important to the company that the case be heard before a neutral arbitrator rather than a potentially emotional jury. The clerk had been discharged for legitimate business reason having nothing to do with her husband’s cancer; she was discharged for excessive absences, including a pattern of often being absent on Fridays. Discovery revealed that the clerk lied about one of her absences. The case settled during mediation saving the company the cost of continued litigation and the arbitration.
Wrongful Termination / Breach of Contract
Wrongful Termination / Performance. McHugh obtained summary judgment in an arbitration proceeding, in favor of an employer, a non-profit home for troubled teens, against a former employee who claimed she was wrongfully terminated for discrepancies on her time card. Then, following the arbitration hearing on the merits, the arbitrator again ruled in the employer’s favor, finding that a second former employee was not forced to resign after receiving a poor performance review.
Preliminary Injunction / Employment Agreement. Duggan McHugh successfully defended a medical group against a motion for a preliminary injunction brought by a former business partner and employee who alleged claims for breach of contract, fraud/intentional misrepresentation, and preliminary and permanent injunctions. The former business partner/employee sought to enjoin the medical group from disbursing specific funds allegedly owed him under his employment agreement. The court denied the motion, agreeing with our argument that he failed to show irreparable harm.
U.S. Department of Labor / CA State Labor Commissioner
Labor Commissioner Hearing. Duggan McHugh successfully represented an employer, a mortuary transportation services company, in a hearing before the Labor Commissioner against a former employee who had claimed $220,000 in unpaid wages and overtime, double time, missed meal periods and rest breaks, liquidated damages, and waiting time penalties.
Labor Commissioner Hearing. The firm prevailed before the Labor Commissioner in a long-term former employee’s claim against a recycling company for alleged unpaid vacation and waiting time penalties. Following a hearing on the merits, the Labor Commissioner ruled in favor of the employer, rejecting the employee’s claim of almost $10,000.
DOL Audit & Litigation. Duggan McHugh successfully represented a popular local restaurant with several locations in a Department of Labor (“DOL”) audit that turned into a full-blown lawsuit. After the DOL would not compromise for a reasonable amount during the audit, it sued the restaurant for alleged failure to pay overtime and off-the-clock work. A year into the litigation, the DOL settled for less than the employer offered during the audit, after the firm provided evidence in discovery, including employee declarations, significantly undermining the DOL’s claims.
Trade Secrets & Unfair Competition
Trade Secret Misappropriation. Duggan defended a small local staffing company through trial in an action brought by a large national competitor. The competitor alleged breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets by hiring a former employee and soliciting customers. After succeeding at trial, Ms. Duggan sought fees for her client pursuant to Civil Code section 3426.4. After years of litigation, the Court awarded fees against the competitor for initiating and maintaining an action that was both objectively specious and brought subjectively in bad faith.
Trade Secret Misappropriation. Duggan McHugh represented an information technology company in an action for trade secret and misappropriation violations against a former employee who left after years of employment. The former employee brought cross-claims for wage and hour and other alleged employment law violations. After extensive e-discovery disputes over production of private laptops, phones, computers and external drives, as well as several key depositions, the case resolved based on a cost of defense approach which was far lower than the initial demand.
Unfair Competition / Trade Secret Misappropriation. Duggan obtained a favorable settlement for a California food sales agency who was sued by a competitor for misappropriation of trade secrets, unlawful solicitation, and alleged breach of non-competition agreements. After defeating the competitor’s multiple attempts to seek injunctive relief and after conducting a damaging deposition of the competitor’s president, Ms. Duggan negotiated a nuisance value settlement in exchange for a release and dismissal within months of the competitor initiating the case with a starting demand of more than $1,000,000.
Unfair Competition / Severance. Ms. McHugh successfully represented a high technology company in a lawsuit brought by a former employee who repudiated his employment contract by going to work for a competitor. Following a several-day hearing, the arbitrator ruled in favor of the company, finding the employee was disqualified from receiving severance pay because he had repudiated his employment contract by his actions and threats. After the arbitration, the court awarded Ms. McHugh’s client nearly $40,000 in attorney’s fees.
ADA Access Litigation
ADA Access Litigation. Duggan McHugh recently negotiated a favorable settlement for a popular, local, family-owned Mexican restaurant against ADA accessibility claims. The restaurant remediated all compliance issues, and the case was settled mere months after filing.
ADA Access Litigation. The firm successfully resolved claims against a commercial complex involving several different business tenants brought by a patron claiming several ADA access parking lot and path of travel violations. The plaintiff initially claimed over six figures, but the case settled in mediation for dimes on the dollar after the firm brought in an expert to evaluate the property. The plaintiff agreed to drop several claims and the complex agreed, without admitting liability, to make repairs.
ADA Access Litigation. Duggan McHugh negotiated a quick, favorable settlement on behalf of its clients, a retail shop owner and its landlord, to resolve several claims concerning the property’s ADA accessibility. As a result, the client spent minimal amounts on attorney’s fees and avoided protracted litigation.
California Supreme Court. Ms. McHugh represented a client in a case before the California Supreme Court that resulted in a published decision. An employee had refused to sign receipt of a disciplinary memorandum. The high court held that his refusal to sign the memorandum constituted insubordination for which he could be fired, but that single act of disobedience did not disqualify him from unemployment benefits. (Paratransit, Inc. v. Superior Court (Medeiros) (2014) 59 Cal.App.4th 551.)
California Supreme Court. After Ms. McHugh defeated a motion for class certification, former sprinkler fitter employees dismissed their entire lawsuit against the company. Ms. McHugh assisted in the appeal and the case resulted in a precedential California Supreme Court decision holding that neither employees nor employers may recover attorney’s fees as a “prevailing party” in actions for missed meal or rest periods. (Kirby v. Immoos Fire Protection, Inc.(2012) 53 Cal.4th 1244.)
Third District Court of Appeal. Ms. McHugh successfully argued in the Third Circuit Court of Appeal against a former employee’s appeal denying him attorney’s fees under the Private Attorney General Doctrine (Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5).
Third District Court of Appeal. After several years of contentious litigation and successfully defending the action at trial, Ms. Duggan obtained an attorneys’ fee award in favor of a small staffing firm. The judge awarded attorneys’ fees finding the filing of the action constituted both objective speciousness and subjective bad faith under FLIR Systems, Inc. v. Parrish(2009) 174 Cal.App.4th 1270. Ms. Duggan then assisted in successfully upholding the underlying trial court ruling on appeal.
Duggan McHugh also has successfully represented individuals in probate litigation.
Duggan McHugh negotiated a favorable settlement for a beneficiary after the trustee and beneficiary sibling inhabited the family home following the death of their mother and charged numerous unnecessary expenses to the trust.
The firm represented the spouse to ensure distribution of assets of her decedent husband who died intestate after the parents of the decedent retained nearly all of the decedent’s personal and real property.
The firm successfully defended the companion and caretaker partner of a deceased man whose four adult children brought claims for elder financial abuse, theft by fraud or deceit, undue influence and conversion against her. The case was resolved in the defendant’s favor on the eve of trial.
Disclaimer: Each case is different and prior results are no guarantee of future success.