Gary McLaughlin and Donna Mezias Named Among Daily Journal Top CA Labor Lawyers

(Los Angeles) – Akin Gump is pleased to announce that labor and employment partners Gary McLaughlin and Donna Mezias have been named among California’s top labor and employment lawyers by Daily Journal.

Among the successes discussed in Mr. McLaughlin’s profile, Daily Journal notes his victory on behalf of Michaels in Kopstein v. Michaels Stores Inc. in which the plaintiffs alleged that their wage statements neglected to inform them when they were nearing or had reached their vacation accrual caps and, as the company’s vacation policy does not allow employees to accrue more vacation once their cap has been reached, that the policy amounted to forfeiture in violation of California law. To that, Mr. McLaughlin said, “This is really capping accrual, which is different than forfeiture. It’s sort of a subtle distinction, but one that the law recognizes as valid.” The court agreed and dismissed all labor code claims related to the craft store’s vacation policy.

The plaintiffs also alleged common law claims of fraud and negligent misrepresentation and breach of contract, to which Mr. McLaughlin said, “I would characterize the fraud, negligent misrepresentation and contract claims as kind of a way to get around that, to characterize them as other things without having to rely on the labor code, which, I think, are harder claims for them to prove.”

For Ms. Mezias, the publication notes her numerous successes on behalf of longtime client Home Depot in suits where it was named as a joint employer. Ms. Mezias noted that the suits “appear to be filed against Home Depot as well as the immediate employer as a means of finding another deep pocket for liability.” In Olmstead v. Home Depot Inc., et al., Ms. Mezias won an appeal of the grant of summary judgment in favor of Home Depot in a statewide class action by former employees of a defunct company that installed flooring sold by Home Depot. Then, in Montoya v. 3PD, Inc. et al., Ms. Mezias won another summary judgment on behalf of Home Depot in a nationwide Fair Labor Standards Act collective action and Arizona class action alleging that Home Depot was the joint employer of 3PD Inc., a company that provides delivery services for Home Depot. This case is currently on appeal before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Additionally, the publication notes that Ms. Mezias counsels her clients on how to avoid joint employer liability. She said, “I certainly have had those discussions with clients, given the experience we’ve had in litigation, to try to make sure that they either don’t get sued, or if they do they end up in a position where we can get them a successful result, as we have in the Home Depot cases.”

Daily Journal spotlighted the significance of Ms. Mezias’ wins, noting that the decisions were important not only for Home Depot—which contracts with 4,500 companies nationwide—but also for other companies that contract with third parties to provide services for their customers.

This is the fifth time in the last six years that a member of Akin Gump’s labor and employment team has been named to this list by Daily Journal

Founded in 1945, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is a leading international law firm with more than 900 lawyers in offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

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