The Labor and Employment Department of Payne & Fears specializes in representing local, regional and national employers in all aspects of labor and employment law and related litigation.  We defend employers in employment cases, ranging from single-plaintiff wage and hour actions to complex disparate treatment cases brought on behalf of thousands of employees.  We deliver cost-effective results through early, comprehensive assessment of the facts and case strategy.  While many of our cases are resolved by dispositive motions and early resolution, we are also skilled trial attorneys who successfully take employment cases of every size and type through trial, arbitrations and administrative proceedings.  Our major areas of expertise include:


Apr 24

Payne & Fears Secures Preliminary Injunction Against Former E*TRADE Employee

Payne & Fears obtained a victory in favor of client E*TRADE in an action brought against a former employee.

In the case E*TRADE Financial Corporation v.  Eaton, 305 F. Supp. 3d 1029 (D. Ariz. 2018), the former employee testified that he contacted his former employer’s clients, by telephone, to announce his new position and provide his new contact information. The former employee claimed that he was required, by certain rules applicable to certified financial planners, to provide his new contact information to the clients he previously serviced. The former employee admitted, however, that if he was unable to speak with a client in “real-time,” he did not send that client an e-mail, letter, flyer, or some other written communication to provide his new contact information.

The court found that by insisting on conveying his switching firms only in a live and real-time conversation and never following up to provide his new contact information to those former clients who did not assent to a telephone call, “[the former employee’s] primary purpose was to solicit their business to him and away from [his former employer].”  This, the court held, constituted improper solicitation in violation of the agreement between the former employee and employer.

Rod Sorensen and Rhianna Hughes defended the case on behalf of E*TRADE.  This case expanded the definition of client solicitation under Arizona law.  Now, not only is the content of the former employee’s communications relevant, but so is the manner in which the communication occurs.

Practice areas: Labor and Employment Litigation, Trade Secret and Unfair Business Practices

Attorneys: Rhianna S. Hughes, Rod Sorensen

Apr 10

Federal Court Grants Judgment in ERISA Case in Favor of Our Clients Before Trial Begins

In an employee benefits case brought in federal court under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) against our client, a national retailer, and its group health insurance plan for denial of an expensive surgery as not medically necessary, the court granted judgment in favor of our clients at the time of trial.  

The court ordered trial briefs from both parties in advance of trial, which plaintiff provided.  Payne & Fears went a step further and in conjunction with our trial brief, moved for judgment on partial findings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(c) based on an undisputed administrative record.  Under Rule 52(c), a federal court has discretion to enter judgment when a party has been fully heard on an issue, but can decline to render judgment until the close of evidence.

Having received our motion and plaintiff’s opposition, and having previously ruled in the plan’s favor that the abuse of discretion standard of review applied, the court took the matter under submission, took the trial date off calendar, and entered judgment in defendants’ favor.  The court thus upheld the decision of the plan administrator to deny coverage for the surgery without conducting a trial.  

Eric C. Sohlgren defended the case on behalf of the plan and prepared the motion for judgment, with Andrew K. Haeffele assisting.

Practice areas: Labor and Employment Litigation, ERISA Litigation

Attorneys: Andrew K. Haeffele, Eric C. Sohlgren