Payne & Fears is dedicated to providing comprehensive legal solutions to support retail businesses at every level, including home goods and specialty stores, grocery stores, department stores, pharmacies, clothing stores, and Fortune 500 corporations.

By leveraging our wealth of experience and knowledge in retail industry legal issues, we are able to handle complex workplace issues, multi-state litigation, and defend the full range of employment-related cases, from single-plaintiff claims to complex class actions filed on behalf of thousands of employees.

Our team routinely represents retail companies on the following legal issues:

  • Discrimination claims (all protected categories)
  • Sexual and other harassment
  • Wrongful termination claims
  • Wage-and-hour violations (including claims of unpaid overtime, meal and rest break violations, misclassification, unlawful deductions, off-the-clock, and all Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and California Labor Code claims)
  • Whistleblower claims
  • Qui tam and Sarbanes-Oxley claims
  • Breach of contract/covenant claims
  • Unfair competition claims
  • Defamation and other employment-related tort claims
  • Class action lawsuits
  • Single-plaintiff and class action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related accessibility claims
  • Investigations and compliance review related to accessibility standards and other regulations

Despite the fact that many of our cases are resolved by dispositive motions, early resolution, or mediation, we are skilled trial attorneys equipped to take employment cases of every size and type to trial or arbitration.

We also recognize ongoing prevention training is essential. We offer practical training, tailored to the retail employee base, to help managers identify and navigate potential landmines. Our courses cover a wide variety of topics and platforms:

  • Wage-and-hour compliance for retail employers
  • Defending FLSA/state claim hybrid actions
  • Final pay, minimum wage, vacation pay, and travel pay
  • Suitable seating requirements under the California Labor Code
  • California employment law essentials for retail employers headquartered outside of California
  • Sexual harassment prevention training

We understand the challenges retail employers face in today’s market and we have the experience to meet those needs from every perspective.

Representative Retail Clients:

  • Albertsons
  • Safeway
  • Vons
  • Wal-Mart Stores

Some of our representative successes in the retail sector include:

  • Payne & Fears represented a national retail chain in a “second wave” class action lawsuit where the plaintiff alleged misclassification of the stores’ California‐based assistant store managers and purported wage-and-hour violations. Our attorneys were able to negotiate a very favorable settlement prior to the hearing on class certification, engaging in aggressive fact discovery (obtaining declarations from employees regarding allegations concerning the elements of the exemption analysis) and convincing the plaintiff to attend an early mediation prior to taking any depositions. This defense strategy resulted in a settlement amount nearly one-tenth of the amount in the first wave lawsuit, which had been defended by another law firm. At the same time, legal fees and costs were a mere fraction of those incurred in the first wave lawsuit.
  • Payne & Fears has secured many labor arbitration victories for a large national retailer.
  • Payne & Fears obtained an order granting summary judgment in favor of its client, a nationwide retail department store, in a public accommodations lawsuit alleging claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the California Disabled Persons Act, and the Unruh Civil Rights Act. Under California law, prevailing plaintiffs in public accommodations cases can obtain injunctive relief and attorneys’ fees, as well as actual, punitive and statutory damages. This has given rise to a cottage industry of “professional plaintiffs” with sue-and-settle tactics that have been largely effective. While many businesses choose to settle these cases early given the high stakes, Payne & Fears’ client chose to fight back with an aggressive defense. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California found that the plaintiff’s claim of access barriers was without merit and that the plaintiff was not denied public accommodation on the basis of his disability.
  • Beating a large wage-and-hour class action by: (1) winning summary adjudication against a certified statewide class on their meal-period claims; (2) successfully moving to strike the accompanying Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) claims; and (3) successfully defending both rulings in the Court of Appeal, yielding a reported decision – Esparza v. Safeway Inc., 36 Cal.App.5th 42 (2019) – in favor of Payne & Fears’ client.