Jeff Brown defends employers against class actions and individual cases brought under California and federal employment laws. He has significant experience in traditional labor matters, and regularly handles union representation elections, unfair labor practice proceedings, labor arbitrations and collective bargaining. Jeff brings a strong track record of litigation wins at every level, in every forum, to his engagements. He currently serves as the Managing Partner of the firm’s Orange County office.
- Winning complete defense verdicts in four recent jury trials. The cases – three in Los Angeles Superior Court and one in the U.S.D.C. Central District of California – involved claims of age, disability, sex and race discrimination, along with harassment, defamation, and other related causes of action. Two of the plaintiffs appealed, and Jeff successfully defended both verdicts in front of the Court of Appeal.
- 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 Attorney 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.
- Winning an employee-mobility case by successfully preventing his California-based business client from being sued in New Jersey for allegedly “raiding” a competitor. Jeff led a team of lawyers on both coasts to develop a winning strategy based on the laws of unfair competition, forum selection and choice of law. The hard-fought litigation ultimately yielded a reported decision from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, In re: Howmedica Osteonics Corp., 867 F.3d 390 (2017), which helps California businesses to hire employees without fear of being drawn into litigation in less favorable jurisdictions.
- Winning a five-day sexual harassment trial in arbitration. The plaintiff alleged that her supervisor, the owner of her employer, had harassed her over a period of years and ultimately terminated her in retaliation for opposing his advances. The Payne & Fears team demonstrated that the plaintiff had fabricated evidence, and testified inconsistently about her allegations leading to a finding in the defendants’ favor on all claims.
Jeff has repeatedly demonstrated an ability to understand his clients’ goals and then use the law to accomplish those purposes. Not only has he consistently prevailed in litigation, but he has developed effective strategies to fix problems outside of the courtroom and reduce legal claims. For example, as national employment counsel for a major educational company, he not only built coast-to-coast litigation teams that have won cases in California, Washington, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Minnesota, Illinois, Florida, Michigan, and New Jersey, but also developed multistate management-training programs to reduce the incidence of employment claims.
Examples of areas in which Jeff regularly provides preventative advice include:
- Wage-and-hour practices, including rest and meal break policies, timely payment of wages, and proper record keeping.
- Leave policies, including compliance with Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), California Family Rights Act (CFRA), workers’ compensation, ADA, and related state and federal laws regarding employee leave.
- Acquisition of employees and business units from competitors, and protection from raiding by competitors, involving trade secrets, confidential information, non-compete or non-solicit agreements, and potential unfair competition claims.
- Implementation of arbitration agreements and other employment documents to protect against litigation risks.
- Employee terminations, including risk assessments, separation agreements and negotiations.