James H. McQuade

Partner
Employment Law
Read full biography at www.orrick.com

Jim McQuade, a partner in the New York office, is a member of the employment law and litigation group.  

Orrick’s Employment Law and Litigation group was recently named Labor & Employment Department of the Year in California by The Recorder, the premier source for legal news, in recognition of their significant wins on behalf of leading multinational companies on today’s most complex and challenging employment law matters.

Mr. McQuade represents employers on a broad range of employment matters, including whistleblowing, discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination matters.  He has extensive experience handling matters involving misappropriation of trade secrets and the enforcement of non-competition and non-solicitation agreements.  He also regularly defends financial services firms in employment-related arbitrations before the AAA, JAMS and FINRA.  Mr. McQuade is routinely engaged by public and private companies to conduct internal investigations. 

Some other notable engagements include:
  • Complex Discrimination Litigation. Mr. McQuade successfully defended Wyeth/Pfizer in connection with eight related race discrimination cases filed in federal court, obtaining summary judgment in seven cases and obtaining a complete defense verdict following a two-week jury trial in one of the cases. Mr. McQuade also successfully argued several of these cases on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. 
  • Whistleblower Defense. Mr. McQuade has successfully defended employers against Sarbanes-Oxley and other whistleblower and retaliation claims, including representing Wyeth/Pfizer in Livingston v. Wyeth, which was the first U.S. Court of Appeals decision on what constitutes protected activity under the whistleblower provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley.
  • Employment Arbitrations for Financial Services Industry Employers. Mr. McQuade has successfully tried a number of employment arbitrations for financial services industry employers before FINRA and AAA.
James McQuade

Sixth Circuit Affirms $250K Victory to SOX Whistleblower and Provides Broad Interpretation of SOX

On May 28, 2015, the Sixth Circuit in Rhinehimer v. U.S. Bancorp Investments, Inc. affirmed a $250,000 jury verdict in favor of a former financial advisor for U.S. Bancorp Investments (“USBII”) who alleged that he had been terminated in violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (“SOX”) whistleblower provisions.  In doing so, the Sixth Circuit rejected the “definitively and specifically” standard for proving protected activity under SOX and abrogated its prior SOX decision in Riddle v. First Tennessee Bank Nat’l Assoc., 497 F. App’x 588 (6th Cir. 2012) to the extent it relied upon the standard.

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And the Oscar Goes to . . . Equal Pay?  Arquette’s Oscar Speech Sparks Comparable Worth Bill in California

Just in time for Women’s History Month, California State Senator and Chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, Hannah-Beth Jackson, introduced Senate Bill 358 (SB 358), which seeks to narrow the gender pay gap in California.  Citing best supporting actress Patricia Arquette’s recent Oscar acceptance speech where she called for, “wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women,” Senator Jackson hopes to turn that rallying cry into concrete legislation in California.

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In the Nick of Time: Governor Cuomo Approves Repeal of Annual Wage Notices

As employers in New York were gearing up for distribution of the annual wage notices in January 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo finally signed the amendment to New York’s Wage Theft Prevention Act that was passed by the legislature back in June and repeals the annual wage notification provision.  While the other amendments to the Act will not take effect for 60 days, the Governor’s December 29, 2014 signing statement and the New York Department of Labor make clear that employers are not required to distribute wage notices to their employees this January.  The amendment, however, does not relieve employers of their obligation to provide all newly hired employees with wage notices at the time of hiring.  In addition, although not specifically addressed in the amendment to the Act, it would be prudent for employers to distribute a revised wage notice when an employee receives a new position with a different compensation structure during his or her tenure with the employer.

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Three Key EEO Cases to Watch on the SCOTUS Docket This Term

The Supreme Court is set to weigh in on several key questions for employers this term related to employee discrimination.  When does an employer have to accommodate a pregnant employee?  How about a job applicant who wears a head scarf in an interview but does not make it clear she is doing so for religious reasons and needs an accommodation?  Can a court decide whether the EEOC has done enough to resolve your case?  Here are three key EEO cases to keep your eye on in the coming months. Read More

U.S. Census Bureau Down for the Count after Certification Ruling in Criminal Background Check Case

Last Tuesday, a Magistrate Judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted partial class certification in a case where plaintiffs allege that the United States Census Bureau used arrest records to screen out job applicants, thereby transferring  disparities in arrest and conviction rates for African-Americans and Latinos into the agency’s hiring practices and setting up hurdles to employment that disproportionately affected these groups in violation of Title VII. Read More

California Court of Appeal Holds Employer Cannot Shorten Statute of Limitation on California Discrimination and Retaliation Claims

Can employers enter into binding agreements with employees to shorten the statute of limitations on discrimination and other employment claims? A California Court of Appeal decision answered that question with a resounding “no” in a recent case, reinstating claims by a woman who filed suit prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations, but after the deadline she had agreed to in an employment agreement signed at the time of hire. Read More

If You Fire Me Without Cause, Can I Ignore My Non-Compete And Steal Your Clients?

In the decades since Post v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, 48 N.Y.2d 84 (1979), in which the New York Court of Appeals concluded it would be unreasonable to enforce a non-competition agreement requiring forfeiture of compensation against an employee terminated without cause, New York courts have struggled with articulating a clear rule as to whether an employee’s post-employment restrictive covenants are enforceable upon a termination without cause and, if so, when. Read More

EEOC Cut Short for Shortcutting Path to Court – Again

Last week, the EEOC suffered another major loss when a New York district court found that the EEOC once again shirked its pre-litigation obligations under Title VII. Read More

Tenth Circuit Issues its First Decision Interpreting SOX: Offers Broad Reading of the Act

On Tuesday, June 4th, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its first decision interpreting the Sarbanes Oxley Act’s whistleblower protection provision, affirming a decision by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Administrative Review Board (“ARB”), which held that Lockheed Martin violated SOX by constructively discharging employee Andrea Brown after she had engaged in protected activity. The court applied Chevron deference to the ARB’s employee-friendly interpretations of SOX’s requirements. Read More

California Supreme Court Allows See’s Candy Time Rounding Decision to Stand

Earlier last month, the California Supreme Court denied petitions to review and depublish the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District’s decision in See’s Candy Shops, Inc. v. Superior Court, 210 Cal. App. 4th 889 (2012), a case of first impression on whether an employer can round an employee’s clocked time under California law. As a result, the Court of Appeal’s decision on the topic of employers’ rounding of employee time entries remains the law of the land in California.

On October 29, 2012, the California Court of Appeal confirmed that California law—like federal law—permits an employer to implement a policy rounding its employees’ recorded time so long as the policy is neutrally applied and does not systematically under-compensate employees for time worked.

The plaintiff in See’s Candy hoped to blunt this helpful precedent by asking the California Supreme Court to depublish the Court of Appeal’s ruling. However, thanks to the Supreme Court’s denial of the plaintiff’s petitions, employers and courts may continue to look to See’s Candy for guidance in the implementation of their timekeeping policies.