Erin M. Connell, a San Francisco employment partner, represents employers in high stakes employment litigation and is an expert in equal employment opportunity law, affirmative action (OFCCP) compliance, and systemic discrimination investigations.

Erin’s practice covers all aspects of employment law, as well as complex business litigation outside the employment context. Erin has successfully defended numerous class actions, EEOC systemic discrimination investigations, and complex individual cases involving claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, and wage-and-hour claims. Erin has particular expertise in the area of pay equity, compensation analyses, and diversity initiatives; and regularly advises clients with respect to OFCCP and other EEO audits.

Erin also is an accomplished trial lawyer. She has tried several cases before juries and in arbitration, and has successfully has obtained numerous defense summary judgment rulings and other favorable resolutions in state and federal court.

Erin's clients include leading technology and Fortune 500 companies, including: Facebook, Oracle, NetApp, Netflix, NVIDIA, Splunk, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Citigroup, The Home Depot, CVS Caremark, Varian Medical Systems, CoorsTek and Seagate Technology.

Erin frequently speaks on California and national employment law issues, and has published numerous articles on employment law in publications around the country.  She also provides training on managing within the law and preventing sexual harassment, and conducts internal investigations on employment-related matters.

EEOC/OFCCP representative matters include:

  • Numerous compensation analyses and audits, as well as ongoing advice to minimize risk under both state and federal law.
  • EEOC Commissioner’s charge alleging nationwide race and national origin discrimination in hiring.
  • Nationwide EEOC investigation alleging race and national origin discrimination in the use of criminal background checks.
  • Nationwide EEOC investigation alleging systemic failure to accommodate individuals with disabilities.
  • Multiple OFCCP audits, as well as threatened and actual DOL litigation, assessing affirmative action compliance and alleged systemic discrimination in hiring, promotions and compensation.
  • Ongoing OFCCP/EEO compliance counseling for numerous clients, with a particular emphasis on compensation, recruiting, hiring and promotions.

Notable litigation engagements include:

Facebook

  • Currently representing Facebook in a putative class action involving allegations of independent contractor misclassification and other wage-and-hour violations.

Oracle

  • Currently representing Oracle in litigation against the OFCCP involving allegations of discrimination in recruiting, hiring and compensation at Oracle's headquarters location.
  • Successfully resolved a complex set of disputes in both state and federal court against the State of Oregon arising from Oregon's failure to launch its health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act. Litigation involved constitutional questions concerning the Copyright Remedies Clarification Act and 11th Amendment immunity, as well as complex state-federal preemption issues.

Netflix

  • Currently representing Netflix in litigation against Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and Fox 21, Inc., involving allegations of unlawful solicitation of employees and use of unlawful non-compete agreements.

Morgan Stanley

  • Obtained summary judgment and defeated class certification in wage-and-hour class action alleging compelled patronage in violation of California law and various Labor Code claims.
  • Defeated class certification in wage-and-hour class action challenging the exempt status of financial advisors and alleging unpaid business expenses.
  • Successfully resolved three related complex individual charges alleging breach of contract, wrongful termination, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, retaliation and compensation-related claims.
  • Defended numerous complex individual cases involving all types of employment-related claims, including claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, breach of contract and wage-and-hour violations.

The Home Depot.

  • Successfully resolved wage-and-hour class action involving claims of unpaid overtime, meal and rest break penalties and other wage-and-hour violations based on alleged misclassification of independent contractors.

Bank of America

  • Defended numerous complex individual cases involving all types of employment-related claims, including claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, breach of contract and wage-and-hour violations.

Wyndham Vacation Ownership, Inc.

  • Successfully tried and/or resolved claims of ten plaintiffs alleging discrimination, retaliation, harassment, wrongful termination and related claims.

Posts by: Erin Connell

Equal Pay Is Here To Stay

As predictions abound regarding what a Trump presidency will mean for employers, including which laws and regulations might be amended, scaled back, or repealed all together, the issue of pay equity is likely here to stay.  Over the past year, numerous states – including several with Republican governors – have enacted aggressive equal pay legislation, following California’s lead in 2015.  Additionally, activist shareholder groups continue to exert pressure by filing proposals that, if passed, require companies to disclose publicly the percentage “pay gap” between male and female employees, and planned steps to address it.  And while pay equity is not at the top of Trump’s political agenda, his daughter Ivanka has been an equal pay advocate, perhaps signaling that the EEOC’s final rule requiring employers with more than 100 employees to report W-2 pay data to the federal government through new EEO-1 reporting requirements may not be on the Trump chopping block.  Accordingly, smart employers will stay the course on equal pay, including by following these recommendations:

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Updated Maps: States With Equal Pay Protections and Pending Equal Pay Legislation

As we noted in a previous post, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act of 2016 (“Equal Pay Act”) into law on May 19, 2016 (effective on October 1, 2016). With the passage of this new law, Maryland joins New York and California in the category of states with some of the country’s most expansive equal pay protections. Included below are our updated maps of states with equal pay protections and  of states with equal pay protections and states with pending equal pay legislation.

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Employers Left Hanging Again: Coates v. Farmers Reaches Settlement & Still No Answers on Interpreting California’s Fair Pay Act

What many were hoping would bring clarity to California’s Fair Pay Act, further left employers in the dark on how to interpret the Act.

On April 29, 2015, Plaintiff Lynne Coates filed a class action lawsuit against Farmers alleging gender discrimination claims under Title VII and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, as well as violations of the federal and California equal pay acts and California’s Private Attorneys General Act.  Coates claimed that Farmers systematically discriminated against female attorney employees and that its “common compensation and promotion policies and practices resulted in lower pay and unequal promotions for female attorneys.”

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California DLSE Posts FAQs on New Fair Pay Law but Leaves Tough Questions Unanswered

Three months after the California Fair Pay Act took effect on January 1, 2016, the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (“DLSE”) has issued answers to FAQs about the new law, which by all counts is the most employee-friendly equal pay law in the nation.  But for California employers who anxiously have been awaiting official guidance on the Act’s many new terms and standards, the FAQs provide little satisfaction.  Rather, they focus more on informing employees on how to bring a claim.  Nor has the DLSE otherwise spoken publicly about how it plans to enforce the new law; instead, the agency appears to be taking its time and exercising caution as it potentially sets the stage for the rest of the nation.

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Cross-Border Trends: UK to Follow US Attack on the Gender Pay Gap

Following months of waiting the UK Government has finally published its draft regulations on the new “gender pay gap reporting” requirements in the UK. On publication of the draft regulations, the UK Government has asked one final consultation question: “What, if any, modifications should be made to these draft regulations?” – And so it would appear that the draft regulations are nearing but possibly not quite in final form, pending any pertinent responses received.

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At Long Last, OFCCP Announces OMB Approval of a New Scheduling Letter and Itemized Listing

More than three years after the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) first announced its intent to issue a new Scheduling Letter and Itemized Listing, the Agency finally has obtained approval to do so from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  The OFCCP’s Scheduling Letter provides a contractor with notice of its selection for a compliance evaluation (audit), and the Itemized Listing constitutes OFCCP’s standard initial request for submission of the contractor’s Affirmative Action Plan and supporting personnel activity and compensation data.  OFCCP announced the OMB approval in a September 30, 2014 Notice, and published the final versions of the Scheduling Letter and Itemized Listing on October 1, 2014.

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