Jessica R. Perry leads Orrick’s Litigation practices worldwide. As an employment partner, she represents tech, retail and financial industry leaders in their most significant class, collective, representative and multi-plaintiff actions.
Jessica defends employers from discrimination and harassment claims on the basis of gender, race, religion, disability, age and other protected categories. She recently defeated class certification in cases alleging discrimination against women in technical roles for Microsoft and Twitter, earning her The American Lawyer’s "Litigator of the Week” award. She also won a complete defense verdict for Kleiner Perkins in the highly publicized gender discrimination and retaliation case Pao v. Kleiner Perkins, which the Daily Journal named the year’s ‘Top Verdict.’ Her trial victories also include winning defense judgments in cases involving claims of religious discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination. Jessica also specializes in pay equity matters, including in designing analyses and advising on compliance and risk mitigation. Clients interviewed by Chambers note, “She's very thorough and knows the details and procedure, without allowing anything to fall through the cracks."
Jessica has a winning record in beating back class certification in high stakes wage-and-hour actions in federal and state court, including those brought under the Private Attorney General Act. Having led over 150 high-stakes wage-and-hour class action matters, Jessica has broad experience on virtually every theory of relief. She also offers strategic guidance to help businesses avoid wage-and-hour litigation, particularly companies in the gig economy industry which can be significantly impacted by such matters.
In addition to litigation and counseling, Jessica has successfully guided clients through investigations and audits by the Department of Labor, California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement and California Employment Development Department, and helped develop compensation policies and measures to reduce potential exposure.
Jessica is also an expert in generational workplace issues and frequently speaks on employment engagement in a multi-generational workforce.
Earlier this month, the country was again rocked by mass shootings—two in less than 24 hours left the cities of Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas reeling. Like so many tragedies before, both shootings occurred at a location that was also a workplace. Although neither was perpetrated by an employee (unlike yet another shooting earlier this summer), employees were affected. They had to think quickly and act fast in the moment, and to deal with the psychological and emotional toll afterwards.
The Department of Labor estimates that approximately two million people will be victims of workplace violence this year. With an employed population of approximately 157 million, this means that about 1 in 80 employees will experience workplace violence—and more will likely be aware of or witness it.
In these circumstances, employers should consider developing or updating their workplace violence prevention (1) strategies, (2) policies, and (3) practices. READ MORE
On October 11, the Tenth Circuit held that a failure-to-accommodate claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) requires a showing of an adverse employment action, cementing a circuit split and making the issue ripe for U.S. Supreme Court review. READ MORE
The Senate is gearing up to consider President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court to replace Justice Kennedy. While employment law is not likely to be the center of his confirmation hearings, many employers will be watching to see how Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment may impact employment cases that come before the Supreme Court. A review of Judge Kavanaugh’s employment law decisions during his time on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit suggests that although he sometimes sides with employees, he would be an employer-friendly addition to the Supreme Court.
The NLRB continues to find fault with employers who discipline or terminate employees for sending emails discussing the terms and conditions of employment.
When four restaurant workers at Mexican Radio responded to a group email from former employee Annette Polanco complaining about the wages, work schedules, tip policy, and the treatment of workers, the now-closed Manhattan location of the chain responded by preparing reprimands and then terminating their employment. READ MORE
In October 2017, four franchisees filed a federal complaint against the global convenience store chain, 7-Eleven, seeking to represent a purported class of over 1,000 similarly situated 7-Eleven franchisees in California. The franchisees alleged 7-Eleven’s corporate entity violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, California Labor Code, California Code of Regulations, and California Business and Professions Code. The central issue in the case was whether 7-Eleven misclassified franchisees as independent contractors instead of employees. READ MORE
The flurry of high-profile harassment allegations across various industries has drawn the public’s attention to the issue of sexual harassment over the past several months. Unsurprisingly, it has also resulted in increased scrutiny in this area by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). READ MORE
In the past few years, the American workforce has shifted dramatically. By some estimates, as many as 53 million Americans are now self-employed. Many of them work in the “gig” or “on demand” economy, which has emerged as the new norm for doing business. In general, the gig economy offers traditional services, such as transportation, food delivery, and housing, in a more efficient way by connecting consumers directly to service providers. But, as with many innovations, gig economy companies face challenges from multiple fronts due to mounting legal pressures. Employment laws written in the 1930s haven’t kept up with the pace of innovation, and trying to apply them to the way services are delivered today is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. READ MORE
After the Supreme Court sat with an empty seat for more than one year, and following a hard-fought nominations process which saw the failed nomination of Judge Merrick Garland and Republican lawmakers resorting to the “nuclear option,” the Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch of the Tenth Circuit to be the next Supreme Court Justice. His first day on the job was Monday, April 17th. But for those who are not familiar with Judge Gorsuch, the question remains: what kind of Justice will he be? READ MORE
Can employers still require employees to sign arbitration agreements with class action waivers as a condition of employment? Last week, the Ninth Circuit became the second appellate court to adopt the National Labor Relations Board’s (“NLRB”) position that class action waivers violate the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) in Morris v. Ernst & Young LLP.
The adage that “there is no rest for the weary” is perhaps an all too familiar one for California employers. Although employers might have already spent the past few months implementing a host of new laws that took effect in early 2016, there has been less fanfare about the upcoming regulatory amendments under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA,” Cal. Govt. Code § 12900, et seq.) that go into effect April 1, 2016.