Erin M. Connell

Partner

San Francisco


Read full biography at www.orrick.com
Erin M. Connell, a San Francisco employment partner and Co-Chair of Orrick's EEO & OFCCP Compliance Group and Pay Equity Task Force, represents employers in high stakes employment litigation and is an expert in equal employment opportunity law, pay equity, and affirmative action (OFCCP) compliance.

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: Oracle, Facebook, Netflix, Pandora, Pinterest, NVIDIA, NetApp, Splunk, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Seagate Technology.

Erin is currently the management chair of the ABA Equal Employment Opportunity Committee, and frequently speaks on California and national employment law issues.  She has published numerous articles on employment law in publications around the country, including the ABA Journal of Labor & Employment Law.  She also provides training on managing within the law and preventing sexual harassment, and conducts internal investigations on employment-related matters.

Posts by: Erin Connell

Mum’s the Word: California Joins the Growing List of Jurisdictions to Restrict Reliance on Prior Salary

California continues to pace the nation in terms of equal pay protections, most recently through Governor Jerry Brown’s signing of Assembly Bill 168 on October 12, 2017.  Effective January 1, 2018, California’s new law prohibits employers from asking job candidates about their prior salary, although it allows employers to consider prior salary information if a job candidate voluntarily discloses it.   California’s law further contains an unprecedented provision that requires employers to disclose to job candidates the “pay scale” for the position at issue if the job candidate requests it.  Governor Brown also signed Assembly Bill 46, which clarifies that the state’s equal pay laws apply to both private and public employers. READ MORE

San Francisco Adopts “Parity In Pay” Ordinance And Becomes The Latest City To Ban Employers From Asking About Prior Pay

San Francisco has become the latest city, along with a handful of states, to prohibit both private and public employers from asking job applicants to disclose their salary history.  The “Parity in Pay Ordinance” will take effect July 1, 2018, giving employers a little under a year to make any necessary changes to come into compliance.  The complete text of the ordinance, which will be enforced by the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (“OLSE”) is available here.

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The Pay Equity Plot Thickens: Unique Aspects of Newly Adopted Oregon Equal Pay Act Warrant Special Attention

On June 1, 2017, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed into law the Oregon Equal Pay Act of 2017 (House Bill 2005). Although pay equity legislation has been proposed or passed in a number of jurisdictions throughout the country, Oregon’s new law merits special attention.  The obligations it imposes on employers seeking to justify pay differentials are arguably among the strictest in the nation, but it also affords employers some key protections and potential safe harbors.  Given the focus by government agencies and plaintiffs’ attorneys on pay equity in the technology sector out West, companies seeking to maintain or expand in the so-called “Silicon Forest” should pay special attention to the provisions of this new law.

We took a deep dive into the background and history of the legislation, and share some key observations about what it says—and doesn’t say—here. READ MORE

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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