Jessica R. L. James

Senior Associate

Sacramento


Read full biography at www.orrick.com

Jessica James, an attorney in the Sacramento office, has experience in defending a broad range of employment issues, including claims of harassment, wrongful discharge, misclassification and systemic discrimination investigations. 

Jessica's practice involves employment litigation on a variety of legal issues, including defense of class action and single-plaintiff claims of discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, misclassification, and other wage-and-hour violations.  She also has experience in defending and advising industry leaders regarding pay equity and compensation analysis in response to civil litigation, OFCCP and EEOC investigations, and other claims of systemic discrimination.

Jessica regularly counsel clients on a variety of employment-related issues, including human resources policies and procedures, separation agreements, employee termination, and compliance with various state and federal regulations, including the Equal Pay Act (EPA), Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN).  As part of her counseling role, she frequently conducts training programs for her clients, including trainings on sexual harassment and discrimination prevention.  Jessica also has significant experience conducting internal investigations in response to claims of misconduct.

Jessica's experience also includes business litigation on issues beyond the employment context, relating to white collar criminal defense, corporate investigations, and complex commercial litigation.

Prior to joining Orrick, Jessica served for two years as a judicial clerk for the Nevada Supreme Court.  She earned her J.D. from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the McGeorge Law Review and graduated Order of the Coif.  She also served as a judicial extern for the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District.

Posts by: Jessica R. L. James

Ready, Set, Respond: OFCCP Issues Final Rule on Evidentiary Standards and Predetermination Notice Procedure

On November 5, 2020, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) issued a final rule defining the evidentiary standards it will use for proving discrimination claims by federal contractors, revising the process for notifying contractors of potential violations, and outlining an option for contractors to participate in an “expedited” dispute resolution process.  It will take effect on December 10, 2020.  Notably, the rule deviates significantly from the version initially proposed by OFCCP on December 30, 2019, which relied far more heavily on statistics and came under intense scrutiny from the contractor community, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  According to OFCCP, the requirements laid out in the final rule will increase transparency and create clear parameters for contractor compliance with equal employment opportunity laws.  READ MORE

Just a SEC – Agency Adopts New Rules Impacting Pay Equity Shareholder Proposals

On September 23, 2020 the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) adopted amendments to 17 C.F.R. § 240.14a-8 (“Rule 14a-8”), raising the bar for shareholders seeking to force votes on proposals. The rule comes on the heels of persistent and repeat shareholder proposals in various areas including, notably, pay gap data reporting.

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California District Court Kicks Out U.S. Women’s National Team’s Equal Pay Claims

A California district court dealt a blow to the U.S. Women’s National Team’s (WNT) equal pay case on May 1, granting partial summary judgment to the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) in the headline-grabbing case filed last year. The decision dismisses the team’s compensation discrimination claims under both the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and Title VII but mostly leaves intact the WNT’s remaining discriminatory working conditions claims. We previously blogged about the case here.

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ARB Said, He Said: Secretary of Labor Announces New Oversight of Administrative Decisions

On March 6, 2020, U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia published Secretary’s Order 01-2020, which is among the first of his management decisions since his confirmation back in September. The Order, titled the “Delegation of Authority and Assignment of Responsibility to the Administrative Review Board,” establishes the Secretary’s authority to review, at his discretion, decisions of the Department of Labor (DOL)’s Administrative Review Board (ARB), including decisions arising out of enforcement actions brought by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). The Order represents a shift in procedure before the Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ) and introduces various new process and substantive legal questions to be aware of in connection with contractor pay discrimination enforcement actions. READ MORE

EEOC Confirms It Will Discontinue EEO-1 Pay Data Collection

Today, the EEOC formally confirmed that it will not renew its request for authorization to collect employer’s pay data under Component 2 of the EEO-1 moving forward.  The notice is consistent with its announcement last September, marking the end of a four-year saga over whether the pay data collection would go ahead (as we reported herehereherehereherehere, here, here, and here).  Notably, the notice does not explain how the EEOC intends to use the pay data it already has collected, although it makes reference to using it in Title VII proceedings.  It does, however, confirm the EEOC’s intentions regarding sharing the EEO-1 pay data, including that the EEOC does not intend to share it with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”), but under certain circumstances may share it with state and local fair employment practices agencies (“FEPAs”).  The notice also provides guidance regarding a potential pay data collection by the EEOC in the future, including that the EEOC intends to “develop a plan for using pay data before initiating any data collection.” READ MORE

OFCCP Says “No Thanks” to EEOC’s EEO-1 Pay Data

As you’ll recall from our extensive coverage of the EEO-1 pay data collection saga (which we previously reported on here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), private employers, including federal contractors, have been busy collecting and submitting EEO-1 pay data to the EEOC. The deadline for submissions was initially set for May 31, 2019, but has since been extended multiple times. Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan ruled that the EEOC must continue its collection efforts until it has collected from at least 98.3% of eligible reporters and must make all efforts to do so by January 31, 2020. READ MORE

EEOC Yanks Its Pay Data Collection Efforts For Future Years

Yesterday, the EEOC announced that it does not intend to renew its request for authorization to collect employers’ pay data on the EEO-1 form in future years. The announcement comes less than three weeks before the September 30th deadline for employers nationwide to submit massive amounts of pay data for 2017 and 2018 (a deadline that is not impacted by the EEOC’s announcement).

The rollercoaster saga of the EEOC’s pay data collection (which we previously reported on including here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) began over three-and-a-half years ago when the EEOC announced in January 2016 its plan to revise the EEO-1 form to collect pay data (Component 2 data). The revised EEO-1 form requires employers to submit data on employees’ W-2 earnings and hours worked across broad job categories, and broken down by ethnicity, race, and sex. While the EEOC contends that the revised EEO-1 form will allow it to better assess pay discrimination, employers have expressed numerous concerns, including that the form may indicate “false positives,” as the broad EEO-1 job categories are not designed to group employees who perform similar work (as defined by federal and state equal pay and anti-discrimination statutes). READ MORE

Deadline Looms for Revised EEO-1 Forms: What Employers Need to Know

The EEOC’s revised pay-data collection rule is back in force and the September 30, 2019 deadline is at our doorstep. Here is a quick overview of what employers should know and links to available resources. READ MORE

An Update On Pay Gap Shareholder Proposals

For nearly five years, major U.S. corporations have been subject to intense scrutiny over their decisions on whether to release internal pay gap percentages in response to shareholder proposals by Arjuna Capital, LLC and other activist shareholder groups. As these activist groups maintain a keen interest in seeking compensation-related disclosures from industry giants, employers should be mindful of certain issues in considering their response. READ MORE

I Can See Clearly Now: The OFCCP’s Latest Directives Seek to Increase Transparency

For the second month in a row, the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has issued guidance to update materials available to federal contractors and subcontractors. On September 19, 2018, the OFCCP issued two broad directives aimed at improving transparency and communications and to implement the highly-anticipated ombud service. These directives respond to contractor complaints related to the length and process for OFCCP audits. READ MORE