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Employment Law Forum

Austin Holian
 •  $325 - $3000

This full day conference will showcase the expertise and experience of leading practitioners in the ever widening topic of Employment Law.

Our Keynote Address: Current Legislative Issues On Employment

Michael D. Belote

President, California Advocates

Mr. Belote is currently president of the firm of California Advocates, Inc. in Sacramento.  His responsibilities include representing a variety of association and corporate clients before the California Legislature, providing counsel to clients on legislative and regulatory issues.

Prior to joining California Advocates in 1990, Mr. Belote represented CPAs, Realtors, and the land title industry. For over 10 years, Mike has represented the California Employment Law Council, working on a myriad of wage and hour, leave, discrimination, and other issues.  In this regard, Mike maintains an ongoing liaison with other business and employer groups, as well with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.  More than once, CELC has successfully sponsored employer-friendly legislation in the California Legislature.

Mr. Belote is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.  He lives in Loomis, outside of Sacramento.

About our Chairs

Jennifer S. Baldocchi

Partner, Employment Law Practice, Paul Hastings LLP

Jennifer S. Baldocchi is a partner in the Employment Law practice of Paul Hastings. Ms. Baldocchi has a broad-based employment practice, with a focus on intellectual property, including employee mobility, trade secrets, covenants not to compete, unfair competition, and related business tort claims. She prosecutes and defends trade secret misappropriation claims, as well as disputes over restrictive covenants in employment-related agreements. Ms. Baldocchi has extensive experience handling computer forensic issues that arise when misappropriation involves electronically stored information.

Ms. Baldocchi’s litigation practice also focuses on advising and defending employers in complex employment claims involving wrongful discharge, discrimination, retaliation, and harassment. She defends class actions and multi-district litigation, including disparate treatment, disparate impact, and wage and hour class actions.

Ms. Baldocchi counsels clients on a wide range of employment matters. She provides advice on best practices to protect and enforce intellectual property rights and restrictive covenants in the employee/employer relationship. Ms. Baldocchi counsels clients about wage and hour, investigations, and claims of discrimination or harassment.  She also addresses the issues arising when employees leave to start a competitive venture or work for a competitor. She prepares employment contracts, focusing on the protection of trade secrets and the prevention of improper customer and employee solicitations.



Genie Harrison 

Principal, Genie Harrison Law Firm, APC,

Genie Harrison is the principal of the Genie Harrison Law Firm, APC, where she focuses her practice on plaintiff’s sexual harassment and other employment claims, and sexual abuse cases. She has been named for eight years by the Daily Journal as one of the Top Labor & Employment Lawyers, and has been named to its Top Women Lawyers list. Ms. Harrison was named by Super Lawyers as one of the Top 10 and Top 100 Southern California Super Lawyers from 2016-2018, has been named No. 2 on that list in 2018, and has consistently been named to the list of the Top 50 Women Southern California Super Lawyers. Ms. Harrison is CAALA’s 2018 Second Vice-President and will be its President in 2021.



Jeffrey S. Horton Thomas

Partner, Akerman LLP

From mid-market employers to Fortune 500 corporations, Jeffrey Horton Thomas represents employers and management in all aspects of California and federal employment law before state and federal courts and administrative agencies.  He regularly defends employers on issues involving discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, disability accommodation, wage and hour, and PAGA and class actions.  Jeffrey’s clients span hospitality, technology, retail, professional services, manufacturing, and apparel.  Clients value his aggressive approach and mature judgment.

Jeffrey has served as contributing Employment Law Editor to Modern Restaurant Management and is a regular legal guest on KABC Talk Radio’s “So, What’s Your Problem.”  Jeffrey is recognized by U.S. News Best Lawyers, listed among the top 100 Super Lawyers in Southern California across all practice areas for 2018, and is AV-Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell.

About our Speakers

Marissa Hurwitz Alguire

Partner, Akerman LLP

Marissa Alguire represents employers in all aspects of employment litigation, with an emphasis on defending clients against claims of harassment, discrimination, wrongful termination, retaliation, wage and hour and PAGA issues, and class actions before federal and state courts and in arbitration. She also defends clients in proceedings before the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Employment Development Department. Marissa works with employers in various sectors, including technology, entertainment, hospitality, retail, and healthcare.

Marissa also provides day-to-day advice and counseling to employers on a wide variety of employment issues, including employment policies and procedures, internal investigations, accommodation requirements, leaves of absence, wage-and-hour compliance, employment agreements, discharge and discipline, reductions in force, disability access laws, and manager and employee training. She also provides AB1825 Sexual Harassment Prevention Training and is fluent in Spanish.


Michael Boshnaick

Partner, Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP

Michael represents large multinational companies as well as individual clients, startup companies, and small to mid-size companies on U.S. immigration matters.

Michael partners with corporate clients to provide strategic counsel on all matters involving U.S. immigration and nationality law, as well as policy and compliance, to manage immigration programs. He guides corporate clients on immigration aspects of mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, outsourcing and corporate restructuring, as well as I-9 employer sanctions matters.

While in law school, Michael served as an Oralist for the Philip C. Jessup and Benjamin N. Cardozo Moot Court competitions.

Before joining Fragomen, he was appointed to the U.S. Attorney General’s Honor Program and served as a Trial Attorney for the former Immigration & Naturalization Service in the Los Angeles District.

Michael successfully represented pro bono a single mother and her children who sought relief from deportation after being brought to the United States by the children’s father and being subsequently abandoned by him.  Michael speaks English, French and Spanish


Nadine Chang  

Vice President, Assistant General Counsel, CBRE

Nadine Chang is the Vice President, Assistant General Counsel – Employment in CBRE, Inc.’s Legal Services department.  She has responsibility for CBRE’s employment-related legal matters for the Americas, and advises managers, executives, and HR professionals across all lines of business.  Prior to joining CBRE, Ms. Chang specialized in employment law at Seyfarth Shaw and Morgan Lewis.

Ms. Chang has been a featured speaker at various conferences and seminars on topics such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, social media and the workplace, and wage and hour issues.

Ms. Chang holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Stanford University and a Juris Doctor from New York University School of Law.  She is admitted to practice in the State of California.



Phyllis W. Cheng, Esq. 

Mediator & Arbitrator, ADR Services, Inc.

Phyllis Cheng is a mediator, arbitrator, and referee at ADR Services, Inc. For nearly seven years, Ms. Cheng was Director of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), the largest state civil rights agency in the United States. As Director, she oversaw six and seven-figure settlements, including the largest settlements in DFEH history. She was also a Senior Appellate Court Attorney; a Deputy Attorney General with the Civil Rights Enforcement Section of the California Department of Justice; a partner with DLA Piper’s employment practice; and a two-term Commissioner and Vice-Chair of the Fair Employment and Housing Commission.

As a private mediator and as a panelist for the U.S. District Court and the California Court of Appeal, Ms. Cheng has settled significant matters in the areas of employment, including discrimination, harassment, and retaliation; wage and hour; class actions; civil rights; attorney’s fees; housing discrimination; and public accommodations and disability access



Michelle Lee Flores

Partner, Akerman LLP

Michelle Lee Flores is an employment litigator with deep experience handling jury and bench trials, arbitration, mediation and pre-litigation negotiations involving sex, race, religion, age and disability harassment and discrimination, and wage and hour violations, including class actions, and wrongful termination.

Michelle advises clients on employment compliance, internal investigations, discipline, terminations, reductions in force and wage and hour matters. She prepares workplace policies and procedures manuals, drug testing policies, employment contracts and separation agreements, and harassment and discrimination prevention policies, including preventive counseling and in-house training.



Elliot K. Gordon, Esq

Mediator & Arbitrator, JAMS

Elliot K. Gordon, Esq. is a full-time mediator and arbitrator who enjoyed a 30-year legal career in private practice and as an in-house counsel with an emphasis on health care, employment law and complex business litigation.

Mr. Gordon served in leadership positions in the legal departments of two of the country’s largest health care companies, where he had responsibility for the entire portfolio of litigation, including individual and class claims brought under ERISA, the Knox-Keene Act, the California Insurance Code, Business & Professions Code Section 17200, antitrust laws and the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, as well as numerous disputes involving claims of breach of contract and bad faith.

Additionally, while in-house, Mr. Gordon was responsible for all employment litigation and managed intellectual property disputes, derivative shareholder actions, insurance coverage disputes and contract disputes involving vendors. He started his legal career as a litigator at a major global law firm.

Prior to going in-house, Mr. Gordon practiced as a litigator for 13 years, specializing in the full range of individual and collective employment disputes, including discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, retaliation, wage and hour, employee benefits and employment contract disputes.


Keith D. Griffin, Esq.

Partner, Girardi & Keese

Keith Griffin is a partner with the law firm of Girardi & Keese.  Mr. Griffin’s practice areas include employment litigation, aviation litigation, pharmaceutical and medical device mass tort litigation, product liability, toxic tort litigation, and class action litigation.  Mr. Griffin is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), an exclusive, invitation-only group of the most experienced trial lawyers throughout the country.

Mr. Griffin has been a member and partner at the Girardi firm for 18 years.  The firm has been recognized as one of the preeminent trial firms in the country.  The Girardi firm has been appointed to various leadership roles in Multidistrict Litigation (“MDL”) cases and JCCP litigations across the country, including Actos JCCP No. 4696 (Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee), DePuy ASR JCCP No. 4649 (Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee), DePuy ASR MDL No. 2197 (Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee), Yaz/Yasmin JCCP No. 4608 (Plaintiffs’ Lead Counsel), Yaz/Yasmin MDL No. 2100 (Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee), Vioxx JCCP No. 4247 (Plaintiffs’ Lead Counsel), Nexium MDL No. 2404 (Plaintiffs’ Lead Counsel), and GranuFlo JCCP No. 4749 (Plaintiffs’ Lead Counsel). 

Mr. Griffin currently serves as lead counsel in both the California Zofran Litigation, JCCP 4905, as well as in the GranuFlo JCCP (JCCP No. 4749, In re: GranuFlo/NaturaLyte Dialysis Cases).  Mr. Griffin has previously served as lead counsel in the California JCCP In re Avandia Drug Cases (JCCP No. 4578) proceedings.   In connection with these appointments, Mr. Griffin has coordinated the prosecution of defective drug cases, and has been instrumental in eventual resolution and settlement for thousands of plaintiffs



Suzanne Heinemann

Vice President, Litigation, Nathan Associates, Inc. 

Ms. Heinemann, a litigation consultant for more than 20 years, has an extensive background in economic analysis, forensic accounting, and business valuation.  Ms. Heinemann is a Certified Public Accountant and Accredited in Business Valuation.  She has testified widely as a qualified expert witness in arbitration, federal and state courts, and has provided expert assistance in mediation.

A specialist in quantifying damages, Ms. Heinemann has substantive experience with intellectual property matters, including patent, copyright, and trademark infringement, and misappropriation of trade secrets.  Ms. Heinemann has experience with complex patent litigations, including matters with numerous patents and claimed benefits.  Examples of her work include economic analysis of product attributes, competition, and market share; valuation of benefits derived from patented features; analysis of revenues, costs and profits; and, consideration for apportionment.

Ms. Heinemann’s intellectual property experience covers a broad range of industries, including mobile devices, enterprise storage, Wi-Fi technologies, software, retail, consumer electronics, manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals


Toni Jaramilla

Toni Jaramilla, APLC

Jaramilla represents employees in claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, and unpaid wages.  She is an active member and Past President of the California Employment Lawyers Association.  Inspired by the #MeToo movement, she testifies and lobbies at the State Capitol and helps draft stronger anti-harassment legislation to protect California workers.







Betsy Johnson

Shareholder, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C

Betsy Johnson is a Shareholder in the Los Angeles Office of Ogletree Deakins. Since 1985, she has represented employers and advises clients on innovative and practical ways to meet their unique needs. Her areas of expertise include: wage/hour, employee leaves, discrimination and harassment, performance management, employee mobility and corporate reorganizations.


Kathleen C. Kim

Professor of Law, Loyola Law School

Professor Kathleen Kim is a nationally-recognized expert on immigrants’ rights and human trafficking.  Her scholarship investigates the intersection of immigration law, workplace rights, civil rights and the 13th Amendment, and has appeared in the Iowa Law Review, UCLA Law Review, and University of Chicago Law Forum, among others.  She is co-author of the first casebook on human trafficking.  Before joining the Loyola Law School faculty, Professor Kim pioneered civil litigation on behalf of human trafficking survivors as a Skadden Fellow at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco. She was also the inaugural Immigrants’ Rights Teaching Fellow at Stanford Law School.  Professor Kim was a gubernatorial appointee to the first California Department of Justice Alliance to Combat Trafficking and Slavery.  She served on the Los Angeles Police Commission from 2013-2016.  In 2014, Los Angeles Magazine named her one of Los Angeles’ ten most inspiring women. In 2016, The National Jurist selected as one of twenty law professor “Leaders in Diversity.” She serves on the Advisory Board of Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking and is a board member of Asian Americans Advancing Justice Los Angeles.  Professor Kim received her JD from Stanford Law School where she was a Judge Takasugi Public Interest Fellow and an editor for the Stanford Law Review



Ann Kotlarski, Esq.   
Arbitrator & Mediator, Judicate West  

After 30 years as a successful employment and business/commercial trial lawyer, Ann brings her wealth of experience and skills to JW to serve as an arbitrator and mediator. In her 3 decades as an associate, partner and rainmaker she has tried, arbitrated, and mediated hundreds of cases and implemented many in house ADR programs for clients. In practice, she earned the respect of her clients, colleagues and opposing counsel for her philosophy of limited discovery with a goal towards early resolution. As a result, she was often asked to give presentations in conflict avoidance and serve as a neutral fact finder. Ann states “I understand the emotional dynamics of conflict for both sides. One of my goals as a mediator is to create an atmosphere of frank and open communication between the parties, demonstrating active listening and remaining courteous at all times. In addition, arbitration plays an important role in the finality of cases, as an arbitrator I help the parties narrow down the issues to a point where resolution may be possible.”



Rachael E. Meny

Partner, Keker,Van Nest & Peters LLP

Rachael Meny has extensive experience handling trade secret and employee mobility disputes, complex civil litigations and white collar criminal matters. She has successfully represented companies, venture funds and partnerships, and individuals in litigation regarding trade secrets/employee mobility, securities fraud, mortgage fraud, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations, breaches of fiduciary duty, breaches of contract claims, Business and Professions Code Section 17200, unfair business practices, antitrust and intellectual property matters. Ms. Meny has extensive experience representing technology companies, other companies and executives throughout the U.S. in pre-litigation and litigation disputes regarding trade secrets, employee mobility and non-competition matters. Ms. Meny litigates such matters in state and federal courts, but also frequently provides counseling and advice on pre-litigation disputes that allows such matters to be successfully resolved before litigation. She has also represented individuals in numerous internal corporate investigations, and governmental agency investigations involving the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice.




Jon Meer  Jon Meer
Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Meer is one of the most successful trial lawyers in Southern California and one of only a few lawyers nationwide with successful class action jury trial experience.  He represents many of the nation’s best known retailers in “bet the company” class action cases, with an unmatched record of defeating class certification, including high-profile class action cases with potential exposure in excess of $200 million


Brad Newman 
Founding Chair, Paul Hastings’ Global Employee Mobility and Trade Secret Practice Group

Brad Newman, founding chair of the Paul Hastings Global Employee Mobility and Trade Secret practice group, has established a distinguished record of achievement on a national level for his Employee Mobility and Trade Secrets expertise. As an indication of his leading national reputation in the area, American Law Media sought out Brad to create the original scholarship that has become the leading treatise on trade secrets, Protecting IP in the Age of Employee Mobility (ALM, March 2014, now in its 3rd Edition). Brad also serves as the Editor of the American Bar Association’s Annual Review of Developments in Trade Secrets and Employee Mobility.  He is a thought leader in Artificial Intelligence and the driving force behind The Artificial Intelligence Data Protection Act — comprehensive proposed federal AI legislation he conceptualized in a widely-heralded Tech Crunch article. Brad routinely represents the country’s leading technology, financial institution, software, and manufacturing companies in their most-challenging “bet the company” trade secret matters, both prosecuting claims of data theft and defending companies accused of data theft in cases with eight and nine figure liability.  Brad is also a recognized national expert on computer forensics as it pertains to protecting data and detecting data theft from a computer science standpoint, and has assisted any of the world’s leading brands in devising state of the art legal and technical ways to prevent data theft.



Shawn Murphy

Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Mazda North American Operations

As vice president, general counsel and secretary, Shawn Murphy is responsible for all legal, government affairs, and audit matters for Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). In addition to his position as vice president, general counsel, Murphy serves as corporate secretary for Mazda Motor of America, Inc. board of directors and is a member of its audit committee.

Murphy joined Mazda in December 2007. Immediately prior to joining Mazda, he held the position of general counsel and corporate secretary for Jaguar Land Rover North America and Aston Martin. Prior to his position with Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin, Murphy held a various positions of increasing responsibility with Ford Motor Company and Ford Motor Credit Company general counsel offices.

Murphy is affiliated with the Michigan and California Bar Associations and is the immediate past President of the SoCal Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel. Murphy was also the recipient of General Counsel of the Year award by the Orange County Business Journal in 2015.  Murphy holds a finance degree from Michigan State University and earned his Juris Doctorate with honors from the University of Detroit Mercy, School of Law. He resides in Ladera Ranch, CA with his two children.



Marlene Nicolas, Esq.

Employment Counsel, Mattel, Inc.

Marlene joined Mattel as a Senior Director and Expert Counsel of Employment heading the Company’s employment law function in January 2018.  Prior to joining Mattel, Marlene was a Partner in the Labor & Employment Group of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP in the firm’s downtown Los Angeles office where she defended employers against legal claims arising under state and federal law and provided advice and counsel on employment law compliance and risk mitigation.  At the firm, Marlene’s clients ranged from Fortune 100 corporations to family-run businesses across several industries including finance, service, retail, and manufacturing.  Marlene was with Sheppard Mullin for almost 12 years and was elevated to Partner just 8 years after graduating from Southwestern Law School. Marlene also served as Co-Chair for the firm’s Los Angeles Recruiting Committee and Editor of the Labor & Employment Blog.


Angelo A. Paparelli
Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Mr. Paparelli is a partner in the Business Immigration Practice Group of Seyfarth Shaw LLP.  A Certified Immigration Law Specialist (CA), he is known among clients and peers for providing creative solutions to complex immigration law problems, especially those involving mergers and acquisitions.  He also serves as an expert witness and consultant on immigration issues arising in litigation.

Mr. Paparelli’s immigration practice areas include compliance audits; counsel and due diligence in mergers, acquisitions and corporate restructuring; immigration-related corporate policy formulation; permanent residence and citizenship; visas for executives, managers, scientists, scholars, investigators, professionals, students and visitors; PERM labor certifications; employment-based immigrant visa petitions; global visas and consular practice; legislative advocacy and immigration messaging; federal court litigation under the Administrative Procedures Act; waivers, white-collar immigration and asylum.



Jack Schaedel

Partner, Scalli Rasmussen

Jack Schaedel has spent more than 20 years assisting clients in labor and employment law matters, including wage-hour and employment litigation and providing advice and counsel to employers in managing their workforces.

Jack represents and counsels employers with as few as two employees and as many as 100,000, based in Southern California and throughout the United States, guiding them through the finer points of discrimination and harassment law, wage and hour regulations, family and medical leave, handbook development and enforcement, and the panoply of issues that may face a client on any given day. Jack also speaks frequently on wage-hour law and other employment-related topics to employer groups and bar associations.

For the first nine years of his career, Jack was associated with a regional labor and employment boutique firm and other full-service firms. In 2004, Jack founded Schaedel & Associates, PLC which he operated through 2009, when he joined forces with another firm to create Hernandez, Schaedel & Associates, LLP. In 2013, they became a part of the largest minority owned firm in the nation, where Jack was a partner.



Chen Song, Ph.D., CFA

Senior Vice President, Nathan Associates, Inc.

Dr. Song is an economist, CFA charter holder, and expert witness. Since receiving her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago, she has provided consulting and expert testimony in single-plaintiff, multiple-plaintiff, and class action discrimination disputes, as well as class action wage and hour disputes. Dr. Song has studied labor market definition and has applied techniques in statistics and econometrics to examine companies’ employment practices: hiring, pay, promotion, termination, reduction in force, executive compensation, and pension benefits. Additionally, Dr. Song has conducted pay equity studies to assist companies with identifying potential gender or minority pay gaps. Dr. Song routinely works with various types of HR, time reporting, and large-scale transactional databases to help counsel with wage and hour class actions concerning unpaid wages, meal and rest break violations, and employee misclassification.

In addition to employment class actions, Dr. Song’s extensive experience in other types of class action litigation matters includes applying complex financial modeling tools, for example stock option valuation, Monte Carlo simulation, event-study in connection with alleged accounting fraud, damages calculations, stress testing, and regression analysis.

Dr. Song maintains a strong affiliation with the academic community. She taught courses on labor economics at the University of California, Irvine, and on financial institutions at California State University, Los Angeles. She currently teaches review courses on risk management for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) program



Maria Z. Stearns

Partner, Rutan & Tucker, LLP

As an employment law partner at Orange County’s largest law firm, Maria is sought after by clients for her unique approach to representing employers in all areas of employment.  Maria’s practice includes defense of wage and hour class actions and traditional employment litigation, management training, development of personnel policies and other transactional documents, and day-to-day advice and counseling.

Maria has received several notable honors for her unorthodox yet highly effective and efficient approach to representing employers, including selection to the Daily Journal’s exclusive list of Top Women Lawyers for the last five years and its list of Top Employment Lawyers.

Maria is a frequent public speaker, including an annual presentation to the Association of Corporate Counsel in Los Angeles and Orange County and several large human resources organizations.  Maria is a committed community member, including serving as President of the Global Harvard Law School Women’s Alliance, Secretary for the Association of Business Trial Lawyers and Treasurer of Project Youth, a non-profit dedicated to keeping at-risk youth in school, healthy and drug-free through education, counseling, mentoring, and family strengthening.  Maria is a graduate of Harvard Law School and was a full-scholarship varsity tennis player at the University of Kansas where she was named NCAA Woman of the Year.



James D. Vaughn, CCLO, EnCE

Managing Director, iDiscovery Solutions, Inc.

Mr. James (Jim) Vaughn is a court-recognized expert who has given testimony in over 70 cases involving topics such as evidence preservation, documentation of events, and digital forensic methodologies and procedures.  Mr. Vaughn has trained hundreds of law enforcement officers, attorneys, and other examiners on digital forensics and high-technology related issues involving best practices and methodologies.  He has 16 years law enforcement experience, has co-developed digital forensic courses for the California Department of Justice, and has been involved in high stakes cases throughout his career.

Mr. Vaughn has extensive experience working on litigation and consulting matters in digital forensics, eDiscovery, and other high technology issues.  He serves his clients through the litigation or consulting lifecycle by assisting them with important issues like data scoping, preserving, gathering, processing, hosting, review and production, as well as deeper diving issues uncovered through the use of digital forensics.



Twila S. White

Principal Attorney, of the Law Office of Twila S. White

Twila S. White, Principal Attorney, of the Law Office of Twila S. White, specializes in the area of labor and employment law, and has achieved verdicts and settlements in the six and seven figures. Her practice areas include wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation and harassment cases, including handling claims on behalf of whistleblowers, in both State and Federal Court.




Nicole Zajack

Senior Employment Counsel, Smart & Final Stores, Inc.

Nicole Zajack is Senior Employment Counsel at Smart & Final Stores LLC.  Ms. Zajack manages all aspects of employment litigation and compliance for Smart & Final, its distribution centers and other banner stores.

Prior to Smart & Final, Ms. Zajack was a shareholder at Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth and also practiced at Keesal Young & Logan.

Ms. Zajack received her B.A. from NYU and J.D. from UCLA.  While in law school, Ms. Zajack served as judicial extern for the Honorable Dale S. Fischer in the United States District Court, Central District of California and Justice Richard D. Fybel in the California Court of Appeal, Fourth District.

Before attending law school, Ms. Zajack worked in broadcast news as well as human resources.  She is a member of the State Bar of California, the Inn of Court, the Beverly Hills Bar Association, and the California Grocers Association’s employment law section.


Millennium Biltmore

506 South Grand Avenue,
Los Angeles, CA 90071


Registration and Breakfast

8:00 am - 8:55 am

Introduction by Chairs

8:55 am - 9:00 am


9:00 am - 10:00 am

Handling sexual harassment cases during the #MeToo movement



Genie Harrison, Principal, Genie Harrison Law Firm, APC


Toni Jaramilla, Toni Jaramilla, APLC

Ann Kotlarski, Esq., Arbitrator & Mediator, Judicate West

Jack Schaedel,  Partner, Scalli Rasmussen

Maria Z. Stearns, Partner, Rutan & Tucker, LLP

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Internal Investigations

10:00 am - 11:00 am

Handled with expertise or poorly, internal investigations of discrimination, harassment and other workplace complaints can make or break a potential plaintiff’s case.  The seasoned practitioners on this panel will explain what it takes to conduct a compliant, defensible investigation, how and where plaintiff’s counsel will seek to discredit the investigation and any pro-employer findings, how employers can best manage findings in the complaining employee’s  favor, recent developments around investigations, how to tap insurance carrier money to fund investigations, and other issues of concern to  employers, employees and their counsel.



Jeffrey S. Horton Thomas, Partner, Akerman LLP



Marissa Alguire, Partner, Akerman LLP

Elliot K. Gordon, Esq., Mediator & Arbitrator, JAMS

Keith D. Griffin, Partner, Girardi | Keese

Betsy Johnson, Shareholder, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak  &  Stewart, P.C

Jon Meer, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP


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Networking Break

11:00 am - 11:20 am

Pay Equity

11:20 am - 12:20 pm

Pay equity issues remain complex for businesses to manage, and compelling to pursue in litigation. This panel will address issues in pay equity cases, including:  conducting pay equity audits; weighing, balancing, and  implementing change; drafting policies and procedures; responding to internal pay equity requests; handling pre-litigation disputes; and, the litigated pay equity case.


Genie HarrisonPrincipal, Genie Harrison Law Firm, APC



Phyllis W. Cheng, Esq., Mediator & Arbitrator, ADR Services, Inc.

Michelle Lee Flores, Partner, Akerman LLP

Chen Song, Ph.D., CFA, Senior Vice President, Nathan Associates, Inc.

Twila S. White, Law Office of Twila S. White

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Luncheon Keynote

12:20 pm - 1:30 pm

Michael Belote, President, California Advocates

Employee Mobility

1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

Trade secrets and intellectual property are among a company’s most valuable assets. But increased employee movement coupled with the ease by which data can be compromised have made the protection of confidential information harder than ever. This panel will discuss advanced litigation techniques in cases involving employee theft of intellectual property, and preventative steps that all companies should consider



Jennifer Baldocchi, Partner, Employment Law Practice, Paul Hastings LLP



Suzanne Heinemann, Vice President, Litigation, Nathan Associates Inc.

Rachael E. Meny, Partner, Keker,Van Nest & Peters LLP

Bradford K. Newman, Partner, Employment Law Department, Paul Hastings LLP

James D. Vaughn, CCLO ENcE, Managing Director, iDiscovery Solutions Inc.



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Networking Break

2:30 pm - 2:40 pm


2:40 pm - 3:40 pm

The audience will hear the most updated perspectives from leading practitioners throughout the area of Immigration as it relates to today’s Employment Law Environment.  Some topics to be covered:

  • Federal Projects and Enforcement Actions underway due to the “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order
  • Local and California update on Enforcement Actions by ICE
  • I-9s
  • AB 450 – California’s Immigrant Worker Protection Act
  • What Employers can do to Protect Undocumented Workers Where do ER Actions Become Unlawful
  • Sanctuary Jurisdictions
  • New Scrutiny of H-1B Visa Applications



Jeffrey S. Horton Thomas, Partner, Akerman LLP




Michael Boshnaick, Partner, Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP

Kathleen C. Kim, Professor of Law, Loyola Law School

Angelo A. Paparelli, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP


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Networking Break

3:40 pm - 3:50 pm

In-House Litigation and Employment Counsel: What Keeps You Up at Night?

3:50 pm - 4:50 pm

This discussion will cover the things that keep In-House Litigation and Employment Counsel and their staff up at night in the area of Employment Law.



Jennifer Baldocchi, Partner, Employment Law Practice, Paul Hastings LLP



Nadine Chang, Assistant General Counsel, Employment, CBRE Group, Inc.

Shawn Murphy, Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Mazda North America Operations

Marlene Nicolas, Esq., Employment Counsel, Mattel, Inc

Nicole Zajack, Senior Employment Counsel, Smart & Final Stores, Inc.

Networking Reception





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