She represents clients in a variety of industries, but has particular expertise in the aviation, healthcare, and hospitality industries. She serves as the co-chair for FordHarrison's Data Privacy International Practice Group and was honored in 2012 with the Promise Award given for excellence in client service. Her employment litigation experience includes defending against claims for wrongful termination, retaliation, wage and hour, harassment, discrimination, and misappropriation of trade secrets. Her labor experience includes representing clients in grievance resolution and arbitrations.
Michelle regularly advises clients on a variety of issues, including best practices for data privacy issues including employee internet usage and social media activity, employee handbooks, disability accommodation, sexual harassment trainings, employee terminations, and wage and hour compliance. She also frequently writes and lectures on California and federal employment laws. Her recent presentations include speaking at the Corporate Counsel Women of Color Conference on "Managing a Data Breach," the California Women Lawyers Annual Conference on "Transgender Issues: Discrimination Based on Gender Identity and Expression," the Regional Airline Association Summer Seminar on "California Employment Law Update," and Professionals in Human Resources Association's ("PIHRA") annual legal update on "Hot Topics In California Trade Secret Law." She has also presented several webinars on topics such as California Employment Law 101, California FMLA/CFRA Abuse, and Understanding California's Leave Laws.
Prior to joining FordHarrison, Michelle served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Consuelo B. Marshall in the Central District of California and worked as an associate on business and entertainment litigation matters involving contracts, torts, intellectual property, and real estate. Before practicing law, and while attending Loyola Law School's evening program, Michelle worked as a senior media buyer in the advertising industry. Her significant business experience has proved to be a valuable asset to her practice. Having worked on the client side, she understands how to meet and exceed clients' expectations by providing practical, real-world employment advice.
Michelle currently serves as the Second Vice President for California Women Lawyers ("CWL") and the co-chair for the Litigation Section for Women Lawyers of Los Angeles ("WLALA").
- Served as first chair in arbitration and obtained judgment on behalf of a Hospital that upheld termination of a Registered Nurse who committed health and safety violations related to patient care.
- Served as second chair during 18-day jury trial in Orange County Superior Court and obtained defense verdict on behalf of a national fitness franchise on claims for wrongful termination, retaliation, failure to pay overtime wages, and breach of an oral agreement for 10% equity in the company. Successfully defended against the plaintiff's post-trial motions and appeal.
- Obtained summary judgment in Santa Clara Superior Court on behalf of Hospital on claims for retaliation, wrongful termination, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
- Obtained summary judgment in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of Casino on claims for interfering with CFRA rights, retaliation and wrongful termination for taking CFRA leave, and age discrimination.
- Obtained summary judgment in the Central District of California on behalf of Hospital on a union's petition to compel arbitration related to decision to reorganize its Engineering Department.
- Defeated motion for class certification in Los Angeles Superior Court on rest and meal period claims concerning proposed class of approximately 450 employees on behalf of a franchise owner with 35 locations.
Recent Speaking Engagements
- Speaker, "The Challenging Legal Landscape for California Aviation Employers," Ius Laboris and FordHarrison Global Employment Symposium, Chicago, IL, May 7, 2015
- Speaker, "Your Data has Been Breached – are you Ready to Respond?" Ius Laboris and FordHarrison Global Employment Symposium, Chicago, IL, May 8, 2015