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Mary E. Drobka

Mary Drobka helps employers resolve complex employee relations issues and prevent employment-related claims. She works directly with human resources professionals and executive management to ensure that companies, nonprofit organizations, and public entities comply with equal employment opportunity, wage and hour, FMLA, and other employment laws.

Mary defends employers before the EEOC, state discrimination agencies, the NLRB and state labor boards, and serves as management’s chief spokesperson in union negotiations.

Mary develops and reviews employee handbooks and personnel policies, as well as executive employment and intellectual property agreements. She trains executives and managers on how to supervise within the law, prevent discrimination or harassment claims, and reasonably accommodate workers. She has extensive industry-specific experience in the health care, nonprofit, manufacturing, technology, retail, hospitality, and financial/professional services sectors.

Mary’s clients include: Westward Seafoods, Inc.; Providence Healthcare; Wilbur-Ellis Company; Mason General Hospital; Cascade Valley Hospital; LifeCenter Northwest; Russell Investments; Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest; BergerABAM Engineers; Wagstaff, Inc.; PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company; Savers, Inc.; and Fluke Corporation.

Practice Highlights

Strategic employment counsel and advice
  • Represented financial services company in negotiations with multiple C-level executives. Successfully structured departures, preserving proprietary information and ongoing obligations to cooperate with former employer.
  • Revised employment agreements for executive team, updating key provisions related to compensation, severance, and nonsolicitation/noncompetition. Analyzed impact of Section 409(a) on executive severance benefits.
  • Advised global financial services firm through major workforce reduction, which included adverse impact analysis, WARN Act compliance, and preparation of multistate severance and release agreements and OWBPA Notices.
  • Assisted multiple nonprofit organizations with transitions of key employees, including negotiation of complex severance agreements with post-employment consulting provisions.
  • Conducted complex wage and hour audits related to: exempt/nonexempt status; compensable versus noncompensable working time; computation of regular rate for overtime purposes; and assessment of compliance of automated payroll/time and attendance systems. Developed and assisted with implementation of post-audit compliance strategies.
  • Conducted numerous internal investigations involving allegations of discrimination, harassment, misconduct, or whistle-blower  violations. Investigations frequently necessitated resolution of issues related to employee theft, retaliation, or unauthorized electronic access to confidential information, as well as sexual and other forms of harassment.

Labor relations
  • Serves as management’s chief negotiator. Significant collective bargaining experience in health care, food manufacturing/processing, and retail industries.
  • Trains supervisors on positive employee relations and managing represented and nonrepresented workforces. Provides strategic advice and counsel to partially unionized employers with multiple entities and/or facilities.
  • Represented health care organizations during schism in health care union and subsequent raiding of bargaining units. Handled multiple, consequent NLRB and PERC representation proceedings. Renegotiated union contracts with newly elected unions.
  • Represented health care employers in NLRB and PERC representation cases related to supervisory status of charge nurses and leads.

Professional & Community Activities

  • Labor and Employment Law Section, King County Bar Association
  • Labor and Employment Law Section, Washington State Bar Association
  • Labor and Employment Law Section, American Bar Association
  • Washington State Healthcare Human Resource Association
  • Society for Human Resource Management
  • HR Executive Forum
  • Global HR Round Table

Professional Recognition

  • Named as one of the "Best Lawyers in America" in Labor and Employment Law by Best Lawyers, 2001-present