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Admitted to Practice

  • California, 2006
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of California, 2006
  • U.S. District Court Central District of California, 2006
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of California, 2006
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of California, 2006

Aaron N. Colby

ColbyAaron
Partner
T213.633.6882
F213.633.4282
Aaron Colby represents employers in single-plaintiff, multi-plaintiff, and class action disputes involving allegations of wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation, harassment, and wage and hour issues such as overtime, meal and rest breaks, and off-the-clock work. Aaron does so in state and federal courts and administrative agencies; and via arbitration, private mediation, judicial settlement conferences, and pre-litigation negotiations.

In his counseling practice, Aaron develops effective employment policies and practices that help management and staff manage risk and avoid litigation. He frequently advises on termination, leaves of absences, workplace investigations, handbooks, and timekeeping and pay practices.

Aaron defends and counsels organizations on public accommodations claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and California Unruh Act, and claims of defamation, trademark, and other business-related matters.

Aaron’s clients range from large organizations to midsize and small businesses across all industries, particularly in agriculture, produce, restaurant, banking, health care, manufacturing, and media.

Aaron's clients include 24 Hour Fitness, Advantage Produce, Alaska Airlines, Andrews International, Bank of America, Blaze Pizza, Botanical Hospitality Group, Butkus Foundation, Café Gratitude, CapitalSpring, Carlo’s Bakery, Catch Hospitality Group, Choumas Produce, Clear Path Solutions, Coast Produce Company, Cocobella Creamery, Cogent Entertainment Marketing, Del Rey Avocado Company, Eleven City Diner, Family Ranch, Fleetwood Aluminum, Freedman’s LA, Fresh Brothers Pizza, Ghost Herbal Concepts, Gilman Management, Gracias Madre, Great Bowery, Hand & Stone, Healthcare Services Group, Hillsides Organization, HTI Polymers, Joe & The Juice, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Komono, La Brea Media, LC Industries, Leisure Care, Lemonade Restaurant Group, Lynch Creek Farms, Mariak Industries, Martinez Steel, Mato Mato, Mendocino Farms, Monoprice, Monte Nido & Affiliates, National Association of Theatre Owners of California and Nevada, Norms Restaurants, Optomen Productions, Paradise Construction, Professional Produce, Real Food Daily, Red Lion Hotels, Relocity, Reser’s Fine Foods, Salt & Straw, Sechrist Industries, Shari’s Berries, Spectral Productions, Staff Pro, Sunlife Organic, T-Mobile, The CORE Group, U.S. Security Associates, Walker Foods, Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, Worldwide Produce, and Zankou Kitchen.

Representative Experience

Single Plaintiff Litigation

Sexual harassment and wrongful termination for housekeeping company

Defending national housekeeping company in sexual harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination lawsuit brought by former housekeeper. (Ongoing)

Off-the-clock and wage and hour for restaurant

Defending restaurant in wage and hour lawsuit brought by former back-of-house employee alleging unpaid off-the-clock work; overtime, meal and rest break, and pay stub violations; and waiting time penalties. (Ongoing)

Race and sexual orientation discrimination for security guard company

Defending national security guard company in lawsuit brought by former security guard employee alleging the decision to terminate employment was substantially motivated by the employee’s race and sexual orientation. (Ongoing)

Disability discrimination/failure to accommodate for senior living facility

Defending national housekeeping company in sexual harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination lawsuit brought by former housekeeper. (Ongoing)

Race discrimination and harassment for restaurant

Defending restaurant in lawsuit brought by former front-of-house employee alleging a hostile work environment based on race and that his termination was substantially motivated by race. (Ongoing)

Public accommodation access for restaurant

Defended restaurant in lawsuit brought by disabled customer alleging barriers to full use of the restaurant. Resolved early and on favorable terms. (2017)

Public accommodation access for company’s website

Defended restaurant in lawsuit brought by disabled customer alleging barriers to full use of the company’s website. Resolved early and on favorable terms. (2017)

Race and sex discrimination for national health fitness company

Defended national health club chain in lawsuit brought by former fitness instructor for discrimination and wrongful termination. Obtained favorable settlement at mediation after compelling the lawsuit to private arbitration and deposing plaintiff. (2017)

Age discrimination and wrongful termination for food sales company

Defended national food sales company against lawsuit brought by former sales representative alleging the company terminated his employment because of his age. Obtained settlement on very favorable terms after engaging in written discovery, deposing plaintiff, and defending two witness depositions. (2017)

Retaliation/whistleblower litigation for large managed care organization

Defended large managed care organization against claims of whistleblowing and wrongful termination, stemming from an employee raising concerns about an incentive program. Disqualified opposing counsel and obtained summary judgment. (2016)

Defamation for coworker at large managed care organization

Defended individual who was coworker of former employee at large managed care organization. Former employee was terminated after company investigation revealed inappropriate conduct. The former employee sued the coworker for defamation, alleging he lost his job due to her statements to their employer. Obtained summary judgment. (2015)

Wrongful termination litigation for large airline

Defended airline in two wrongful termination cases involving gate agents alleging sexual harassment and retaliation. Narrowed the claims on summary adjudication and resolved at private mediation. Successfully defended appeal of one case with the court affirming summary judgment ruling. (2014, 2016)

Wrongful termination litigation for national staffing company

Defended national health care staffing company against allegations of discrimination, harassment, failure to accommodate, and retaliation. After taking the deposition of plaintiff, obtained very favorable settlement through private mediation. (2013)

Unpaid wages and wrongful termination litigation for software company

Defended software company based in Southern California against allegations of unpaid wages and wrongful termination. Resolved case at mediation after several months of direct negotiations. (2013)

Unpaid commissions and breach of contract litigation for national bank

Defended major bank against allegations of unpaid commissions and breach of contract not to terminate employment without good cause. Obtained dismissal of the breach of contract claim on summary judgment and resolved remaining claims at private mediation. (2013)

Retaliation litigation for national bank

Defended major bank against allegations of retaliation brought by two former employees who had previously filed lawsuits against the company. Obtained very favorable settlements within the first 60 days of litigation, through direct negotiations with counsel. (2013)

Retaliation/whistleblower litigation for large managed care organization, 2012

Defended large managed care organization against claims of whistleblowing and wrongful termination-based allegations that employee was retaliated against for reporting HIPAA-related concerns. Obtained very favorable settlement through private mediation. (2012)

Butkus v. Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando*

Won summary judgment on behalf of plaintiff in right-of-publicity infringement case involving defendant's federal registration of "Butkus Award" as mark for annual football award. Court rejected defendant’s argument that it owned the "Butkus Award" mark, although plaintiff had consented to the mark and later revoked. In its published decision, court ruled that a contract without specified duration can be terminated at-will under California law. 2008 WL 2557427 (C.D. Cal. 2008)

Class Action and Multi-Plaintiff Defense

Meal and rest break class action for assisted living provider

Defending one of the nation’s largest assisted living providers in wage and hour class action of 1000+ non-exempt employees against claims for missed meal and rest breaks, overtime, and pay stub violations. We conducted an individual settlement campaign with part of the class. We stayed discovery, and are sharing information and records in advance of mediation for the remainder of the class. (Ongoing)

Meal break, time rounding, and bonus class action for large manufacturer

Defending large window and door manufacturer in wage and hour class action alleging more than 200 non-exempt employees did not receive timely meal breaks and were shorted overtime because of improper calculation of non-discriminatory bonus payments. We stayed discovery and are sharing information and records in advance of class mediation. (Ongoing)

Meal breaks and unreimbursed expenses class action for restaurant

Defending restaurant in wage and hour class action alleging that putative class of more than 600 non-exempt employees were denied meal and rest breaks and not reimbursed expenses. After an individual settlement campaign, records sharing, and two mediations, the case settled on favorable terms, to be approved by the court. (Ongoing)

Meal and rest break and time rounding class action for restaurant

Defending restaurant in wage and hour class action alleging that putative class of 80+ non-exempt employees were denied meal and rest breaks, were not reimbursed for uniforms, and rounded time in an impermissible manner. The defendant was initially represented by another firm, but they turned the case over to our team to get it settled. After engaging in an individual settlement campaign, we shared records and are set to mediate. (Ongoing)

Meal and rest break class action for large telecommunications retailer

Defending a large telecommunications company in a wage and hour class action filed by a class of non-exempt store managers alleging missed meal breaks. The client was originally represented by another firm, but they turned to our team to take over in the middle of the case. Our team quickly familiarized itself with the case and developed a strategy, eventually mediating the case and settling the matter on very favorable terms, receiving court approval. (Ongoing)

PAGA representative action for restaurant

Defending a large restaurant in lawsuit filed by former waiter alleging a claim under the Private Attorney General Act (“PAGA”) for wage and hour violations. (Ongoing)

Meal break and pay stub class action for national staffing company

Defending very large national staffing company in wage-and-hour class action brought by transportation and warehouse storage workers. Putative class is alleged to be over 40,000 non-exempt employees. Claims are for meal breaks and pay stub violations. We have engaged in motion practice to limit discovery and the scope of the putative class. (Ongoing)

Public accommodation class action for large restaurant chain

Defending restaurant chain in class action alleging that all locations in California fail to comply with the California Unruh Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act in not providing equal access to an alleged class of 150,000 disabled customers. (Ongoing)

Meal break class action for major produce distributor

Defending produce distributor based in Southern California in wage and hour class action alleging putative class of over 150 non-exempt employees missed meal breaks and did not have an opportunity to take rest breaks because of monitoring of mobile devices. After negotiating the terms of discovery stay and pre0mediation sharing of information, obtained a very favorable settlement on a class basis at mediation, which is in the process of court approval. (Ongoing)

Meal break and split shift class action for restaurant chain

Defended restaurant in wage and hour class action alleging that putative class of more than 100 non-exempt employees were denied meal and rest breaks, split shift pay, pay stub violations, and failure to pay wages owed at termination. Settled case at mediation after narrowing claims and damages at class certification motion, receiving court approval. (2017)

Meal and rest break class action for major produce distributor

Defended large fruit and vegetable distributor based in Southern California in wage-and-hour class action alleging over 100 non-exempt employees were not paid overtime and were denied meal and rest breaks. Matter settled on very favorable terms after records sharing and mediation, with court approval. (2017)

Unpaid overtime class action litigation for major electronics distributor

Defending electronics distributor based in Southern California in wage-and-hour class action alleging that putative class of over 200 employees were shorted overtime because of improper calculation of non-discretionary bonus payments. Negotiated settlement at mediation, and awaiting final Court approval. (Ongoing)

Meal break class action for large manufacturing company

Defended medical device manufacturing company based in Orange County in wage and hour class action alleging nearly 200 employees were denied meal breaks and were not paid for all time worked. After successful individual settlement campaign and records sharing with counsel on class certification and liability issues, counsel dismissed class allegations. (2016)

Split shift and unreimbursed expenses class action for pizza chain

Defended pizza chain based in Southern California in wage-and-hour class action alleging nearly 1,500 employees were denied meal and rest breaks, split shift pay, pay stub violations and were not reimbursed for business expenses. Settled case at mediation after narrowing claims, receiving court approval. (2017)

Meal and rest break class action for restaurant

Defended restaurant in lawsuit by former waiter alleging missed meal and rest breaks. After dismissing class action allegations and compelling the PAGA claim to arbitration, settled on a single plaintiff basis on very favorable terms. (2015)

Meal break class action for major produce distributor

Defended hot sauce manufacturer based in Southern California in wage and hour class action alleging putative class of over 200 non-exempt employees did not receive timely meal breaks and related penalties. After negotiating the terms of discovery stay and pre-mediation sharing of information, obtained a very favorable settlement on a class basis at mediation, receiving court approval. (2014)

Meal break class action for major produce distributor, fruit and vegetable

Defended fruit and vegetable distributor based in Southern California in wage and hour class action alleging putative class of over 200 non-exempt employees missed meal breaks, rounding of time, and related penalties. After negotiating the terms of discovery stay and pre-mediation sharing of information, obtained a very favorable settlement on a class basis at mediation, receiving court approval. (2012)

Multi-plaintiff off-the-clock litigation for national staffing company

Successfully settled multi-plaintiff case against national health care staffing company involving allegations of meal and rest break violations, off-the-clock work, and related penalties. (2013)

Administrative Agency Charges and Audits

Nationwide agency charges for national health club chain

Representing national health club chain in all Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and corresponding state agency charges of discrimination. (Ongoing)

Department of Labor audit for restaurant

Represented midsized restaurant based in Southern California in a Department of Labor (DOL) audit regarding unpaid overtime. After meeting with the DOL investigator on-site, obtained a negotiated settlement. (2017)

California Labor Commissioner hearing for housekeeping company

Defended national housekeeping company in California Labor Commission hearing on claims of unpaid vacation. Obtained defense verdict on claim for unpaid vacation. (2017)

Department of Labor investigation for agriculture company

Represented midsized farm in a DOL audit regarding workplace death. After meeting with the DOL investigator, obtained a negotiated settlement. (2016)

Discrimination charge for foster care agency

Defended foster care agency based in Southern California in charge of discrimination before California Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH). Resolved charge in confidential mediation before litigation (2013)

Immigration Customs Enforcement audit for major produce distributor

Advised on responding to audit of I-9 documentation and practices conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Resolved audit and negotiated fine to amount consistent with audit findings. (2013)

California Labor Commissioner charge for major produce distributor

Defended fruit distributor based in Southern California in three separate charges before the California Labor Commissioner (DLSE) alleging misclassification of exempt workers and unpaid overtime. Claims resolved at fraction of potential liability before the hearings. (2012)

Advice and Counsel

Conduct and advise on workplace investigations

Conduct and guide/“quarterback” human resources workplace investigations into employee complaints of harassment (hostile work environment and quid pro quo), discrimination, and retaliation. Prepare employee interview questions and follow-ups, review records, and prepare investigation report, recommendations and close out communications to employees. (Ongoing)

Advise on employee leaves of absences

Advising on employee leaves-of-absence issues under California and federal law, including FMLA, CFRA, workers’ compensation, pregnancy, ADA/FEHA, and non-medical protected leaves of absences. (Ongoing)

Advise on exemption and misclassification issues

Advising large and small companies on issues related to classification of employees as exempt from overtime and other wage-hour requirements, and on classification of independent contractors. (Ongoing)

Advise on employment and due diligence for mergers and acquisitions

Advising on due diligence issues related to potential employment-related liabilities and risks, including successor liability, in connection with various corporate transactions, including asset-purchase deals. (Ongoing)

Advise on investigations, discipline/separation, and wage-hour issues

Advising wide range of companies on workplace investigations related to misconduct, policy violations, and workplace harassment; employee discipline arising from policy violations; wage-hour policies and practices, including meal and rest break and overtime issues; and on issues related to separation of employment, including final pay, layoffs, and terminations. (Ongoing)

Draft/revise employee handbooks and related workplace policies

Prepares and reviews employee handbooks compliant with California and federal law, including on wage-hour policies and anti-harassment policies. (Ongoing)
* Denotes experience completed at a prior firm

Additional Qualifications

  • Associate, Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold, LLP, Los Angeles, 2006-2010
  • Legal Department Extern, Screen Actors Guild, Los Angeles, 2004
  • Extern, Hon. Susan Bryant-Deason, Los Angeles Superior Court, 2004
  • Legal Department Intern, Mattel, Inc., El Segundo, Calif., 2003

Professional & Community Activities

  • Settlement Officer, Los Angeles Superior Court CRASH Settlement Program, 2014-present
  • Co-founder, Jeffery A. Colby Cancer Research Fund which promotes colon cancer research and awareness, 2003-present

Professional Recognition

  • Selected to "Southern California Rising Stars," Thomson Reuters, 2013-2018
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