Keith A. Watts
Keith Watts is a managing and a founding shareholder of the firm's Orange County office. Keith practices exclusively labor and employment law and has handled a wide variety of matters, including sexual harassment, age discrimination, disability and wrongful termination claims. Keith’s employment law practice focuses heavily on the “prevention side” of employment claims and positioning problem employment situations for the best possible defense, including complicated reductions-in-force terminations. He regularly advises employers regarding methods to avoid employment-related claims, including the use of effective employment contracts and severance agreements, implementation of up-to-date company policies and procedures, providing manager training on “best practices,” and giving day-to-day, practical advice on pressing employment issues, such as wage-hour compliance and the management and termination of “problem employees.”
His practice has also involved advising employers on strategies for remaining union-free, as well as successfully representing employers in union organizing campaigns, collective bargaining negotiations and state court strike injunction litigation. Keith also represents employers in agency proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board, including union representation and unfair labor practice cases.
Keith also has extensive experience defending employers before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement and various other federal and state agencies. He is also a frequent guest lecturer on labor and employment issues for businesses, employers, and Human Resources groups around the country. Over the years, he has conducted scores of workshops and seminars and spoken to numerous national conventions as well as state and local meetings.
Keith represents or works with employers in a wide ranging, diverse group of industries, including automobile dealerships, advertising agencies, security and alarm companies, computer technology companies, equipment and food manufacturers, non-profit organizations, physicians, retailers and wholesalers, interstate transportation and wind energy companies.
Prior to attending law school, Keith worked as an actor in New York and Los Angeles.
Keith has successfully handled scores of EEOC and Department of Fair Employment and Housing discrimination charges for large automotive dealership groups in California, Arizona and Nevada. In addition to handling harassment and discrimination charges, Keith has also successfully defended numerous claims for wage and hour, meal and rest period violations.
Keith is also a frequent speaker and guest lecturer before human resources personnel and employers as well as a frequent presenter on employment “Best Practices” at seminars and programs held across the country. Keith also frequently conducts on-site compliance training for employers, including not only California harassment compliance training, but also workplace violence, wage and hour training as well as seminars training supervisors and managers concerning the interaction between the Americans With Disabilities Act, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (and its California equivalent) and Workers’ Compensation compliance.
Finally, Keith also has extensive experience in advising employers on union organizing campaigns as well as successfully defending against unfair labor practice charges before the National Labor Relations Board.
Education and Honors
J.D., Rutgers-Newark School of Law, 1997
B.A., cum laude, State University of New York at Buffalo, 1993
- Co-Award Winner, Alumni Senior Prize, Rutgers Law School, Newark, 1997
- Top Rated Speaker, Disaster Kleen-up International, National Convention, "Reaching For The Stars" -- "Practical Advice Concerning One of Your Most Valuable Assets -- Your Employees", January 18, 2007, San Antonio, TX
- American Bar Association
- Orange County Bar Association
- Employment Law Update in California - "Ten Unlucky Issues That May Have to Be Addressed in 2013" - Santa Ana - June 13, 2013
- Orange County Employer's Advisory Council - "In-House Investigations - What You Don't Know or Don't Do - Can Hurt You!" - Orange County - April 2013
- Ultimate Software Interactive HR Webinar - "What's New And What To Watch For In The Coming Year" - Costa Mesa - December 8, 2011
- Lorman Education Services - "Employment Law From A to Z" - Santa Ana - July 14, 2011
- Ultimate Software Interactive HR Workshop, Essential Strategies From Industry Leaders In An Era of Change - "Managing the Legal Impact of Social Media in Employment Decisions" - Anaheim - May 5, 2011
- ExecSense Webinar - "Hiring For Dentists: How to Legally Attract & Select Top Candidates" - Costa Mesa - April 20, 2011
- ERE Media Podcast - "What’s Worrying Recruiters About Social Media" - Costa Mesa - April 5, 2011
- ERE Expo 2011 Spring - "One-on-One Legal Information Sessions" - San Diego - March 24, 2011
- California Staffing Professionals, Orange County Chapter - "Legal Updates for a New Decade" - Tustin - February 16, 2011
- Strafford Publications - "Employee Hiring and Firing: Legal and Practical Guidance for Employment Counsel CLE" - webinar - November 2, 2010
- Lorman Education Services - "Employment Law From A to Z" - Santa Ana - July 14, 2010
- Employer's Advisory Council Orange County - EAC OC - "A.B. 1825 Compliance Training" - Anaheim - April 15, 2010
- National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) National Convention - "HR Problems? - Rules of the Road to Avoid Liability" - Orlando - February 2010
- American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) National Convention - "Dealership Survivor: Don’t Get Thrown Off Your Own Island!" - New Orleans - October 23, 2009
- State Compensation Insurance Fund, Loss Control - "Fundamentals of Employment Law" - Sacramento - June 26, 2009
In The News
- February 4, 2014 - - "California Appellate Court Holds Failing to Reimburse Expenses May Be Cause for Constructive Discharge"
- November 22, 2013 - - "Calif.: Be on the Lookout for Labor-Notice Scams Notice Scams"
- November 8, 2013 - - "3 Legal Mistakes Hiring Managers Make In The Employment Process"
- August 7, 2013 - - "Lawsuit Against EEOC for Allegedly Unauthorized Mass Email to Employees Using Employer's Email Domain Could Spark Firestorm"
- June 24, 2013 - - "A Big Day at the High Court for Employers; For Civil Rights Plaintiffs, Not So Much"
- June 4, 2013 - - "In California, Lingering Concerns Over Exclusion of Unemployed"
- June 2012 - - "Employers Catch A Break - Calif. Case Spotlights Best Meal & Rest Practices"
- May 2, 2012 - - "Employers Catch a Break: Calif. Case Puts Spotlight on Best Practices for Meal, Rest Breaks"
- April 13, 2012 - - "Ogletree Deakins Attorneys React To California High Court’s Brinker Decision"
- August 23, 2011 - - "Legislation Would Bar Hiring Discrimination Against Unemployed Applicants"
- April 20, 2011 - - "Unlimited Vacation For Employees Carries A Warning From Regulators"
- February 2011 - - "Seeing Behind the Mask"
- February 1, 2011 - - "Screening Under Scrutiny—Checking References In An Online World"
- November 10, 2010 - - "Complaints About English Only Workplace Policies Are On The Rise"
- November 10, 2010 - - "Complaints About English-Only Workplace Policies are on the Rise"
- March 24, 2013 - Business Management Daily - "California Supreme Court: 'Mixed Motive' Applies in FEHA Cases"
- February 8, 2013 - Ogletree Deakins Blog Post - "California Supreme Court Decision Clarifies Standard for Defending FEHA Claims"
- February 7, 2013 - Ogletree Deakins Publication - "California Supreme Court Rejects Damages, Back Pay, and Reinstatement Where Employer Proves Legitimate Mixed-Motive"
- January 9, 2013 - Ogletree Deakins Blog Post - "Changes to FEHA Pregnancy Regulations"
- August 9, 2010 - Los Angeles Daily Journal - "Obesity Lawsuits Could Grow"
- August 2, 2010 - Human Resource Executive - "Weed At Work"
- August 2, 2010 - Human Resource Executive - "Under The Influence"
- May 26, 2010 - Law360 - "Flabby Weight Bias Policies Pose Threat For Employers"