Class and Collective Action Defense
Ms. Saunders handles wage and hour class and collective actions brought in both state and federal courts under the Fair Labor Standards Act, Equal Pay Act, Massachusetts Tips Law, Massachusetts Payment of Wages Law, Massachusetts Independent Contractor Law and other state laws. Representative claims include those alleging claims of failure to pay overtime, denial of meal and rest periods, violations of the minimum wage laws, failure to pay overtime at the proper rate, improper rounding and docking, and employee misclassification unjust enrichment, and tortious interference. Ms. Saunders also handles pattern and practice discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims brought under federal and state law on a class-wide basis, including putative class claims brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Significant examples of her representation in the area of class and collective actions include the following:
- Obtained favorable ruling from Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts on the legality of employer "no tipping" policies in a putative class action brought against a regional franchisee under the Massachusetts Tips Law.
- Achieved denial of class certification in a putative class action in Massachusetts federal court alleging claims of meal and rest period violations against a major dairy manufacturer and distributor.
- Achieved denial of class certification and summary judgment in a putative race harassment class action brought in New York federal court against a major retailer.
- Obtained court approval of an $815,000 private class action settlement, in conjunction with a consent judgment with the U.S. Department of Labor, in a hybrid wage and hour class and collective action in Massachusetts federal court against a leather manufacturer closed after a highly publicized ICE raid.
- Obtained court approval of a $7.95 million dollar settlement of a wage and hour class action with over 10,000 class members brought in New York state court against a major retailer, alleging improper deductions from commission earnings.
- Obtained Equal Employment Opportunity Commission approval of a $1.8 million dollar settlement of a putative pattern and practice age harassment and discrimination class action in Minnesota against a major retailer.
Employment Law and Litigation
Ms. Saunders has over 20 years of experience in all aspects of employment law, from day-to-day counseling to handling complex litigation through trial and appeals. She has significant experience with the myriad laws governing the workplace, including Title VII, the Equal Pay Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, as well as the various state laws that also govern the employer-employee relationship. In addition to issues of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation based on age, race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, and disability, Ms. Saunders regularly advises and represents employers in connection with matters such as: employee privacy; voluntary and mandatory employment arbitration programs; accommodating people with disabilities; religious accommodations; workplace investigations; reductions-in-force; criminal records inquiries; employee leave issues; and whistleblower issues.
Her extensive experience in the area of employment law includes:
- Obtained countless dismissals before trial on motions to dismiss and for summary judgment in state and federal courts across the country in cases involving claims of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation based on age, race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, and disability.
- Obtained favorable results for employers in multiple employment law cases tried before judges, at administrative hearings, and at arbitration.
- Achieved defense verdict for major retailer and individual manager after a three-week race discrimination jury trial in Seattle, Washington.
- Achieved defense verdict for major retailer after a two-week age discrimination jury trial in Newark, New Jersey.
Protecting Confidential Information, and Customer and Employee Relationships
Ms. Saunders assists her clients with creating and implementing policies, practices, and restrictive covenant agreements designed to protect their valuable confidential business information and trade secrets from misappropriation, and to protect their customers, clients, vendors, suppliers, and employees from improper solicitation. Ms. Saunders also assists her clients with creating and implementing best practices and policies to ensure that they do not violate their competitors’ restrictive covenant agreements, or find themselves embroiled in unfair competition and trade secret litigation. When litigation becomes necessary, she provides aggressive, cost-effective representation. Ms. Saunders has handled successfully many temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction motions on behalf of her clients.
Her notable client victories in this area include the following:
- Obtained a $2.4 million dollar judgment against a former employee in federal court in Massachusetts in a case involving claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and claims alleging breach of the duty of loyalty, common law fraud, and other torts.
- Obtained a permanent injunction and $48,000 judgment against a former employee in federal court in Florida in a case involving claims of wrongful solicitation of customers and disclosure of confidential information.
Wage and Hour
Ms. Saunders assists employers with proactive initiatives to ensure wage and hour compliance, such as internal wage and hour audits of pay policies and practices. When litigation is brought against her clients, Ms. Saunders defends both single plaintiff wage and hour matters, as well as claims brought on a class-wide basis. She also represents employers during investigations and audits conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.
Some of the wage and hour issues that Ms. Saunders frequently addresses include: employee classification; tipping and tip pooling; overtime; rounding; docking; off-the-clock work; meal and rest periods; vacation pay; pay at termination; deductions from wages; prevailing wages; holiday and premium pay; and payroll frequency.