Conference & Seminar

Meet the Expert: California Employment Law

Planisware, 343 Sansome St Suite #500, 94104, San Francisco, United States
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New Year's changes: Insights on how to keep your business in compliance

New developments in California labor and employment law will significantly impact the way you run your day-to-day business operations.  

Join us for Sheppard Mullin's Labor & Employment Law update!  


Paul Cowie, Partner, and Melissa Hughes, Associate, will provide cutting-edge analysis and insights on these new laws, as well as practical advice to ensure compliance and protect your company from workplace liability.  

They will cover new legal requirements regarding immediate notifications for non-competes, accommodations, wage and hour practices, off-the-job cannabis use, sick leave, arbitration agreements, I-9 forms, expense reimbursements, and more. 

The wave of class and PAGA actions continue to increase, and this session will help you to avoid being the next lawsuit.


Thank you to Panisware for hosting this event in their offices.


Paul S. Cowie

Paul Cowie is a partner in the Labor and Employment Practice Group and is the go-to employment class action and PAGA defense lawyer.

Paul is experienced, highly responsive and knows how to successfully defend his clients. He serves as the Leader of the firm’s Transportation Team and has deep experience across many industries, including retail, technology, manufacturing, and transportation. Paul manages a large team that defends employers in every type of employment dispute, including class and PAGA actions of all descriptions, discrimination and harassment suits, independent contractors and the gig-economy, wrongful termination and whistleblower complaints, as well as trade secret litigation.  Active cases Paul is handling include allegations related to suitable seating, expense reimbursement, work from home, meal and rest periods, piece rate, overtime, wage statements, sick pay, security/bag checks, as well as discrimination class actions.

Paul was recognized as a “Top 40 Under 40” California attorney (Daily Journal, 2018); a Top Labor and Employment Attorney (Daily Journal, 2019, 2021 and 2022); and one of only 335 attorneys nationwide to be named a Client Service All-Star by BTI Consulting (2019).

Paul manages dozens of class actions, related to all forms of wage & hour disputes, discrimination, as well as misclassification. He counsels clients on all aspects of employment, including executive terminations, compliance, workplace investigations, workplace violence, assault, protecting intellectual property, and founder disputes. In addition, Paul has significant experience supporting M&A transactions and has worked closely with clients in structuring deals to minimize employment-related risks and to maximize the value of the transaction from an employment perspective.

Before practicing in the US, Paul practiced in the UK for approximately five years, representing and advising employers at all stages of employment litigation, including as lead counsel in UK Employment Tribunals. Paul has drafted hundreds of employment contracts and settlement agreements, negotiated warranties and indemnities in corporate transactions and is very familiar with the challenges faced by companies expanding into in the US and operating in California.

Paul is a trial-ready litigator who knows how to resolve all forms of employment-related disputes efficiently and effectively.

Melissa Hughes

Melissa Hughes is an associate in the Labor and Employment Practice Group in the firm's San Francisco office.

Melissa defends and counsels employers in a range of employment disputes including harassment, discrimination, retaliation, failure to accommodate disabilities and wrongful termination claims.  She defends employers against individual wage and hour claims, PAGA representative actions and class actions. Melissa also has traditional labor experience, including arbitration, unfair labor practice proceedings, and litigation related to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Melissa has experience representing businesses of all sizes, from pre-litigation through post-trial motion practice before state and federal courts, as well as representing employers in connection with administrative proceedings.

Melissa’s counselling practice includes a broad range of employer issues, with a particular focus on disability accommodation, employee leaves of absence, and performance management, as well as drafting and revising employee handbooks and policies.  Melissa also helps employers navigate the difficult landscape of California wage and hour laws and provides proactive preventative measures to minimize the risks of exposure to litigation.  

Melissa also specializes in defending businesses in sexual assault and battery cases arising both within and outside the employment context. 

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