Carmen Cole is a partner in the Labor & Employment Practice Group. Carmen works with employers to navigate complex employment law issues. Her prior experience as a human resources professional places her in a unique position to understand clients’ issues from a legal and business perspective. Carmen provides advice and counseling to employers on workplace issues, such as compliance with wage and hour laws, reductions in force, recruitment and hiring, employee classification, leave laws and terminations.

    Carmen’s practice also consists of litigation defense and counseling. She aims to reach the most strategic and cost-effective result possible for her clients. Carmen defends employers in cases involving individual violations of state and federal law, as well as defending class actions in areas such as wage and hour violations, California Labor Code violations, worker misclassification, wrongful termination, breach of contract and other employment-related torts.

    Carmen has successfully partnered with employers and management in industries such as entertainment, education, healthcare, retail and hospitality.

    Carmen has received several distinctions over the course of her career. Most recently, she has been selected as a Most Influential Minority Attorney in Los Angeles by the Los Angeles Business Journal (2019) and received the Labor and Employment Star recognition by Benchmark Litigation (2019). She has also been named as a Los Angeles County Bar Association Minority Leader in the Law (2018) and featured as an Attorney Spotlight in the California Minority Counsel Program’s Diversity Matters Magazine.

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    • Represented a paper product manufacturer and obtained summary judgment on the employer’s behalf on all 10 causes of action brought by a former employee, including age and disability discrimination, wrongful termination, retaliation and whistleblower claims. As the prevailing party, we proceeded to win an extraordinary award of attorneys’ fees against the plaintiff under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act’s (FEHA) prevailing party provision.
    • Represented a public entity and obtained summary judgment on behalf of the employer on an employee’s retaliation claim brought under FEHA. Plaintiff, who was employed for more than 25 years, made an initial seven-figure demand. We obtained summary judgment in favor of the employer, dismissing plaintiff’s complaint in its entirety.
    • Represented a global Fortune 500 financial services company in a breach of contract claim, defeating plaintiff’s preliminary injunction in the district court. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the denial of plaintiff’s injunction and dismissed her appeal of the district court’s order compelling the matter to arbitration. The Ninth Circuit’s opinion disposed of the case in its entirety and we obtained a cost award on behalf of the company. After the victory in the Ninth Circuit on the preliminary injunction and arbitration issues, the plaintiff abandoned her claims and declined to re-litigate the merits of her claims in arbitration.
    • Represented a Fortune 500 insurance company obtaining dismissal in a bench trial of plaintiff’s claims against the employer’s health plan under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) while simultaneously prevailing on the employer’s counterclaim for overpayment of benefits to plaintiff.
    • Represented a global record company in a race harassment, discrimination and retaliation suit filed under FEHA by a former employee. We obtained summary judgment on all 15 statutory and common law causes of action and dismissal of all claims against the corporate and individual defendants. In the same case, we defeated plaintiff’s counterclaim for defamation against an individual, executive defendant on summary judgment and, thereafter, achieved a monetary settlement from the plaintiff payable to the executive who was originally sued in the underlying action.
    • Represented an international self-storage company employer in a two-week, race and religious discrimination jury trial.

    Education

    • Pepperdine University School of Law, J.D., 2001
    • California State University, Fullerton, B.A., 1998

    Admissions

    • Georgia, 2008
    • California, 2001

    Memberships and Affiliations

    • Board of Advisors, Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law
    • Board of Directors, Public Counsel
    • Los Angeles County Bar Association
    • California Minority Counsel Program

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