(415) 421-7151 ext. 311
A.B., Brandeis University
J.D., Georgetown University Law Center
Hon. William J. Brennan, Jr., United States Supreme Court
Hon. James R. Browning, United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Hon. Charles B. Renfrew, United States District Court, Northern District of California
Michael’s practice consists primarily of appellate litigation, class actions, and public policy/impact litigation. He has argued in the U.S. Supreme Court, the California, Alaska, Indiana, and Nevada Supreme Courts, and state and federal appellate courts throughout the country.
Michael is currently a fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and was formerly a member of the Board of Directors of the AFL-CIO’s Lawyers’ Coordinating Committee. Michael regularly lectures on developments in California and federal employment law and other topics, including at Stanford Law School and Berkeley Law, and has testified before committees of the United States Senate and House of Representatives on labor and employment issues.
Michael has won an unprecedented seven “California Lawyer of the Year” (CLAY) awards from California Lawyer Magazine/Daily Journal, winning four times in the Employment Law category (in 2019 for his work in the California Supreme Court on the Dynamex independent-contractor misclassification case; in 2016 for his trial and appellate work in the Walmart warehouse workers joint-employer class action; in 2013 for his California Supreme Court work on the Brinker meal-period and rest-break case; and in 2002 for his trial work on the Saipan sweatshop litigation), once in the Worker Health and Safety category (in 2017 for his work on Kilby v. CVS in the California Supreme Court establishing the obligation of California employers to provide “suitable seating” to workers at fixed workstations), once for False Claims Act Litigation (in 2010 for his work that resulted in a $78 million settlement of government fraud claims against the for-profit University of Phoenix), and once for Criminal Law (also in 2010, for more than a quarter century of work in the state and federal trial and appellate courts on behalf of a death penalty inmate that resulted in his client’s unconditional release from prison in 2010 – a case that also resulted in Michael receiving the “Johnnie Cochran” award from the Criminal Courts Bar Association).
Michael has been recognized by the California Daily Journal each year since 2016 as one of the “Top 100 Lawyers in California” and “Top 75 Labor and Employment Lawyers,” was a recipient of a “Trial Lawyer of the Year” Award from the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice in 2003 for his work on the Saipan litigation, and was American Lawyer Magazine’s “Litigator of the Week” in May 2013 for his work on behalf of five professional sports unions in the Hart v. Electronic Arts right-of-publicity case in the Third Circuit. In December 2017, Michael was honored with the San Francisco Anti-Defamation League’s “Distinguished Jurisprudence” award.
In his spare time, Michael enjoys refereeing youth soccer, playing classical piano, and listening to the Grateful Dead.
- Obtained landmark rulings in the California Supreme Court in several cases involving workplace rights, including Dynamex (standards for distinguishing independent contractors from employees), Brinker (eligibility for meal breaks and rest periods), Gentry (prohibiting class action waivers in mandatory arbitration agreements), and Armendariz (minimum due process standards for employment arbitration).
- Currently representing cities and counties nationwide in appeals (including City of Oakland v. Chevron Corp.) and on remand in public nuisance lawsuits against major oil and gas companies seeking abatement of damage to public infrastructure resulting from allegedly wrongful promotion of fossil-fuel products despite knowledge of global-warming impacts.
- Obtained an appellate reversal in Vergara v. State of California, on behalf of California teacher unions, of trial court injunction invalidating on equal protection grounds five Education Code provisions governing public school teacher tenure, due process dismissal protections, and considerations of seniority in lay-offs.
- Obtained $26 million settlement with extensive injunctive relief in statewide wage-and-hour class action on behalf of McDonald’s fast-food workers.
- Secured several federal and state appellate rulings establishing the right of undocumented workers to the protections of American labor law.
- Successfully defended local living wage and minimum wage ordinances from constitutional and other challenges.
- Obtained $22.7 million settlement as co-lead counsel in cases on behalf of low-wage warehouse workers in California’s Inland Empire who alleged that Walmart, its warehouse operator contractor, and its labor services subcontractors were jointly and severally liable for workplace violations.
- Represented five major sports unions in series of cases protecting state right-of-publicity claims from First Amendment and Copyright Act preemption challenges.
- Obtained over $100 million in reimbursement to federal government based on successful representation of whistleblowers in several False Claims Act cases.
- Lead counsel or co-lead counsel in numerous cases developing new theories for challenging mandatory employment and consumer arbitration agreements in state and federal appellate courts and before the NLRB, including: Blair v. Rent-A-Center (9th Circuit: Companies cannot use mandatory arbitration agreements to prevent consumers from seeking “public injunction” relief); Neiman Marcus, D.R. Horton, 24 Hour Fitness, Totten v. KBR, Patterson v. Raymours Furniture, Epic Systems, Inc.. (series of cases before NLRB and courts challenging employers’ class action and joint action prohibitions under NLRA and Norris-LaGuardia Act); Iskanian v. CLS Transportation L.A. LLC (Cal. Sup.Ct.: Employers cannot use mandatory arbitration agreement to strip employees of right to pursue Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act claims on behalf of State); Armendariz v. Foundation Health Psychcare Servs. (Cal. Sup. Ct.: Established minimum due process standards for adjudication of fundamental, non-waivable Labor Code rights); Duffield v. Robertson Stephens (9th Circuit: 1991 Title VII amendments prohibit mandatory arbitration of employment discrimination claims – abrogated by EEOC v. Luce Forward); Bayer v. Neiman Marcus (9th Circuit: Appeal challenging imposition of mandatory arbitration agreement as violation of Section 503(b) of Americans with Disabilities Act).
- Successfully overturned on appeal $10 million jury award in defamation case against international union arising out of organization campaign materials.
- Obtained eight-figure settlement in human trafficking case on behalf of young girls trafficked from Southeastern India for sex and labor.