David W. Silke
David Silke is a Partner in the Seattle office of Gordon & Rees. He co-founded the office in 2008. He is a native of the State of Washington and has practiced in both Washington and Oregon since 1991. He has also represented clients in lawsuits in California, Nevada, Alaska, and Hawaii.
Mr. Silke is a member of the firm’s Employment, Directors & Officers and Shareholder Liability, Professional Liability, and Commercial Litigation sections. Mr. Silke's practice includes Directors & Officers litigation, complex business litigation, shareholder litigation, and professional liability claims. Mr. Silke has represented companies and their Directors & Officers in multiple lawsuits alleging claims for breach of contract, unfair trade practices, RICO violations, and securities violations.
Mr. Silke's employment litigation practice includes the defense of claims for wrongful discharge, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, invasion of privacy, defamation, and state and federal wage and hour claims. He represents clients in state and federal court, in mediations and arbitrations, and in matters filed with federal and state agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the State of Washington Human Rights Commission, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, and the Seattle Office for Civil Rights. Mr. Silke also counsels and advises clients on a broad range of employment topics, including personnel policies, workplace privacy issues, employee handbooks, drug and alcohol policies, employment agreements, trade secret issues, and non-competition agreements.
Mr. Silke served as defense counsel for a company and its Directors & Officers in a lawsuit by the company’s founder alleging claims for breach of contract, unfair trade practices, and securities violations seeking millions of dollars in damages. Through discovery, depositions, and motions, Mr. Silke was able to successfully oppose the claims and obtain a very favorable outcome for his clients.
In the U.S. District Court in Oregon, Mr. Silke obtained the dismissal of a race discrimination lawsuit filed against one of the world's largest engineering and construction firms. The employee claimed that his employment was terminated because of his race. The defense argued that the employee was terminated because he repeatedly fell asleep at work, as evidenced by photographs of him sleeping on the job. David successfully compelled the transfer of the lawsuit to mandatory binding arbitration. After achieving a favorable result in a related lawsuit against the same client by another employee who was represented by the same attorney, Mr. Silke convinced the employee's attorney to voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice.
Mr. Silke served as counsel for an international airline in a lawsuit filed in the State of Washington by the EEOC on behalf of approximately 1,000 of the airline's employees. The lawsuit was litigated in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle. The EEOC asserted that the airline's employee policies and practices violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. Through discovery and motion practice, the airline's attorneys were able to greatly limit the claims and reduce the number of claimants, which led to a very favorable resolution for the airline client in early 2011.
In the first transgender discrimination trial in the state of Washington, Mr. Silke obtained a favorable result following a three week bench trial representing a specialty coffee retailer and wholesaler. The Plaintiff alleged that his privacy had been invaded and he was discriminated against during his transition from female to male while working as a Barista. The trial resulted in the dismissal of all discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, outrage, and wage claims. While the Plaintiff prevailed on a common law invasion of privacy claim, the award was a very small percentage of the amount sought by the Plaintiff at trial.
Mr. Silke served as lead counsel for a coffee retailer and wholesaler in a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of approximately 100 current and former store managers for alleged wage and hour violations. The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court in California. The class members sought in excess of $5 million. Mr. Silke and his team obtained very favorable sworn declarations from key witnesses before class counsel requested or obtained any depositions. The declarations convinced class counsel to participate in an early mediation. The case settled at mediation with terms very favorable to the defendant before the parties engaged in protracted and expensive litigation.
Mr. Silke represented the City of Bremerton in this class action lawsuit filed on behalf of residents of Kitsap County, Washington. The lawsuit was filed in Pierce County Superior Court in Washington. The class asserted a claim for $50 million for odors, groundwater contamination, and reduced property values allegedly caused by emissions from the Olympic View Sanitary Landfill. The class alleged that the City of Bremerton contributed to the damages by allowing waste to be taken to the landfill. Class counsel moved for the certification of a class of 5,500 property owners, but the City of Bremerton and other defendants defeated class certification. Class counsel subsequently moved to certify a class of 3,500 property owners, and the defendants once again defeated the class certification motion. The court eventually certified a much smaller class. After five years of extensive discovery and complex motion practice that greatly reduced the scope of the class claims, the class settled the case with all defendants.
Mr. Silke served as lead counsel for Jefferson County, Washington, and several employees of the county, in a class action filed on behalf of all current and future inmates at the Jefferson County Jail. The lawsuit was filed in United States District Court for the Western District of Washington at Tacoma. The class alleged several claims regarding jail conditions and operations, including claims for civil rights violations, inadequate medical care, overcrowding, lack of access to the legal system, inadequate supplies, and First Amendment violations. The lawsuit was followed by local, regional, and national press, including an article in the New York Times. A favorable resolution of the lawsuit was achieved on behalf of Jefferson County.
Mr. Silke served as lead defense counsel in class action filed on behalf of over 20,000 time share resort membership owners who alleged violations of the State of Washington Consumer Protection Act. Among other things, the class alleged deceptive and misleading practices by defendant. The lawsuit was filed in King County Superior Court in Washington. By the time Mr. Silke was engaged to represent the defendant, the court had already certified several subclasses. Mr. Silke successfully convinced the judge to de-certify several of the subclasses, which greatly reduced the number of class members and potential damages. The parties then agreed to resolve the case through arbitration on the issue of damages, which resulted in a favorable resolution for the defendant.
Lessons From Evolving Use of Social Media, American Bankers Association Insurance Risk Management Forum, January 2015 (New Orleans, LA)
Lessons From The Trial Trenches, Gordon & Rees Legal Education Conference, January 2015 (New York, NY)
What Employers Need to Know About Medical Related Accommodations and Leave: A Practical Application of the ADA, FMLA and Washington Disability and Medical Leave Laws, Presented by Gordon & Rees, Seattle Employment Law Group, October 2014 (Seattle, WA)
Seattle Employment Law Symposium: The Impact of New Federal and Local Laws on Employers and Businesses, Presented by Gordon & Rees, Seattle Employment Law Group, March 2014 (Seattle, WA)
What Your Company Needs to Know to Be Prepared, Presented by Gordon & Rees, Seattle Employment Law Group, June 2012 (Seattle, WA)
On Trial: Inside a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit, Sponsored by Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS), April 2012, (Philadelphia, PA)
Life of an Employment Lawsuit: - Chartis Winter Summit, March 2012 (Stowe, VT)
Directors’ & Officers’ Coverage and Claims, The 2011 Risk Management and Finance Summit for Nonprofits, September 2011 (Seattle, WA)
Life of an Employment Lawsuit, Sponsored by Chartis, April 2010 (Philadelphia, PA), October 2010 (Chicago, IL), October 2010, (Minneapolis, MN)
Employment Law Developments: 2009 Update, Sponsored by Chartis, October 2009 (Portland, OR)
Employment Practices Liability Update – Marsh, October 2008 (Seattle, WA)
What do you enjoy most about your practice?
Getting to know our clients and their businesses, and helping them resolve their legal issues.
What is the secret to obtaining successful trial results?
Learning as much as possible about the factual background, parties, and witnesses as early as possible in the case.
What are your favorite pastimes when you are not practicing law?
Spending time with my wife and three daughters, skiing (water and snow, sometimes the same day here in Seattle), playing basketball, and climbing mountains.
US District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Washington
US District Court for the District of Oregon
US Supreme Court
Washington State Bar Association
Washington Defense Trial Lawyers
King County Bar Association (Labor and Employment Law Section)
Oregon State Bar
Defense Research Institute