Mark A. Saxon
Mark A. Saxon is a partner in Gordon & Rees's San Diego office and is Chair of the San Diego Employment practice group. Mr. Saxon provides pro-active advice to companies of all sizes on topics ranging from employee handbooks to wage and hour issues and from Family and Medical Leave/disability to avoiding claims of wrongful termination.
In addition, Mr. Saxon regularly defends employers and supervisors in both state and federal court, as well as in arbitration proceedings, against claims of discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, defamation, violation of privacy rights, and violation of wage and hour laws. He has also handled numerous class actions and "Private Attorney General" lawsuits claiming Labor Code violations, including failure to provide meal and rest periods, unpaid overtime, failure to reimburse employees' business expenses, and unfair business practices.
Mr. Saxon has served as a Judge Pro Tem in court cases, as well as an arbitrator of disputes on behalf of the American Arbitration Association.
Examples of Mr. Saxon’s experience include the following.
Prevailed following a jury trial in San Diego Superior Court on a claim filed by a 36 year old female senior underwriter of company providing commercial and industrial loans. The Plaintiff claimed she was sexually harassed by her male supervisor who allegedly discussed sexual matters with her for several months and that the purported reasons for her termination, poor performance and a decline in business, were pretextual. Plaintiff claimed the real reason she was terminated was because she refused her supervisor's advances and reported them to the company. The jury determined that Plaintiff was legitimately terminated and that she had not been harassed. In the post-verdict discussions with the jury, they noted the evidence we submitted showing that Plaintiff openly discussed sexual and erotic subjects with both men and women in the workplace, as well as our evidence that Plaintiff had a history of personality disorders and psychological problems, for which she had been undergoing treatment for the past 6 years, were persuasive indicators that she had not been sexually harassed.
Obtained a summary judgment for a national client in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of California on a lawsuit involving a 63 year old American Manager of a maquiladora in Mexico. The former employee was terminated based upon his unsatisfactory performance and sued for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, harassment based upon age, fraud, and age discrimination. The Court granted our motion summary judgment on all causes of action, finding that based upon the evidence submitted, "no reasonable trier of fact could reach the conclusion that age was a determinative factor in Defendant's decision to fire" the Plaintiff.
Won an arbitration proceeding conducted by JAMS which had been filed by a former employee of a national running apparel retailer. The claimant, who was a 58 year old Computer Applications Development Manager, claimed she was misclassified as an exempt employee and was entitled to $45,000 of overtime pay. In addition, Plaintiff alleged she was wrongfully terminated based upon her age. Following a 10 day arbitration hearing, the arbitrator issued a 32 page Final Award which found in favor of the employer. Notably, 7 days before the commencement of the arbitration hearing, our client had offered to settle the case for $15,000, which was rejected.
Successfully obtained summary judgment in San Diego Superior Court in favor of our client, a mid-level insurance brokerage company, which had been sued for age discrimination by a 57 year old female Customer Service Representative. The court ruled that the employer met its burden of showing a non-discriminatory reason for the Plaintiff's termination based upon poor performance and complaints received from at least three clients. In addition, the Court noted in its written decision that the Plaintiff's own deposition testimony showed she only had a "perception" that her supervisor wanted her out of the company due to to her age, but she failed to specify any factual basis for this perception. Thus, the court determined that Plaintiff failed to overcome her burden to prove 1) the employer's reasons for her termination were pretextual, or 2) that the employer acted with a discriminatory animus, and a result, a reasonable trier of fact could not conclude the employer engaged in intentional discrimination.
Provided a company with over 1,000 employees in its multi-state senior care facilities with pre-employment systems and forms for new hires to sign, including applications for employment, at-will employment contracts, mandatory arbitration agreements, background investigation documentation in compliance with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and applicable state statutes, pre-employment drug testing documentation, employee handbooks, etc. We also instituted a requirement that no employee would be terminated in any of the facilities without the review and pre-approval of the company's Chief Operating Officer. In the 15 years since these systems were put in place, the employer has had only 4 claims filed by terminated employees, all of which were summarily resolved.
Articles written by Mr. Saxon have been published in law reviews and trade journals, and he has lectured extensively at both legal seminars and before human resource associations. He is a frequent instructor of Labor and Employment Law in certification programs for working professionals in human resources.
Mr.Saxon is a frequent speaker at seminars sponsored by the Greater San Diego Employers Association. Other presentations include the following.
Counseling & Firing: Critical Employment Practices At Your Facility, Fall Conference of the National Self Storage Association, Las Vegas, NV (September 12, 2014)
Critical California Wage & Hour Laws, Vistage – June 18, 2014, Vista, California
Hiring and Firing: Do's & Don'ts, Director of Staff Development Conference
presented by the Quality Care Health Foundation and the California Association of Health Facilities - May 5, 2006, San Diego, California.
Protecting your Company From Illegal Hiring and Termination Suits
National Business Institute - January 20, 2006, San Diego, California
Hot Topics for California Employees in Long Term Care and Assisted Living, San Diego Health Care Association - October 28, 2004, San Diego, California
Fundamental Issues in California Human Resources Law, National Business Institute - September 28, 2004, San Diego, California
Critical California Wage and Hour Laws, Lorman Education Services - June 3, 2004, San Diego, California
Harassment and Discrimination Claims - Recent Developments, New Approaches, Law Day, San Diego Society for Human Resources Management -- January 21, 2004
Advanced Issues in California Employment Law, National Business Institute - November 12, 2003, San Diego, California
Employment Developments For The Furniture Industry, The San Francisco Mart - California Furniture Manufacturers Association - July 17, 2003, San Francisco, California
California Labor and Employment Law, National Business Institute -- June 25, 2003, San Diego, California
Critical Employment Practices for California Employers, Lorman Education Services -- February 26, 2003, Costa Mesa, California
Pre-Employment Background Investigations, The Employers Group Human Resources Roundtable, February 4, 2003, San Diego, California
Background Checks and Investigations: New Obligations for Employers
The Employers Group: Human Resources Roundtable - April 2, 2002, San Diego, California
Critical Employment Practices for California Employers, Lorman Education Services - February 27, 2002, Costa Mesa, California
Fundamental Issues in California Human Resources Law, National Business Institute - January 18, 2002, San Diego, California
Recent Exemption Issues: Liability for Misclassification and an Update on the Salary Basis Rule, The Employers Group, August 28, 2001, San Diego, California
Untangling the Confusing and Often Conflicting Web of Leave Laws: FMLA, ADA and Workers' Comp, FMLA Update 2001 - Council on Education in Management, April 27, 2001, San Diego, California
What do you enjoy most about your practice?
Developing proactive strategies to assist employers in avoiding the many pitfalls which confront them when dealing with employment and personnel issues.
What is the secret to obtaining successful trial results?
Using appropriate discovery and investigatory techniques to uncover the information necessary to demonstrate the gaping holes in the claims of employees and place their credibility into question.
What are your favorite pastimes when you are not practicing law?
Hiking, snorkeling and enjoying time with my children and grandchildren.
U.S. District Courts, California
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
San Diego County Bar Association, former Chairman of Superior Court Committee
State Bar of California, Labor and Employment Law Section, Civil Litigation Section
American Bar Association, Labor and Employment Section, Civil Litigation Section
Society for Human Resource Management, San Diego Chapter, former Board member and Vice President - Legislation
Human Resources Association
Legislative Task Force of The Employers Group
Mr. Saxon is past President of both the Torrey Pines Kiwanis and the Board of Trustees of La Jolla Country Day School. He has completed an 8-year tenure as a member of both the Holiday Bowl Committee and the Greater San Diego Sports Association.