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February 2018

Gordon & Rees Bay Area Employment Team Defeats Million Dollar Severance Claim

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani Oakland Partners Mike Laurenson and Mollie Burks and San Francisco Senior Counsel Maya Ohana successfully defended a San Francisco public relations company against a claim by a former executive that he was owed more than $1 million in severance under his employment contract after the company indicated an intent to reduce his duties. The executive claimed the company had breached his employment contract and intentionally prevented him from meeting certain performance metrics under his contract. He relied in part on testimony from an expert forensic accountant to demonstrate that he would have achieved his performance metrics but for the company’s interference. 

The Gordon & Rees team not only demonstrated the expert’s opinions to be unreliable, but also introduced evidence of the executive’s dishonesty – including testimony from his estranged wife that he was lying about a very important fact in the case – which irreparably damaged his credibility with the jury.  After three hours of deliberations, the San Francisco jury returned a verdict for Gordon & Rees’s client on the executive’s tort and breach of employment contract claims, and even awarded Gordon & Rees’s client $125,000 on the company’s claim that the executive had wrongly failed to pay back a loan from the company.

Gordon & Rees's Employment Law Group provides employment counseling and litigation services to world-renowned universities, medical centers and nearly every type of business, from Fortune 500 corporations to startups and nonprofits. Our more than 275 Employment Law attorneys complement litigation expertise with preventive training, offering guidance in programs and techniques designed to avoid the consequence and cost of further involvement with conflict and dispute management.

Gordon & Rees is a national litigation and business transactions firm with more than 800 lawyers in 47 offices across the United States. Our lawyers provide full service representation to public and private companies ranging from the Fortune 500 to start-ups. Founded in 1974, Gordon & Rees is recognized among the fastest growing and largest law firms in the country and continues to climb the ranks of both the Am Law 200 and The National Law Journal. Additionally, in 2017 Law360 ranked the firm among the top 50 largest U.S. firms and The American Lawyer ranked the firm among the top 35 on its Diversity Scorecard.


Mollie M. Burks
Michael A. Laurenson
Maya Pri-Tal Ohana