Dean A. Rocco Partner

     

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Dean Rocco is a pragmatic, results-oriented attorney who leverages the firm’s geographic reach and strength across multiple disciplines to the benefit of clients. He takes great pride in building longstanding partnerships with clients through responsive communication and consistent, positive results in keeping with clients’ business philosophies and litigation objectives.

Dean is the Western Region Chair of the firm’s national Employment & Labor practice. In that capacity, he maintains a significant practice representing employers and management in a wide range of employment litigation. He lends his knowledge and perspective to building effective personnel programs and policies, counseling employers and managing risk during difficult employee issues, and training employers on legal compliance and best practices.

Dean also serves as co-chair of the firm’s national Cannabis Law practice. Dean works with clients inside and outside the cannabis industry to navigate the complex and quickly evolving framework of recreational and medical marijuana laws impacting their businesses.  

As a distinguished attorney and recognized authority in his field, Dean is routinely asked by media outlets, business organizations and professional associations to share his perspectives on evolving legal issues.

Areas of Focus

Employment Counseling, Training & Litigation
Clients routinely seek Dean’s help navigating difficult personnel issues, managing employees with disabilities and medical leave rights, complying with wage-and-hour regulations and developing sound personnel policies. Clients also call on Dean to train management and employees on a variety of subjects, such as discrimination and harassment prevention, managing employees within the law, and complying with wage-and-hour laws.

Dean also maintains a significant employment litigation practice covering a broad range of cases, including breach of employment contract, discrimination and harassment, violations of disability and medical leave laws, and workplace torts such as defamation and wrongful termination in violation of public policy. In addition, Dean frequently litigates individual, representative and class action wage-and-hour lawsuits alleging claims such as denial of meal periods and rest breaks, misclassification of employees, non-payment of wages, off-the-clock work, unlawful commission and bonus plans, and violations of statutory pay provisions.

Dean has successfully enforced employer-promulgated arbitration programs, secured restraining orders against employees involved in workplace violence, and prosecuted actions against employees engaged in unfair competition and misappropriation of trade secrets.

Cannabis Law
Dean regularly works with cannabis organizations and ancillary businesses, assisting start-ups with business formation and governance, processing licensing applications, supporting commercial transactions, guiding mergers and acquisitions, structuring fundraising, building sound employment policies and practices, reviewing insurance coverage, and guiding regulatory compliance in the growth, transportation, processing, production or distribution of cannabis-related products. When disputes arise, Dean leverages the firm’s strength across multiple disciplines to effectively litigate commercial, products liability, professional liability, intellectual property and employment law claims.

For employers of all types, Dean provides guidance on legalization’s impact on employment law issues such as job applications, drug testing, accommodating employees’ use of cannabis for medical purposes and cannabis as a cause or treatment for workplace injuries.

Fair Housing & Discrimination
Dean has significant experience counseling clients and defending against litigation asserting discrimination under state and federal fair employment and housing laws.  He has defended hotels and business establishments against claims of discrimination under the Unruh Civil Rights Act.

Representative Matters

Employment Litigation, Single Plaintiff
Obtained summary judgment in a lawsuit by a former employee alleging her employer defamed her post-separation upon showing the alleged conduct was either privileged, not actionable or not attributable to the employer

Obtained summary judgment of a lawsuit by a former outside salesperson alleging his employer and managers failed to accommodate his disability, discriminated against and harassed him due to his disability, violated the California Family Rights Act and terminated his employment for complaining about perceived workplace abuses upon showing the employee was not qualified to perform the essential functions of his job and was terminated for poor performance

Obtained summary judgment of a lawsuit by a former hospital employee alleging breach of implied contract not to terminate without good cause and intentional infliction of emotional distress upon establishing the employee was employed at-will and the employer never engaged in actionable conduct

Secured dismissal of a former employee’s claims of defamation and interference with prospective economic advantage against a co-worker as a sanction for the employee’s abuses of discovery during the litigation

First-chaired the trial of a disability discrimination lawsuit by a former hospital employee and obtained a complete defense verdict; before trial, obtained summary judgment of the employee’s race and age discrimination and harassment claims against the hospital and an individual supervisor

Obtained summary judgment in a lawsuit by a hospital employee alleging age and national origin discrimination upon demonstrating the employee could not show pretext in the termination decision and certain claims were barred by applicable statute of limitations

Second-chaired the trial of a disability discrimination case that settled favorably during trial

Second-chaired the trial of an age and disability discrimination case that settled favorably on eve of trial

Secured an order dismissing a lawsuit by a former student alleging defamation against the executive of a professional training and testing company upon showing the student could not invoke theories of respondeat superior against the executive

Secured an order dismissing a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation through summary judgment

First-chaired the trial of a race discrimination case that settled favorably on eve of trial

Secured the dismissal of a former employee’s discrimination lawsuit upon filing a motion to deem her a “vexatious litigant”

First-chaired the defense in administrative hearing before Division of Labor Standards Enforcement and secured an order in favor of a surgical center accused of failing to pay a doctor’s wages at the time it terminated his employment contract

Secured a court order finding a former employee engaged in spoliation of evidence by destroying surreptitious tape recordings of termination meetings with managers

Recovered stolen property and secured both monetary damages and restraints on trade for a company in an action against former employees who used company property and trade secrets to form a competing business

Obtained summary judgment of lawsuit by a former employee alleging her employer and supervisor engaged in sexual harassment and discrimination upon establishing the alleged conduct did not evidence discriminatory animus

Secured a “walk-away settlement” in a race discrimination case upon discovering the former employee engaged in theft and other misconduct

Obtained a favorable resolution in a lawsuit by former employee alleging the company violated the California Family Rights Act upon demonstrating the individual’s medical leave did not actually concern a “serious health condition” under the statute

Achieved a favorable resolution in a lawsuit by 10 former employees alleging the company and their supervisor engaged in race discrimination, retaliation and harassment


Employment Litigation, Representative and Class Action
Secured the dismissal of a claim against a national shipping company under California’s newly established Labor Code Private Attorney General Act (Bounty Hunter Law) after establishing an absence of “aggrieved employees”

Secured the dismissal of a class action brought by an outside salesman for a national office support company on the grounds the individual class representative could not adequately represent the class

Secured a non-monetary settlement in a representative action under the Labor Code Private Attorney General Act

Secured a favorable settlement for a regional franchisee facing claims it unlawfully deducted wages from employees, misclassified sales managers as exempt, and failed to provide employees meal periods and rest breaks

Secured a favorable, structured settlement for group of regional food distribution companies facing claims they misclassified and failed to pay overtime and expenses to outside salesmen, delivery drivers, merchandisers and demonstrators

Secured a favorable, structured settlement for a regional sporting goods retailer facing claims it misclassified and failed to pay overtime to managers

Secured a favorable settlement for a national mortgage company facing claims of improper payroll record keeping, unpaid overtime and denied meal periods

Secured a favorable settlement for a national copying and printing company facing a class action alleging the existence of an unlawful commissions and bonus plan and related Labor Code violations

Secured a favorable settlement for an international corporate compliance auditing firm facing claims of misclassified field officers and resulting unpaid overtime