Creative Representation | Expert Litigation

Areas of Labor & Employment Practice

Health Care Labor Law


Collective Bargaining

Employment Litigation

Labor and Employee Relations

Administrative Charges and Hearings

Employment Advice and Counseling

Outside General Counsel Services

Trade Secrets

Bartko’s top-tier Northern and Southern California labor and employment practice group (“L&E Group”) is spearheaded by co-chairs Louise Ann Fernandez and Karen E. Pointer who, along with An Nguyen Ruda, represent a diverse group of clients, including healthcare providers, technology companies, media companies, law firms, cultural institutions, and small business owners. The L&E Group, which includes Senior Counsel, Kelly Ann Coleman, and Associates Elizabeth Ferguson, Josiah Jenkins, and Raman Dheri, complement and bolster Bartko’s complex litigation and real estate practices by providing additional vital services for corporate clients.

Labor Negotiations

Ms. Fernandez and Ms. Ruda represent management in complex negotiations with labor. Their negotiating philosophy is respectful, leading to quick and fair negotiations that are sensitive to the ongoing relationship between management and labor.

Ms. Fernandez—who started her legal career in the Division of Advice with the National Labor Relations Board—and later served as a trial attorney for the NLRB, has decades of labor experience. Ms. Fernandez has also negotiated numerous collective bargaining agreements and litigated unfair labor practice cases and labor injunctions in a variety of industries, including entertainment, construction, aerospace and healthcare.

Ms. Ruda has served as the Chief Negotiator on several significant collective bargaining agreements for healthcare systems, manufacturing companies and media companies, including multiple Master Collective Bargaining Agreements, initial labor agreements, as well as successor agreements. She served as the Chief Negotiator for the Los Angeles Times in their initial contract with The NewsGuild. Ms. Ruda is a shrewd management-side dealmaker, known for fashioning creative solutions that preserve labor/management relations.

The L&E Group have negotiated consensual modification of eight collective bargaining agreements in 75 days with six labor unions. The L&E Group also defeated an attempt to organize a client’s manufacturing unit—a decisive management victory.

Litigation and Arbitration

The L&E Group recognize when litigation offers clients the best business option—and how to win. They are seasoned trial lawyers with a proven track record of representing clients in trial courts and in arbitration in a wide variety of employment and business disputes, including in wage and hour, discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, trade secret and unfair competition cases. The L&E Group complement Bartko’s industry-leading trade secret practice and were instrumental in achieving the number one trade secret trial victory of 2018. Some of the L&E Group’s successes include:

  • A 7-figure settlement and public apology on behalf of an entertainment executive wrongly accused of sexual harassment.
  • A defense victory in arbitration brought by the chief compliance officer of a financial services company.
  • Obtaining jurisdiction over Russian executives leading to resolution of a trade secret case and return of stock and intellectual property from Luxembourg.
  • Defeating class certification and winning summary judgment in wage & hour class actions in the healthcare, multinational cosmetics, and tech industries.

The L&E Group pride themselves on initial investigation strategies in litigation that create cost-efficient and favorable business-centric results for clients.

The L&E Group share Bartko’s philosophy that a huge team of lawyers is not needed for every case. Sophisticated clients hire lawyers—not law firms—and demand personalized efficient representation.

Administrative Actions

The L&E Group skillfully represent clients in actions before administrative agencies, including the California Labor Commissioner, the United States Department of Labor – Wage and Hour Division, the California Civil Rights Department, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

General Advice and Counseling – Risk Avoidance

The L&E Group understand the key to maintaining long-term client relationships—providing trusted advice in employer/employee relations, including on issues ranging from difficult personnel decisions to regulatory compliance to day-to-day risk management and best practices. They have also counseled high-profile individuals in confidential matters like employment separations and allegations of workplace misconduct.

The L&E Group utilize their vast knowledge of employment law to prepare clear and concise employment-related agreements, policies and practices designed to protect clients’ interests, including their trade secrets.

Investigation and Mediation

The L&E Group investigate claims of harassment, discrimination, retaliation, implicit bias, bullying, whistleblowing, fraud, other allegations of workplace misconduct, and corporate compliance.

Due to her experience and reputation for fairness, Ms. Fernandez is often sought out by law firms and corporations to serve as an impartial investigator or mediator of complex disputes. She is also a volunteer mediator for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, bringing her extensive experience to resolve a wide variety of conflicts.

Ms. Pointer is frequently enlisted by law firms, chief executives, and boards of directors to conduct highly sensitive and complex workplace investigations. Her commitment to a fair and neutral process and attention to detail have garnered praise from employers and employees alike.

Bartko is a California boutique law firm specializing in national and international complex litigation, investigations, and real estate transactions. Bartko takes pride in advancing our clients’ business goals, which drives strategy and tactics in the important matters we handle. We are also an industry leader in partnering with clients on cost-effective alternative fee arrangements designed to align lawyer/client objectives through sharing of risk and reward.