Matt Sonne is a partner in the Labor and Employment Practice Group in the firm's Orange County office and the immediate past president of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers (“ABTL”). In addition to being one of the state’s leading authorities in defending employers against Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) and class actions, he is an accomplished litigator and trial attorney. Matt is also fluent in Spanish and frequently advises employers on Spanish-speaking workforce issues. Prior to becoming an attorney, Matt worked in the west wing of the White House as a writer for the President. He is a frequent writer and commentator, most recently having appeared on Fox 11’s Good Day LA as a legal expert on Covid-19 workplace issues.
Areas of Practice
Matthew concentrates his practice on labor and employment law representing employers. He litigates in multiple areas of employment law and defends against individual and class action lawsuits alleging violations of wage and hour laws, discrimination, wrongful termination, harassment, breach of contract, labor code section 132a claims, and other related matters. Matthew represents employers in state and federal courts, as well as before the DLSE, EDD, and other administrative bodies. He also advises employers on handbook preparation, employment contracts and applications, and personnel policies. Matthew also has experience with the National Labor Relations Board and has represented employers in related investigations. He has experience in civil appeal practice, including briefing and oral argument before the California Court of Appeal and briefing to the California Supreme Court.
(For more information about Matthew's experience, including his published articles, court decisions, and speeches, please click on the appropriate boxes above).
Gau et al. v. Hillstone Restaurant Group, Inc., Case No. 20-CV-08250 (N.D. Cal. 2022)(court denies class certification in its entirety in favor of restaurant employer).
Amaro et al. v. Anaheim Arena Management, LLC, 69 Cal.App.5th 521 (2021)(PAGA settlement may extinguish claims from outside the limitations period).
Townley v. BJ's Restaurants, Inc., 37 Cal.App.5th 179 (2019) (Employer completely prevails on summary judgment in PAGA case alleging unreimbursed business expenses for slip-resistant shoes).
Morgan v. Wet Seal, Inc., 210 Cal.App.4th 1341 (2012) (Court of Appeal affirms denial of class certification in its entirety in reimbursement claim brought against retail client).
Chaaban v. Wet Seal, Inc., 203 Cal.App.4th 49 (2012) (After prevailing in a three-week jury trial in a wrongful termination case, retail employer prevails in seeking to recover its expert witness costs/fees from plaintiff. In parallel case, employer also defeated class certification in its entirety).
Madrigal v. Tommy Bahama Group, Inc., 2011 WL 10511339 (C.D. Cal. 2011) (court denies class certification in its entirety in wage-hour case against retail/restaurant employer).
Corder v. Houston's Restaurants, Inc., 424 F. Supp. 2d 1205 (C.D. Cal. 2006) (held meal and rest periods violations were penalties subject to a one-year, rather than a four-year, statute of limitations).
Achieved a complete dismissal of “suitable seating” claims under PAGA against a retail client in Santa Clara Superior Court.
Defeated class certification for a manufacturing company on all counts in a wage and hour class action before the Orange County Superior Court.
Successfully defended a national clothing retailer in a jury trial before Orange County Superior Court. The Plaintiff alleged wrongful termination and retaliation in violation of public policy. Won a complete defense verdict.
Achieved what may be the first trial court ruling in California enforcing a class action waiver after the California Supreme Court's Gentry decision made such waivers difficult to enforce.
Defeated class certification for a retail service company on all counts in a wage and hour class action before the Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Labor and Employment, Legal 500, 2015
Southern California Rising Star, Super Lawyers, 2009-2016
- Daily Journal, 02.21.2018
- Orange County Business Journal, 08.18.2014
- ABTL Report, Summer 2014
- Mr. Sonne is a member of the Editorial Board of the California Labor & Employment Alert (Castle Publications Ltd.)
Labor and Employment Law Blog Posts
- "New Labor Obligations Contained In USMCA Present Risks for Covered Employers," April 28, 2021
- "Upcoming Deadline for California Employers to Report Employee Pay and Hours Worked Data to the DFEH," February 11, 2021
- "California’s Deadline is Fast Approaching: Employers Must Complete Harassment Prevention Training for English and Spanish-Speaking Workforces by Year’s End," November 10, 2020
- "U.S. Supreme Court Requires Litigants To Prove "But-For Causation" In Workplace Retaliation Lawsuits," June 27, 2013
- "Title VII's Anti-Retaliation Provisions Protect Employee's Answers To Sexual Harassment Investigator's Questions," February 3, 2009
- "Case Reminds California Employers That Handbook Language Cannot Compensate For A Missing Signature On An Employment Arbitration Agreement," December 21, 2007
- "Ninth Circuit Recognizes Claim for Reverse Religious Discrimination and Highlights Pitfall of 'Consensus of Management' Employment Actions," May 30, 2007
- Fox 11’s Good Day LA, 05.21.2020
- Society for Human Resource Management, 06.22.2018
- Case to Watch: California Supreme Court weighs employment arbitrationThomson Reuters, 06.11.2013
- Defense Wants More Class-y PAGA SuitsThe Recorder, 08.15.2007
- Mr. Sonne was the keynote speaker on "Case Law Updates" at the Employers Group's Workplace and Employment Law Update in Orange County.
- Mr. Sonne lectured managers and owners in the food service/restaurant industry in a presentation entitled "Wage & Hour Crisis In The Food Service Industry."
- Mr. Sonne was a presenter at a recent "Breakfast With Your Labor Lawyer" series.
- Mr. Sonne delivered a lecture in Spanish to managers at a major construction and design firm in southern California entitled "How to Prevent Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation in the Workplace."
- Mr. Sonne lectures for Castle Publications, Ltd. on Wage and Hour Laws.
- Mr. Sonne has presented lectures for employer's organizations such as Professionals in Human Resources Association (PIHRA).
- Mr. Sonne frequently conducts seminars in sexual harassment prevention/training to supervisors and employees, in both English and Spanish. He also lectures at corporate retreats and annual meetings on employment law issues.
- Fall 2022, Avenue of the Arts Hotel, 10.18.2022
- Webinar, 10.13.2021
- California Lawyers Association 10th Annual Advanced Wage and Hour Virtual Conference, 09.10.2020
- Spring 2020 Seminar Series, Webinar, 04.28.2020
- Winter 2020
- Fall 2019, Avenue of the Arts Hotel, 10.29.2019
- Summer 2019
- Spring 2019 Seminar Series, 04.24.2019
- Winter 2019
- Fall 2018 Seminar Series, 10.24.2018
- Summer 2018
- Spring 2018 Seminar Series, 04.18.2018
- Winter 2018
- Newport Beach, 01.25.2018
- Fall 2017 Seminar Series, 10.17.2017
- Summer 2017
- Orange County Bar Association, Radisson Hotel, Newport Beach, 08.14.2017
- Spring 2017 Seminar Series, 04.27.2017
- Winter 2017
- Fall 2016 Seminar Series, 10.26.2016
- Castle Publications, Ltd. Labor & Employment Seminars, Fall 2016
- Spring 2016 Seminar Series, 05.04.2016
- Fall 2015 Seminar Series, 09.16.2015
- Spring 2015 Seminar Series, 05.20.2015
- Castle Publications, Ltd. Labor & Employment Seminars, Winter 2015
- American Conference Institute’s 22nd National Forum, The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites, Los Angeles, 09.30.2014
- Summer 2014: August 12 and 20
- Spring 2014 Seminar Series, 04.09.2014
- Winter 2014: February 19, March 4 and 20
- Fall 2013 Seminar Series, Westin South Coast Plaza, 10.08.2013
- Summer 2013: July 31, August 15
- Summer 2013: July 30, August 7, August 14
- Spring 2013 Seminar Series, Westin South Coast Plaza, Orange County, 03.27.2013
- Westin South Coast Plaza, 10.10.2012
- WebEx, 04.18.2012
- Westin South Coast Plaza, 03.28.2012
- Winter 2012: February 6, February 15, February 22 and February 29
- Cypress Community Center, 02.23.2012
- Labor & Employment Law Update Fall 2011, Westin South Coast Plaza, 10.05.2011
- Labor & Employment Law Webinar, WebEx, 05.26.2011
- Westin South Coast Plaza - Orange County, 03.10.2011
- Winter 2011: February 7, February 15, February 23, and March 2
- Our New, Improved, and FREE Breakfast With Your Labor Lawyer (in the Evening!), Westin South Coast Plaza - Costa Mesa, 09.14.2010
- Breakfast With Your Labor Lawyer, Westin South Coast Plaza, 09.23.2009
- Breakfast With Your Labor Lawyer, Westin South Coast Plaza, 02.12.2009
- Breakfast With Your Labor Lawyer, Westin South Coast Plaza, 09.10.2008
- The Westin South Coast Plaza, 02.05.2008
Member, Orange County Bar Association, Labor and Employment Section
Member, American Bar Association
- Labor and Employment
- Labor and Employment Counseling
- Labor and Employment Litigation
- International Reach
J.D., University of Virginia, 2005
B.A., Claremont McKenna College, 2000, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa
- U.S. District Court for the Northern, Central, and Southern Districts of California
- United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit