Overview

Paul Cowie is the go-to employment class action/PAGA defense lawyer in the firm’s Silicon Valley office.  Recently recognized as a “Top 40 Under 40” California attorney by the Daily Journal (2018) and one of only 335 attorneys nationwide to receive the Client Service All-Star by BTI Consulting (2019), Paul is highly responsive and an expert in his field.  Paul serves as the Leader of the firm’s Transportation Team and has deep experience across many industries, including retail, technology, manufacturing, and transportation.  Paul manages a large team that defends employers in every type of employment dispute, including discrimination and harassment, independent contractors and the gig-economy, wrongful termination and whistleblower complaints, as well as trade secret litigation.  He is also a leader in Gamification to engage employees in the workplace.  Paul also has a special interest in cyber-security, data privacy, and social media and is a member of the firm’s multi-practice group industry teams for these specialties.

Paul manages dozens of class actions, related to all forms of wage & hour disputes, discrimination, as well as misclassification.  He counsels clients on all aspects of employment, including compliance, workplace investigations, workplace violence, protecting intellectual property, and founder disputes.  In addition, Paul has significant experience supporting M&A transactions and has worked closely with clients in structuring deals to minimize employment-related risks and to maximize the value of the transaction from an employment perspective.

Before practicing in the US, Paul practiced in the UK for approximately five years, representing and advising employers at all stages of employment litigation, including as lead counsel in UK Employment Tribunals.  Paul has drafted hundreds of employment contracts and settlement agreements, negotiated warranties and indemnities in corporate transactions and is very familiar with the challenges faced by companies expanding into in the US.

Paul is a trial-ready litigator who knows how to resolve all forms of employment-related disputes efficiently and effectively.

Experience

Experience

  • Currently handling approximately 50 class actions involving claims for discrimination, misclassification, FCRA, and all variety of wage and hour violations, including suitable seating, meal and rest breaks, minimum wage, bag checks, expense reimbursement, uniforms, joint employment, piece rate, and many standalone PAGA lawsuits.  Also has approximately four dozen active single Plaintiff cases involving alleged harassment, discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination (among many other claims).

Representative Experience

  • 2019: Washington State Supreme Court win for employers as to legitimacy of commission and piece rate compensation structures (lead counsel and presented oral argument). This was the first and only win for an employer in the Washington State Supreme Court in years.
  • 2018: Obtained summary judgment in a wage & hour rest break putative class action.
  • 2018: Obtained summary judgment in disability discrimination single Plaintiff lawsuit.
  • 2018: Presented two 9th Circuit oral arguments, including overturning district court regarding proprietary of removal and how to calculate the amount in controversy.
  • 2017:  Defeated class certification for client Swift Transportation for wage and hour class action, convincing court to overturn 24-page tentative ruling issued at the hearing.
  • 2017:  Compelled individual arbitration of 24,000 person putative class in expansive wage and hour class action for client Smart & Final Stores.
  • 2017:  Defeated certification in wage and hour class action for client Swift Transportation alleging rest break violations, convincing court to overturn 36-page tentative ruling issued at the hearing.
  • 2017:  Defeated class certification despite facially unlawful policy.
  • 2016:  Defeated class certification in a 20,000 plus putative class member wage and hour (multiple causes of action) class action with exposure into the billions of dollars for client Swift Transportation.
  • 2016:  Defeated class certification of wage statement class for client Save Mart Supermarkets.
  • 2015:  Dismissal with prejudice without any payment for client Brookdale Senior Living with respect to a former employee’s age discrimination and wrongful termination suit.
  • 2015:  Dismissal for client Cox Communications without paying a cent on Plaintiff’s six causes of action including for Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy and Negligent Investigation.
  • 2015:  Represented Benchmark Electronics in defeating Plaintiff former employee’s claims for wrongful termination and retaliation under Labor Code section 1102.5 without paying a penny. 

Honors

Honors

Top Labor and Employment Attorney, Daily Journal, 2019

Client Service All-Star, The BTI Consulting Group, 2019

Recommended Lawyer - Labor and Employment, Legal 500, 2019

Top 40 Under 40, Daily Journal, 2018

Northern California Rising Star, Super Lawyers, 2013-2018

Insights

Articles

Labor & Employment Law Blog Posts

Video Game Law Blog Posts

Speaking Engagements

  • Employment Law Update, Silicon Valley Chapter of Association of Legal Administrators, 2017
  • Employment Law Update, Silicon Valley Chapter of Association of Legal Administrators, 2016
  • Gamification – Benefits, Pitfalls and Legal Considerations, FX Conferences, 2015
  • Structuring Independent Contractor Agreements to Avoid Costly Misclassification Liability, Strafford Webinar, 2014
  • Blackbox Connect U.S. Employment Law for Start Ups, Palo Alto, 2014
  • LebNet, Palo Alto, 2014
  • PASCO HR, Santa Rosa, 2013
  • Innovation Presentation Panel, Palo Alto, 2013
  • CDA Lunch and Learn, Silicon Valley, 2012
  • Doing Business in Europe, Los Angeles, 2011
  • Class Actions in the Financial Industry, San Francisco, 2010
  • Restrictive Covenants in the UK, Washington D.C., 2009

Events

Memberships

Memberships

State Bar of California

UK Licensed Solicitor

Education

J.D., University of Northumbria at Newcastle, UK, 2001, LLB honors

Admissions

  • California
  • UK
  • United States District Courts for the Northern and Central Districts of California
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
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