Michelle S. Strowhiro is an employment counsel, litigator and M&A transaction advisor. She leads McDermott’s Transactions and Executive Contracts Employment Subgroup and co-leads McDermott’s COVID-19 Employment Task Force and advises clients on pandemic response and preparedness, including COVID-19 policymaking and legal compliance (including vaccination, safety and paid leaves) and remote work and return-to-work considerations.
Michelle provides trusted, strategic counsel to US and international companies on all aspects of employment law compliance. Michelle partners with clients to establish and maintain their strong and lawful employment policies and practices; manage their employee relationships from hire to termination; conduct workplace investigations; administer leaves and other workplace accommodations and resolve disputes. She provides manager and employee trainings on effective management and sexual harassment. She regularly prepares and negotiates executive employment and severance agreements, and advises companies on employment law issues for mergers and acquisitions. Michelle regularly works with clients in the private equity, healthcare, technology, retail, marketing food and restaurant, sports, media and entertainment industries.
Michelle is an experienced employment litigator who advises on and defends clients against putative nationwide class actions, collective actions and single- and multi-plaintiff lawsuits. Her litigation matters have involved a wide range of claims including those arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) and other state and federal employment laws. She advises on and defends clients against all employment claims, including claims related to restrictive covenant enforcement, harassment, discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, failure to accommodate, meal and rest break violations, off-the-clock work, independent contractor and exempt misclassification, wage statements, seating, trade secrets theft, background checks breach of contract and other employment-related matters. She represents employers in state and federal court, as well as in administrative proceedings before governmental agencies.
Michelle has successfully achieved dismissals for her clients with motions on the pleadings, motions for summary judgment and by leveraging cases early to achieve aggressive and favorable resolutions. She has defeated class certification, and has won affirmation of these results on appeal.
- Advised private equity and strategic buyers and sellers on labor and employment matters in transactions across industries such as healthcare (including primary care, pediatrics, hospice, home health, dermatology, dentistry, ophthalmology, therapy, surgery centers, rehab, diagnostic imaging, assisted living and hospitals), packaging, insurance and technology industries
- Defended national technology company in numerous individual and class complaints in pre-litigation, in administrative proceedings and in court; consistently achieved dismissals, judgments in company’s favor and aggressively low settlements
- Defended against and won summary judgment for national retail client in a novel associational disability discrimination case alleging nine causes of action, resulting in judgment entered in favor of client and dismissal of plaintiff’s case with prejudice
- Obtained full dismissal of claims in favor of healthcare client and award of litigation costs in competitor restrictive covenant litigation
- Defended major retailer in a putative class action brought by its managers who alleged misclassification and wage-and-hour violations on behalf of a statewide class; achieved victory for employer with a preemptive motion to bar class certification, with the win upheld on appeal to the California Court of Appeal*
- Represented global sports and entertainment agency in contract dispute litigation with former employees and competitor; succeeded on summary judgment for agency, winning judgment on significant unpaid fees and affirming enforceability of contractual arrangement that shapes the industry*
- Represented national restaurant chain against a number of litigations and pre-litigation demand letters by former employees; leveraged and negotiated nuisance-value settlements*
- Advised international fashion company regarding a host of employment law issues including employment handbook policies, managing employee leaves of absence and workforce disputes, pre-litigation complaints and RIF and WARN issues*
- Represented major accounting firm during government audit of employment practices; successfully defended firm and negotiated nuisance-value settlement regarding employee claims filed with governmental agency*
- Advised health care client regarding employment law liability issues, and drafted employment-related contract terms, representations and warranties related to an acquisition*
*Matter handled prior to joining McDermott.
- American Lawyer, Trailblazers: West, 2021
- Benchmark Litigation, Labor & Employment Star, 2020
- One Justice, volunteer
- Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles Domestic Violence Clinic, volunteer
Loyola Law School – Los Angeles, JD, 2010
University of California – Los Angeles, BA, with honors, 2007