Lorraine P. ("Lori") Ocheltree practices in the area of federal and California employment law and civil litigation. She provides advice and counseling to employers of all types and sizes and has extensive experience in the courtroom. Lori has represented clients in state and federal court and has served as trial counsel in jury and bench trials, resulting in defense verdicts, as well as matters that resolved through successful mediation and arbitration. She has also successfully pursued and defended appeals.
Ms. Ocheltree's advice and counseling practice focuses on providing current and practical guidance about all aspects of the employment relationship from hiring to discipline to discharge. She provides advice to employers on all aspects of the employer/employee relationship, including the areas of employment discrimination, harassment and retaliation (FEHA, Title VII, ADA, ADEA), family, medical and pregnancy disability leave (FMLA, CFRA, PDL), reasonable accommodation and the interactive process, wage and hour law (exempt/nonexempt, employee/independent contractor, meal and rest periods, overtime), reductions in force (WARN), background checks (FCRA), workplace investigations, drug and alcohol issues, progressive discipline, workplace violence, recruiting and retention of executives and employees, employee terminations, and numerous workplace issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. She frequently drafts employee executive employment agreements, employee handbooks, agreements (employment, confidentiality, arbitration), injury and illness prevention programs (IIPP), severance agreements, and releases. She has counseled and litigated claims involving mandatory arbitration, non-competition, anti-solicitation, and the protection of company trade secrets. She has trained employees, supervisors, and business owners on how to prevent claims from arising in the workplace and routinely provides mandatory anti-harassment trainings. She has also been involved in numerous stock option disputes and has substantial experience defending companies against Title III (public access) ADA claims.
Ms. Ocheltree has defended employers in both state and federal court from a variety of claims including wrongful discharge, race, national origin, gender, age, sexual orientation, and disability discrimination, as well as racial and sexual harassment, retaliation, ADA-compliance, Labor Code violations, defamation, interference with contract, wage and hour disputes, whistleblower claims, unfair business competition and retaliation. She has defended claims brought before the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the California Labor Commission, the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board, the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Ms. Ocheltree represents both large and small employers in matters pertaining to the telecommunications, retail, education, food service, manufacturing, staffing, legal, architecture, financial services, accounting, insurance, recreation, healthcare, engineering, construction and automotive industries. She also has substantial maritime, insurance, and general business litigation experience.
A member of the American Bar Association, San Francisco Bar Association and International Association of Defense Counsel, Ms. Ocheltree is a 1990 graduate of the University of San Francisco School of Law and a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles.
Areas of Practice
- Employment Counseling and Advice
- Employment Litigation
- Class Action Litigation
- Restrictive Covenants
- Defended a global technology company against a sexual harassment and retaliation action filed in U.S. District Court by female director who claimed her male supervisor sexually harassed her at work, and that she was terminated in retaliation for complaining. Defended EEOC charges and a subsequent civil action. Entire action was dismissed through a successful motion for summary judgment with an award of cost to client.
Defended payroll processor and HR service provider from multiple actions for unpaid wages allegedly due to employees of co-defendant mortgage lending company. Numerous proceedings in several forums including administrative agencies, state court, federal court, and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Complete defense of all claims in multiple forums.
Defended international clothing company from action filed by former manager alleging that she had been harassed, discriminated against, retaliated against and had her privacy invaded, arising from a love triangle at work. Through a series of successful motions (two demurrers, a motion to strike punitive damages, and a motion for summary adjudication), the action was reduced to two claims without the possibility of punitive damages. The limited claims were resolved through successful mediation.
Defended national airport car-sharing service/technology company, from wage and hour class action filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Action successfully resolved through settlement.
- Represented construction company in an ERISA and breach of oral contract action filed in federal court in California arising from a life insurance dispute filed by widow of company employee. The case was ultimately resolved through virtual mediation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Defended ski resort from wrongful termination, harassment and discrimination claims based on sexual orientation. Successful motion for summary judgment resulted in dismissal of all claims.
- Defended international construction company against racial harassment and retaliation action filed in federal court by three plaintiffs who alleged they had been terminated following complaints of racial harassment in the workplace. The matter was ultimately resolved through settlement.
Defended manufacturing company from union employee pursuing disability discrimination claims in California state court. Claims ultimately resolved through settlement.
Defended employee-owners of cannabis-entity against complex petition seeking a workplace violence restraining order. Successful defense and denial of petition.
Defended quick service restaurant chain over course of several years from numerous wrongful termination, race, disability, gender, sexual orientation, harassment, discrimination, and retaliation claims. Matters resolved on terms clients found favorable, through settlement or mediation.
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
- University of San Francisco School of Law, J.D., 1990
- University of California, Los Angeles, B.A., 1985
- Duane Morris LLP
- Partner, 2006-present
- Hancock Rothert & Bunshoft LLP
- Partner, 1997-2006 (Head of Employment Practice Group)
- Associate, 1995-1997
- Derby Cook Quinby & Tweedt LLP
- Associate, 1990-1995
Honors and Awards
Listed in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, 2021
- Co-author, "California COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Expires - Now What?" Duane Morris Alert, September 30, 2021
- Co-author, "Cal/OSHA Adopts New Workplace COVID-19 Standards, Providing Relief for Vaccinated Employees," Duane Morris Alert, June 18, 2021
- Co-author, "California Mandates Rehiring Laid-Off Employees for Certain Private Sector Employers," Duane Morris Alert, May 10, 2021
- Co-author, "Vaccine Guidance Arrives for California Employers," Duane Morris Alert, March 23, 2021
- Co-author, "New COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Law Retroactively Expands California Employer Obligations," Duane Morris Alert, March 23, 2021
- Co-author, "Above and Beyond the FMLA: California Expands Eligibility for Job-Protected Family and Medical Leave, and Now Includes Virtually All Employers," Employee Benefit Plan Review, February 2021
- Co-author, "California's New Extensive COVID-19 Safety and Health Regulations Include Employer-Required Testing," Duane Morris Alert, December 10, 2020
- Co-author, "California Issues Restrictive Regional Stay Home Order Tied to Hospital ICU Capacity," Duane Morris Alert, December 4, 2020
- Co-author, "New COVID-19 Reporting Obligations for California Employers Take Effect January 1, 2021," Duane Morris Alert, November 19, 2020
- Co-author, "Above and Beyond the FMLA: California Expands Eligibility for Job-Protected Family and Medical Leave, and Now Includes Virtually All Employers," Duane Morris Alert, October 23, 2020
- Co-author, "New Workers' Compensation Rules for COVID-19 in California," Duane Morris Alert, September 25, 2020
- Co-author, "California's Large Employers Are on the Hook for Supplemental Paid Sick Leave," Duane Morris Alert, September 17, 2020
Author, "Holiday parties: Microaggressions, Recreational Marijuana, and #MeToo," California Employment Law Letter, December 10, 2018
Co-author, "New California Employment Ordinances to Take Effect This Summer," Duane Morris Alert, June 29, 2018
Co-author, "Dynamex Case Sets Forth New California Standard for Answering the Question: Employee or Independent Contractor?" Duane Morris Alerts, May 15, 2018
Co-author, "Overtime and Bonuses: California Supreme Court Establishes Rule for Calculating Overtime with Wide-Ranging Impact," Duane Morris Alert, March 8, 2018
- Co-author, "A New Wave of California Employment Legislation for 2018," Duane Morris Alert, October 31, 2017
- Co-author, "New San Francisco Ordinance Would Ban Employer Inquiries into Salary History," Duane Morris Alert, July 17, 2017
- Co-author, "New Paid Leave Laws Taking Effect in San Francisco and Across California," Duane Morris Alert, May 11, 2016
- Co-author, "San Francisco Employers Beware: Retail Workers Bill of Rights Takes Effect July 3, 2015," Duane Morris Alert, June 10, 2015
- Author, "California Transparency in Supply Chains Act -- SB 657 Enforcement by California Attorney General," Duane Morris Alert, April 27, 2015
- Author, "New California Anti-Bullying Law Likely to Have Wide-Reaching Impact," Duane Morris Alert, December 4, 2014
- Co-author, "San Francisco Voters Approve Minimum Wage Increase to $15 Per Hour by 2018," Duane Morris Alert, November 7, 2014
- Update Author on employment issues for "Specific Special Needs Trust Administration Issues," chapter in Special Needs Trusts: Planning, Drafting, and Administration, Continuing Education of the Bar - California, 2013
- Author, "Employee Evaluations and Discipline," chapter in Drafting Employment Documents for California Employers, Continuing Education of the Bar - California, 2011 (A video clip is available in which Ms. Ocheltree discusses some of the issues covered in this chapter.)
- Co-author, "Ninth Circuit Applies California Law to Determine Independent-Contractor Status Despite Choice-of-Law Provision for Texas," Duane Morris Alert, July 27, 2010
- "Highlights of New San Francisco Sick Leave Ordinance: Impact Is National ," Duane Morris Alert, February 2, 2007
Selected Speaking Engagements
- Speaker, "Multi-State and Cross-Border Employment Policies and Handbooks: Drafting Best Practices," Multi-State and Global Labor and Employment Law 2021, National Business Institute, Webinar, September 20, 2021
Presenter, "Reopening in California and the Post-Pandemic Workplace: Recent Developments and Emerging Challenges in Employment and Immigration," Duane Morris LLP, Webinar, April 29, 2021
- Presenter, "Navigating Leaves Of Absence During the COVID-19 Era," presented to San Francisco Employer Advisory Council, January 7, 2021
- Speaker, "State Law Updates, Including COVID-19 Workplace Laws and Regulations," The New Reality of Workplace Law and Practice in the COVID-19 Era, Duane Morris LLP, Webinar, November 12, 2020
- Speaker, "Navigating Leave Issues During COVID-19," The New Reality of Workplace Law and Practice in the COVID-19 Era, Duane Morris LLP, Webinar, October 29, 2020
- Presenter, "Lessons for the Leap Year," Duane Morris LLP, San Francisco, February 29, 2020
- Speaker, "California Employment Law: Employment Law Fundamentals," National Business Institute, Oakland, California, December 4, 2019
Speaker, “2020 Vision: Legal Issues to Watch for in the Workplace,” Duane Morris Breakfast Briefing, San Francisco, November 8, 2019
Speaker, "Human Resource Law from A to Z," National Business Institute, Oakland, California, October 2, 2019
Speaker, "Pay Equity and Pay Discrimination" and "Words Matter: Handling Tricky Workplace Conversations," Duane Morris Developments in Workplace Law and Practice, "The Work Place - New Episodes in Your Favorite Programs," San Francisco, May 14, 2019
Speaker, "The New Dynamics Surrounding Dynamex," Bar Association of San Francisco's Yosemite Conference, February 9, 2019
Speaker, "New Laws for 2019 and Recent Developments in Employment, Benefits and Immigration," San Francisco, February 5, 2019
Speaker, "Forward Thinking: The Latest Developments in Employment and Immigration Law and Preparing Your Workplace for the Future," Duane Morris Breakfast Briefing, November 13, 2018
Speaker, “Working in Wonderland: When Alice and Friends Join Your Organization: New Developments in Employment, Labor, Benefits and Immigration Law,” San Francisco, May 16, 2018
Presenter, "Cannabis 104: Marijuana in the Workplace – What Employers Need to Know," The Duane Morris Cannabis Webinar Series, April 17, 2018 (video replay)
Presenter, "New Employment and Immigration Laws and Developments," Duane Morris Breakfast Briefing, San Francisco, February 15, 2018
- Speaker, "Surviving the Holiday Season: Workplace Holiday Parties and Planning for the New Year," Duane Morris Breakfast Briefing, San Francisco, November 9, 2017
- Speaker, "LGBT+ Awareness in the Workplace," National Association of Professional Women, Walnut Creek, June 13, 2017
- Speaker, "Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love (in the Workplace)," May 17 2017
- Speaker, "What to Expect in 2017 Under President Trump: Employment and Immigration Practice," San Francisco, January 26, 2017
- Speaker, "What's Percolating! Recent Employment Developments That Impact Every Business," San Francisco, November 9, 2016
- Speaker, "Holiday Party Law," National Business Institute Teleconference, September 21, 2016
- Speaker, Duane Morris' Developments in Workplace Law and Practice 2016, San Francisco, California, May 12, 2016
- Speaker, "New Employment and Immigration Laws For 2016 and Cases To Watch This Year," San Francisco, February 11, 2016
- Presenter, "The Rise of Retail Workers' Rights: California and Beyond," Professional Retail Stores Maintenance Association (PRSM), November 4, 2015
- Presenter, "Bullying in the Workplace: Awareness, Prevention and Response," National Association of Professional Women, October 13, 2015
- Speaker, Duane Morris' Developments in Workplace Law and Practice 2015, San Francisco, California, May 21, 2015
- Speaker, "Human Resource Law From Start to Finish," National Business Institute Seminar, San Francisco, May 6, 2015
- Speaker, "New 2015 Employment & Immigration Laws & Trends," Duane Morris Employment, Benefits and Immigration Practice Group, San Francisco, January 22, 2015
- Speaker, "Employment Update 2015; Looking Forward and Looking Back," Sierra Human Resource Association & North Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, Truckee, CA, January 15, 2015
- Speaker, "Other Employment Laws You Need to Know: Everything But the Kitchen Sink—WARN, OWBPA, FMLA, ADEA, ADA, Title VII, PDA, USERRA" and "The Three Ds of Dealing with Problem Employees: Discipline and Discharge—Necessary Documentation," National Business Institute's Human Resource Law From Start to Finish Conference, Oakland, November 5, 2014
- Speaker, "Horrible Headlines: Lessons from Employment and Immigration Law Controversies in the News This Year," Duane Morris Employment, Benefits and Immigration Practice Group, San Francisco, October 15, 2014
- Speaker, "2014 Developments in Workplace Law and Practice," Duane Morris Employment, Benefits and Immigration Practice Group, San Francisco, May 22, 2014
- Speaker, "Discrimination and Harassment," National Business Institute Conference on "Human Resource Law: What You Need to Know Now," San Francisco, May 14, 2014
- Speaker, "Berkeley Chamber of Commerce's New California Labor Laws Luncheon," Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, Berkeley, CA, March 5, 2014
- Speaker, "New 2014 Employment and Immigration Laws and the Most Talked About Litigation Trends," Duane Morris' Employment, Labor, Benefits and Immigration Practice Group Breakfast Briefing, January 15, 2013
- Speaker, "Horrible Headlines and Employment Lessons They Teach," Duane Morris Employment, Benefits and Immigration Practice Group, San Francisco, October 9, 2013
- Speaker, "Social Media Networking Sites and Employment-Related Decisions" and "Privacy and Other Workplace Issues," Sterling Education Services, 10th Annual Labor and Employment Law 2013, San Diego, April 16, 2013
- Speaker, "New Labor Law Luncheon," Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, March 6, 2013
- Speaker, "Navigating Employee Leaves of Absence," Duane Morris Employment, Benefits and Immigration Practice Group, San Francisco, October 17, 2012
- Speaker, "Internal Investigations: A Step-by-Step Approach," Duane Morris Employment, Benefits and Immigration Practice Group, San Francisco, July 18, 2012
- Speaker, "Sensitive Issues: Substance Abuse and Leaves of Absence" and "Internal Investigations: A Step by Step Approach," National Business Institute "Employment Laws Made Simple" Seminar, San Francisco, May 2, 2012
- "Social Media and Technology in the Workplace," Bay Area General Counsel Group, June 7, 2011
- "Social Media in the Workplace: OMG! TMI at Work," County Counsel Association of California, November 4, 2010
- Speaker, "Planning for the Future: Protecting Your Current Business," Duane Morris' Developments in Workplace Law & Practice 2010, San Francisco, May 18, 2010
- Speaker, "Weathering The Recession: Employment Dos and Don'ts In A Bad Economy," Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, Berkeley, California, Thursday, March 12, 2009
- "What's New in California: A Review of Employment Law Developments in 2006," Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, January 24, 2007
- Speaker, "What You Should Know Before You Hire and The Hiring Decision," advanced continuing education workshop sponsored by Sterling Education Services, San Diego, California, January 17, 2007
- "The Perfect Storm: Navigating Health Related Leaves of Absence Laws," Conference on Labor and Employment Law, San Francisco, September 29-30, 2005