Debra Ellwood Meppen

Partner

  • Office Contact Info
  • Biography

    Debra Ellwood Meppen is a litigation partner and the Chair of the Firm's National Labor and Employment Law Practice Group. She also heads the Firm's Women’s Initiative, the Firm’s women’s organization developed to support and encourage female attorneys on leadership and professional growth.

    Ms. Meppen represents employers and management in all aspects of Federal and California employment matters. She has an active employment litigation and counseling practice defending both private and public entities against claims of discrimination, retaliation, FMLA, wrongful termination, defamation and harassment claims.  In addition, Ms. Meppen has handled, and is currently handling, large scale class action litigation throughout California and nationwide.  Her client list encompasses numerous industries including Hospitality, Retail, Pharmaceutical, Medical, and Entertainment. 

    Ms. Meppen has successfully handled all types of employment cases in both state and federal courts, as well as in administrative settings before the DFEH, EEOC, DLSE, and OSHA. She has tried numerous cases to successful verdict.

    She regularly counsels employers on hiring practices, terminations, workplace investigations, reductions in work force issues, and litigation avoidance practices. Her counseling work further includes the negotiation of separation and executive employment agreements, and drafting industry-specific employment handbooks, policies, and procedures. Ms. Meppen is routinely called upon to speak on topics such as recent developments in employment law, cutting edge settlement techniques, and women's issues. She also conducts leadership training and sexual harassment prevention training.

    Ms. Meppen is also actively involved with the Firm's Diversity Committee and chairs the Firm’s National Legal Education Conference Planning team.

    Admissions

    California
    U.S. District Courts, California (Central, Eastern, Southern, and Northern District)
    Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

    Memberships

    Los Angeles County Bar Association
    Women Lawyers of Los Angeles Association, Legislation Committee
    California Women's Lawyers Association
    National Women's Political Caucus
    Defense Research Institute
    Society for Human Resource Management
    National Association of Professional Women

    Community Involvement

    Los Angeles Superior Court, Settlement Officer
    Operation Mend, UCLA (2010-present)
    Valley Beth Shalom Day School Board of Trustees, Legal Vice President (2009-2013)
    Bet Tzedek’s Justice Ball, Fund Raising Committee
    Imagine LA, Volunteer
    L.A. Family Housing, Volunteer

  • Practice Areas
  • Representative Experience
    • Obtained a full dismissal of a wage-and-hour class action filed against one of the largest providers of security services in the Los Angeles area.  The successful strategy involved meeting with witnesses and engaging in a comprehensive investigation early in the litigation to obtain evidence disputing the wage-and-hour claims.  The weaknesses of the case were presented to plaintiffs' counsel with a strong recommendation for dismissal of the claims.
    • Defense verdict for a global container company after a five-day trial in Los Angeles Superior Court in an action alleging sexual harassment, disability discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination and battery. The jury deliberated less than 2 hours.
    • Defense verdict for one of the world's largest providers of athletic footwear and apparel in a Division of Labor Standards Enforcement trial before the Labor Commissioner. The claimant brought a wage and hour claim alleging he was entitled to vacation pay and waiting time penalties. 
    • Negotiated a complete dismissal of a federal class action filed in U.S. District Court against one of the top 10 U.S. security companies alleging claims of overtime, wages, meal and rest breaks, and unfair competition.
    • Negotiated the complete dismissal of three separate actions filed in Los Angeles Superior Court against one of the world’s largest providers of athletic footwear and apparel: (1) a wage and hour class action, (2) an action alleging pregnancy discrimination, and (3) an action alleging sexual harassment, discrimination and wrongful termination.
    • Representing a broad range of professional industries including the hospitality, medical and dental, garment, banking and financial services, real estate, printing, and security industries.
    • Represented clients in product liability and pharmaceutical, multi-district litigation.
    • Represented clients in state and federal courts as well as administrative and binding arbitration proceedings.
    • Handled numerous civil appeals before the California Court of Appeal and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

       

  • Publications & Presentations

    Published Court of Appeals Opinions

    • Newlife Science, LLC. v. Weinstock (2011) 197 Cal. App. 4th 676 (2011)
    • Northland Insurance Company v. Daniel Briones Jr. 81 Cal. App 4th 796 (2000)

    Speaking Engagements

    • California Hot Button Issues and New Developments in Employment Litigation, GRSM Legal Education Conference, Los Angeles (June 2019)
    • Nationwide Survey of Hot Button Issues and New Developments in Employment Litigation, GRSM Legal Education Conference, New York (May 2019)
    • Nationwide Survey of Hot Button Issues and New Developments in Employment Litigation, GRSM Legal Education Conference, Hartford, CT (May 2019)
    • Perspective on Progressive Employment Policies, Association For Women in Architecture + Design (January 2019)
    • Recent Developments in CA Employment Laws as a Result of #Me Too Movement, Nationwide, NY (November 2018)
    • Sexual Harassment Claims and the #Me Too Movement, Allied World, Farmington, CT (October 2018)
    • Law vs. Ethics, 21st Century Ethical Challenges, Allied World, Farmington, CT (October 2018)
    • Navigating Sexual Harassment Claims in the Aftermath of Weinstein, Gordon & Rees Legal Education Conference, Los Angeles (June 2018)
    • Hot Button Issues and New Developments in Employment Litigation, Gordon & Rees Legal Education Conference, New York (May 2018)
    • Hot Button Issues and New Developments in Employment Litigation, Gordon & Rees Legal Education Conference, Hartford (May 2018)
    • Healthcare D&O/EPL, panelist, 2018 PLUS Healthcare & Medical PL Symposium, Chicago (March 2018) 
    • Five Employment Topics You Can’t Afford to Miss, Gordon & Rees Legal Education Conference, Los Angeles (June 2017)
    • Five Employment Topics You Can’t Afford to Miss, Gordon & Rees Legal Education Conference, Connecticut (May 2017)
    • Five Employment Topics You Can’t Afford to Miss, Gordon & Rees Legal Education Conference, New York (May 2017)
    • Key Wage and Hour Issues Addressed for CA Employers, Webinar (November 2016)
    • G & R Watch List of Employment Litigation Trends, Gordon & Rees Employment Education Conference, Los Angeles (June 2016)
    • Cutting Edge Settlement Strategies—The Five Steps of Mediation, Gordon & Rees Legal Education Conference, New York (May 2016)
    • Don’t Become A Statistic: Top Ten Rules for Avoiding Workplace Pitfalls and Employment Lawsuits, Gordon & Rees Legal Conference, New York (December 2015)
    • Employment Trends and Hot Button Issues, AIG Claims Advisory Board Meeting (November 2015)
    • "Lean In" and its Progeny - Does it Define Us?, San Francisco, CA (May 2014)
    • Applicability of "Lean In" to Women in the Legal profession, Napa, CA (September 2013)
    • Three Guerilla Settlement Tactics for High Value Employment Cases, New York (June 2012)
    • Current Trends, Issues, and Significant Developments in Employment Litigation, Hartford, CT (May 2012)
    • Current Trends, Issues, and Significant Development in Employment Law, Beazley Insurance, Farmington, CT (May 2012)
    • Best Practices in Employment Litigation Avoidance, Los Angeles, CA (February 2012)
    • Current Trends and Recent Developments in Employment Litigation, Chartis Insurance, Los Angeles, CA (January 2012)
    • Recent Trends in Employment Litigation, Farmington, CT (May 2011)
    • Trends/Hot Button Issues in Employment Litigation, Los Angeles, CA (April 2011)
    • Fraternization in the Workplace-A Definite "No-No", Los Angeles, CA (November 2009)

    Publications

  • Education

    Education

    J.D., Southwestern University School of Law, Los Angeles

    B.A., Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara

    Honors

    California Top Labor and Employment Lawyer, Daily Journal (July 2014)

    Top Rated Lawyer-AV® Preeminent™,
    Martindale-Hubbell

    San Diego Top Lawyers, San Diego Magazine, 2013

    Rising Star® distinction in the fields Civil Litigation Defense, Employment Litigation-Defense, and Employment & Labor (2007 - 2009)

    Judicial Internship

    State Senator Gary K. Hart