John R. Richards

John R. Richards

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John R. Richards manages global retail relationships and defends employers in class and collective actions arising under the FLSA and related state wage and hour laws; single-plaintiff and/or class claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and/or constructive discharge brought in state and federal courts and administrative agencies; and individual actions arising under the FMLA.

To mitigate litigation risk, Mr. Richards counsels employers of all sizes in the design and implementation of employment policies, practices, proactive audits, and workplace training. Mr. Richards regularly provides advice to employers in many industries facing sexual and other harassment or discrimination complaints, reduction-in-force, wage and hour issues including FLSA misclassification, LGBT+ workplace concerns, and the interplay among the ADA, FMLA, and paid-leave laws. Mr. Richards also routinely trains on these topics to employer audiences ranging from highest level officers and boards of directors to entry level rank and file, and he conducts internal investigations, including in response to high-level sexual harassment complaints.

His trial experience includes serving on the trial team in two key retiree medical cases including Brubaker v. Deere (defense verdict in ERISA retiree medical benefits class action trial) and Tackett v. M&G Polymers LLC (cert. granted, May 5, 2014, Case No. 13-1010, involving ERISA and LMRA Section 301 claims for retiree health insurance).

Concentrations

  • Wage and hour litigation and compliance
  • Single plaintiff employment litigation
  • Employment counseling and management training
  • Employment audits and risk mitigation
  • LGBTQ-related counseling and litigation
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Capabilities

Experience

  • Seven-day bench trial in retiree medical class action; judgment in favor of defendant as to one subclass of retirees; judgment against defendant as to other subclasses pending SCOTUS decision.°
  •  Two-week bench trial in retiree medical class action; judgment in favor of defendants on all counts.°
  • Two-day preliminary injunction hearing before U.S. District Court judge; plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction denied.°
  • Ongoing defense of California and nationwide class and collective actions on behalf of global retailer family of companies including:
    • Ongoing defense in California class and nationwide collective action seeking unpaid wages under California law and the FLSA premised on the core contention that employees were not properly compensated for pre-shift activities involving determining whether the employee should report for work or for finding shift replacements.
    • Ongoing defense in putative California class action alleging claims for unpaid reporting time pay, failure to pay wages at termination, failure to issue compliant wage statements, and violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law.
    • Took over as counsel in nationwide (excluding California) FLSA putative collective action of 176,000 non-exempt store associates alleging minimum wage violations stemming from unreimbursed business expenses for uniforms, as well as derivative state law claims under Massachusetts, New York, and Florida law.
    • Took over as counsel post-class certification of 66,000 class members—all non-exempt, store associates in California—asserting unreimbursed business expenses for “uniforms,” forced patronage, and a series of derivative claims under the California Labor Code, California’s Unfair Competition Law, and PAGA.
  • Trimmed putative class and nationwide collective action alleging failure properly compensate for off-the-clock work, in violation of FLSA and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law, to only the branch in which the named Plaintiff worked. 
  • Took over as counsel in putative California class action alleging failure properly compensate for off-the-clock work, meal and rest break violations, failure to pay wages at termination, and failure to issue compliant wage statements and maintain accurate records under California law; as well as individual state law claim for race discrimination and harassment.
  • Ongoing defense of putative collective action alleging failure to pay overtime to call center representatives under the FLSA.
  • Obtained favorable settlement of putative class and collective action claims under the FLSA and Ohio law alleging that loan officers were misclassified as exempt from overtime and were subject to unlawful deductions from their wages.°
  • Obtained favorable settlement of putative class and collective action claims under the FLSA and Ohio law alleging that loan officers were misclassified as exempt from overtime.°
  • Obtained favorable settlement of putative class and collective action claims under the FLSA and Illinois law alleging that loan officers were misclassified as exempt from overtime.°
  • Obtained favorable settlement of individual FLSA claim and putative class action claims under Indiana law alleging that loan officers were misclassified as exempt from overtime.°
  • Obtained favorable settlement of Fortune 50 company in nationwide and state class action alleging violations of Title VII and Equal Pay Act for past denial of same-sex spousal benefits.
  • Obtained favorable settlement of individual claim alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation and age for for-profit corporation that provides quality control and research for interest group.
  • Obtained favorable settlement of individual claim alleging racial discrimination and retaliation.
  • Obtained favorable settlement of individual claim alleging age discrimination under the ADEA and Ohio law.
  • Obtained favorable settlement of individual claim alleging retaliation under the Florida Whistleblower Act.
  • Obtained favorable settlement of individual claim alleging discrimination, failure to accommodate, and retaliation under the ADA.
  • Secured dismissal in 2015 Title VII action alleging harassment, discrimination, and retaliation based on race and state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress against law firm.
  • Obtained favorable settlement of individual claim alleging FMLA interference and retaliation.
  • Obtained favorable settlement of alleged violation of Colorado’s Nursing Mother Act and separate EEOC charge for sex discrimination, retaliation, and constructive discharge.
  • Secured voluntarily dismissal of individual claim under the FLSA and California law brought by loan officer alleging unpaid overtime and unfair competition.°
  • Defended whistleblower action alleging retaliation in violation of the anti-retaliation provision of SOX).°
  • Secured Special Immigrant Juvenile Status on behalf of minor from Honduras; defeated motion to dismiss filed by state; obtained judgment from court ordering the State of Illinois to prosecute dependency petition.°
  • Obtained favorable settlement in ERISA class action alleging that fiduciaries failed to warn plan participants of risk that credit crisis posed for First Horizon stock; such risk made it imprudent for fiduciaries to continue to offer First Horizon stock as an investment option; and fiduciaries imprudently offered proprietary funds as investment offerings made under 401(k) plan solely because of their fees.°
  • Post-trial decision in ERISA class action rejecting plaintiffs’ challenge to changes to Deere's retiree medical benefits program and effort to require Deere to reinstitute benefit plans that were in force through 2007; rejecting contract and breach of fiduciary duty claims, court relied on reservation of rights language in plan documents and summary plan descriptions, credited Deere witnesses and discredited testimony of plaintiffs that they were allegedly promised lifetime benefits by former members of management). Decision denying plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction. 2008 WL 5751964 (Dec. 8, 2008).°
  • ERISA and LMRA Section 301 purported class action alleging violations of ERISA and breach of collective bargaining agreement in connection with retiree health insurance benefits.°
  • Obtained favorable settlement of ERISA class action alleging that defendants breached their ERISA fiduciary duties by continuing to offer company stock as a retirement savings investment option when it was no longer prudent to do so because defendants knew of adverse business conditions causing massive delays in processing claims from a new business initiative.°
  • Designed and conducted respectful workforce training, LGBT+ awareness and risk mitigation training, wage and hour training, workplace investigation training, and other programs for upper- and mid-level management for employers ranging from global retailers and financial institutions to numerous small employers operating at a single site.
  • Acted as counsel to many employers, including global retail providers, to investigate and resolve claimed harassment of employees by high-level executives, supervisors, coworkers, residents, clients, and customers.
  • Conducted sexual and racial harassment investigations, prepared or counseled employers on the preparation of investigation reports, and counseled on both specific and systemic measures to minimize the risk of lawsuits or liability.
  • Worked closely with employers to design and implement improved, preventive human resources systems, including development of new employee-facing policies and HR/supervisor manuals, development and redevelopment of job descriptions, performance review systems, and disciplinary procedures and training of managers on all of the above; substantially diminishing cycles of administrative charges and/or employment litigation against these clients.
  • Provided Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) classification status and job description recommendations to a health insurance company in the United States for approximately 1, 500 employees in 268 job positions in 55 locations.
  • Provided FLSA classification status and job description recommendations, and analyzed timekeeping practices to a nationwide residential and commercial carpet cleaner for approximately 300 employees in 20 job positions nationwide.
  • Provided FLSA classification status and job description recommendations to a nationwide retailer for approximately 150 employees in 12 job positions nationwide.
  • Provided FLSA classification status and job description recommendations to a nationwide shoe manufacturer and retailer for 130 positions nationwide.
  • Provided FLSA classification status and job description recommendations to an international independent media company for all key exempt positions.

°The above representations were handled by Mr. Richards prior to his joining Greenberg Traurig, LLP.

  • Equality Advocates Pennsylvania, 2005-2006
  • The White House, Office of Political Affairs, Summer 2002
  • Ohio Attorney General's Office
    • Capital Crimes, Summer 2001
    • Policy/Constituent Services, Summer 2000

Recognition & Leadership

  • Listed, Super Lawyers magazine, Georgia Super Lawyers, "Rising Star," 2017-2018
  • Listed, The Legal 500 United States
    • Labor and Employment: Labor and Employment Disputes: Defense, 2016 and 2018
    • Labor and Employment: Workplace and Employment Counseling, 2016 and 2018
  • Team Member, The American Lawyer’s “Regional Litigation Department of the Year - Georgia,” 2018
  • Listed, ABA "On the Rise: Top 40 Young Lawyers," 2017
  • Team Member, The Daily Report’s "Georgia Labor & Employment Litigation Department of the Year," 2017
  • Listed, Super Lawyers magazine, Washington D.C. Super Lawyers, "Rising Stars," 2013-2016
  • Listed, "40 Under 40," Atlanta Business Chronicle, 2016
  • Team Member, The National Law Journal, "Litigation Department of the Year," Labor and Employment, 2014
  • Listed, Super Lawyers magazine, Illinois Super Lawyers, "Rising Star," 2009-2012
  • Listed, "40 Best LGBT Attorneys Under 40," National LGBT Bar Association, 2010
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, Out In Law Leadership Council, 2015-Present
  • Board Member, Lambda Legal, 2012-Present
    • Member, National Leadership Council, 2009-2012
  • National Council Member, Out Leadership, 2014-Present
  • Member, National LGBT Bar Association, 2010-Present

Credentials

Education
  • J.D., cum laude, University of Pennsylvania Law School, 2006
  • B.S., summa cum laude, Vanderbilt University, 2003
Clerkships
  • Hon. Gregory L. Frost, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, 2006-2007
Admissions
  • Georgia
  • District of Columbia
  • Illinois
  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan