Todd D. Wozniak

Todd D. Wozniak

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Todd D. Wozniak is a trial lawyer who defends companies and public institutions throughout the United States in labor and employment, ERISA, and business disputes. He is co-chair of the firm’s National Labor & Employment Practice’s ERISA Litigation team and is experienced in ERISA and employee benefits litigation. He is also experienced in wage and hour litigation, state and federal whistleblower statutes, non-discrimination laws, plant closing and mass layoff laws, collective bargaining and traditional labor relations, executive contracts and compensation, non-compete and trade secrets litigation, and partnership/business disputes. During his career, Todd has defended more than a dozen class or collective actions and tried more than 40 cases or arbitrations to verdict.

Todd is a frequent lecturer and writer on a wide range of employment and business related issues, including protecting trade secrets, implementing reductions-in-force, pre-dispute arbitration agreements and programs, class action defense, ERISA compliance and preemption, eDiscovery, and wage and hour compliance.

Concentrations

  • Trial lawyer
  • Class and collective actions
  • Labor and employment
    • Discrimination, harassment and retaliation cases
    • Sarbanes-Oxley and whistleblower cases
    • Executive employment agreements and compensation
    • FLSA and state law wage and hour cases
    • WARN compliance and litigation
    • OSHA compliance and workplace injury litigation
    • OFCCP compliance
    • Traditional labor law, including union campaigns and arbitrations
  • ERISA litigation
  • Non-compete, trade secrets and intellectual property litigation
  • Constitutional law
  • Partnership and business disputes
  • Labor and employment aspects of corporate/bankruptcy transactions
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Capabilities

Experience

  • Defending a national, for-profit operator of massage therapy schools in a nationwide class and collective action alleging that students providing massage therapy services in a clinic environment and while training to become licensed massage therapists are employees entitled to minimum wage and overtime under the FLSA and various state laws.Plaintiffs estimated the backpay liability alone exceeded $10 million.After convincing the court to bifurcate discovery and address the student-employee merits issue first, the court ruled that plaintiffs were not employees and were not entitled to minimum wage or overtime before ever addressing the pending motion for conditional class certification.
  • Defended investment bank in a nationwide collective action alleging the bank misclassified hundreds of administrative employees and failed to pay them overtime.Plaintiffs estimated damages in excess of $5 million.After we defeated the class certification motion, the case settled on an individual basis.
  • Defended a national home healthcare company against claims that it misclassified hundreds of its nurses, therapists, and other service providers.After we successfully excluded many of the employee groups from the class definition, the case settled on an individual basis.
  • Defended publishing company and its CEO in a collective action brought on behalf of all hourly employees alleging that the company manipulated its employees’ workweeks and reported hours to reduce overtime pay.
  • Defended national building supply company in a nationwide collective action alleging the company routinely allowed off-the-clock work by nonexempt employees.
  • Defended multistate services company in a collective action alleging off-the-clock work.
  • Defended a relocation company and its founder against a collective action alleging the company misclassified as exempt from overtime its relocation specialists. The case alleged a multi-state collective action.
  • Defended national operator of parking decks against New York state and federal overtime claims alleging that the company failed to properly pay overtime to its New York employees.
  • Defended national restaurant chain against claims that it misclassified as exempt from overtime thousands of store managers and assistant store managers throughout the United States. The case involved both state and federal overtime claims.
  • Defended multi-state transportation company against a collective action alleging that the company misclassified as exempt from overtime hundreds of bus and van drivers.
  • Defended home-health services group with respect to a Department of Labor investigation into its wage and hour practices.
  • Defended dozens of other individual and multi-plaintiff cases alleging minimum wage, overtime or meal period violations. Some of these claims involved unique issues under the FLSA's airline industry or transportation worker exemptions.
  • Representing a directed trustee against claims that the directed trustee breached various ERISA fiduciary duties.The claims arise out of a case in which a group of employees of a government contractor for the U.S. Postal Service allege that their employer and the named plan fiduciaries did not deposit employee contributions into their 401(k) plan.  In addition to suing the employer and the named plan fiduciaries, plaintiffs also sued the directed trustee for allegedly not ensuring the contributions were timely made to the plan.
  • Almont Ambulatory Surgery Center, et al. v. Unitedhealth Group Inc., et al., Central District of California. We are representing multiple GT clients, including GlaxoSmithKline and Devry University, as well as their medical benefits plans, against ERISA breach of fiduciary duty, ERISA benefits, and California unfair competition claims arising out of the plans’ denial or partial denial of claims for services provided by out-of-network medical providers. Plaintiffs allege in this mass action filed against more than 400 defendants that the plan fiduciaries breached their fiduciary duties by outsourcing claims administration to United Healthcare (UHC) and by failing to properly monitor UHC. Plaintiffs allege that UHC denied claims in violation of the Plan terms, discriminated against certain medical conditions and disabilities, and engaged in other ERISA violations about which the plan administrators and plans should have known and corrected. We prevailed on or motions to dismiss and the case is now pending on appeal.
  • Bay Area Surgical Group, Inc., et al. v. Aetna Life Insurance Company, et al., Northern District of California. Representing multiple clients, including Xilinx, VmWare, and GlaxoSmithKline, as well as their medical benefits plans, in this mass action alleging ERISA breach of fiduciary duty, ERISA benefits, and various state law claims. Plaintiffs allege that the plans’ claims administrator, Aetna, systematically under-reimbursed participants and providers for out of network services by using falsified data to calculate “usual and customer rates” (UCR) for such services. Plaintiffs allege that the plan administrators and plans knew or should have known Aetna was intentionally underpaying out of network claims and failed to correct Aetna’s fiduciary breaches. All claims have been dismissed with prejudice without our clients paying anything.
  • Dual Diagnosis, Inc., et al. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of California, et al., Central District of California. Representing multiple clients, including C.R. Bard and Bayhealth Medical Centers, as well as their group welfare plans, in this mass action alleging ERISA breach of fiduciary duty, ERISA benefits, and state law claims. Plaintiffs allege that the plans’ claims administrators, all Blue Cross entities, improperly refused to honor valid patient claims assignments in violation of alleged plan terms and ERISA. Plaintiffs allege that the plan administrators and plans knew or should have known that the claims administrators were improperly refusing to honor valid assignments and therefore paying the wrong party.  The court granted our first motion to dismiss but has given plaintiffs leave to amend the complaint.    
  • Representing the defendants in a class action lawsuit filed by a former participant in the company's employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) on behalf of a putative class of all ESOP participants. The plaintiff alleges that the stock of the company, which was owned by the ESOP, was sold in an ERISA “prohibited transaction” for far less than fair market value. We have successfully limited the time period of the claims and have obtained dismissal of all claims against a couple of the defendants. (The case is pending in the District of New Jersey, discovery has been completed and, if the case does not settle, class certification and summary judgment issues will be briefed.Plaintiff allege damages in excess of $6 million.
  • James Bacon, et al. v. Stiefel Laboratories, Inc., et al. (n/k/a Timothy Finnerty. al v. Stiefel Laboratories, Inc., et. al)., Southern District of Florida. We represented Stiefel Laboratories, Inc., which was acquired by GlaxoSmithKline, as well as the Stiefel Board of Directors and several Stiefel officers, against claims that they breached their fiduciary duties under ERISA, breached corporate fiduciary duties, and engaged in federal and state securities fraud. The allegations are centered on stock valuations performed regarding the Employee Stock Bonus Plan, and whether information regarding GSK’s purchase of Stiefel should have been disclosed sooner to plan participants. Plaintiffs alleged damages on behalf of the class in excess of $250 million. After we defeated the motion for class certification, we obtained summary judgment on the claims asserted by all named plaintiffs except Timothy Finnerty, who elected to dismiss with prejudice his ERISA claims and proceed to trial on his federal securities claims only. The case was tried to a jury over a two week period and the jury returned a verdict for Finnerty, which was later affirmed on appeal.  The verdict was for a very small fraction of the original amount at stake.
  • Wagner, et al. v. Stiefel Labs., Inc., et al., Northern District of Georgia. We represented Stiefel Laboratories and several of its former officers and directors in an ERISA derivative action brought on behalf of the Company’s Employee Stock Bonus Plan and hundreds of the Plan’s participants. Plaintiffs sought damages in excess of $250 million. Plaintiffs filed the action alleging multiple violations of ERISA on September 14, 2012. Plaintiffs claimed that defendants caused the Company stock held by the Plan to be undervalued and allowed participants to sell their Stiefel stock to the Company at a fraction of the actual fair market value of the stock, which allowed defendants to reap a higher portion of the proceeds of a $3.6 billion sale of the Company to GlaxoSmithKline. Plaintiffs further alleged that defendants should have disclosed to Plan participants the potential sale to GlaxoSmithKline prior to participants deciding to sell their stock and the process by which the stock sales occurred constituted a “prohibited transaction” under ERISA. We were able to convince the district court that plaintiffs could not represent the plan and absent plan participants, and could only proceed on their individual claims. We were also able to prevail on summary judgment on four of the five named plaintiffs’ claims. The last plaintiff’s alleged damages were less than $250,000 and he settled his remaining claims.
  • Richard I. Fried v. Stiefel Laboratories Inc., et al., Southern District of Florida. Stiefel Labs’ former Chief Financial Officer, Richard Fried, sued the Company and several of its officers and directors alleging securities fraud and breach of ERISA fiduciary duties related to Fried’s March 2008 and January 2009 sales of shares of Stiefel Labs common stock back to the Company. After obtaining a directed verdict on the claims related to the March 2008 transaction, we obtained a complete jury verdict in our clients’ favor on the claims related to the January 2009 transaction. The district court denied Fried’s motion for a new trial and the verdict was affirmed by the Eleventh Circuit.
  • Fiduciaries of the Premier Hospice 401(k) Profit Sharing Plan v. Jeff Smith, et al., District of Kansas.  We represented the primary defendant in this very contentious lawsuit filed in the District of Kansas, as well as in a related Department of Labor investigation. Our client was the former owner and CEO of Premier Hospice. He established the Premier Hospice 401(k) Profit Sharing Plan in 2004 and served as the Plan’s initial Trustee. He later sold the business, repurchased it, and sold it a second time. After the second sale, the newly installed Trustees of the Plan brought more than a dozen claims against our client accusing him of stealing Plan money, breaching various ERISA fiduciary duties, engaging in a prohibited transaction with the Plan, failing to advise participants of their rights under the Plan, and other alleged misconduct. The Department of Labor also initiated an investigation of the Plan’s administration by our client. We were able to get the worst of the allegations against our client dismissed. The plaintiffs asked for reconsideration and the district court denied that request.
  • In re United States Sugar Corporation ESOP Litigation, Southern District of Florida. Representation of most of the Board of Directors of a major sugar corporation and certain other defendants in four putative ERISA and shareholder class actions filed in the Southern District of Florida. We were able to obtain summary judgment on all but one of the claims and the cases ultimately settled on very favorable terms for our clients.
  • Defended national airline against an ERISA class action alleging a multitude of benefits and breach of fiduciary duty claims arising out of the company's administration of its medical benefits plan and the plan's reimbursement of out-of-network medical expenses. The defense involved some unique Railway Labor Act preclusion arguments.
  • Advised and defended multistate retailer in an ERISA stock drop case.
  • Advised national airline in its defense of an ERISA stock drop case. The claims were ultimately dismissed on Railway Labor Act preclusion grounds.
  • Advised national airline regarding its institution of a class action declaratory judgment lawsuit seeking a declaration that the terms of a benefit plan the airline negotiated with its pilots union complied with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and ERISA.
  • Represented Fortune 100 company in its negotiations with several states regarding the preemptive effect ERISA had on the states’ family and medical leave laws as applied to the company’s ERISA-qualified sick leave plan.
  • Defended utility company in a DOL investigation related to its purchase of an ESOP-owned corporation.
  • Represented numerous clients involved in Department of Labor investigations or benefits litigation.
  • Resolved race discrimination and harassment class action brought against a national airline after the case had been settled on a class-wide basis by another law firm. The settlement agreement required all class members who did not opt-out of the settlement to arbitrate their claims within a six-month period. Acted as lead coordination counsel for all arbitration cases and acted as lead trial counsel for more than fifteen of the cases. All cases were timely arbitrated with complete defense awards being obtained in all but three cases.
  • Defended national department store against a nationwide class action alleging race discrimination in the company's pay, evaluation and promotion practices. Obtained a dismissal of all class claims and the plaintiff’s individual claim was settled on favorable terms on the eve of trial.
  • Defended U.S. airline against a nationwide class action alleging race discrimination in all of the airlines' employment practices and a racially hostile work environment.
  • Defended national transportation company against claims that its layoff criteria had a disparate impact on African Americans.
  • Defended national fast food restaurant company in three separate race discrimination class action cases alleging the Company had a policy and practice of matching the demographics of employees hired at a store to the demographics of the community in which the store was situated.Won summary judgment in two of the three cases.The third case settled after being significantly narrowed.
  • Defended dozens of single and multi-plaintiff cases alleging race, sex, age, and disability discrimination or harassment, as well as retaliation.Tried a couple of the cases to juries and or to courts in bench trials, with complete defense verdicts in each.
  • Represented Southeastern Mechanical Services, Inc. (SMS) in a case involving theft of trade secrets and unfair competition brought by SMS against a direct competitor, as well as three former SMS employees who had joined the competitor. SMS alleged that the defendants stole SMS’s trade secrets, violated the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and committed other unlawful acts under Florida law. SMS obtained a TRO and preliminary injunction against all defendants. The injunction ordered Defendants to return all SMS property within 24 hours and enjoined the Defendants from using SMS’s trade secrets or calling on SMS’s customers. It was the first time this judge had recommended preliminary injunctive relief in her more than 20 years as a jurist. Pursuing an aggressive discovery strategy, established that the three former employees had stolen SMS’s computerized trade secrets and used them to expand the competitor’s business into the Florida market, where SMS was located. Discovered that the former employees had secretly funneled customers and corporate opportunities to the competitor while still employed by SMS. The employees and others had also secretly wiped various computers and PDAs in an effort to hide their wrongdoing. Moved for sanctions due to spoliation of evidence, and the court ordered that an adverse inference jury instruction would be given. Immediately prior to trial, the matter settled on favorable financial terms, as well as the defendants’ agreement to extend both the time and scope of the already-sweeping preliminary injunctive relief. All the individual defendants, as well as the CEO, COO, and a division president of the competitor, were terminated during or as a result of this litigation.
  • Represented a sizeable dental practice in retrieving a customer list stolen by a form dentist-employee and used to set up a competing practice.After we successfully obtained a preliminary injunction against the former dentist-employee and all of his employees, we obtained evidence that the defendants spoliated evidence and likely perjured themselves.While our motion for sanctions and contempt was pending, defendants offered to settle the case by agreeing to a permanent injunction and the payment of a significant sum of money.
  • Obtained two-year permanent injunction barring a former vice president of sales from competing against national paper manufacturer. The injunction required the former employee to terminate his then-current employment with a competitor. Brought claims of tortious interference with contract and misappropriation of trade secrets against the competitor and obtained a favorable, confidential settlement.
  • Defeated efforts by a wholesale insurance brokerage firm to enforce noncompete, nondisclosure, and customer nonsolicitation agreements against a team of brokers defecting to a competitor.After defeating plaintiff’s effort to obtain preliminary injunctive relief, and the dismissal of several claims, the case settled on very favorable terms.
  • Defeated an effort by an insurance brokerage firm to prevent one of its shareholders and officers from going to work for a competitor.After we obtained a preliminary injunction ruling that the restrictive covenant agreements were likely unenforceable under Georgia law, the plaintiff filed suit in Texas seeking to enforce the covenants under Texas law.We convinced the Georgia court to enjoin the plaintiff from pursuing the Texas case, enter a nationwide injunction against enforcing the restrictive covenants, and award the former shareholder/officer more than $500,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees.
  • Defended health care entrepreneur and two of his companies against a number of tort, breach of contract and breach of non-compete agreement claims brought by the purchaser of the entrepreneur's medical device business. After obtaining a dismissal of several claims, and winning some critical discovery motions, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed all remaining claims. The court ordered the plaintiff to pay more than $150,000 in fees and expenses to client.
  • Tried case involving claims for breach of contract, unfair competition, employee pirating, misappropriation of trade secrets and quantum meruit. After a week-long trial, a favorable judgment was entered in favor of client.
  • Defeated motions for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in a case which sought to prevent an employee from working for one of our medical device clients. The case settled on favorable terms after the court denied the plaintiff's motions and we sought to dismiss several of the plaintiff's claims.
  • Represented corporate client against a number of claims brought by one of its vendors, including alleged breach of contract for nonpayment of fees and misappropriation of trade secrets.
  • Tried breach of employment contract case brought against a senior executive of a corporate client. The executive's former employer alleged that he owed it in excess of $200,000 at the time he resigned. Defended the case and asserted counterclaims for breach of contract and constructive discharge. After a multi-day arbitration, an award was entered in favor of the executive on all claims and he was awarded more than $400,000 on his counterclaims.
  • Litigated a multitude of cases arising out of partnership agreements and stock/asset purchase agreements, including claims for alleged breach of representations and warranties, alleged violations of Non-Compete agreements, and disputes over whether a material adverse change had occurred.
  • Defended Emory University in a contentious dispute with an expelled medical student. After lengthy discovery, and repeated attempts by the student to publicly paint himself as a wronged whistleblower, the court granted summary judgment on all claims and found that the student was properly expelled for misconduct. The opinion was affirmed by the Georgia Court of Appeals.
  • Defended Emory University against a multitude of claims brought by a former professor, including breach of contract, retaliation, defamation, fraud and various whistleblower allegations. Asserted a number of claims against the former professor on behalf of the University. We obtained two contempt orders and a sanctions order against the former professor and have obtained a sanctions award in excess of $1.3 million for the University.
  • Represented the City of Columbus, Georgia in the appeal of multimillion-dollar jury verdict against the City. The plaintiffs had prevailed on a number of First Amendment, Due Process and Equal Protection claims alleging that their terminations were in retaliation for their First Amendment speech and based on their race. The verdict was reversed by the Eleventh Circuit and the plaintiffs later settled for a small percentage of the original verdict.
  • Defended national employer against claims asserted by the EEOC that certain confidentiality and release language contained in its standard separation agreement was retaliatory.
  • Represented New Process Steel, L.P., the appellant, in a case before the United States Supreme Court challenging an unfair labor practices finding by the National Labor Relations Board. The case involved a labor dispute in which the union wanted to cut employees' pay, vacation and benefits in order to obtain a new contract with client. After the employees rejected the contract and declined to strike, the union filed an unfair labor practices claim with the NLRB alleging that New Process Steel failed to honor its collective bargaining agreement. Client disagreed and opposed the union. Sought review in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeal challenging the merits of the NLRB's findings and argued that the Board lacked authority to issue the decision because two members did not constitute a quorum. The Seventh Circuit ruled in the NLRB's favor; filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court granted certiorari and subsequently reversed the Seventh Circuit's decision by holding that the NLRB's decision was invalid because the Board lacked authority to issue decisions when there were only two sitting Board Members. New Process Steel, L.P. v. National Labor Relations Board, 130 S.Ct. 2635 (2010).
  • Defeated efforts by the International Union of Operating Engineers to organize a client facility in South Texas. The company was unaware of the organizing campaign until after a petition was filed with the NLRB. Argued that the one facility unit proposed by the Union was inappropriate and that a multi-facility unit, which was approximately five times larger, was the proper bargaining unit. The company ultimately won the campaign by a margin of 2-to-1.
  • Represented Progress Rails Systems in a union campaign in which the United Steelworkers sought to organize a locomotive repair facility employing hundreds of workers.The Union filed dozens of unfair labor practice charges, and the NLRB filed a section 10(j) injunction action against the Company, but we were able to prevail on all but a few charges and on the injunction action.After disposing of the last ULP charges, the election was finally held and the Company won the election by a 2-1 margin of vote.
  • Defeated arguments made by the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen to the NLRB that client was a successor employer and, therefore, was obligated to recognize and bargain with the Union at ten facilities.
  • Defeated efforts by the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen to unionize three client facilities in the Chicago area.
  • Negotiated neutrality agreements and collective bargaining agreements on behalf of several clients.
  • Arbitrated several important, multimillion-dollar business issues on behalf of various clients.
  • Advised both buyers and sellers regarding potential exposure and risk mitigation strategies involving WARN Act issues, non-compete and trade secrets protection, collective bargaining, union avoidance, and labor/employment law compliance.

Recognition & Leadership

  • Team Member, The Daily Report’s "Georgia Labor & Employment Litigation Department of the Year," 2017
  • Listed,The Best Lawyers in America
    • Employment Law - Management, 2013-2017
    • Litigation - Labor and Employment, 2016-2017
  • Listed, Super Lawyers magazine, Georgia Super Lawyers, 2009-2017
    • "Top 100 Lawyers in Georgia," 2012-2015
  • Listed, Who’s Who Legal: Labour, Employment & Benefits 2016, "Pensions & Benefits," 2016-2017
  • Listed, Lawdragon and Human Resource Executive® magazine, "40 Up and Comers in Employment Law," 2015-2017
  • Listed, Who's Who Legal, Pensions & Benefits, 2015
  • Listed, Chambers USA Guide, 2007-2017
  • Team Member, The Daily Report’s "Georgia Labor & Employment Litigation Department of the Year," 2015
  • Listed, Atlanta magazine, "Top 100 Attorneys in Georgia," 2013
  • Recipient, Bloomberg BNA "Certificate of Appreciation" for contributions to Employment Discrimination Law, 5th Ed., 2013
  • Listed, a Law360 "Employment Practice Group of the Year," 2011 & 2013
  • Listed, The Legal 500 United States, 2012, 2016-2017
    • Labor and Employment - ERISA Litigation, 2017
    • Labor and Employment Disputes Including Collective Actions): Defense, 2017
  • Listed, Georgia Trend magazine, "Legal Elite," 2009-2012
  • Rated, AV Preeminent® 5.0 out of 5

AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell DistinguishedSM and Martindale-Hubbell NotableSM are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell® certification procedures, standards and policies.

  • Member, Board of Directors, Special Olympics Georgia
  • Past Honorary Board Member, Georgia Special Olympics
  • Member, Employment & ERISA Advisory Board, Strafford Publications
  • Member, American Bar Association, Litigation, Labor & Employment and Employee Benefits Sections
  • Past Member, American Health Lawyers Association
  • Member, Atlanta Bar Association
  • Past Member, Defense Research Institute
  • Member, State Bar of Georgia, Litigation and Labor & Employment Sections
  • Past Member, Board of Directors, Anti-Prejudice Consortium
  • Volunteer, Atlanta Legal Aid
  • Volunteer, Atlanta Volunteers Lawyer Foundation
  • Volunteer, Georgia Special Olympics

Credentials

Education
  • J.D., cum laude, University of Michigan Law School, 1994
    • Order of the Coif
    • Business Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
  • A.B., summa cum laude, Duke University, 1990
Admissions
  • Georgia
  • Supreme Court of Georgia
  • Court of Appeals of Georgia
  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia