Tag Archives: Steptoe & Johnson


Steptoe’s Office Expands with Three New Lawyers

Steptoe & Johnson LLP announced the arrivals of three new lawyers in its Phoenix office.  All three have joined the firm as associates.

Erin Norris Bass, a 2011 summer associate at Steptoe, has rejoined the firm after clerking for Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch.  Ms. Bass received her law degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Arizona in 2012, where she was elected to Order of the Coif and was the research editor and marketing manager for the Arizona Law Review.  She is a 2009 cum laude graduate of Arizona State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a focus on public relations.

Quintin Cushner has joined the firm’s Commercial Litigation and White-Collar Criminal Defense Groups.  He will focus on civil litigation, criminal law, and Native American law.  Mr. Cushner clerked for the Honorable Stephen M. McNamee of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona from 2010-2011.  He earned his J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Arizona in 2009, where he was elected to Order of the Coif and served as managing editor of the Arizona Law Review.  He received a B.A. in history from Oberlin College in 2001.

Kate Frenzinger has joined the firm’s ERISA, Labor & Employment Group.  Ms. Frenzinger was named Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year in 2012 by the State Bar of Arizona’s Young Lawyers Division, and was named to Southwest Super Lawyers Rising Star’s list in 2012 and 2013.  She was awarded a J.D. from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles in 2004, where she was elected to Order of the Coif and served as chief copy editor of the Loyola of Los Angeles International and Comparative Law Review.  She received a B.A. in art history from UCLA in 1999.

The associates’ arrivals follow that of former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton, who joined Steptoe’s Phoenix office in November as a partner.  Mr. Charlton practices in the firm’s Commercial Litigation and White-Collar Criminal Defense Groups.

Charlton, Paul - Phx - 300 DPI

Former U.S. Attorney Charlton Joins Steptoe

Steptoe & Johnson LLP announced that Paul Charlton, the former U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona, has joined the firm as a partner.  He will be based in the Phoenix office and will practice in Steptoe’s Commercial Litigation and White-Collar Criminal Defense Groups.

Mr. Charlton concentrates his practice on high-profile and complex litigation, internal investigations and white-collar criminal defense.  He has represented corporations and public officials, as well as provided special assistance to those who were subjects of a state or federal investigation.  Over the course of his career, Mr. Charlton has also developed an outstanding track record in the representation of Native American governments and tribal leaders.

A former federal prosecutor, Mr. Charlton was nominated by President Bush as U.S. attorney for Arizona in 2001 after serving as an assistant U.S. attorney for ten years.  During his six years of service as the U.S. attorney, Mr. Charlton established the Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council (ATAC), a program that improved communication and coordination between law enforcement agencies.  He also established a national security division within the U.S. Attorney’s Office to actively work with law enforcement agencies on terrorism related criminal cases, and expanded the victim advocate staff in his office to better serve crime victims.  In 2002, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Victim Witness Program was awarded the Federal Service Award.  In 2007, USA Today published an article that ranked Mr. Charlton number one among the nation’s 93 U.S. attorneys for prosecutions and convictions.

“Paul’s arrival represents an important addition to our Phoenix office, by continuing the growth of practices in Phoenix that have local, national and global reach,” said Bruce Converse, managing partner of Steptoe’s Phoenix office.  “Paul joins two recent exciting additions to our office, former Congressman John Shadegg and former chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission and national FERC Commissioner Marc Spitzer.”

Steptoe Chair Roger Warin commented:  “We are delighted that Paul has joined us.  He has a strong and varied background in both civil and criminal investigation.  He can draw upon his experience as a federal prosecutor to advise companies that might be facing both criminal and civil exposure, as well as handle their large-scale internal investigations.  His addition also adds a top-shelf criminal defense attorney to our white-collar practice west of the Mississippi.”

Over the past 18 months, Steptoe’s white-collar practice has expanded its depth and reach with several key additions.  Earlier this year, it added Jason Weinstein, former deputy assistant attorney general of the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Criminal Division to the Washington office, and Patrick Rappo, the former joint head of Bribery and Corruption of the UK’s Serious Fraud Office to the London office.  In July 2012, it established a Midwest presence with Chris Niewoehner, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois who served as a lead trial attorney in the prosecution and conviction of former Governor Rod Blagojevich.  Also in 2012, Michelle Levin in the firm’s New York office was elected to the partnership.  With Mr. Charlton’s arrival, Steptoe’s white-collar practice, which was named a Law360 “White Collar Group of the Year” in 2011 and 2012, includes nine former federal prosecutors with extensive trial experience and a host of lawyers with substantial experience in other government positions.

“I am honored to be joining such a well-renowned firm with its talented roster of lawyers,” said Mr. Charlton.  “I am truly looking forward to working with my new colleagues, as well as using the national platform that Steptoe offers to expand my practice beyond Arizona.”

Fluent in Spanish, Mr. Charlton has been deployed by the DOJ on numerous occasions to provide instruction to Latin American prosecutors and judges on the American criminal justice system.  An adjunct professor at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Mr. Charlton was named “Prosecutor of the Year” by the Arizona State Bar a year after leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  He has been recommended by Chambers USA, Best Lawyers in America, and Southwest Super Lawyers, among other accolades.

Mr. Charlton received his B.A. and J.D. degrees from the University of Arizona.

Bodney ADL

Steptoe partner receives Torch of Liberty Award

Steptoe & Johnson LLP partner David Bodney has received the “Torch of Liberty Award” from the Arizona region of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).  Mr. Bodney was presented with the award at a gala celebrating the organization’s centennial held October 24 at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown.

The “Torch of Liberty Award” was established to recognize individuals who have exhibited extraordinary humanitarian concerns, and whose everyday actions exemplify the principles on which the ADL was founded.  The league honors those who have shown, through business and community involvements, a personal commitment to bring together people of all races, religions and ethnic backgrounds in the fight against bigotry and discrimination.  Previous recipients include US Senator John McCain and former Arizona governor and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

“In every sense of the word, David is a true leader,” said Miriam Weisman, ADL Arizona regional board chair, and Bill Strauss, ADL regional director, in a joint statement.  “We in the ADL, and all Arizonans for that matter, have been lucky to have benefitted from his sense of justice and his ceaseless endeavors to make this a better place to live.”

Denise Resnik, co-chair of the dinner, added:  “David is a defender of your speech and mine.  He is an advocate for children, a trusted representative for those without a voice or a vote, and a trusted leader of leaders.  It is a privilege to honor him.”

At Steptoe, Mr. Bodney practices media and constitutional law, intellectual property and Native American law, and government relations.  He serves as adjunct faculty at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.  Mr. Bodney is chair-elect of the American Bar Association’s Forum on Communications Law and serves on the editorial advisory board of Communications Lawyer.  He is a past chairman of the board of the ADL (Arizona Region), and serves as an ADL national commissioner and a member of its National Civil Rights Committee.  He also serves as a national director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and has overseen its “Election Protection” efforts in Arizona.

“I am deeply honored to receive the ADL’s ‘Torch of Liberty’ award, especially as part of its 100th anniversary celebration,” said Mr. Bodney.  “For as much as the organization has accomplished to stop bigotry and hate in our midst over the past century, there is still much work to do.  ADL has shown me the importance of standing up to hate speech, whether it occurs in cyberspace or at the kitchen table.  History shows that when good people speak up, evil seldom takes root.”

In 2011, Mr. Bodney received the APS Peacemaker Award from Valle del Sol, a non-profit organization in Arizona.  In 2008, he received the Judge Learned Hand Award from the American Jewish Committee for community service.

Steptoe & Johnson LLP partner David Bodney

Steptoe Lawyers Receive Freedom of Information Award

Steptoe & Johnson LLP partner David Bodney and associate Chris Moeser have received a 2013 Freedom of Information (FOI) Award from the Arizona Newspapers Association, consisting of 120-member newspapers throughout the state.  Messrs. Bodney and Moeser were recognized at a reception held September 14 at the Arizona Grand Resort in Phoenix.

The winners of the FOI Awards are selected by the board of directors of the Arizona Newspapers Association and the Associated Press Media Editors.  The awards tell the story of how public information from government sources is used for the benefit of Arizona citizens.

Messrs. Bodney and Moeser were recognized for their work on behalf of KPNX Broadcasting Co., the NBC affiliate in Phoenix, on an investigative report called “Watching Tony Die.”  Through the lawsuit, Steptoe secured access to a videotape of prison guards who stood and watched an inmate bleed to death rather than render aid.  Steptoe also secured a $26,317.40 payment from the Arizona Department of Corrections to cover the station’s attorneys’ fees.  Messrs. Bodney and Moeser were nominated by the station’s news director to receive the award, along with the reporters Wendy Halloran and Mark Philips, and photojournalist Jeff Blackburn, who won the award for their newsgathering and reporting efforts.

Mr. Bodney, who has practiced media and constitutional law for more than 30 years, is chair-elect of the American Bar Association’s Forum on Communications Law, the country’s premiere legal organization dedicated to the advancement of education in communications law.  He serves as adjunct faculty at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Mr. Moeser, who also practices media and constitutional law, received his law degree from the University of Arizona.  Prior to joining Steptoe, he worked as a criminal justice, general assignment and political reporter for The Phoenix Gazette and The Arizona Republic.


Steptoe’s Bienstock a ‘Lawyer of the Year’

Steptoe & Johnson LLP partner Floyd Bienstock, based in the firm’s Phoenix office, has been named the 2014 “Phoenix Insurance Law Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers.  The designation is in conjunction with the launch of the 2014 edition of The Best Lawyers in America® (Copyright 2013 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, SC).  Best Lawyers is based on a peer-review survey in which nearly 50,000 attorneys cast almost five million votes on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their practice areas.

Best Lawyers began designating “Lawyers of the Year” in the US in high-profile legal practice areas in conjunction with its 15th edition in 2009.  Only a single lawyer in each practice area and designated metropolitan area is being honored as the “Lawyer of the Year.”  The lawyers being named as “Lawyers of the Year” have received particularly high ratings in this year’s survey by earning a high level of respect among their peers for their abilities, professionalism, and integrity.

At Steptoe, Mr. Bienstock leads the Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith group.  He is an experienced trial attorney with a practice focusing on litigation insurance coverage and bad faith matters, including class actions, as well as complex commercial litigation matters in state and federal courts in Arizona and throughout the United States.


Steptoe hosts Construction Industry Tax Seminar

Contractors, developers, construction managers, and homebuilders are invited to attend Steptoe & Johnson’s 10th Annual Construction Industry Tax Seminar co-sponsored by the AzBusiness Magazine. Steptoe’s tax lawyers will bring participants an annual update on the latest developments in Arizona’s sales and property taxation.

The seminar will take place September 27, 2013 and the Arizona Biltmore Resort.
The program will focus on new legislation, which if passed and signed by the Governor, will turn the sales taxation of contracting upside down–from taxing the prime contractor to taxing the sale of building materials, except for road and bridge construction where the prime contractor will still be taxed (H.B. 2111). In addition, seminar leaders will bring you up to date on legislation (already signed by the Governor) that does away with the “permanent attachment” test under the exemption for installing exempt machinery and equipment (H.B. 2535).

Speakers include Pat Derdenger, Dawn Gabel, Frank Crociata and Ben Gardner, all members of Steptoe’s Tax Group in Phoenix. Steptoe’s tax lawyers bring to clients decades of consulting, transactional, and advocacy experience in all substantive areas of federal and state taxation.

The luncheon speaker will be Hon. John Shadegg, partner in Steptoe’s Phoenix office and former US Congressman. He will give his perspective on the Affordable Care Act and how it will impact Arizona businesses.

For more information, call 602-257-7708. Register online at www.steptoe.com.


Language issues become workplace legal issues

Two Whole Foods grocery store employees in Albuquerque were recently suspended after getting in a dispute with their manager over speaking Spanish in the workplace.

That incident raises an employment law question that leaves many Arizona employers scratching their heads: Can employers require their employees to only speak English in the workplace?

The answer to that question, like the gray area that surrounds many legal questions, is “it depends.”

“While there is no specific law that requires a specific language in the workplace, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Arizona Civil Rights Act prohibit discrimination based upon national origin and language is closely tied to national origin,” said Stephanie Quincy, a partner with Steptoe & Johnson LLP in Phoenix. “The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal agency that enforces Title VII and the Arizona Civil Rights Division of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office enforces the Arizona Civil Rights Act.  Both agencies are very concerned that employers will enact language requirements not because of business necessity, but as a way of excluding certain nationalities from the workplace. The Phoenix office of the EEOC sued a restaurant located on the Navajo Nation for enacting an English-only policy, resulting in years of protracted litigation for the employer.”

That restaurant is not alone. The EEOC recently released figures on what kinds of employment discrimination cases are being brought to the agency and complaints of discrimination based on national origin, including those involving perceived problems with language ability or accent, have increased  77 percent since 1997. The EEOC has suggested that it might be the increasing diversity of the American workforce, but civil rights advocates think it’s more likely due to a climate of fear, particularly in states like Arizona that have been enacting laws hostile to immigrants, both legal and undocumented.

“Generally speaking, English-only rules are not in and of themselves unlawful,” said John Balitis, a director at Fennemore Craig who practices in the labor and employment area. “They are permissible when needed to promote the safe and efficient operation of the employer’s business.”

According to Joseph T. Clees, shareholder, and Alexandra J. Gill, associate, of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, there are some circumstances where an English-only rule may be necessary to further a safety, efficiency or other legitimate business concern. The EEOC has provided examples of such circumstances including, communication with customers, employees or supervisors who only speak English; emergency situations; cooperative work assignments where the English-only rule is necessary for efficiency purposes; and to assist supervisors with monitoring of performance.

“This is an extremely high standard and very difficult to meet,” Quincy said. “Furthermore, some of these categories would only permit an English-only rule where the business necessity is present and would not support a rule completely prohibiting non-English languages completely.”
This is where that gray area comes into play when it comes to language in the workplace, experts said.

“If the employer cannot demonstrate that (speaking English) is a ‘business necessity,’ it cannot justify such a rule and could be subject to legal action by any employee who is affected by the policy,” Quincy said. “A policy does not have to be a formal written policy. A rogue supervisor can create a policy by simply telling employees speaking Spanish to quit doing so. Such a policy can almost never be supported when enforced on employee breaks or when employees are having non-work related discussions.”

Because the EEOC has taken the position that English-only policies can violate Title VII, Clees and Gill said employers adopting these policies can face a range of penalties under Title VII if the policy is found to be discriminatory.

“An individual alleging a violation of Title VII may seek to recover damages including back pay, front pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees,” they said. “Individuals may also request injunctive relief.”

Because of the potential backplash, Clees said employers should carefully analyze their reasoning for instituting an English-only policy prior to doing so.

“Employers should consider whether the policy has important safety justifications and/or business justifications, and whether instituting the policy would be effective in advancing the desired business purpose,” he said. “Employers should also consider whether there are any alternatives to an English-only policy that would accomplish the same goals. If an employer decides to an English-only policy is necessary, it should ensure that employees are clearly informed of the policy, including when and where it applies.”

While there is no precise test for weighing or evaluating the business reasons for a language policy in the workplace, Quincy said the EEOC suggests considering:
· Evidence of safety justifications for the rule.
· Evidence of other business justifications for the rule, such as supervision or effective communication with customers.
· Likely effectiveness of the rule in carrying out obectives.
· English proficiency of workers affected by the rule.

“Employers should only (implemented policies that either completely or partially prohibit the use of any language other than English) if they can articulate a business necessity for such policies,” said Charitie L. Hartsig, an associate at Ryley Carlock & Applewhite. “They should also clearly inform employees of the circumstances under which they will be required to speak only English and the consequences of violating the policy. Limited English-only policies have been allowed under Title VII where the policies are in place to ensure clear communications regarding the performance of dangerous and safety-sensitive tasks. The EEOC presumes that an employer that completely prohibits employees from speaking their native language disadvantages the employee’s employment opportunities on the basis of national origin under Title VII. However, the Ninth Circuit rejected the EEOC’s per se rule. Nevertheless, Arizona employers should be cautious about implementing English-only policies and do so only when there is a business necessity for doing so.”

Despite an employer’s best business intentions, experts said instituting a language policy in the workplace is most likely a powderkeg ready to explode.
“The EEOC presumes that English-only rules applied at all times are discriminatory,” Balitis said. “Because the EEOC looks with disfavor on English-only rules, an employer may be forced to litigate even the most carefully crafted rule.”

Steptoe partner Stephanie Quincy has been placed among the Top 50 Attorneys and among the Top 25 Women in Arizona.

Steptoe Phoenix Lawyers earn recognition

Five partners in Steptoe’s Phoenix office have received individual mentions in the 2013 edition of Chambers USA.  The prestigious legal guide identifies the leading lawyers and law firm practices based on interviews conducted by Chambers researchers with thousands of lawyers and their clients.

Fourteen Steptoe attorneys have been recognized in the 2013 Southwest Super Lawyers.  The annual list selects only five percent of the total lawyers in the region based on peer review and the publication’s independent research.

In addition to being named to the 2013 Southwest Super Lawyers list, Steptoe partners Floyd Bienstock, Pat Derdenger, and Stephanie Quincy have been placed among the Top 50 Attorneys, and partners Stephanie Quincy and Nancy White have been placed among the Top 25 Women in Arizona for receiving the highest point totals in the nomination, research, and review process.

The following Steptoe lawyers have been recognized in Chamber USA 2013:

· Floyd Bienstock — Litigation: General Commercial (Arizona)
· David Bodney — First Amendment Litigation (Nationwide)
· Lawrence Katz — Labor & Employment (Arizona)
· Stephanie Quincy — Labor & Employment (Arizona)
· Steven Wheeless — Labor & Employment (Arizona)

The following Steptoe attorneys have been recognized in 2013 Southwest Super Lawyers:

· Floyd Bienstock – Insurance Coverage (Top 50)
· David Bodney – First Amendment, Media, Advertising
· Bruce Converse – Insurance Coverage
· Ben Cooper – Appellate
· Pat Derdenger – Tax (Top 50)
· Dawn Gabel – Tax
· Kevin Hunter – Business/Corporate
· Larry Katz – Employment & Labor
· Kevin Olson – Business/Corporate
· Stephanie Quincy – Employment & Labor (Top 50 and Top 25 Women)
· Karl Tilleman – Business Litigation
· Nancy White – Mergers & Acquisitions (Top 25 Women)

The following Steptoe attorneys have been selected as 2013 Southwest Rising Stars:

· Erin Bradham – Civil Litigation Defense
· Robert Vaught – Employment & Labor

Steptoe’s Phoenix office celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2012.

Tax Consequences

Steptoe hosts Construction Industry Tax Seminar

Contractors, developers, construction managers, and homebuilders are invited to attend Steptoe & Johnson’s 10th Annual Construction Industry Tax Seminar co-sponsored by the AzBusiness Magazine. Steptoe’s tax lawyers will bring participants an annual update on the latest developments in Arizona’s sales and property taxation.

The seminar will take place June 13, 2013 and the Arizona Biltmore Resort.

The program will focus on new legislation, which if passed and signed by the Governor in the coming weeks, will turn the sales taxation of contracting upside down–from taxing the prime contractor to taxing the sale of building materials, except for road and bridge construction where the prime contractor will still be taxed (H.B. 2111). In addition, seminar leaders will bring you up to date on legislation (already signed by the Governor) that does away with the “permanent attachment” test under the exemption for installing exempt machinery and equipment (H.B. 2535).

Speakers include Pat Derdenger, Dawn Gabel, Frank Crociata and Ben Gardner, all members of Steptoe’s Tax Group in Phoenix. Steptoe’s tax lawyers bring to clients decades of consulting, transactional, and advocacy experience in all substantive areas of federal and state taxation.

The luncheon speaker will be Hon. John Shadegg, partner in Steptoe’s Phoenix office and former US Congressman. He will give his perspective on the Affordable Care Act and how it will impact Arizona businesses.

For more information, call 602-257-7708. Register online at www.steptoe.com.


Steptoe Advises ALDILA on Merger

Aldila, Inc. announced on March 27 that it has closed its merger with Mitsubishi Rayon America, Inc. (MRA). The official effective time of the merger will be April 1.  Steptoe advised Aldila on the transaction.

Aldila is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of carbon fiber shafts.  MRA is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Rayon Co., Ltd. and part of the Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation Group.  MRA has a business centered on MMA (methyl methacrylate) and AN (acrylonitrile) business complexes as basic raw materials and finished products.

The Steptoe corporate team was led by partner Kevin Olson with assistance from partner Kevin Hunter and associate Kami Galvani, all in the firm’s Phoenix office.  Partners Meredith Rathbone and Stephen Heifetz, and associate Teddy Nemeroff, all based in Washington, advised on the international trade aspects of the deal.

Goldwater Institute

2013 Top Lawyers list: Business/corporate law

Az Business magazine’s 2013 top lawyer list was created after the editorial department asked Arizona law firms to nominate their two best attorneys from 16 different categories for consideration. Those nominees were put on a ballot and were voted on by their peers in the legal community and the readers of Az Business magazine to determine the exclusive 2013 Az Business Magazine Top Lawyers list.

Jessica Benford
Ryley Carlock & Applewhite
Benford counsels clients regarding general corporate representation, including corporate formation and governance. She also handles securities enforcement and regulation matters.

Charles E. Davis
Davis Miles McGuire Gardner, PLLC
Davis has an “AV Preeminent” rating by the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings system, which connotes the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards.

Gerald Gregory Eagleburger
Sanders & Parks, P.C.
Eagleburger’s practice includes all types of transactional, commercial/business and personal asset matters, including formation and governance of corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies.

Stephanie Fierro
The Frutkin Law Firm, PLC
Fierro’s practice focuses on general counsel business law and estate planning. She brings the firm a wide range of experience and interests including all aspects of corporate transactional work, estate planning, and tax representation.

Jonathan B. Frutkin
The Frutkin Law Firm, PLC
Frutkin is the principal attorney at The Frutkin Law Firm and brings areas of expertise in the practice areas of corporate and business law, corporate bankruptcy, and commercial litigation.

Phillip Guttilla
Guttilla Guttilla serves as general corporate counsel to his clients ranging from emerging growth companies to multi-national enterprises.

Gregory R. Hall
DLA Piper
Hall regularly counsels clients on a broad range of corporate, securities and business-related matters and matters affecting corporate policy and strategy, including directors’ duties and responsibilities and other aspects of corporate governance.

Travis J. Leach
Jennings Strouss
Leach focuses his practice in the area of corporate, securities, and finance. He also helps lead the firm’s Sports and Entertainment practice, coinseling professional athletes, coaches, entertainers, and ownership groups.

Brian Moll
Moll practices in the areas of corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, and commercial contracts. He has extensive experience in assisting businesses in all stages of their operations, from start-up to a mature business.

Robert A. Royal
Tiffany & Bosco, P.A.
Royal’s practice emphasizes intra-corporate dispute and director, officer and manager liability issues.

Terence W. Thompson
Gallagher & Kennedy, P.A.
Thompson’s practice emphasizes corporate business acquisitions; public-private projects, including strategic joint ventures; Native American enterprises and projects; water/wastewater infrastructure development; sports facility financing; and physician-hospital contracts.

Nancy White
Steptoe & Johnson LLP
White’s practice emphasizes international and domestic transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, purchases and sales of capital assets and real property, project finance, asset-based financings, asset securitizations, and private placements of debt and equity securities..

Nonexempt Vs. Exempt Employees

Arizona employers face an onslaught of wage and hour claims

For Shayna Balch, business is booming.

Since the start of 2012, the labor attorney at Fisher & Phillips in Phoenix is seeing — on average — one to three wage and hour cases filed each day. This is compared with one or two a month in previous years. Nationally, the number of new Fair Labor Standards Act suits lodged in federal courts between 2010 and 2011 jumped more than 15 percent, according to Federal Judicial Caseload Statistics.

Historically, Balch says wage and hour cases have not been an issue in Arizona. Because of that, employers are not prepared for the trend and she worries that this a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.

“There are multiple causes (for the increase)” says John Thompson, who handles wage-hour cases at Fisher & Phillips and is the editor of the firm’s Wage Hour Laws Blog.

“They include a greater familiarity of plaintiff’s lawyers with wage-hour laws and with the many areas in which non-compliance can occur; workers’ increasing awareness of wage-hour requirements — including via the Internet and the media; the growing number and complexity of the laws themselves;  and the stepped-up enforcement efforts of government officials.”

As the economy suffered and employers looked for ways to reduce labor costs, many of the cost-cutting measures conflicted with employment laws, according to Phoenix attorney John Doran of Sherman & Howard, and that has led to an avalanche of wage and hour claims. The number of collective actions has increased by more than 400 percent nationally in the last decade. In Arizona, the increase has been even more dramatic.

“In Arizona, there has been a sudden and dramatic increase in wage and hour collective and class actions,” Doran says. “This should be a source of serious concern for Arizona employers.”

It’s particularly stressful for employers desperately trying to recover from the recession.

“Employers have looked for every possible angle to reduce labor costs including overtime, and many of those angles simply do not jive with the wage and hour laws,” Doran says. “This has been especially true with employers trying to convert their employees into independent contractors, which is an extremely difficult, and often mishandled strategy that has the attention of the Department of Labor and the I.R.S.”

The Department of Labor has increased its strength thanks to a significant bump in funding under the Obama Administration, increasing both its enforcement and public awareness campaigns. More than 250 new investigators have been hired and the revitalized Wage & Hour Division launched its “We Can Help” campaign in 2010 to increase visibility and accessibility to workers.

“The DOL has also been more aggressive in pursuing employers, by expanding the scope of wage and hour investigations, issuing more administrative subpoenas, and imposing more penalties on employers,” says Phoenix attorney Tracy A. Miller, shareholder. Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

And the DOL is making it even easier for employees to build cases against their employers. Last year, the DOL developed a smartphone application that allowed employees to keep track of their own time and monitor employer compliance with certain wage and hour requirements. The DOL also created hard copy “exhibits” for employees to track their time. In taking these steps, the DOL has stated that employees must be paid for any work they do, regardless of where they do it.

Empowered with DOL-provided tools, “We are seeing more individuals who file suit on their own behalf,” says Stephanie Quincy, a partner in the labor and employment practice group for Steptoe & Johnson. “In Arizona, if wages are not paid when they are due or the wages are withheld without a good faith reason, the employee is entitled to three times the amount, as a punishment for the employer. We are seeing employees filing these suits themselves, without an attorney.”

So where are employers most susceptible?

“The biggest increase has been in lawsuits and investigations involving workers who claim to be misclassified as independent contractors,” Miller says. “Failing to pay workers for pre-shift and post-shift activities, such as computer boot-up and power-down, is also still a hot issue. Another common mistake that the DOL and private litigants are focusing on is the failure to include bonuses and commissions when calculating overtime. Wage payments during temporary company shut downs and furloughs has been a hot issue, although usually these issues are resolved without a lawsuit.  Cases involving the misuse of the tip credit or tip pools have also been on the rise.  Finally, we continue to see off-the-clock cases from employees who work remotely and/or routinely use smartphones.”

All of this is a conundrum for employers, considering the changing face of the economy and the workplace. The DOL is encouraging employers to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act, which was enacted in 1938 when people worked at work. Now, thanks to technology, many of us can work anywhere and anytime.

To protect themselves, employers of all sizes should engage in serious introspection, Doran advises.

“An internal wage and hour audit, if not a must, is still the most valuable tool employers have to fend off such claims,” Doran says, “Annual or bi-annual audits would include analyzing job descriptions and comparing them with what is actually happening in the workplace day to day; examining timekeeper practices; ensuring that supervisors and managers are adequately and accurately carrying out otherwise compliant pay practices; and much, much more. These audits are best conducted through outside legal counsel in order to cloak them in attorney-client privilege.”

Quincy says employers should examine each employee and determine if the employee — not the position — is doing the type of work that is considered “exempt” or “non-exempt.” Non-exempt employees must be paid overtime. Employers should also carefully examine deductions from pay and time, including automatic deductions such as rest and meal breaks. Employers must train supervisors that any changes to hours worked must be explained to the employee and the employee must sign off on them.  The employer should hold supervisors accountable for encouraging — or pressuring — employees to work off the clock or not to accurately record their hours.

“Often businesses feel as though they must be in compliance because they have been paying workers in the same way for years without any problems,” Miller says. “Very few businesses are completely in compliance with the wage and hour laws, however, and an investigation or a lawsuit is an expensive way to learn about violations.  Businesses that proactively audit their pay practices end up saving a lot of money in the long run.”

Guina, Michelle - Phx - 300 DPI

Steptoe adds Michelle Guina

Steptoe & Johnson LLP announced that Michelle Guina, a 2011 summer associate, has rejoined the firm as an associate in the Phoenix office.

Guina earned her J.D., magna cum laude, from Arizona State University in 2011, where she was elected to Order of the Coif, and served as a note and comment editor of the Arizona State Law Journal.  A Willard H. Pedrick Scholar, Guina also received the College of Law Scholarship for Outstanding Academic Performance.  Most recently, Guina clerked for Vice Chief Judge Diane M. Johnsen of the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One, in Phoenix.  In 2009, Guina served as a judicial extern for US District Court Judge Mary Murguia of the District of Arizona, and Judge Michael J. Brown and Judge Patricia Orozco of the Arizona Court of Appeals.

Guina is a 2006 graduate of the University of Southern California where she earned two B.A. degrees in international relations and French, cum laude.


‘Casual Day’ Fund at Steptoe’s Phoenix Office Nears $100K in Charitable Contributions

Steptoe & Johnson’s Phoenix office is closing in on raising $100,000 for charities and non-profit groups in Arizona by allowing employees to wear jeans on Fridays in exchange for a five dollar, or more, contribution toward a designated charity, which rotates weekly.  The office’s “Casual Day” fund has raised more than $95,000 since it was launched in 2005.  The effort is entirely voluntary, but lawyers and support staff rally around the comfort and the cause.

Casual Day raises money for various charitable organizations such as the Arizona Red Cross and the Christina Taylor-Green Memorial Fund established after the mass shooting in Tucson.  Other local causes that have benefitted from the fund include Hospice of the Valley, St. Mary’s Food Bank, “Packages from Home,” and the Pat Tillman Foundation.

“We are more than just an office in the community.  We’re part of the community,” said David Bodney, managing partner of Steptoe’s Phoenix office, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.  “It is nice to be a little more comfortable on Fridays, but it feels even better to help make a difference.  That is extremely important to us, as individuals and as a firm.”

One of the charities helped through the program is Duet, a Phoenix organization that offers support to grandparents raising their grandchildren.  Casual Day donations assist Duet in providing support groups and guidance, and organizing much-needed outings where the “grand families” get together.

“It’s inspiring when people at all levels of an organization can get involved in a cause,’’ Elizabeth Banta, Duet’s executive director, said of the firm’s efforts.  She said that although wearing jeans to work may be a simple thing, “it’s a simple thing that adds up to make a great difference.”


Arizona’s Top Lawyers – 2012 Banking & Business/Corporate Law

Arizona Business Magazine used its own research, solicited input from legal experts, and referenced professional ratings and rankings to determine the legal professionals who made the 2012 Top Lawyers list.

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Banking Healthcare
Business/Corporate Law Intellectual Property
Construction Litigation Mergers and Acquisitions
Real Estate
Environmental Law Securities and Corporate Finance
Estate and Trust Litigation Tax



Michael A. Bosco ◆ Tiffany & Bosco
602-255-6002 ◆ tblaw.com
Bosco represents more than 40 top banks and mortgage lenders — including Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae — and private mortgage insurance companies.

Mark S. Bosco ◆ Tiffany & Bosco
602-255-6006 ◆ tblaw.com
Bosco is a lecturer at regional and national mortgage banking and default servicing seminars, and he has published numerous articles on mortgage banking, default servicing and related topics.

Scott DeWald ◆ Lewis and Roca
602-262-5333 ◆ lrlaw.com
DeWald’s practice focuses on the legal needs of high-tech, e-commerce and emerging companies and limited liability companies.

Dean Dinner ◆ Nussbaum Gillis & Dinner, P.C.
480-609-0011 ◆ nussbaumgillis.com
Negotiated and documented DIP financing transactions for both factoring companies and asset based lenders.

Richard Goldsmith ◆ Lewis and Roca
602-262-5341 ◆ lrlaw.com
Goldsmith practices primarily in the areas of lending, equipment leasing and sales, real estate, and general contract drafting.

W. Scott Jenkins ◆ Ryley Carlock and Applewhite
602-440-4890 ◆ rcalaw.com
Jenkins is a member of the fi rm’s Bankruptcy and Creditor’s Rights, Real Estate, Litigation, and Transportation practice groups.

Thomas E. Littler ◆ Gordon Silver
602-256-0400 ◆ gordonsilver.com
Littler represents debtors and creditors, trustees, official committees, and secured creditors in reorganizations in a wide range of industries.

Jared Parker ◆ DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy, P.C.
602-282-0500 ◆ deconcinimcdonald.com
Parker focuses on business restructuring and bankruptcy, litigation and creditors’ rights.

John Randolph ◆ Sherman & Howard
602-240-3000 ◆ sah.com
Randolph represents lenders in connection with workouts, prejudgment strategy and remedies and trustee’s sales foreclosures.

William G. Ridenour ◆ Ridenour, Hienton & Lewis
602-254-9900 ◆ rhkl-law.com
Ridenour’s practice emphasizes transactional, banking and corporate law.

Gil Rudolph ◆ Greenberg Traurig, LLP
602-445-8206 ◆ gtlaw.com
Rudolph representats finance companies, mortgage lenders, banks, title insurance companies and other consumer financial service providers.


Mark Barker ◆ Jennings, Haug & Cunningham, LLP
602-234-7828 ◆ jhc-law.com
Barker has a busy commercial transaction practice representing financial institutions and Arizona small businesses, commercial litigation practice with an emphasis on surety law, construction law and business dispute resolution.

Edwin D. Fleming ◆ Burch & Cracchiolo, P.A.
602-234-9921 ◆ bcattorneys.com
Fleming has successfully prosecuted and defended professionals, including lawyers and accountants, in cases involving high-stakes financial fraud and securities issues.

Dan Garrison ◆ Andante Law Group
480-421-9449 ◆ andantelaw.com
In 2007, Garrison received the “Turnaround of the Year” Award from the Arizona Chapter of the Turnaround Management Association.

Larry A. Hammond ◆ Osborn Maledon
602-640-9361 ◆ omlaw.com
Hammond served as an Assistant Watergate Special Prosecutor in 1973- 1974. One of his specialities is commercial litigation.

John L. Hay ◆ Gust Rosenfeld PLC
602-257-7468 ◆ gustlaw.com
Hay practices general corporate and commercial law, with emphasis on representing small- and medium-sized businesses.

John A. Klecan ◆ Renaud Cook Drury Mesaros, PA
602-307-9900 ◆ rcdmlaw.com
Klecan has been involved in precedent-setting products liability litigation, in Arizona and other jurisdictions.

P. Robert Moya ◆ Quarles & Brady
602-230-5580 ◆ quarles.com
Moya’s practice focuses on middle-market and emerging entrepreneurial and growth companies.

Brett Johnson ◆ Snell & Wilmer
602-382-6312 ◆ swlaw.com
Johnson’s practice includes representation in business, export, government contracting, and health care matters.

Michael Manning ◆ Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP
602-212-8503 ◆ stinson.com
Manning’s practice focuses on antitrust, business litigation, class actions, business litigation, governance, risk and compliance.

Kevin Olson ◆ Steptoe & Johnson
602-257-5275 ◆ steptoe.com
Olson’s focus is general corporate advice, mergers and acquisitions, securities and corporate finance, and other commercial transactions.

Brian Spector ◆ Jennings Strouss
602-262-5977 ◆ jsslaw.com
Spector is a business lawyer and litigator whose practice focuses on debt resolution, bankruptcy litigation and collection matters.

Arizona Business Magazine has used its best efforts in assembling material for this list, but does not warrant that the information contained herein is a complete or exhaustive list of the top lawyers in Arizona, and hereby disclaims any liability to any person for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions herein.

Arizona Business Magazine March/April 2012

Steptoe Celebrate 25 Years

Steptoe Celebrates 25 Years In Phoenix

Steptoe & Johnson LLP celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Phoenix office with a gala at the Orpheum Theater in Phoenix.  Clients and local dignitaries joined Steptoe lawyers from the Phoenix office and the firm’s other offices to celebrate the occasion.

Steptoe’s Phoenix office opened on January 1, 1987, and was the first regional office for the Washington, D.C.-headquartered firm, which today has nine offices, including three outside the United States.  The firm was initially drawn to the nation’s Southwest to handle federal government contracts work for the Arizona-based semiconductor division of a large national technology company.  While working on the lengthy project, Steptoe became familiar with the Phoenix business community and recognized the opportunities the Valley of the Sun presented.

Steptoe chair Roger E. Warin commented:  “The opening of the Phoenix office was the beginning of an evolution for Steptoe, as it marked the first time we were operating in a city outside Washington.  The office remains an integral part of the firm, with established practices that serve local, national and global clients and lawyers who work seamlessly with their counterparts in our other offices.”

Steptoe’s Phoenix office handles a broad array of matters, from labor issues for international retail conglomerates to libel issues for national newspapers and broadcasters.  Other noted practices include insurance coverage and bad faith defense, commercial litigation, corporate and real estate transactions, and state, local and federal taxation.

“For the past 25 years, we have enjoyed the support of the Phoenix business and legal communities, and we look forward to expanding and strengthening those relationships over the next quarter century,” said David Bodney, managing partner of the firm’s Phoenix office, whose media practice is profiled on the cover of the 2012 edition of Southwest Super Lawyersand who received the 2011 APS Peacemaker Award from Valle de Sol.

Steptoe’s Phoenix office also is home to former U.S. Representative John Shadegg, who represented northern Phoenix in Congress for eight terms before retiring from office in 2010 and joining the firm as a partner in March 2011, and Ambassador P. Robert Fannin, a senior counsel in the firm who was appointed by President Bush in 2007 to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic.  Former FERC Commissioner Marc Spitzer, who previously served in the Arizona State Senate and as chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission, works from Washington, D.C. and Phoenix and represents energy clients in Phoenix and throughout the Southwest.

For more information on Steptoe & Johnson, visit Steptoe’s website at steptoe.com.