Our People

Cynthia O'Neill

Partner, San Francisco

415.512.3040
coneill@lcwlegal.com

Cynthia  has dedicated her legal career to public sector labor and employment law. For over 22 years she has represented the State of California, cities, counties and special districts in disciplinary appeals, administrative hearings, arbitrations, collective bargaining, and in trial and appellate litigation. 

Cynthia regularly provides strategic advices and counsel to our clients, on such topics as the FLSA, the Public Safety Officer's Procedural Bill of Rights Act, municipal personnel practices and employee discipline, the Americans with Disabilities Act, collective bargaining under the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, and the prevention of sexual harassment.

An increasing portion of Cynthia's consulting services includes assisting clients with personnel investigations, terminations, layoffs, responses to EEOC and DFEH Charges of Discrimination, defense of PERB unfair practice charges U.S. DOL audits, and internal auditing of FLSA policies and practices, personnel rules, and employer-employee relations policies.

Cynthia convinced the California Court of Appeal, in the Gilbert v. City of Sunnyvale (2005) 130 Cal.App.4th 1264 decision, to limit a police officer's right to receive investigatory documents under both the Skelly due process procedures and the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act.   Cynthia has won anti-SLAPP cases and mandatory fee awards for our clients through the California Court of Appeal.

Cynthia has negotiated the transfer of a municipal police department to a county sheriff. She has successfully represented clients both during trial and on appeal and was one of the attorneys of record on the Ninth Circuit Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) opinions of Barner v. City of Novato (9th Cir. 1994) 17 F.3d 1256 and Stanley, et al. v. City of Tracy (9th Cir. 1997) 120 F.3d 179. She drafted an appellate amicus brief on behalf of 136 California cities and towns in Stewart/Chan v. City and County of San Francisco (1993) 834 F.Supp. 1233, affirmed by unpublished opinion (9th Cir. 1995).

Representative Matters

Appellate

  • Washington v. Contra Costa County Housing Authority et al. (2013) - After LCW obtained summary judgment in Contra Costa County Superior Court in favor of the Housing Authority and an individual defendant, defeating a sexual harassment claim brought by a male maintenance worker against a female manager, the employee appealed. The First Appellate District affirmed the judgment on behalf of both defendants and awarded the Housing Authority and the individual defendants their costs on appeal.
  • Warner et al v. City of Citrus Heights, et al (2010) - Employment discrimination lawsuit in the California Court of Appeal.  The plaintiffs claimed that the City rejected them from probation because of their sexual orientation, and claimed that the Police Department's internal investigation into their misconduct was harassment.  The Court of Appeal agreed with our arguments that the Police Department's use of its internal investigation procedure and its resulting decision to reject the plaintiffs from probation was protected activity under the Anti-SLAPP statute (CCP section 425.16) and ordered the plaintiffs to pay the City's attorneys' fees in the Court of Appeal and Superior Court.
  • Coats v. San Mateo County Harbor District, et al (2010) - Employment discrimination lawsuit in the California Court of Appeal.  The plaintiff claimed that the District's investigation into his misconduct and resulting discipline was discrimination on the basis of his disability. The Court of Appeal agreed with our arguments that the District's investigation and disciplinary appeal procedures were protected activity under the Anti-SLAPP statute (CCP section 425.16) and ordered the plaintiff to pay the City's attorneys' fees in the Court of Appeal and Superior Court.
  • Gilbert v. City of Sunnyvale (2005) - The Court of Appeal limited a police officer's right to receive investigatory documents under both the Skelly due process procedures and the Act.

Litigation

  • Lake v. City of Hercules (2013) - Obtained summary judgment in favor of the City in a case where Plaintiff, a female police officer, lied to her Police Chief in order to obtain approval to purchase an assault weapon. After the City terminated her employment for dishonesty, she sued the City, alleging that the termination was based on her gender, disability, and protected activity. She also alleged that she had been harassed based on her gender and disability.
  • Tamara Warner et al. v. City of Citrus Heights et al. (2010) - Plaintiffs, two police sergeants and a police officer, alleged that they were harassed based on their sexual orientiation and released from probation because of their sexual orientation.  They asserted claims against the City for harassment and discrimination and retaliation, and against the individual defendants (the chief, a commander and a lieutenant) for harassment and emotional distress.  Defendants filed an anti-SLAPP motion arguing that the City's actions in investigating one plaintiff for dishonesty and releasing all of the plaintiffs from probation were official proceedings protected under the anti-SLAPP statute.  The trial court denied the motion and Defendants appealed.  The Court of Appeal found that the anti-SLAPP motion should have been granted as to the discrimination and retaliation claims because the City's conduct was protected under the anti-SLAPP statute and Plaintiffs had not established a probability of success on the merits.

Awards

Selected for inclusion in Northern California Super Lawyers, 2008

Publications

Presentations

Education

  • JD, Santa Clara University School of Law
  • BA, University of California, Berkeley
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