Erin Kunze

Erin Kunze Associate

Erin provides representation and legal counsel to Liebert Cassidy Whitmore clients on a variety of employment and education law matters including retirement and healthcare benefits, labor relations in the public and private nonprofit sectors, public safety, and safety planning in schools. 

Erin regularly audits collective bargaining agreements and personnel rules to advise clients on current legal standards and best practices.  She additionally represents clients in labor negotiations and in labor disputes, providing legal counsel through mediation, arbitration and before administrative agencies.  

A member of the Retirement, Health and Disability Practice, Erin regularly advises clients on issues pertaining to retirement, health care benefits, and related taxation issues.  She has advised clients on pension system member enrollment obligations, employer and employee pension contribution issues, the disability retirement process, retired annuitant issues, and issues pertaining to Public Employees' Medical   Hospital Care Act (PEMHCA) compliance.  She also advises clients on responsibilities under the Affordable Care Act, including the employer's status as an applicable large employer under the Act, employee eligibility, and the employer's year-end reporting obligations.

As a member of the firm's Business & Facilities Practice, she provides advice and representation on the variety of issues encountered in day to day operations, including reviewing and drafting vendor and service contracts, negotiating contract terms, leases, and other business arrangements. She also helps clients in matters involving real property, including construction matters, project delivery methods, agreements to acquire or sell property, the use and operation of facilities, easements, and related laws. Through the Business & Facilities Practice, Erin assists academic institutions and nonprofit clients in complying with foundation, donation, and exempt organization issues.  She also regularly advises clients on issues specific to community college district foundations, including those with auxiliary organization status.

Erin also provides advice and training to LCW clients in the areas of performance management, harassment and discrimination, and mandated reporting. Erin assists academic institutions with Title IX compliance and brings to her work valuable insight and expertise from her prior work with the Hastings College of Law's Center for Gender and Refugee Studies and the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project.

Prior to joining the firm, Erin developed diverse legal experience through her work with various philanthropic organizations doing human rights and immigration work, including serving as a Legal Intern in the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Netherlands. Erin has worked with nonprofit arts organizations including California Lawyers for the Arts, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts of Massachusetts, and the New England Foundation for the Arts. With those agencies, Erin worked on issues relating to nonprofit incorporation, governance, and development. She remains passionate about human rights issues and now enjoys working through legal issues relating to these subjects with LCW clients.

Erin was selected for inclusion in Northern California Super Lawyers Rising Stars in 2017 and 2018. She received her undergraduate degree from Boston University (magna cum laude) and her J.D. from Suffolk University Law School (cum laude).


BART v. BART POA (2013) - Represented BART Police Department as first-chair in a final and binding arbitration proceeding. Successfully upheld the termination of a police officer who had been terminated by the police chief after it was discovered he had been drinking while on duty, had recreationally used drugs with a neighbor, and was subsequently accused of rape by the neighbor the same evening he used drugs with her.


Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District - Fire and Administrative Units.

Escuela Bilingue Internacional - Teacher and Non-teaching Units.


SEIU v. County of Mendocino (2016) - Represented the County in a bench trial and secured a judgment on the claims before the court wherein SEIU alleged that the County had illegally contracted out for mental health services with private providers. The court found that the County was legally authorized to contract out with private providers for mental health services in an attempt to provide such services to a vulnerable sector of the community, and denied SEIU's request for a writ of mandate and injunctive relief.

Dennis Wallace v. Stanislaus County, Jury Trial #2 (2013) - Represented the County in a 4-week long jury trial and obtained a unanimous defense verdict on both claims before the jury: failure to accommodate a disability and failure to engage in the interactive process. Deputy Wallace, who had filed 15 workers' compensation claims while on duty, had a list of physical restrictions that were established by his doctor, and as a result was re-assigned to "light duty" as a bailiff. Wallace refused the re-assignment, and after saying that he did not agree with doctor's restrictions, asked for a different assignment.  When his request was denied, he sued the County. 

Selected for inclusion in Northern California Super Lawyers - Rising Stars (2017, 2018, 2019)

Dec 18, 2018

Court Confirms Commute Time in Company Vehicle is Non-Compensatory

Last month, the Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District of California found that an employee’s time traveling between home and a job site in an employer’s vehicle was not compensable, despite the employer restricting the employee’s activities during the commute time at issue.  Notably, this case analyzed a California wage and hour law on travel time that applies to public sector employers other than counties or charter cities.

Jun 27, 2018

Top 10 Questions about Senate Bill 866 – New State Legislation Impacting How Public Employers Communicate with Employees and Manage Employee Organization / Union Membership Dues

On June 27, 2018, Governor Brown signed into law the Final State Budget, along with budget trailer bill, Senate Bill 866. In brief, though there is little comment in the Bill’s legislative analysis, it is clear that Senate Bill 866 is a direct response to the Supreme Court’s anticipated, and now adopted, holding in Janus v. AFSCME.  As noted in our related Special Bulletin, the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME overturned forty-plus years of case law that authorized agency shop – or mandatory union service fees – in public sector employment.  The Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME means that public agency employers and unions that represent public employees can no longer mandate as a condition of employment that employees pay a service fee (or comparable religious objector charitable contribution) for the portion of union dues attributable to activities the union claims are “germane to [the union’s] duties as collective bargaining representative.”

Mar 20, 2018

Agency Policy Bars Lawsuit: Employee Must First Exhaust Internal Agency Process

In 2009, Santa Barbara County, like many public agencies in California, faced a budget shortfall for the 2009-2010 fiscal year. In response, the County determined the need to lay off 35 employees, including employee Shawn Terris.   Terris endeavored to exercise bumping rights, but it was determined that she did not possess the special skills needed to exercise bumping.   Terris, who was then laid off, filed a complaint with the County’s Civil Service Commission.  She alleged the termination violated her seniority rights, and that it was discriminatory based on her exercising rights as a County employee, on her exercising her rights as an elected County Employees’ Retirement Board Trustee, and on her filing a claim against a public entity.

Jan 4, 2018

ACA Reporting Relief – Written Statement to Covered Individuals Now Due March 2, 2018; Good Faith Penalty Relief Extended

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued an automatic, 30-day extension for applicable large employers to furnish IRS Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to covered individuals.  For the 2017 reporting period, these forms are now due to individuals on March 2, 2018, rather than January 31, 2018

Dec 19, 2017

Sexual Harassment Training Under Scrutiny: It’s Not Just What You Say, But What You Do That Matters

In the wake of recent attention to sexual harassment in the workplace, employers and members of the public are asking: what about all of those sexual harassment trainings we required?  Are they helping?  How do we know?  And, if they’re not achieving our goals (public policy and agency-specific), what can we do better?

Oct 3, 2017

Supreme Court Petition Submitted Regarding Application of U.S. Civil Rights Act to Sexual Orientation Discrimination

 In April, we reported on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, which held that sex-discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  Like the California federal trial court in Videckis v. Pepperdine University, the Seventh Circuit based its holding on the premise that sexual orientation discrimination claims are gender stereotype claims, which constitute sex discrimination claims under current Supreme Court precedent.  

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