Geoffrey S. Sheldon

Geoffrey S. Sheldon Partner

Geoff is the Chair of the Firm's Public Safety Practice Group. In this capacity, he oversees the firm’s extensive public safety practice, including matters involving law enforcement personnel disciplinary appeals and litigation.  Geoff also provides advice and counsel to the Los Angeles Police Chiefs’ Association and the Los Angeles Fire Chiefs’ Association.  

Geoff is also a member of the Firm's Litigation Practice Group's Executive Committee.  As one of the Firm's litigation experts, Geoff routinely represents employers in employment litigation and administrative hearings.  The types of matters Geoff handles for Firm's clients (both employers and individually named defendants) include complex litigation (class and collective actions), arbitrations and like hearings (e.g., employee discipline hearings, grievance arbitrations, unfair practice charge hearings), and traditional single-plaintiff lawsuits.  The claims Geoff has successfully defended include alleged violations of the Peace Officers Bill of Rights Act, the Firefighters Bill of Rights Act , the Fair Labor Standards Act, the California Labor Code, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Fair Employment and Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, the Military and Veterans Code, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, the California and United States Constitutions, and similar claims.  Geoff's track record of success is not limited to lawsuits, as he has extensive experience handling writs, injunctions, and appeals at both the state and federal level.   

While litigation is a focus of Geoff's practice, he routinely provides advice and counsel to Firm's clients (both public safety and non-public safety).  For example, Geoff strategizes with and counsels Firm's clients on employee performance and discipline issues, absenteeism and employee leaves, fitness-for-duty and disability accommodations issues, etc.  Geoff also assists Firm's clients in responding to DFEH and EEOC charges, Public Record Act requests and alleged Brown Act violations, and he conducts internal investigations as well.

In addition to his work on behalf of our clients, Geoff co-authors the Firm's public safety monthly newsletters, Briefing Room and Fire Watch.

In 2017, Geoff was selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers magazine, a distinction reserved for the top 5% of attorneys in Southern California.  In June 2015, Geoff was named by the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journal as one of the State of California's Top 75 Labor and Employment lawyers.  Geoff was also recognized as a "Rising Star" in the field of labor and employment law in Law & Politics Magazine (e.g., Los Angeles Magazine) for five straight years, i.e., from 2004-08.

Prior to joining Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, Geoff worked for a large litigation defense firm where he represented clients in products liability, tort, and commercial litigation.

Education

  • JD, Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles

  • BA, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

May 11, 2016 Webinars on Demand
Managing Absenteeism in Light of the New Sick Leave Law

Managing Absenteeism in Light of the New Sick Leave Law

ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS

Police Officer v. City (2015) - Successfully prosecuted the dismissal of a peace officer for dishonesty. Officer had a history of absenteeism, and he requested a shift off using false pretenses. The officer attempted to blame his conduct on alcohol abuse and retained an expert to support his alleged defense, but City and its expert rebutted the defense.

Police Officer v. City (2015) - City prevailed in appeal by a police officer who appealed her removal from a canine assignment.

Police Officer v. City (2014) - Prevailed in a police officer's appeal of his dismissal for dishonesty. The officer in question was hired by the City in 2006 as a lateral from another agency. In 2012, the City's Chief of Police received a "Brady letter" from the U.S. Department of Justice advising that the Department of Justice had learned that in 2003 the officer, while employed by another agency, had been involved in a conspiracy to plant narcotics on suspects. The City's Police Department conducted an internal investigation and terminated the officer for dishonesty because he had not been truthful about the incident on his application materials. A neutral arbitrator sustained the termination and the City Manager adopted the arbitrator's findings as his own. The City then prevailed after the officer challenged the termination in Superior Court.

Police Officer v. City (2014) - Successfully prosecuted termination of a police officer in a long-running dispute involving excessive force and whether the officer was psychologically fit for duty.

Police Officer v. City (2014) - Police officer was terminated for excessive use of force. After an arbitrator reduced the discipline for the use of force charge, the officer was found psychologically unfit for duty and terminated after he refused to transfer to a non-sworn position as a reasonable accommodation. The termination was sustained at arbitration and also at Superior Court when the officer attempted to challenge the termination.

Police Officer v. City (2013) - Prevailed in termination appeal by a police officer for neglect of duty and failure to comply with Departmental orders. The officer had a history of "kissing off" work, and he was terminated after it was discovered he conducted a negligent DUI stop that led to a traffic accident.

Police Officer v. City (2013) - An arbitrator upheld the termination of a police officer for, among other things, dishonesty, neglect of duty and failure to comply with Departmental orders.

Police Officer v. City (2012) - In a police officer discipline appeal hearing, a police department prevailed against a police sergeant who appealed his demotion to the rank of police officer. The officer in question had been a Sergeant for approximately 12 years. He had received a number of commendations, good performance ratings and was a selected as one of three supervisors to lead his department's SWAT team. However, the sergeant's performance had slipped. He received two reprimands for failing to exercise good judgment in the line of duty, and then on March 17, 2011, he threatened and then assaulted a subordinate who had given him a "hard foul" during a pick-up basketball game involving SWAT team members. While he was under administrative investigation for that incident, he was discovered running one of his city's automatic red light cameras while giving the camera "the bird."

APPELLATE

Berndt et al v. City of Los Angeles et al. (2015) - Approximately 20 Police officers employed by the City of Los Angeles' Police Department ("LAPD") filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging various wage and hour violations under the FLSA and provisions of the Labor Code. After the trial court granted the City's motion to dismiss, the only remaining claims were allegations that (1) the City's policy of paying police officers with compensatory time off (CTO) for non-FLSA hours worked violated the FLSA, and (2) the City should have paid overtime to the plaintiffs using a 40-hour overtime threshold for a seven-day period rather than the 171-hour overtime threshold for a 28-day period that the City adopted pursuant to the FLSA's section 207(k) (also known as the 7(k) exemption). Regarding the 7(k) exemption, the plaintiffs argued they did not qualify for the exemption because they were purportedly no longer performing "law enforcement activities" when they were assigned to do administrative work pending internal investigations. The City successfully moved for summary judgment on both FLSA claims, and the plaintiffs appealed. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the District Court's decision and held that the FLSA regulations expressly permit employers to compensate employees with CTO for "non-FLSA" overtime, and the Ninth Circuit also agreed that the City properly established the 7(k) exemption and that the police officers did not present sufficient evidence to demonstrate that it did not apply to any of them individually.

County of Los Angeles v. LA County Employee Relations Commission, et al. (2015) - The firm successfully represented the County in a case where after entering into MOUs, two public safety unions filed "class" grievances on behalf of approximately 10,000 current or former employees seeking MOU overtime pay for "donning and doffing" activities, as well as overtime for "off-the-clock" supervisory activities. After the County's Employee Relations Commission granted the unions' request for class arbitration, the County and its Sheriff's Department sued the Commission and the two unions for declaratory relief, injunctive relief and a writ of mandate. The unions, in turn, filed a cross-complaint seeking to litigate their 10,000 members' contractual overtime claims in a class action venued in Superior Court. Ultimately, the Court of Appeal issued a published opinion siding with the County/Sheriff's Department, i.e., the Court of Appeal held that since the parties never contracted for "class" arbitration the only way the various overtime claims could be pursued was in individual arbitrations.

Blythe v. County of Riverside (2010) - Court of Appeal reversed the trial court on an issue involving mitigation of damages. Court of Appeal found that County did provide evidence of comparable employment and the trial court did not have sufficient evidence to support a contrary holding.

LITIGATION

Guillen v. City of Gardena, et al (2016) - Summary judgment obtained in this case filed by a bus driver who alleged 6 causes of action, including disability harassment and failure to accommodate, against the City and two managers. 

Lee v. City of Montebello (2016) - Summary judgment obtained in this first amendment retaliation and Section 1983 due process case.

Biggers v. City of Indio (2015) - Prevailed for City in police officer's petition for writ of administrative mandamus challenging his termination for dishonesty associated with false statements on his application materials.

Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, et al. v. County of Los Angeles, et al. (2012) - We represented the County in a FLSA collective action where the U.S. District Court granted several key motions filed by LCW on behalf of the County  The lawsuit involved the "donning and doffing" claims of approximately 3,000 deputy sheriffs in two different, yet consolidated, collective action lawsuits filed against the County and its Sheriff. The trial court also granted the County's motion to decertify the remaining "off-the-clock" work claims. The District Court's rulings effectively ended two large collective/class action lawsuits after several years of litigation.

Rosales v. County of Los Angeles (2011) - This FLSA collective action sought compensation for unreported overtime and certification of a class of 700 IHSS social workers who evaluated IHSS recipients' needs and made recommendations regarding the services to be performed by IHSS providers.  We successfully defeated plaintiffs' attempt to certify the class and limited the case to just one social worker.  The case then settled for nuisance value.

Nolan v. City of Los Angeles (2011) - 43 LAPD supervisors claimed that the LAPD violated the FLSA by failing to pay them overtime for pre-shift and post-shift work, missed meal breaks and donning and doffing of their uniforms.  LCW obtained summary judgment for the LAPD on plaintiffs' donning and doffing claim.  Following a seven day jury trial on the claims of four representative plaintiffs, the jury returned a partial verdict for plaintiffs, but only awarded them less than 3% of the damages they sought.  The parties then resolved the remaining claims for the other plaintiffs based on the jury's verdict.

Moon v. City of Downey (2010) - Summary judgment obtained in this sexual orientation discrimination, harassment and retaliation FEHA case involving a City firefighter.

Petersen Law Firm v. City of Los Angeles (2009 and 2013) - Represented City and individual defendants in an action in which they prevailed on an Anti-SLAPP motion in a case challenging investigation of police officers. After the matter was appealed and remanded, the trial court reconsidered the City's motion for attorney's fees and ruled that the City was entitled to recover the entire amount of attorney's fees and costs it requested.

Bentley v. County of Los Angeles, et al (2009) - In a federal lawsuit a County client defeated a motion for conditional certification of a collective action filed by a potential lead plaintiff in a Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") wage and hour action.

Maciel v. City of Los Angeles (2008) - Plaintiff sued for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act alleging he was entitled to overtime pay for: (1) time spent "donning" and doffing" his police uniform; and (2) various "off-the-clock" tasks performed pre-shift, post-shift and during unpaid meal periods. A federal District Court found in favor of the City on all claims after a seven-day bench trial.

Education

  • JD, Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles

  • BA, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

May 11, 2016 Webinars on Demand
Managing Absenteeism in Light of the New Sick Leave Law

Managing Absenteeism in Light of the New Sick Leave Law

State Bar of California, Labor & Employment Section

Los Angeles County Bar Association

Education

  • JD, Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles

  • BA, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

May 11, 2016 Webinars on Demand
Managing Absenteeism in Light of the New Sick Leave Law

Managing Absenteeism in Light of the New Sick Leave Law

Selected for inclusion in Southern California Super Lawyers, (2017)

Top 75 Labor & Employment Lawyers, Daily Journal, (2015)

Selected for inclusion in Southern California Rising Stars, (2004-2008)

Education

  • JD, Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles

  • BA, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

May 11, 2016 Webinars on Demand
Managing Absenteeism in Light of the New Sick Leave Law

Managing Absenteeism in Light of the New Sick Leave Law

Jul 13, 2017

Court of Appeal Holds that Law Enforcement Agency May Not Disclose “Brady List” to Prosecutors Absent Compliance With Pitchess Statutes

In a decision published this week, a California Court of Appeal held, among other things, that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) was prohibited from sharing with prosecutors the names of deputies on its “Brady list” absent a court order after a Pitchess motion.  

Jun 22, 2011 Press Release

Education

  • JD, Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles

  • BA, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

May 11, 2016 Webinars on Demand
Managing Absenteeism in Light of the New Sick Leave Law

Managing Absenteeism in Light of the New Sick Leave Law

17 May 2018
Consortium Trainings

Public Sector Employment Law Update

West Inland Empire ERC San Dimas
Read more
17 May 2018
Consortium Trainings

Maximizing Performance Through Evaluation, Documentation and Discipline

West Inland Empire ERC San Dimas
Read more
10 May 2018
Consortium Trainings

Public Sector Employment Law Update

Coachella Valley ERC Indio
Read more
10 May 2018
Consortium Trainings

Introduction to the FLSA

Coachella Valley ERC Indio
Read more
25 April 2018
Consortium Trainings

Iron Fists or Kid Gloves: Retaliation in the Workplace

Los Angeles County Human Resources Los Angeles
Read more
11 October 2017
Speaking Engagements

Wage and Hour Issues, Technology and Privacy, and Managing and Accommodating Officer Injuries

Riverside and San Bernardino Counties Joint Police Chiefs Conference Indian Wells
Read more

Education

  • JD, Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles

  • BA, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

May 11, 2016 Webinars on Demand
Managing Absenteeism in Light of the New Sick Leave Law

Managing Absenteeism in Light of the New Sick Leave Law

Contact Us

General Inquiries

info@lcwlegal.com

Contact a Specific Office

Our Locations

Media Inquiries

Please contact Cynthia Weldon, Director of Marketing & Training, 310.981.2000.

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