James E. Oldendorph

James E. Oldendorph Associate

James is an experienced litigator, and has successfully represented clients in employment litigation matters in both State and Federal court from inception through discovery, pre-trial proceedings, and settlement or trial.  James represents and advises employers and individual managers/supervisors in cases involving alleged violations of Title VII, the Fair Employment and Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the California and United States Constitutions, the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act, the Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights Act, and collective and class actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the California Labor Code, as well as injunctions, wage and hour claims, and wrongful discharge actions.

James is also experienced in representing LCW clients in various administrative appeal hearings, including matters before the Office of Administrative Hearings, Los Angeles County Civil Service Commission, ERCOM, the Employment Development Department, and before impartial arbitrators and hearing officers.  While James represents all types of employers, he focuses his practice on representing law enforcement and fire agencies, and has successfully prosecuted numerous employee discipline and grievance matters involving these employees.  James also handles other administrative matters for firm clients, such as DFEH and EEOC charges, and he provides advice and counsel to firm clients on a host of legal issues involving employment and labor law.

Additionally, James is fluent in Spanish, and utilizes this skill in consulting with LCW's Spanish speaking clients and in translating and drafting correspondence and contracts in Spanish.

Prior to joining Liebert Cassidy Whitmore's Los Angeles office, James' practice included a diverse civil trial practice, including commercial litigation, products liability, consumer warranty law, collections and toxic tort litigation.

James was recognized as a "Rising Star" in the field of Employment Litigation: Defense in Super Lawyers Magazine (2015 and 2016).

Education

  • BA, University of California, Santa Barbara

  • JD, Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles

Apr 11, 2018 Webinars on Demand
Critical Legal Update: Mandated Disclosures in Public Safety Investigations

Critical Legal Update: Mandated Disclosures in Public Safety Investigations

ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS

Senior Business Systems Analyst v. City (2018) - City’s Senior Business Systems Analyst was terminated for inappropriately accessing Human Resources records of other City employees, insubordination in failing to provide the passcode to his City-issued iPhone, and losing, misplacing or stealing six additional City-issued iPhones.  The employee claimed his access of HR records was approved, that he had privacy protections relating to the City-issued iPhone justifying his refusal to provide the passcode during the City’s investigation, and the employee claimed that the City misplaced the additional iPhones even though they were in his possession and control.  Following a two-day evidentiary hearing before the City’s Personnel Commission, the Commission unanimously upheld the termination.

Police Officer v. City (2018) - Police officer was suspended for making inappropriate and homophobic posts and comments on Facebook which violated the City’s anti-harassment policies and was deemed conduct unbecoming an officer which would put the Department in a negative light.  The Officer claimed that the Facebook posts were merely jokes among friends and did not intend them to be offensive to others and claimed the posts were made “privately.”  After five days of hearing, an impartial arbitrator rejected the Officer’s arguments and all affirmative defenses finding that the City had established the charges against the officer by a preponderance of the evidence.  The arbitrator upheld the discipline, which was ultimately reduced to a written reprimand in compliance with the concept of progressive discipline.

Water Distribution Crew Supervisor v. City (2017) - Water Distribution Crew Supervisor in the City’s Public Works department was suspended for five days without pay for engaging in insubordinate, defiant and dishonest conduct.  The Crew Supervisor was ordered, as were all others in his department, to enter their time a certain way on their time cards for emergency callbacks.  The time was not being properly tracked because the Crew Supervisor and others entered a minimum of two hours worked regardless of how much time they actually worked on an emergency call out.  Their time cards also did not reflect the actual time spent at the work site and accounted for travel time to and from the site, which was contrary to the MOU provisions.  The Crew Supervisor was the only one who did not comply with these time card entry instructions and continued to enter his time as he had in the past, and admittedly did so, on the advice of the union.  The Crew Supervisor claimed he was engaging in protected concerted activity because he was objecting to the way his supervisors asked him to enter his time and claimed it was in violation of the MOU.  Over three nights of hearing before a five-member Personnel Board, the Board returned with a unanimous decision (5-0) to uphold the five-day unpaid suspension.

Fire Captain v. City (2016) - Fire Captain, who served as the City’s Fire Marshall, was issued a written reprimand by the Fire Chief for exceeding the Fire Marshall budget and training budget after repeated warnings.  The Fire Captain scheduled part-time fire inspectors as full-time employees, among other things, thereby exceeding the number of allotted hours for the inspectors.  The Fire Captain claimed that the Fire Chief and others knew of the budgetary issues and allowed the Fire Captain to proceed and surpass the budget.  The Fire Captain was provided an informal evidentiary appeal hearing pursuant to the MOU and FBOR before the City’s Police Chief, as the designated hearing officer.  After five days of hearing, the Police Chief issued her decision and upheld the written reprimand, noting that the Fire Captain had been repeatedly told to monitor the budget and that it was his responsibility to not exceed the budget.  The Fire Captain later filed a petition for writ of mandate in Superior Court, but withdrew the petition.

Police Corporal v. City (2016) - Police Corporal was terminated for dishonesty.  The Police Corporal lied to two sergeants about a briefing training topic.  The Corporal requested the opportunity to conduct briefing training on the Department’s seat belt policy.  Prior to presenting, a sergeant asked what topic he was training on and he lied to him, saying “seat belt policy” and pointing to the dry erase board in the front of the briefing room which read “seat belt policy.” As the Corporal began his training, he crossed the words off the board and told the audience he would now be training on ethics and transparency within the Department.  During the first day of hearing, the City learned that the Corporal had surreptitiously recorded the briefing training without the knowledge or consent of anyone in the room.  The hearing was suspended to allow the Department to investigate newly discovered criminal and administrative violations, which resulted in a DA reject, but an additional sustained finding of dishonesty and violation of the Department’s audio recorder policies.  The Department issued a supplemental Notice of Termination, including the additional charges.  The Corporal claimed he never lied about the training topic, yet admitted recording the training session without the approval of those in attendance.  An impartial hearing officer conducted the hearing over five days and issued an advisory decision to the City Manager recommending that the termination be sustained.  The City Manager upheld the termination.

Police Corporal v. City (2016) - Police Corporal was terminated for striking his 16 year old daughter in the face multiple times and threatening her boyfriend after finding them having sex at the Corporal’s home during his shift.  The Police Corporal also ran the boyfriend’s name in the Department’s California Law Enforcement Telecommunication System (“CLETS”) for an unauthorized reason and defied a direct order from a supervisor when he attended his daughter’s softball game on a local high school campus during his shift.  The Corporal admitted most of the misconduct, but asserted that the Police Chief’s level of discipline was too harsh.  The parties submitted their closing briefs on February 3, 2017.  An impartial hearing officer conducted the hearing over four days and issued an advisory decision to the City Manager recommending that the termination be sustained.  The Corporal appealed to the City Council and the Council ultimately upheld the termination. 

Police Sergeant v. City (2016) - Police Sergeant was suspended for negligently discharging his weapon during a welfare check on a parked vehicle in a residential area.  As the acting Watch Commander on duty, he utilized poor tactics in approaching the vehicle, failed to inform dispatch of his location, failed to announce himself as a police officer to the occupant of the vehicle, and displayed a serious lack of competency which damaged the reputation of the Police Department.  The Police Sergeant admitted the misconduct but asserted that the level of discipline was too harsh.  After four days of an evidentiary hearing, an impartial arbitrator sustained the forty-hour suspension.

Police Officer v. City (2015) - Police Officer was suspended for two shifts (20 hours) for unlawfully detaining and arresting a bystander who was filming near the scene of an investigation and for later requesting and obtaining the arrest report relating to that incident for personal purposes.  The encounter with the suspect/bystander was caught on videotape, and the footage was posted online, causing widespread criticism of the arrest and the Police Department in social media, news broadcasts, and emails and calls to the Department.  The Police Officer claimed the bystander was interfering with his investigation and that the arrest was, therefore, lawful, and claims he pulled the police report to protect his family.  The City’s Personnel Advisory Board rejected the Officer’s arguments and sustained the twenty-hour suspension.

Police Jailer v. City (2015) - Police Jailer was suspended without pay for eighty hours for being insubordinate by failing to report for work and was inattentive and derelict in fulfilling her duties as a jailer being absent without leave resulting in significant disruption to the Police Department’s jail operations.  The Jailer claims there was simply a miscommunication with respect to requesting time off.  The City’s Personnel Board conducted a closed evidentiary hearing, rejected the Jailer’s arguments, and decided unanimously to sustain the eighty-hour unpaid suspension.

Deputy Sheriff v. Sheriff's Department (2013) - Deputy Sheriff was terminated based on his failure to perform his basic job duties as a Deputy Sheriff assigned to Men's Central Jail and for falsifying Sheriff's Department documents.  The Deputy was terminated for leaving his designated module area unattended and failing to obtain proper relief by his shift partners.  During the periods of absence, the Deputy's module area containing inmate jail cells was left unattended and unmonitored.  The Deputy falsified logs to make it appear as if he had monitored his assigned jail cells.  The Appellant denied some of the factual allegations and claimed that the Police Chief's punishment was too harsh. The Civil Service Commission rejected the former Deputy's arguments and upheld the termination.

Firefighter/Paramedic v. City (2012) - City firefighter/paramedic was suspended for three shifts based on his failure to perform his basic job duties as a firefighter/paramedic, including failure to respond to a call for service, failure to report for duty, and failure to have Fire Department apparatus, equipment, and supplies in a response-ready condition. The Appellant denied most of the factual allegations and claimed that the Fire Chief's punishment was unreasonable. The Administrative Law Judge with the Office of Administrative Hearings rejected the firefighter/paramedic's arguments and upheld the three-shift suspension.

Deputy Sheriff v. Sheriff's Department (2011) - Deputy Sheriff was terminated based on his failure to perform his basic job duties as a Deputy Sheriff assigned to Men's Central Jail and for falsifying Sheriff's Department documents.  The Deputy was assigned to Men's Central Jail and was terminated for inappropriately accessing or hacking into the Sheriff's Department's computer system in order to create barcode "cheat sheets" which he and his fellow Deputies and Custody Assistants could use in lieu of conducting their required physical checks on the inmates in their cells. The Appellant admitted to the misconduct, but asserted that the Police Chief's level of discipline was too harsh. The Civil Service Commission rejected the former Deputy's arguments and upheld the termination.

LITIGATION

Juan 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 harassment and failure to accommodate, against the City and two managers.

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, a Division of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Glenn William Steele v. Southern California Regional Rail Authority, d/b/a Metrolink (2011) - In a case handled by Steve Berliner and James Oldendorph of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore's Los Angeles office, the Los Angeles County Superior Court ruled that Metrolink's installation and operation of an audio and video monitoring system in the cabs of Metrolink locomotives did not violate the locomotive engineers' privacy rights, due process rights, and that the actions were not preempted by state law.  The union for the engineers that operate the locomotives, and one individual engineer, had sued Metrolink seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, arguing that the engineers had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the cabs of the locomotives and that Metrolink's monitoring system violated their procedural and substantive due process rights.  They also claimed that the installation of the cameras and the policy adopted to govern their use were preempted by state law. The Court granted Metrolink's motion for summary judgment on all of Plaintiffs' causes of action, finding that there were no issues of material fact warranting a trial.  This ruling resulted in a victory for Metrolink on all claims.

Education

  • BA, University of California, Santa Barbara

  • JD, Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles

Apr 11, 2018 Webinars on Demand
Critical Legal Update: Mandated Disclosures in Public Safety Investigations

Critical Legal Update: Mandated Disclosures in Public Safety Investigations

State Bar of California, Labor & Employment Section

Los Angeles County Bar Association

Education

  • BA, University of California, Santa Barbara

  • JD, Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles

Apr 11, 2018 Webinars on Demand
Critical Legal Update: Mandated Disclosures in Public Safety Investigations

Critical Legal Update: Mandated Disclosures in Public Safety Investigations

Selected for inclusion in Southern California Super Lawyers Rising Stars in the field of Labor and Employment, (2015 and 2016)

Education

  • BA, University of California, Santa Barbara

  • JD, Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles

Apr 11, 2018 Webinars on Demand
Critical Legal Update: Mandated Disclosures in Public Safety Investigations

Critical Legal Update: Mandated Disclosures in Public Safety Investigations

Nov 17, 2015

City May Recoup Costs From Former Peace Officer For Peace Officer Standards And Training (“POST”) Certification

On August 12, 2015, the Court of Appeal for the Fourth District held that police officers’ agreement to reimburse a city for training costs if they quit within five years was valid only to the extent the training related to Peace Officer Standards and Training (“POST”) certification mandated by law. The Court held that employer-mandated training or agency-specific training, on the other hand, is not reimbursable to the city because this training is completed for the benefit of the city, and seeking reimbursement for it would be a violation of Labor Code section 2802.  The case, In Re Acknowledgment Cases, is a significant one for agencies that have, or are considering implementing, similar agreements whereby they require peace officers to reimburse the agency for the cost invested in officers’ POST certification and training in the police academy.

Mar 25, 2014

Fallout from Amazon security screening case may be far reaching

James Oldendorph published "Fallout from Amazon security screening case may b...

Education

  • BA, University of California, Santa Barbara

  • JD, Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles

Apr 11, 2018 Webinars on Demand
Critical Legal Update: Mandated Disclosures in Public Safety Investigations

Critical Legal Update: Mandated Disclosures in Public Safety Investigations

23 October 2019
17 April 2019
Customized Trainings

POBR

OC Parks Silverado
Read more
5 March 2019
Customized Trainings

HR for Non-HR Managers

ERMA Tehachapi
Read more
11 February 2019
Customized Trainings

Ethics in Public Service

City of Bellflower Bellflower
Read more
17 January 2019
Speaking Engagements

Managing Increased Public Access to Peace Officer Personnel Records After SB 1421 and AB 748

Riverside County Law Enforcement Administrators Association (RCLEAA) Palm Springs
Read more
10 January 2019
Customized Trainings

Reasonable Suspicion: Drugs and Alcohol

Ventura County Fire District Camarillo
Read more

Education

  • BA, University of California, Santa Barbara

  • JD, Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles

Apr 11, 2018 Webinars on Demand
Critical Legal Update: Mandated Disclosures in Public Safety Investigations

Critical Legal Update: Mandated Disclosures in Public Safety Investigations

Contact Us

General Inquiries

info@lcwlegal.com

Contact a Specific Office

Our Locations

Media Inquiries

Please contact Cynthia Weldon, Director of Marketing & Training, 800.981.2000.

close

back