Judith S. Islas

Judith S. Islas Partner

Judith has represented public and private employers in all aspects of labor and employment law for more than twenty years.  Judith also has a full education law practice, and has worked with well over fifty private K-12 schools throughout the state, as well as private and public colleges and universities. On a daily basis, Judith works with and advises Heads of School, Chief Financial Officers, Human Resources Directors, and other top level administrators, on a variety of employment and education issues. Judith also regularly advises Governing Boards on a multitude of policy, strategic, governance, and other issues.

Judith is an experienced investigator and is certified as a level III ATIXA Civil Rights (Title IX) Investigator. Judith regularly conducts employment related investigations for both public and private agencies and organizations, including colleges and universities, cities, and special districts. Judith conducts a variety of different types of employment investigations, including high profile, complex, and politically sensitive investigations. Judith also conducts student related investigations for colleges and universities, including Title IX investigations. Judith's abilities as an investigator includes her wealth of experience and skills from litigating cases for over twenty years, and understanding the art of gathering facts, witness interviews, obtaining relevant information, reaching supportable conclusions, and other skills necessary to conduct a sound and defensible investigation. Judith also regularly drafts the full range of employment and student based documents, including employee and student/parent handbooks, employment offer letters and employment agreements and enrollment agreements.

Judith is also a highly experienced litigator and she represents employers in discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, and other employment based cases, as well as student based issues. Her practice includes both state and federal court and various administrative agencies, including wage and hour disputes before the DLSE and discrimination and harassment complaints before the DFEH and EEOC. A skilled appellate lawyer, Judith has successfully handled multiple appeals before the California Court of Appeal and the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals and has several published appellate decisions.   

Judith is a popular speaker and regularly conducts management training on a wide variety of employment, student, and governance issues.  Some of the topics Judith presents on are preventing discrimination & harassment, best practices to avoid liability, drafting effective performance evaluations, managing the marginal employee, basic supervisor training, teacher/student boundaries, Title IX, mandated reporter laws, and conducting investigations. Judith also regularly presents the "train the trainer" workshop, for human resources professionals to obtain certification to conduct AB 1825 training.

Prior to joining Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, Judith was a partner in a national labor and employment law firm and then was a partner in a boutique employment and business litigation firm. Judith began her career representing employers at Liebert, Cassidy & Frierson, LCW's predecessor.

Education

  • JD, University of California, Davis School of Law

  • BA, University of California, Los Angeles

APPELLATE

Williams v. Chino Valley Independent Fire District (II) (2015) - Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed trial court's dismissal of a Federal Court disability discrimination lawsuit filed by a retired fire captain who alleged he was discriminated against in his efforts to be re-hired into the position from which he disability-retired several years earlier. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the complaint did not allege a viable claim of discrimination because the allegedly discriminatory policy was neutral on its face.

Williams v. Chino Valley Independent Fire District (III) (2015) - Court of Appeal affirmed the dismissal of an action filed by a retired fire captain challenging his disability retirement several years earlier, claiming it was unlawful, and seeking reinstatement to his position and multiple years of backpay. The Court of Appeal agreed with trial court's sustaining the District's demurrer without leave to amend, agreeing the lawsuit was barred by the statute of limitations and that the former fire captain consented to his retirement.

Williams v. Chino Valley Independent Fire District (I) (2011) - Court of Appeal issued a peremptory writ ordering the trial court to dismiss the lawsuit filed by a former fire captain claiming the District was required to reinstate him to his former position from which he had disability retired.

Brar v. City of Banning (II)  (2010) - Melanie Poturica and Judith Islas prevailed in a writ action brought by the City's former Assistant Public Works Director's challenging his termination for violation of the City's sexual harassment policy. The employee claimed there was not substantial evidence to support the City Manager's finding he had violated the sexual harassment policy, and that even if he had, termination was an excessive penalty. Melanie and Judith successfully defended the termination in the trial court by way of summary judgment which was affirmed by the Court of Appeal. Brar continued his challenge by filing a petition for review, asking the California Supreme Court to hear the case. Melanie and Judith opposed this petition, and the California Supreme Court denied Brar's request for review, leaving intact the City's victory in the Court of Appeal.

Thompson v. City of Monrovia (2010) - In a case handled by Scott Tiedemann and Judith Islas, the Court of Appeal, second judicial district, affirmed summary judgment in this alleged retaliation and harassment case brought by a Caucasian police officer based on alleged discriminatory treatment towards his African-American co-worker.  Specifically, the officer claimed he was retaliated against for reporting alleged discriminatory treatment of his African-American co-worker and for testifying on the co-worker's behalf in a separate lawsuit brought by the co-worker.  The officer also alleged the City failed to investigate the alleged harassment and retaliation. In a lengthy opinion, the Court decisively rejected all of the officer's arguments.  Key in the court's analysis was the long and well-documented history of the officer's performance issues.  On the harassment and hostile environment claims, the Court concluded that a Caucasian officer can premise these causes of action based on an association with or advocacy on behalf of another officer's protected classification but must show he was personally subjected to unwanted racial comments as a result of the association or advocacy and also, that the conduct was severe and pervasive, which the officer failed to so in this case.

INVESTIGATIONS

Title IX & Title V Investigation (2016) - Conducted investigation into allegations of sexual harassment, national origin discrimination, and other alleged misconduct at a community college.

Title IX Investigation (2015) - Conducted investigation into allegations of sexual assault at an off-campus party at a private liberal arts college.

Title IX Investigation (2015) - Conducted investigation into allegations of sexual assault in a dorm at a private liberal arts college.

Title IX & Title V Investigation (2015) - Conducted investigations into allegations of sexual harassment and race discrimination at a community college.

OCR Ordered Supplemental Investigation (2015) - Appointed as investigator approved by the United States Office of Civil Rights to conduct a supplemental investigation into allegations that a community college professor engaged in conduct that created a racially hostile environment in class.

Alleged Misconduct Investigation (2014) - Conducted investigation into allegations of misconduct against Human Resources Director.

Alleged Misconduct Investigation (2014) - Conducted investigation into allegations of violation of County and Department Rules and other misconduct by two firefighter/ paramedics.

Alleged Misconduct Investigation (2013) - Conducted investigation into allegations of misconduct by executive assistant to a high-ranking public official.

Alleged Misconduct Investigation (2013) - Conducted investigation into allegations of misconduct against community college professor.

Alleged Misconduct Investigation (2012) - Conducted investigation into allegations of misconduct against high-ranking public officials.

LITIGATION

Williams v. Chino Valley Independent Fire District (III) (2013) - Obtained dismissal of an action filed by a retired fire captain challenging his disability retirement several years earlier, claiming it was unlawful and seeking reinstatement to his position and multiple years of backpay. The court granted the District's demurrer without leave to amend, agreeing the lawsuit was barred by the statute of limitations and that the former fire captain had consented to his retirement.

Williams v. Chino Valley Independent Fire District (II) (2012) - Obtained dismissal of a Federal Court disability discrimination lawsuit filed by a retired fire captain, who alleged he was discriminated against in his efforts to be re-hired into the position from which he disability-retired several years ago.  LCW attorneys had previously obtained dismissal of a prior action filed by this retired fire captain in state court.  When he then tried to re-litigate his claims in the federal court system, the motion was filed to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12 (b)(6) arguing the state court judgment on these claims precluded the fire captain from re-litigating in federal court.  They also argued the federal complaint failed to state a viable claim because the District's limit to a one year requalification period applied to anyone who wanted to be re-hired into a prior previously held position, not just disabled individuals.

Breach of Contract (2012) - Obtained a victory for a private liberal arts and sciences college in a federal court case filed by a former student who after withdrawing, claimed the college breached contractual and other legal obligations. The college is located in Iowa and the case was filed in federal court in Los Angeles, in an attempt to "forum shop" and litigate the case in a forum more favorable to plaintiff for statute of limitations purposes. Prepared a motion to dismiss the case based on lack of personal jurisdiction, improper venue and forum non-conveniens, and met and conferred with the former students' lawyer, after which plaintiff outright dismissed the case. This is a victory for an out of state college that was the victim of forum shopping and an attempt to subject that college to litigation in California. A swift and comprehensive attack to the lawsuit saved the college from the burden of litigating a case halfway across the country.

Brar v. City of Banning (I) (2010) - In a case handled by Melanie Poturica and Judith Islas, they obtained a summary judgment resulting in complete dismissal of a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by the City's former Assistant Public Works Director, who claimed his being placed on administrative leave and then terminated was the result of retaliation for his complaining about sexual harassment and national origin discrimination. The Court held that there were legitimate business reasons for his termination and the City's other actions, and the employee failed to show those legitimate reasons were a pretext for discrimination.

Education

  • JD, University of California, Davis School of Law

  • BA, University of California, Los Angeles

National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA)

California Council of School Attorneys (CCSA)

College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR)

IPMA (2009-Current)

Education

  • JD, University of California, Davis School of Law

  • BA, University of California, Los Angeles

Nov 1, 2015

Contractually Bound: Enforceable Enrollment Contracts without the Drama

Grace Lee, NBOA's vice president, legal affairs, interviewed Judith Islas on various challenges faced by private schools in regards to their enrollment contracts. This interview was published in the November 2015 issue of NBOA's Legal Matters.

Jul 22, 2015

Williams v. Chino Valley Independent Fire District: Employer's Perspective

Reprinted with permission of the State Bar of California and the California L...

Mar 11, 2015

Crisis Management: The Calm before the Storm

by Judith Islas and Travis Taylor Crises are inevitable, and they often hit w...

Education

  • JD, University of California, Davis School of Law

  • BA, University of California, Los Angeles

16 November 2017
Speaking Engagements

Legal Update

International Public Management Association (IPMA) San Diego
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27 October 2017
Customized Trainings

Train the Trainer Refresher: Harassment Prevention

Liebert Cassidy Whitmore San Diego
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17 October 2017
Consortium Trainings

Iron Fists or Kid Gloves: Retaliation in the Workplace

North San Diego County ERC San Marcos
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17 October 2017
Consortium Trainings

Terminating the Employment Relationship

North San Diego County ERC San Marcos
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30 August 2017
Customized Trainings

Mandated Reporting

The Children's School La Jolla
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Education

  • JD, University of California, Davis School of Law

  • BA, University of California, Los Angeles

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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