Melanie L. Chaney

Melanie L. Chaney Partner

Melanie represents and regularly advises cities, counties, community college districts, school districts, public safety departments and special districts regarding employee and labor relations matters.  The breadth of her experience as both a negotiator and a litigator informs her practical approach to the myriad of labor and employment issues faced by public entities. 

Melanie expertly guides clients through the meet and confer process including through impasse, mediation and factfinding.  She negotiates, drafts and provides guidance for interpreting collective bargaining agreements and memoranda of understanding under the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA) and the Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA).  She also handles all aspects of labor disputes including unfair labor practice charges before the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).

Melanie is also an experienced litigator who has successfully handled employment cases involving claims such as harassment, discrimination, retaliation and wage and hour claims.  She has received favorable verdicts in state and federal court before judges and juries.

Melanie frequently handles arbitrations and administrative proceedings including disciplinary actions and grievances, and regularly represents public safety departments in police officer discipline matters. She has successfully handled matters before administrative bodies such as the Office of Administrative Hearings, Labor Commissioner, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. She also conducts and assists with workplace investigations and provides advice on creating and updating personnel procedures and policies.

Melanie serves on the executive committees of the firm’s Labor Relations and Public Education practice groups.  She is also a contributing author to the firm's California Public Agency Labor & Employment Blog.

A lawyer since 1994, Melanie has been selected for inclusion in Southern California Super Lawyers by her peers on numerous occasions.  Before joining LCW, Melanie focused her practice on handling complex litigation from pleading through trial and appeal.  She also advised entertainment media companies regarding free expression, employment issues and business affairs.  

Education

  • JD, University of Southern California Law School

  • BA, University of California, Los Angeles

ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS

Police Officer v. City (2015) - Obtained decision from Hearing Officer and City upholding the termination of a police officer for misconduct including engaging in numerous on-duty sexual encounters with multiple women.

Police Officer v. City (2014) - Obtained decision from Hearing Officer and City upholding the termination of a police officer for misconduct including damaging a police vehicle and then lying about it during the investigation.

Employee v. City (2013) - Obtained decision from Hearing Officer and City Personnel Commission upholding the termination of maintenance supervisor for misconduct including using obscene language, engaging in violence in the workplace and engaging In retaliatory action against a subordinate employee.

APPELLATE

Siegmund v. County of Orange (2011) - 700 deputy sheriffs alleged that the County failed to pay overtime at the correct regular rate in violation of the FLSA. LCW obtained summary judgment for the County, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling for the County, finding that the deputy sheriffs failed to show that any employee was paid less than the FLSA requires for any pay period.

LITIGATION

Sotelo v. City of Oxnard (2015) - LCW successfully defended the City of Oxnard against five causes of actions, including FEHA discrimination and whistleblower retaliation claims, brought against it by the City's former City Manager in a jury trial in federal court. The jury returned a defense verdict on all claims.

Community College v. Former Faculty Member (2013) - Represented a community college district in a case where the District and the faculty member entered into a settlement agreement to resolve an administrative appeal of his dismissal from employment. The District agreed to keep the faculty member on the payroll so that he could retire from CalSTRS and then apply for District's paid retiree health benefits. The District upheld its end of the settlement, but the faculty member, after collecting over one year of pay on administrative leave, asserted that the settlement agreement did not require him to retire from CalSTRS. As a result, he did not timely retire from CalSTRS which rendered him ineligible to receive the District's health benefits. After a bench trial, the court held that the faculty member was not a District retiree as a result of his own actions and that the District is not responsible for any losses suffered as a result of his failure to timely retire from CalSTRS.

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.

Taylor v. LAUSD (2010) - Taylor was a teacher with LAUSD who was terminated for cause for unsatisfactory performance and rude conduct towards students. Melanie successfully represented the District in the underlying termination appeal hearing by Petitioner Darryl Taylor. Subsequently, she obtained a denial from the Los Angeles County Superior Court of Taylor's writ appealing the Commission on Professional Competence's decision terminating him.

NEGOTIATIONS

Orange County (2016) - Melanie is currently the lead negotiator for the County with Teamsters.

Orange County (2015) - Melanie was the lead negotiator for the County with the Alliance of Orange County Workers (AOCW).

Desert Community College District (2015 & 2016) - Melanie was the lead negotiator for the District with its classified bargaining unit. The parties reached a successor agreement.

Hope Elementary School District (2014-2015) - Lead negotiator for the District with its teachers association. Negotiations ended in an agreement in 2014 and 2015.

City of Glendora (2014-2016)- Melanie is the lead negotiator for the City with its municipal employees association.

City of Santa Paula (2016) -Melanie handled factfinding proceedings for the City with its public safety unit that resulted in a successor agreement. Melanie handled negotiations with SEIU that resulted in a successor agreement. Melanie is also currently handling meet and confer efforts for a successor agreement with the City's fire bargaining unit.

PERB

Constantino Gabriel v. LACCD (2014) - Successfully represented the District against unfair practice charge alleging unlawful retaliation under the EERA. PERB dismissed the charge without leave to amend.

GMEA v. City of Glendora - After receiving City's response, PERB office dismissed UPC alleging, among other things, that City failed to exercise good faith during impasse procedure when it unilaterally imposed furloughs on its members.

Education

  • JD, University of Southern California Law School

  • BA, University of California, Los Angeles

Selected for inclusion in Southern California Super Lawyers, (2008-2010)

Education

  • JD, University of Southern California Law School

  • BA, University of California, Los Angeles

Jun 12, 2017

Time for Districts to Certify Compliance with SB 1379 is Near

We previously reported that SB 1379 added section 87482.3 to the Education Code.  This new section imposes an affirmative obligation on districts to bargain part-time faculty reemployment rights as a condition of receiving Student Success and Support Program (SSSP) funding, whether or not the bargaining unit requests to do so.  The provisions of SB 1379 apply to SSSP funds allocated to community college districts on or after July 1, 2017.

May 3, 2017

Cleaning of Your Personnel Rules – Don’t Delay Getting Started

We are settling into 2017 and winter is fading away.  As springtime approaches and we clean out our closets and desks, it is also a good time to review your agency’s personnel rules and policies and give them a thorough “spring cleaning.”   

Apr 13, 2017

Great Time to Conduct Annual Spring Cleaning of Your Personnel Rules

We are settling into 2017 and winter is fading away.  As springtime approaches and we clean out our closets and desks, it is also a good time to review your agency’s personnel rules and policies and give them a thorough “spring cleaning.”   

Feb 28, 2017

Spring Cleaning – Have You Reviewed Your Personnel Rules Lately?

We are settling into 2017 and winter is fading away.  As springtime approaches and we clean out our closets and desks, it is also a good time to review your agency’s personnel rules and policies and give them a thorough “spring cleaning.”   While reviewing and updating your personnel rules can be time-consuming, it is well worth the time in the long-run.  Having updated personnel rules can help your agency implement current best practices and, most importantly, reduce potential liability.  So take the time to make sure your rules comply with all new employment laws and regulations, cover all essential areas in these fast-changing times, and delete any confusing or obsolete rules.  

Oct 20, 2016

Three Common Pitfalls in the Reasonable Accommodation Process

The Reasonable Accommodation Process continues to be an important issue for public sector employers. Under the ADA and FEHA, the employer has the duty to identify and implement a reasonable accommodation to allow a disabled employee to perform the essential functions of the job. Over the past several years, we have seen numerous public agencies have challenges with determining appropriate accommodations.

Aug 22, 2016

2016 is the Year of the FLSA Audit!

A number of developments this year – the recent decision in Flores v. City of San Gabriel on the intersection of wage and hour law and employer health plans, the new changes coming December 1, 2016 to overtime exemption rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), and the U.S. Department of Labor's ("DOL") increased scrutiny of employers' FLSA practices – together provide a resounding "wake-up call" to employers.  This is the year to assure FLSA compliance.  Indeed, litigation based on alleged violations of the FLSA and state wage laws continues to grow exponentially, with federal wage and hour filings up 450% since 2000 and hitting an all-time high in 2015.  A multitude of legislative, regulatory, and litigation developments highlight the need for agencies to audit their policies and practices for FLSA compliance. 

Education

  • JD, University of Southern California Law School

  • BA, University of California, Los Angeles

7 March 2018
Consortium Trainings

Maximizing Performance Through Evaluation, Documentation and Discipline

Los Angeles County Human Resources Los Angeles
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19 October 2017
Speaking Engagements

Mock Trial: How to Litigate an Employment Case- Do’s and Don’ts from the Trenches

Association of Chief Human Resources Officers/Equal Employment Opportunity Officers (ACHRO) Fall Institute Garden Grove
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19 October 2017
Speaking Engagements

Town Hall - Legal Eagles

Association of Chief Human Resources Officers/Equal Employment Opportunity Officers (ACHRO) Fall Institute Garden Grove
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3 October 2017
Webinars on Demand

Oh Great - We Have a Grievance!

3 May 2017
Consortium Trainings

MOU Auditing and The Book of Long Term Debt

South Bay ERC Rolling Hills Estates
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2 May 2017
Consortium Trainings

MOU Auditing and The Book of Long Term Debt

North San Diego County ERC Carlsbad
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Education

  • JD, University of Southern California Law School

  • 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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