Pilar represents public and private educational institutions, in such areas as administrative, personnel, student matters, general business law, governance, the Brown Act, Public Records Act, and conflicts of interest.
Pilar is experienced in representing educational institutions in responding to complaints filed with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights alleging harassment, retaliation and discrimination. Pilar regularly provides advice and counsel to help clients integrate the requirements of all federal, state, and local regulations, in responding to and preventing harassment and discrimination.
Pilar also represents school and colleges in employment disputes including matters under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, Title VII, Americans with Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, California Labor Code, California Education Code, collective bargaining agreements, Personnel Commission rules, employment contracts, state and federal law, or other applicable source of employment laws. Pilar serves as an advocate in administrative hearings related to discipline, layoff/reduction-in-force hearings, and other administrative hearings before governmental agencies. Pilar provides advice and counsel with regard to employment issues including but not limited to hiring and employment classifications, employee discipline, family and medical and related leaves, disability issues and the interactive process, privacy and speech issues.
Pilar also provides legal advice related to general education law including, school law enforcement, constitutional issues, First Amendment, student discipline, student privacy laws, student records, confidentiality and FERPA, student grievances and complaints.
Pilar regularly advises educational institutions about sexual misconduct policies, changes in the law, and investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct, including sexual violence. She assists the firm's clients in complying with the overlapping laws including the Education Code, Campus SaVE, Clery, and FERPA. Pilar has trained boards, Title IX Coordinators, faculty and students at various colleges and schools concerning the prevention of and response to sexual harassment and assaults in compliance with federal and state laws and regulations. She also has presented on this topic at the Association of California Community College Administrators, California Council of School Attorneys and the Community College League of California. Pilar regularly works with the firm's education clients in assisting them with the supervision of outside investigators, discipline, interim measures, and the revision of rules and procedures.
Pilar is experienced in all phases of trial practice, including litigation before state and federal courts, administrative bodies, and alternative dispute resolution procedures such as mediation and arbitration.
Pilar is experienced in conducting and assisting with investigations pertaining to harassment, discrimination and employee and student misconduct. Pilar advises and conducts training for clients concerning best practices and compliance with state and federal laws.
Pilar is serving on the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) NOTES Editorial Board from 2014. Between 2012-2014, she served on the editorial board of the Journal of College and University Law. She is a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys, the California Council of School Attorneys, and the National School Board Association's Counsel of School Attorneys.
Pilar is bilingual and conducts investigations and training in Spanish.
Joseph Salemi v. Los Angeles Unified School District (2012) - In an 11-day teacher termination appeal hearing, the Commission on Professional Competence upheld the Los Angeles Unified School District's termination of a permanent certificated math teacher due to unsatisfactory performance under Education Code section 44932, subdivision (a)(4). The Commission on Professional Competence found good cause for the teacher's termination upon the District's demonstrating that the teacher failed to meet minimum reasonable requirements for teaching as measured by the District and that he had a sustained history of poor teaching and failed to make significant progress towards improvement, despite specific recommendations, coaching and accommodations provided by the administration. The teacher merely went through the motions of teaching by making PowerPoint presentations before his class, but did not engage the students or guide them through the lessons with any meaningful exchange.
Michael Wells v. Los Angeles Unified School District (2011) - Successfully defended a summary judgment in favor of the District in a case involving racial and sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation.
Jessica Jackson v. Los Angeles Unified School District (2011) - Successfully defended a summary judgment in favor of the District in a case involving racial harassment, discrimination, failure to prevent and retaliation.
Paulette Jackson and Alice Johnson v. Los Angeles Unified School District (2011) - Successfully defended summary judgment against two former employees in a case involving racial harassment, discrimination, failure to prevent and retaliation.
Chaffey Community College District v. Dale Tatum (2008) - Successfully defended summary judgment entered against a faculty member for breach of his sabbatical agreement.
Davis v. Los Angeles Unified School District Personnel Commission (2007) - Holding that an employee was not entitled to reinstatement if he could not return to active duty and that the employee was not entitled to back pay because the employee could not work due to his non-industrial disability.
Morrison v. Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (2003) - Court of appeal found substantial evidence that supported the trial court's findings in support of the board's decision to terminated employee. The Court also held that meetings that include fact-finding into charges and complaints against an employee require notice to the employee of the right to demand an open session under the Brown Act, Government Code section 54957, subd. (b)(2).
Bonner v. Occidental College, et. al. (2016) - Representing the College in a lawsuit involving 1) Age Discrimination; 2) Age Harassment; 3) Disability Discrimination; 4) Disability Harassment; 5) Failure to Accommodate Disability; 6) Failure to Engage in the Interactive Process; 7) Failure to Prevent Discrimination and Harassment; 8) Failure to Correct and Remedy Discrimination and Harassment; 9) Retaliation in Violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA); 10) Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy; 11) Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; and 12) Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress. We successfully disposed of the disability-related causes of action via demurrer. The Plaintiff then agreed to settle this matter.
Skelton v. Los Angeles Unified School District (2015) - Obtained summary judgment in favor of the District in a case involving a teacher who alleged race discrimination, race harassment, failure to prevent, and retaliation.
Harris v. City of Baldwin Park (2013) - Successfully defended the City of Baldwin Park against a former public works supervisor who sought reinstatement after the City terminated her for dishonesty, insubordination, threatening behavior and interference with an ongoing investigation.
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 half way across the country.
Liburd v. Los Angeles Unified School District (2011) - Successfully moved for judgment on the pleadings in favor of the District and individual defendants in a case involving various claims including failure to train and supervise, excessive force, and retaliation in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
Michael Wells v. Los Angeles Unified School District (2010) - Successfully defended the District and individual defendants in a case involving five Plaintiffs who were employees at three different schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District and sued alleging various FEHA violations. The court severed the cases finding they were not related and entered summary judgment against four of the Plaintiffs.
Yevnovkian v. Los Angeles Unified School District (2010) - Successfully represented the District against a petition for writ of mandate seeking reinstatement of a teacher who resigned and retired via a supplemental retirement program.
Coppi v. City of West Covina (2010) - Successfully obtained a defense verdict in a jury trial in the Los Angeles Superior Court in a case involving disability discrimination. Prior to trial, we obtained a summary adjudication on Plaintiff's claims under the Fair Employment and Housing Act for failure to engage in the interactive process and retaliation.
Alice Johnson v. LAUSD (2009) - Summary judgment in favor of LAUSD and against a special education teacher's assistant alleging discrimination based on race, and failure to prevent discrimination under FEHA. Plaintiff claimed she was demoted and improperly and repeatedly disciplined due to her race. However, this plaintiff had a lengthy disciplinary history starting from 2000 and was repeatedly written up and disciplined for failing to adequately supervise her assigned student (who suffered from seizures), reporting late to her post after breaks, falsifying her time records, and insubordination, among various other performance issues.
Jessica Jackson v. Los Angeles Unified School District (2009) - Won summary judgment in favor of the District in a case involving racial harassment, discrimination, failure to prevent and retaliation.
Paulette Jackson v. Los Angeles Unified School District (2009) - Won summary judgment in favor of the District in a case involving racial harassment, discrimination, failure to prevent and retaliation.
Davis v. LAUSD (2006) - Obtained judgment in favor of the Los Angeles Unified School District in a case involving a petition for writ of administrative mandate where an employee claimed he was wrongfully separated him from his employment after he exhausted all available leave during his non-work related disability. The petitioner sought an order awarding him reinstatement, attorneys' fees and costs, full back pay, restorations of benefits, reimbursement of PERS taxes, and other monetary damages.
Selected for inclusion in Southern California Rising Stars, (2006-2010)