Steven M. Berliner

Steven M. Berliner Partner

Steve has developed an extensive labor relations practice since joining the Firm nearly twenty years ago and has unparalleled retirement law expertise. Steve has acted as chief negotiator for many public agencies in labor negotiations with their employee groups, helping them reduce payroll and other costs. He also advises clients on contract interpretation issues and represents clients in grievance matters and is frequently called on to assist agencies in times of fiscal crisis.

Of particular importance to many agencies is reducing pension and retiree medical costs. Steve has successfully negotiated changes to agencies' arrangements with public employees that resulted in employees paying a greater share of the cost for these benefits. Steve has guided his clients through the transition to a new public pension landscape after enactment of PEPRA through statewide training and negotiations with labor organizations. Steve also is in charge of our firm's Retirement, Health and Disability Practice Group. That practice group ensures that our firm is on the cutting edge of the law related to these important areas and that all our attorneys are up to date on the latest cases and trends.

Steve has renowned expertise in the area of CalPERS, the County 1937 Retirement Act, STRS, and related retirement issues. He assists clients who have been audited by CalPERS in responding to the audit. He advises clients on the best course of action and litigates administrative appeals of CalPERS' findings.

Clients also benefit from Steve's expertise in advising and defending public agencies regarding the laws and regulations of public employee retirement plans, such as CalPERS, as well as on retiree health insurance issues. This includes advising and representing clients in administrative hearings and court as well as negotiating changes to retiree benefits. He represents clients in the administrative hearing and in court when employees challenge a denial of their industrial disability retirement application. Steve is also a trusted advisor to clients with regard to their obligations and rights when dealing with injured and disabled employees.

Steve defends clients in a wide range of lawsuits, including writs, breach of contract, the Fair Labor Standards Act, discrimination and harassment, and regularly represents our clients in employee disciplinary hearings. He is experienced in representing employers in labor-related cases before the California Superior Court, Court of Appeal, Federal District courts, the Public Employment Relations Board and in Public Employees' Retirement System hearings.

Education

  • JD, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

  • BA, State University of New York at Binghamton

LITIGATION

San Bernardino County of Public Attorneys Association (SBCPAA) v. County of San Bernardino, et. al. (2014) - Successfully defended the County of San Bernardino against SBCPAA's challenge to the County, eliminating its pick-up of a portion of the employees' contribution to the retirement system. SBCPAA argued that a statute enacted as part of the PEPRA actually required the County to continue the pick-ups absent the employees' agreement to a change in the employer contribution.

Neustadter v. CalPERS, et al. (2013) - In this case, Steve defended a lawsuit brought by a former local agency employee against CalPERS and the agency, that sought to compel higher retirement benefits through CalPERS or for the agency to pay the difference if CalPERS was determined to not be responsible for the payment. Steve successfully argued that the benefits currently being provided were correct and the agency had no further liability to the former employee.

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.

NEGOTIATIONS

City of Carlsbad - As Chief Negotiator, Steve successfully negotiated a number of labor agreements between the City and its safety and non-safety employee groups.

City of El Cajon - As Chief Negotiator, Steve successfully negotiated a number of labor agreements between the City and its safety and non-safety employee groups.

City of La Mesa - As Chief Negotiator, Steve successfully negotiated a number of labor agreements between the City and its safety and non-safety employee groups.

City of South Pasadena - As Chief Negotiator, Steve successfully negotiated a number of labor agreements between the City and its safety and non-safety employee groups.

City of Oceanside - As Chief Negotiator, Steve successfully negotiated a number of labor agreements between the City and its Fire Association and Police Officers Association.

Joshua Basin Water District - As Chief Negotiator, Steve successfully negotiated a labor agreement between the District and its employee group.

San Diego Superior Court - As Chief Negotiator, Steve successfully negotiated a number of labor agreements between the Court and its employee groups.

West Valley Mosquito Vector Control - As Chief Negotiator, Steve successfully negotiated a labor agreement between the District and its employee group.

City of Encinitas - Served on factfinding panel.

Kern County - Presented factfinding case on behalf of the County during its impasse with Firefighters.

City of Redondo Beach - Served on factfinding panel.

Port Hueneme - Served on factfinding panel.

Education

  • JD, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

  • BA, State University of New York at Binghamton

Top 75 Labor & Employment Lawyers, Daily Journal (2013-2014)

Top 25 Municipal Law Attorneys, Daily Journal (2012)

Education

  • JD, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

  • BA, State University of New York at Binghamton

Feb 4, 2015

Effect of Retirement Costs on Negotiations

In these monthly videos, members of LCW’s Labor Relations and Negotiations Services practice group will provide various tips that can be implemented at your bargaining tables. 

Jul 16, 2014 Press Release

Three LCW Partners Have Been Named "Top Labor & Employment Lawyers" by the Daily Journal

Three LCW Partners have been selected to the list of "Top Labor & Employm...

Sep 30, 2013 Press Release

Education

  • JD, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

  • BA, State University of New York at Binghamton

15 June 2017
Speaking Engagements

Surviving a CalPERS Audit – Avoiding Common Adverse Findings

Southern California Public Labor Relations Council (SCPLRC) Meeting Cerritos
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25 May 2017
Speaking Engagements

Anatomy of a CalPERS Audit: What to Know Now to Avoid Liability Later

California Special Districts Association (CSDA) Webinar Webinar
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Education

  • JD, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

  • BA, State University of New York at Binghamton

Contact Us

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info@lcwlegal.com

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Media Inquiries

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

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