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.  

Professional and Community Involvement

Melanie is a member of the California Council of School Attorneys (CCSA).


Melanie was selected as a Southern California Super Lawyer in 2008-2010. 


  • BA, University of California, Los Angeles

  • JD, University of Southern California Law School


Employee v. City (2017) – Obtained decision from Hearing Officer and City upholding termination of police department dispatcher for misconduct including inappropriate and disruptive outbursts towards coworkers and supervisors.

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.


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.


Sotelo v. City of Oxnard (2015) - 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.


Ventura Regional Sanitation District – SEIU, IUOE

San Bernardino County Employees’ Retirement Ass’n – SEIU Local 721

City of Los Alamitos – POA, Teamsters

City of Claremont – POA

City of Ventura – SEIU Local 721, VMEA (municipal employees)

Rancho Santiago Community College District– FARSCCD (Faculty), CEFA (Part-time Non-Credit Faculty)

Chaffey Community College District – CSEA (classified)

City of Simi Valley – Legal Support for PMA (police management)

Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority – Legal Support for SMART (transit operators), TCU

City of Glendora – POA, AFSCME

Orange County – Teamsters

City of Santa Paula –POA, VCPFA (Fire), SEIU Local 721

Desert Community College District – CSEA (classified)

Hope Elementary School District – HDTA (teachers) 


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 (2011) - 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.


  • BA, University of California, Los Angeles

  • JD, University of Southern California Law School

Nov 16, 2020 Press Release

LCW to Present Eight Workshops at the 2020 Community College League of California Annual Convention

We are thrilled to present and sponsor the 2020 Community College League of California Annual Convention taking place virtually this week (November 17 – 20)!  Don’t miss our eight scheduled conference presentations by our expert speakers.  Topics include return to campus issues, layoffs, negotiating in stressful budgetary times, and much, much more. 

Nov 16, 2020 Press Release

LCW to Present Nine Workshops at the 2020 Annual CALPELRA Virtual Conference

We are pleased to present and sponsor the 2020 Annual CALPELRA Conference taking place virtually this week (November 16 – 20)!  Don’t miss our nine scheduled conference presentations by our expert speakers.  Topics include negotiating in difficult times, telecommuting issues, public safety disability accommodations, and much, much more. 

Feb 19, 2019

Democracy in Action

As a proud American citizen, I want to instill a healthy respect for American government and democracy in my child.  I have a son who has an interest in American government that belies his seven years on this earth.

Oct 9, 2018

Conducting Effective Workplace Investigations Is Essential To Minimizing The Risk Of Liability On A Failure To Prevent Harassment Claim

Under Title VII and the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), the employer has an affirmative obligation to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent harassment, discrimination, or retaliation.  In order to comply with this obligation, employers must investigate all complaints of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation.  If an employer receives a complaint, failing to investigate at all or failing to conduct an appropriate workplace investigation could lead to liability on a failure to prevent harassment claim.  Importantly, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the agency which enforces the FEHA, may prosecute an alleged failure to investigate as an independent violation, even where there is no legally actionable claim of harassment.  An employer’s ability to defend its position that it has taken all reasonable steps to prevent harassment will depend heavily on the quality of the underlying investigation.  For these reasons, it is imperative that employers:

Mar 15, 2018

Three Tips For An Effective Workplace Security Plan

Recent national events remind us that violence in the workplace has been, and continues to be, a huge issue for employers. The beginning of a new year is a great time for reflection on events from the previous year, identifying any lessons learned, and making any necessary adjustments.

In California, the law imposes a duty on all employers to provide a safe workplace. All employers are required to have a workplace security plan.  If your agency does not have a workplace security plan, or if the plan has not been reviewed recently, we recommend taking the time now to address the matter.   Here are a few preventative measures employers should incorporate into an effective workplace security plan.

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.


  • BA, University of California, Los Angeles

  • JD, University of Southern California Law School

3 June 2021
Consortium Trainings

Legal Issues Regarding Hiring

West Inland Empire ERC Webinar
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22 April 2021
Consortium Trainings

Finding the Facts: Employee Misconduct & Disciplinary Investigations

North San Diego County ERC Webinar
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22 April 2021
Consortium Trainings

Finding the Facts: Employee Misconduct & Disciplinary Investigations

West Inland Empire ERC Webinar
Read more
16 April 2021
Customized Trainings


Rancho Santiago Community College District Webinar
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5 March 2021
Consortium Trainings

Exercising your Management Rights

Central CA CCD ERC Webinar
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26 February 2021
Speaking Engagements

Time, Place, & Manner - Free Expression Issues on Campus

Community College League of California (CCLC) CEO Symposium Webinar
Read more


  • BA, University of California, Los Angeles

  • JD, University of Southern California Law School

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