In the News

Texas Super Lawyers Features 91 Haynes and Boone Lawyers

Ninety-one Haynes and Boone, LLP lawyers have been recognized in the Texas Super Lawyer 2013 award listing. >>

Haynes and Boone Advises Super D in Acquisition of Alliance Entertainment

A team of Haynes and Boone, LLP lawyers advised Super D, a global music wholesaler, in its acquisition of Alliance Entertainment Holding Corporation, a multimedia wholesale distributor, from Platinum Equity and the Gores Group. >>



Recent Publications

Proper Conditional Certification Standard Still Uncertain Despite Fifth Circuit’s Implicit Approval of Two-Step Approach

Based on a review of recent district court cases, uncertainty remains regarding the proper standard for certifying a Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) collective action in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. >>



Laura E. O'Donnell

Partner

San Antonio


112 East Pecan Street
Suite 1200
San Antonio, 78205
T +1 210.978.7421
F +1 210.554.0421

Austin


600 Congress Avenue
Suite 1300
Austin, 78701
T +1 512.867.8525
F +1 512.867.8470

Áreas de Practica

Educación

  • J.D., Baylor University School of Law, 1996, Presidential Scholarship Recipient; Member, Baylor Law Review
  • B.A., Trinity University, 1993

Bar Admissions

  • Texas

Court Admissions

  • United States Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • Texas Supreme Court
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas
Laura E. O'Donnell
Laura O'Donnell is Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Laura specializes in FLSA collective actions and state wage and hour class actions as well as class discrimination, particularly EEOC claims of systemic discrimination. Laura leads the firm's Wage and Hour Litigation group. In addition to collective and class actions, Laura regularly handles claims involving sexual harassment, employee competition and fiduciary duty breaches. Laura also has experience handling matters involving executive contracts, Title VII and related state causes of action, FMLA, ERISA and most other employment-based claims. Laura has handled several appeals of employment decisions to Texas Courts of Appeal, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court.

Selected Honors

  • Recognized by Texas Super Lawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers and Top 50 Central/West Texas Lawyers, 2013 
  • Recognized in Best Lawyers in America for Labor and Employment Law, 2011, Litigation - Labor & Employment, 2012-2014
  • Selected for inclusion in Texas Super Lawyers, 2010-2013
  • Martindale Hubbell® Law Directory with a Peer Review Rating of AV® Preeminent™
  • Selected for inclusion in Texas Super Lawyers - Rising Stars, 2004-2010
  • Recognized as one of San Antonio's "40 Under 40 Rising Stars" by the San Antonio Business Journal, 2006
  • Recognized as one of America's Up and Coming Leading Business Lawyers in Employment Law by Chambers USA, 2005-2009
  • Selected as the St. Paul Lutheran Child Development Center's 2006 "Teacher's Pet" based on her contributions to the Center and children in San Antonio
  • Selected as the San Antonio Human Resource Management Association's "Member to Remember" for 2002 based on her contributions to the human resource community and SAHRMA

Selected Client Representations

  • Defense of clients in wage and hour collective and class actions, involving claims of exempt misclassification, independent contractor misclassification, failure to pay overtime, "off-the-clock" work, tip pools, overtime on bonuses, joint employment and related wage and hour claims.
  • Defense of clients against EEOC charges of systemic discrimination in hiring practices.
  • Austin Court of Appeals decision reversing a jury verdict and holding that there was insufficient evidence of hostile work environment sexual harassment to submit claim to jury. Twigland Fashions, Ltd. v. Miller, S.W.3d, 2010 WL 850170 (Tex. App.-Austin March 11, 2010, no pet.).
  • Summary judgment for national retailer on claims of hostile work environment and quid pro quo sexual harassment and retaliation in Comal County, Texas (2012).
  • Defense award in a hostile work environment and quid pro quo sexual harassment claim against a regional restaurant chain, arbitrated in El Paso, Texas (December 2010).
  • Defense awards in two arbitrations challenging stock forfeiture provisions in national financial institution's employee incentive compensation plan, both arbitrated in Harris County, Texas (2009 and 2006). 
  • Defense verdict on a quid pro quo sexual harassment claim against a national retail chain, tried to a jury in Travis County, Texas district court (2007).
  • Temporary Injunction after a six-day hearing in a case alleging breach of fiduciary duty, brought by a Texas construction company against a former employee and his new employer, in Bexar County, Texas district court (2007).
  • Decision denying Motion for Conditional Certification and notice and ruling FLSA in favor of regional restaurant chain Badgett v. TexasTaco Cabana, L.P., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74350 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 12, 2006).
  • Ruling from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding summary judgment on ERISA denial of benefits claim and U.S. Supreme Court denial of certiorari (2006).
  • Defense verdict in a workers' compensation retaliation case against a national trucking company, tried to a jury in El Paso County, Texas district court (2001).
  • Defense verdict in a sexual harassment, sex discrimination and assault case against a national bank, tried to a jury in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division (1999).
  • Ruling from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that an employer-initiated arbitration agreement is enforceable and Order from the United States Supreme Court denying certiorari in the appeal of the Fifth Circuit's opinion (1998).
  • Summary Judgments in cases alleging violations of the FLSA, Title VII, the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act, the ADEA, the ADA, the Texas Workers' Compensation Act, the Texas Unemployment Act, COBRA, ERISA, the DOD Whistleblower Statute and various common law claims.

Selected Professional and Business Activities

  • St. Luke's Lutheran Health Ministries Board of Directors President
  • Child Advocates of San Antonio (CASA) Board of Directors member
  • Clarity Child Guidance Center (formerly Southwest Mental Health Center) Board of Directors Chair from 2006-2007 and former Board member
  • Texas Advocacy Project, former Board of Directors member
  • St. Paul Lutheran Child Development Center, former Board of Directors member
  • Leadership San Antonio Graduate, 2001-2002 Class

Selected Representative Experience


Defense of Oil and Gas Company’s Coiled Tubing Services Division in Wage and Hour Collective Action
Plaintiffs sued an oil and gas company's coiled tubing division in Corpus Christi, Texas alleging that they were denied overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act and sought conditional certification. Based on the strength of the company's Motor Carrier Act defense, the Haynes and Boone team convinced plaintiffs to voluntarily dismiss the case. Thus, on June 4, 2014, the case was dismissed.

Catarido Ramirez, Individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, v. Berks' Warehouse & Trucking Corp, No. 3:12-cv-FLW-DEA
Represent a warehouse and shipping company in a lawsuit seeking an FLSA collective action and New Jersey state class action. The lawsuit alleges a failure to pay the overtime premium under the Fair Labor Standards Act and New Jersey law. On April 4, 2014, the Court entered an order on plaintiff's motion for conditional certification under the FLSA, finding that plaintiff had failed to meet his burden for conditional certification.

Defense of Oil and Gas Company's Wireline Services Division in Wage and Hour Collective Action
Plaintiffs sued an oil and gas company's wireline services division in Laredo, Texas alleging that they were denied overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act and sought conditional certification. Based on the strength of the company's Motor Carrier Act defense, the Haynes and Boone team convinced plaintiffs to voluntarily dismiss the case. Thus, on April 24, 2014, plaintiffs filed a stipulation of dismissal.

Dennis Parkison v. Arkansas Best Corporation & ABF Freight System, Inc. (S.D. Tex. 2013)
Obtained summary judgment for national freight carrier in defense of Title VII reverse discrimination and breach of contract action brought by former manager. The former manager claimed that he was discriminated against because he is Anglo. He also claimed that his termination breached an employment contract with his employer. The court rejected both claims, granted summary judgment and dismissed the case with prejudice.

Equity Rollover Transaction
Represent U.S. sellers in an equity rollover transaction in which a U.S. private equity firm acquired a controlling interest in the target U.S. and Canadian businesses.

Alliance Acquisition
Represented CD Listening Bar, Inc. d/b/a Super D in its acquisition of Alliance Entertainment Holding Corporation, a multimedia wholesale distributor.

Breach of Contract and Misappropriation of Trade Secrets - State Court
Obtained temporary injunction against former employee for violating his confidentiality agreement with client and misappropriating client’s confidential, proprietary and trade secret information. As a former high level executive for client, former employee had intimate knowledge regarding client’s current and proposed products and strategies. Shortly after former employee resigned to go to work for competitor, client discovered evidence that former employee had copied client’s confidential, proprietary and trade secret information to a thumb drive a few days before his resignation. After obtaining a temporary injunction against former employee, the parties settled the case on terms favorable to client.

Joey Roland v. Texas Taco Cabana, L.P.; JAMS Case No. 1310020375 (Arbitration before JAMS)
Obtained summary disposition for restaurant chain in JAMS arbitration in defense of age discrimination and retaliation claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") and Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code a/k/a the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act ("TCHRA") brought by former manager. Prior to initiating the arbitration, the claimant failed to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Texas Workforce Commission, Civil Rights Division. The arbitrator agreed with our client that the claimant was required to exhaust his administrative remedies under the ADEA and TCHRA even though he brought his claims in arbitration and not in court. As a result, the arbitrator dismissed the claimant's claims for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and issued a take nothing judgment against the claimant because he could not remedy his failure to exhaust administrative remedies, as his claims were time-barred.

Purchase of Assets of Cellular Specialties, Inc.
Advised Goodman Networks Incorporated in connection with its acquisition of the services division of Cellular Specialties, Inc., one of the largest in-building wireless services companies in the U.S., for a price of $18 million plus up to $17 million in earn-out payments.

Employer Incentive Compensation Plan Ligation
Complete defense award in an arbitration challenging stock forfeiture provisions in national employer’s employee incentive compensation plan, arbitrated in Houston, Texas.

Memberships

  • San Antonio Human Resource Management Association
  • American Bar Association
  • Texas Bar Foundation
  • San Antonio Bar Foundation
  • North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce
  • San Antonio Women's Chamber of Commerce
  • San Antonio Bar Association
  • Bexar County Women's Bar Association

Online Publications

01/13/2014 - Proper Conditional Certification Standard Still Uncertain Despite Fifth Circuit’s Implicit Approval of Two-Step Approach
Based on a review of recent district court cases, uncertainty remains regarding the proper standard for certifying a Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) collective action in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

04/24/2013 - U.S. Supreme Court Validates Offers of Judgment as a Defense to FLSA Collective Actions but Leaves More Uncertainty in its Wake
On April 16, 2013, in a 5-4 opinion, the United States Supreme Court decided whether an offer of judgment that fully satisfies the named plaintiff’s individual claim in a Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) action moots the plaintiff’s collective action claim.

04/02/2013 - HR Magazine Guest Article: Is Your Unpaid Internship Program Lawful?
Recently, employers such as Hearst Corp., "The Charlie Rose Show" and Fox Searchlight Pictures have been named for allegedly violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state labor laws by failing to pay interns who assumed significant work responsibilities. These cases should serve as a wake-up call to all employers that use unpaid interns.

10/25/2012 - Restaurant Hospitality Guest Article: What the 20 Percent Tip Credit Rule Means
With no clear definition of what constitutes tip-generating work from the Department of Labor (DOL), you could be required to pay tipped employees the federal minimum wage for duties that are not directly aimed at generating tips. Implementing proactive policies will put you in a better position to avoid or reduce this result.

07/28/2011 - There Is Hope After All: Fifth Circuit Holds that Employers May Still Prevail on FLSA Retaliation Claims
A June ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has provided a bit of a relief for employers who face Fair Labor Standards Act retaliation claims from employees. The Supreme Court's ruling in Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., 131 S.Ct. 1325, 1329, 179 L. Ed. 2d 379 (2011) represented a significant victory for employees, but now all is not lost for employers.

07/19/2011 - Law360 Guest Column: I Would Walk 500 Miles...But Would I Get Paid For It?
Are employers required to pay for travel time if employees drive company vehicles to and from work? What if they perform work-related tasks before leaving or after arriving home?

07/07/2011 - Restaurant Trade Groups Challenge Department of Labor’s New “Tip Credit” Rule
In April 2011, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued a final rule that could have a significant impact on employers that use a “tip credit” to satisfy their obligation to pay employees minimum wage. Although courts have generally required employers to notify employees of (but not explain) the tip credit, the new rule requires employers to provide very specific and detailed information regarding their use of the tip credit.

06/29/2011 - I Would Walk 500 Miles…But Would I Get Paid for it? Fifth Circuit Delivers Important Travel Time Decision
Are employers required to pay for travel time if employees drive company-vehicles to and from work?  What if they perform work-related tasks before leaving or after arriving home?

04/18/2011 - Fifth Circuit Rules Harassment Claims Not Viable Under USERRA
On March 22, 2011, the Fifth Circuit ruled that the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”) does not support a cause of action for hostile work environment. This is the first ruling from any Circuit Court regarding the issue.

04/14/2011 - The EEOC Issues Final Regulations Implementing the ADAAA
On September 25, 2008, former President George W. Bush signed the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (the “ADAAA” or the “Act”) into law, broadening the definition of “disability” under the Americans with Disability Act (“ADA”).

03/24/2011 - Flights of Fancy: The Supreme Court Delineates What Complaints the FLSA Protects
According to an old Russian Proverb, “A spoken word is not a sparrow. Once it flies out, you can’t catch it.” Applying this to the employment context, if an employee verbally complains that his employer is violating the FLSA, is the employee protected from retaliation? Deciding a split among the circuit courts, the Supreme Court answered the question affirmatively, eliminating the need for a net: the FLSA protects employees who file oral complaints.

03/09/2011 - Employers’ Cat’s Paw Liability: Watch Out for the Monkey Business of Supervisors
In a case decided last week, Staub v. Proctor Hospital, a unanimous United States Supreme Court finally addressed the application of the “cat’s paw” theory of liability to employment discrimination claims, holding that an employer can be liable for an employment action motivated by a non-decision maker’s discriminatory animus.

02/22/2011 - OSHA 2010 and 2011: A Review of OSHA’s Expanded Enforcement Initiatives in 2010 and the Outlook for 2011
The business community has been placed on notice. OSHA has been actively pursuing its regulatory agenda, while also arming its arsenal to enforce compliance.

02/15/2011 - Supreme Court Again Expands Retaliation Protection
Consistent with its retaliation decisions over the past five years, the United States Supreme Court has revisited and expanded the scope of protection from retaliation under Title VII. In an 8-0 decision issued January 24, 2011, the high court expanded the scope of Title VII’s anti-retaliation provision by concluding that in certain situations, the statute allows an employee who has not personally engaged in protected activity to lodge a retaliation claim under the statute.

01/31/2011 - FLSA Year in Review 2010: Death Star Workers Were Independent Contractors; Other Cases Also Side With Empire
FLSA year in review, a look ahead: Expect the DOL to continue its aggressive enforcement of the wage and hour laws which, of course, will likely lead to more litigation over alleged wage and hour violations.

01/14/2011 - Haynes and Boone: Continuing to Set Pro-Employer Precedent in Sexual Harassment Law
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received more than 12,000 charges in 2009 from employees claiming sexual harassment—a 6 percent increase from three years ago. Although harassment claims are on the rise, Haynes and Boone continues to secure significant sexual harassment victories for its clients, and employers overall.

01/11/2011 - The DNA of GINA: The EEOC Issues Final Regulations Effective January 10, 2011
On November 9, 2010, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued its much-anticipated final rule implementing Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”), which applies to all employers covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), namely, employers with fifteen or more employees, as well as unions, employment agencies and labor management training programs.

10/15/2010 - Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010 - Expanding Employee Protection Under USERRA
Before heading into the pre-election recess, the Senate passed the Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010 on September 28, 2010. See H.R. 3219, 111th Cong. (2d Sess. 2010). The Act, which passed in the House over one year ago, is a compromise measure between the House and the Senate and encompasses several veterans’ benefits bills. Of notable importance to employers is the Act’s expansion of employee protection under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”).

07/29/2010 - Litigating Arbitration Agreements: Recent United States Supreme Court Decisions Provide Guidance to Employers Looking to Avoid Court
Despite entering into arbitration agreements with their employees, employers all too often find themselves in court adverse to the very employees who have signed an arbitration agreement. The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued three arbitration decisions that have important implications for employers seeking to avoid the inside of a courtroom.

06/19/2009 - U.S. Supreme Court Increases Employee Burden of Proof in Age Bias Cases
In Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc., decided on June 18, 2009, a deeply divided U.S. Supreme Court imposed a heightened proof burden on employees to establish age discrimination against their employers. In a 5-4 decision, the Court concluded that the literal text of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) does not allow a worker to prove discrimination by demonstrating that age was one “motivating factor” for the employer's adverse employment action.

05/06/2009 - Restructuring Compensation During Economic Challenges
Employers are facing a number of economic and financial challenges. Some employers have considered restructuring their compensation arrangements with employees as an alternative to avoid a reduction in force or layoffs. Restructuring of compensation packages raises a number of issues. 

05/01/2009 - What’s an Employer to Do? Understanding the Employment Law Implications of Swine Flu
Employers face an array of potential legal issues associated with the influenza A (H1N1) infection, also known as “swine flu.” As of May 1, 2009, 331 cases of swine flu in eleven countries have been reported and 109 of these cases are in the United States. Moreover, the World Health Organization has rated the swine flu as a phase 5 on the influenza pandemic alert level – revealing “a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and that the time to finalize the organization, communication, and implementation of the planned mitigation measures is short.” Health organizations and the government are not the only entities that need to prepare plans. Employers also need to determine how they will deal with the problems associated with a potential influenza outbreak.

04/22/2009 - Texas Supreme Court Provides Greater Protection to Employers Seeking to Enforce Non-Compete Covenants
Building on its 2006 decision in Alex Sheshunoff Management Services, L.P. v. Johnson, 209 S.W.3d 644 (Tex. 2006), the Texas Supreme Court has further expanded the enforceability of non-compete covenants in the at-will employment setting. In Mann Frankfort Stein & Lipp Advisors, Inc. v. Fielding, No. 07-0490 (Tex. April 17, 2009), a decision with significant practical implications for Texas employers, the court held that an employer’s implied promise to provide confidential information to an at-will employee may give rise to an enforceable covenant not to compete.

04/09/2009 - Weathering the Storm: Terminations, Uncertainty, and Strategies to Reduce Workplace Liability
In the current economic state, many employers are seeking to reduce operating costs. More employees are being let go as corporate layoffs have accelerated and workers are looking to complain that they have been unfairly or improperly dismissed. The Obama administration has publicly announced that it will be more aggressive in enforcing employment laws.

02/16/2009 - U.S. Supreme Court Protects Workers from Retaliation in Workplace Discrimination Investigations
On January 26, 2009, the United States Supreme Court, in Crawford v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee, concluded that Title VII’s anti-retaliation provision protects an employee-witness who “speaks out” about alleged discrimination “not on the employee’s own initiative,” but in answering questions during the employer’s internal investigation.

01/30/2009 - President Obama Signs Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
On Thursday, January 29, 2009, in a widely anticipated move, President Barack Obama signed his first bill into law, approving the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This legislation focuses on salary bias in the workplace. Discussed in greater detail below, the Ledbetter bill essentially negates a 2007 United States Supreme Court decision that limited a woman’s ability to sue for pay discrimination long after the first discriminatory paycheck occurred.

01/20/2009 - House Passes Two “Fair Pay” Bills
On January 9, 2009, the United States House of Representatives passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bills now go to the Senate for consideration, and President Obama is expected to sign both into law should they reach his desk.

11/30/2008 - Hot Branding News Fall 2008
This edition includes articles such as "Courts Honor Contractual Choice of Law and Forum Provisions and Reject Public Policy Invalidation:  Curves Litigation", "Disability Law Expansion", "Identity Theft Red Flag Rules", and State and Global Updates.

11/21/2008 - The ADA’s Rebirth: Complying with the ADA Amendments of 2008
Based on several new amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the statute has been reborn – it offers vastly expanded coverage to a wide variety of employee physical and mental impairments and will require employers to focus on creating and offering reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities. On January 1, 2009, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) will become effective and, in large part, it removes an employer’s common defense that the individual’s particular impairment does not constitute a “disability” under the ADA.

01/11/2008 - Employer Email No-Solicitation Policies
It is well-established that employees have the right, under the mutual aid and protection clause in Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), to solicit coworkers on non-working time and to distribute literature to coworkers in non-work areas.

05/05/2006 - Possible NLRA Implications - Part II

04/26/2006 - Possible NLRA Implications - Part I

04/08/2005 - United States Supreme Court Approves "Disparate Impact" Age Discrimination Claims

04/27/2004 - Employees May Begin Paying the Price for Challenging Their Non-Competes