In the News

Melissa Goodman in HRE Online: A Costly Lack of Training

Can a failure to train an employee for opportunities that may result in greater compensation down the road be grounds for an employment discrimination suit? In the case of Charles E. Reed v. Procter & Gamble Manufacturing Company, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals said it can. >>

Melissa Goodman in Human Resource Executive Online: Facing a Reboot to Critical HR Process

While it may sound more like a soap opera than reality, there was nothing fictional about the Texas jury verdict that earlier this month awarded $11.6 million to an ex-Microsoft top sales performer, after what turned out to be a supervisor-induced false sexual harassment claim led to bad reviews, a demotion and eventual resignation. >>



Melissa M. Goodman

Partner

Dallas


2323 Victory Avenue
Suite 700
Dallas, 75219
T +1 214.651.5628
F +1 214.200.0455

Áreas de Practica

Educación

  • J.D., Creighton University, 1994, cum laude; Assistant Editor, Creighton Law Review
  • B.A., University of Iowa, 1991

Bar Admissions

  • Texas

Court Admissions

  • United States Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas
  • Texas Supreme Court
Melissa M. Goodman

Melissa Goodman is Co-Chair of the firm’s Trade Secrets Practice Group, and the former Chair of the firm's Labor and Employment Practice Group. Melissa focuses on litigation and advising top level corporate leadership - boards of directors, in-house counsel and chief executives - on unique, complex and often crisis-level employment affairs. She is known for litigating and agilely managing sophisticated employment issues during mission critical scenarios, including:

  • Executive Transitions - Drafts, negotiates, advises and litigates complex executive transitions such as employment and separation agreements, trade secret disputes, non-competes, wage and hour disputes, and compensation agreements
  • Unfair Competition - Litigates complex unfair competition-related claims (including breach of non-competition agreements, misappropriation of trade secrets, tortious interference and breach of fiduciary duty claims) extensively throughout the United States, advises and strategizes on handling such issues, and drafts and negotiates restrictive covenants
  • Whistleblowers and Retaliation Threats - Advises on all aspects of whistleblower and retaliation situations, from responding to threats to handling litigation
  • Regulatory Missteps - Counsels leadership in response to allegations of corporate wrongdoing related to Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank, and litigates claims alleging retaliation resulting from such reports
  • Major Transactions - With the goal of protecting company assets, counsels leadership during major transactions, from advising on purchase agreements, drafting employment and related agreements to navigating disputes and litigation
  • ERISA Litigation - Handles all aspects of retirement and benefit plan litigation
  • Indemnification Claims - Provides guidance to leadership and litigates indemnification suits brought by corporate officers

Melissa is a skilled litigator with nearly 20 years of experience. She has litigated in multiple states, including having argued en banc in a case that created new noncompete law. She has also represented parties in employment arbitration before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and other arbitration forums.

In addition to complex employment situations, Melissa is also regularly called upon by clients to provide advice on day-to-day employment law issues. Melissa is a frequent speaker on employment and litigation issues and she is a member of the Executive Leadership Team in Dallas for the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women.

Melissa's experience includes:

  • Successfully obtained and/or defended injunctions and litigated cases involving misappropriation of trade secrets, covenants not to compete, unfair competition, and other related torts in several states, arbitrations and in various courts of appeal. Draft covenants not to compete for employers and in business transactions.
  • Successfully tried several employment law cases in federal and state courts. Extensive experience in federal and state appellate courts in employment-related cases.
  • Extensive experience in ERISA-related cases representing plans, employers and administrators in several states, including successfully tried a multi-plaintiff lawsuit and obtaining summary judgments where plaintiffs sought several million in damages.
  • Advising and defending employers on whistleblower/retaliation claims, such as claims under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and Dodd-Frank.
  • Obtaining summary judgment for employers in lawsuits involving discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, breach of contract, and employment-related torts.
  • Wage and hour litigation, including class actions under state law and collective actions under the FLSA.
  • Obtained a jury verdict for the employer in a class action case in which the class plaintiffs sought $10 million in actual damages and $20 million in punitive damages, which was affirmed on appeal.
  • Counseling employers on various issues concerning hiring, disciplining and terminating employees, investigating sexual harassment and employee misconduct, and covenants not to compete.

Selected Publications

  • "Examining the Duty of Loyalty and the Corporate Opportunity Doctrine," co-author, Business Torts & Unfair Competition, Summer 2014, Vol. 21, No. 4

Selected Honors

Named a Texas Super Lawyer in Employment & Labor in 2009, 2011-2013, in Employment Litigation in 2010-2013 and a Texas Rising Star in Employment Litigation and Labor and Employment Law in 2004 and 2005. Named in The Best Lawyers in America® for Litigation - Intellectual Property (2013) and Litigation - Labor and Employment (2013-2015).

Selected Representative Experience


Acquisition of Forty Five Ten, Inc.
Represented Headington Companies in its acquisition of Forty Five Ten, Inc., a Dallas-based high-end luxury retailer.

Innovative Mag-Drive, LLC Acquisition
Represented Flowserve US Inc. in its acquisition of Innovative Mag-Drive, LLC d/b/a Innomag, a manufacturer of advanced sealless magnetic drive centrifugal pumps.

Complaint of Pregnancy Discrimination Dismissal
Represented international stone design firm against allegations of pregnancy discrimination in violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act. The district court granted motion to dismiss, which was affirmed by the Illinois Court of Appeals.

Acquisition of Marketing Werks, Inc.
Represented CROSSMARK, Inc., a leading consumer goods sales and marketing services company, in its acquisition of Marketing Werks Inc., the largest independent consumer-engagement company in the country.

Michael Lee Watts, Jr. v. L-3 Communications Corporation and L-3 Communications AIS GP Corporation
Successfully obtained summary judgment for L-3 in a lawsuit filed by a plaintiff claiming age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. L-3 terminated plaintiff for mischarging his time in violation of company policy and federal law. Plaintiff denied engaging in mischarging and alleged that L-3 wrongfully terminated him, not for mischarging, but because of his age. The court held that L-3 articulated a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for plaintiff’s termination and agreed that plaintiff failed to present competent summary judgment evidence of pretext. Plaintiff’s claims were dismissed in their entirety, and the court awarded L-3 its costs.

Sale of Interests Held by Rise Energy Partners, LP
Advised Rise Energy Partners, LP in connection with its sale of interests in various oil and gas producing properties offshore southern California to Memorial Production Partners LP for a purchase price of approximately $271 million.

Stephen Robert Herring and Michael Herring v. Eileen M. Campbell, As Plan Administrator of Marathon Oil Company Thrift Plan, No. 11-40953 (5th Cir. 2012).
Represented Marathon Oil Company in its appeal of the district court's decision that its plan administrator abused its discretion by defining the term "children" in an ERISA-governed plan to mean biological and legally-adopted children. A deceased plan participant's stepchildren, who had been denied the proceeds of his plan account by the plan administrator, argued that the plan administrator should have considered the state law doctrine of equitable adoption to determine that they were "children" and therefore entitled to the deceased's benefits. The Fifth Circuit issued an opinion reversing the district court's decision, finding that nothing in the plan or ERISA required the plan administrator to incorporate the doctrine of equitable adoption into the plan's definition of "children."

Reagan Lancaster v. JDA Software Group, Inc. and JDA Software, Inc., County Court at Law No. 5; Dallas County, Texas, 2012, Cause No. CC-10-06840-E
Plaintiff asserted a breach of contract claim, seeking indemnification of fees and expenses he incurred in connection with various litigation stemming from his previous employment as an officer with i2 Technologies, Inc. (i2) (JDA’s predecessor). Plaintiff’s breach of contract claim was based on an indemnification and cooperation provision in the settlement agreement he executed with i2 after his termination from employment. Plaintiff sought damages in excess of $2 million, including a $1.29 million dollar fine he paid to the SEC for alleged wrongdoing that occurred during his employment with i2. After filing a motion for summary judgment, the parties settled the case in mediation on terms favorable to JDA.

Kevin Cordell v. Chase Medical, L.P., Chase Medical, Inc., and CMI Holding Company, Inc.; Cause No. 09-03911; In the 160th Judicial District Court; Dallas County, Texas
Successfully obtained summary judgment for Chase Medical in a lawsuit filed by a plaintiff claiming quantum meruit, negligent misrepresentation, fraud and constructive fraud. The plaintiff was a prospective employee and potential investor who, after Chase Medical was unable to hire him, claimed he performed consulting services for Chase Medical in excess of $600,000 for which Chase Medical failed to pay. Plaintiff’s claims were based on the fact that the parties had met several times over a seven-month period to discuss plaintiff’s potential role in Chase Medical as well as plaintiff’s potential investment in a new medical technology Chase Medical was developing. The plaintiff appealed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment for Chase Medical. The parties settled the matter post-appeal on terms favorable to Chase Medical.

Summary Judgment for Employer in ERISA Benefits Dispute
Successfully obtained summary judgment for American Airlines, Inc. in an ERISA matter where the plaintiff claimed wrongful denial of benefits.

Trial of Class Action Seeking $30 million in Damages Against International Oil Company
Represented a large international oil company in jury trial in Dallas state district court where plaintiffs asserted a class action composed of numerous former employees who had been terminated in a workforce restructuring. The plaintiff class was seeking additional severance pay benefits under the employer's separation pay plan, plus punitive damages and basing their claims on allegations of fraud and breach of contract. The case also involved very sensitive issues relating to attorney-client privilege and claims of alleged waiver of same; however, rulings were secured from the trial court in the employer's favor. After a one-week trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict for the employer on all counts and gave the plaintiffs no damages. The verdict was appealed and the judgment for our client was upheld.

Memberships

  • Federal Bar Association (Past President, Dallas Chapter)
  • American Bar Association (Labor and Employment Law and Litigation Sections and Subcommittees on Covenants Not to Compete, Trade Secrets and Duty of Loyalty and ERISA Litigation)
  • Dallas Bar Association (Labor and Employment Law Section)

Online Publications

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.

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.

06/30/2010 - U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Employer Searches and Underscores Importance of Electronic Communications Policies
The United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision that provides guidance on steps employers can take to reduce an employee’s privacy expectations and emphasizes the importance of having a clear, well-defined privacy policy.

04/22/2010 - Employers Beware: How the Recent Health Care Reform Legislation Affects Employers
On March 21, 2010, the House of Representatives passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”), which President Obama signed into law on March 23, 2010. The health care reform law will make far-reaching changes to the United States health care system over the next several years. 

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.

03/31/2009 - FINRA Proposes Rule to Streamline Cases Involving Broker Note Arbitrations
On March 24, 2009, the Financial Regulatory Industry Authority (FINRA) filed a rule proposal with the SEC to adopt Rule 13806 of the Code of Arbitration Procedure for Industry Disputes (“Industry Code”) to establish procedures to expedite the administration of promissory note cases and to also amend Rules 13214 and 13600 of the Industry Code to make conforming changes.

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.

11/21/2008 - 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.

02/07/2008 - Recent Amendments to the FMLA – Exigency Leave and Servicemember Family Leave

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

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

"Whistle While You Work": Triggers Protection for Healthcare Employees