The Daily Journal, a leading source for California legal news, selected Rutan & Tucker partners Brian C. Sinclair and Maria Z. Stearns for its annual Top Labor and Employment Attorneys list. Each year, the editors choose up to 75 of the most outstanding lawyers in this area of law for their handling of high-profile and significant cases in California and beyond.
Mr. Sinclair was selected by the Daily Journal for achieving a rare pro-employer outcome successfully argued before the state Supreme Court last year that unpaid wage awards are not civil penalties and cannot be recovered through Private Attorney General Act claims. This ruling was one of the few management-side wins handed down by the justices in 2019 which closed the door on individual plaintiffs seeking to recover lost wages under Labor Code Section 558 without the California Labor Commissioner’s intervention. ZB N.A. and Zions Bancorporation v. Superior Court (Lawson), S246711 (Ca. S. Ct., op. filed Sept. 12, 2019).
The case centered on a bank employee’s claim she was denied overtime and minimum wages, meal and rest periods, timely wage payments and other payments. Once Sinclair obtained the ruling in the case, the plaintiff’s lawyers were quick to throw in the towel. The key for Sinclair and his clients is dealing with fresh complaints quickly and efficiently when possible.
Ms. Stearns was also recognized for her outstanding achievements for employers as COVID-19 cases rose across the nation. Stearns identifies herself as the problem solver for her clients and with the recent coronavirus pandemic, most found themselves in “crisis mode.” The only thing she knew to do is educate herself and provide acceptable resources. Stearns spent many hours learning about this new, dangerous virus, and wrote several articles and held webinars on the topic.