Christopher J. Mead is a partner in the firm’s Labor and Employment group and concentrates his practice on employment and labor litigation and counseling and business litigation. He focuses on risk reduction and management and practical solutions to day-to-day employment issues arising from California's complex web of employment laws. When asked his ideal client, he responds: "A business with employees."
His representation of employers in litigation includes state and federal courts and the full gamut of state and federal administrative agencies in discrimination, wrongful discharge, wage and hour, trade secret and misappropriation, sexual harassment, and retaliation matters. He has litigated wage and hour matters (on both individual and class basis) and labor matters with the National Labor Relations Board, private arbitrators, and in federal court. His last jury trial was a defense of wrongful discharge and retaliation claims conducted in Mandarin (in which he is not fluent but was able to make objections to Chinese language testimony before it was translated).
He counsels employers on reductions in force, writes and reviews employee handbooks and policy documents, and provides advice concerning wage and hour, discrimination, harassment, disability/accommodation, discipline, leaves, and termination and pre-termination matters. During the coronavirus pandemic, he worked extensively in counseling businesses on compliance with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act; applications for medical and religious exemptions from vaccination requirements; layoffs and furloughs; the Bay Area's shelter-in-place acts; compliance with EEOC, CDC, and Department of Labor regulations and guidance; and return-to-work issues. He represents employers in union organizing matters, collective bargaining, and individual grievances.
Chris has litigated a wide variety of commercial disputes. He has represented businesses in breach of contract, real estate litigation and workouts, intellectual property, First Amendment, unfair competition, and trade secret cases. He represented a pharmaceutical wholesaler asserting breach of a $2 billion pharmaceutical supply agreement and won a defense award in arbitration in a case alleging breach of a $10 million pharmaceutical delivery contract.
Before joining Womble, Chris was a partner (1991-2022) and associate (1984-1990) at Cooper, White & Cooper LLP in San Francisco, which combined with Womble in 2022.
He is a frequent presenter to legal and professional groups on employment law topics such as the anatomy of class actions, sexual harassment, employee discipline and termination, California law on restrictive covenants and employee classification, protection of trade secrets, and accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. He is a longtime member of the board of the Contra Costa County Bar Association’s Employment Section.
Any result the lawyer or law firm may have achieved on behalf of clients in other matters does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.
- Lead attorney prosecuting breach of $2 billion pharmaceutical supply contract.
- Representation of national insurance company in agent employee/contractor litigation; obtained summary judgments in civil actions and defense awards in arbitrations.
- Obtained defense award in claimed breach of $10 million contract for pharmaceutical supplies, including $50,000 award to defense.
- Obtained judgment against business broker on behalf of Chinese investor on grounds of fraud, import misrepresentations, and identity theft.
- Representation of national furniture retailer in class action alleging failure to pay minimum wage to commission employees.
- Representation of hospital services vendor in class action alleging failure to provide meal and rest breaks and failure to pay for check in or COVID-screening time.
- Representation of prosthetic device retailer in EDD audit based on allegations of improper classification of sales contractors as employees.
- Representation of multi-state flooring and carpeting installation vendor in class action alleging meal and rest break violations and failure to calculate overtime rates based on piecework compensation.
- Defeated motion for certification of national class in class action brought against company marketing hair regrowth solution.
- Representation of printing company and executive in defense of lawsuit alleging constructive discharge based on allegations of assault of co-worker and threats against witnesses and managers.
- Obtained summary judgment for life insurance carrier in claim of fraud in action alleging provision of estate planning services and unlicensed practice of law.
- Obtained dismissal and award of Rule 11 sanctions on behalf of Chinese language newspaper in federal action alleging unfair business practices and breach of advertising contract.
- Obtained buy out of discharged parent CEO of rural, family-owned utility company on behalf of adult children shareholders in mediation of threatened wrongful discharge.
- Representation of financial middleware company in wrongful discharge and wage and hour litigation.
- Representation of risk assessor/scientific expert witnesses in federal litigation over alleged PCB/DDT contamination and clean up of Palos Verdes Shelf.
- Lead attorney in an arbitration to eject the general partner in a $50 million limited cellular telephone partnership representing limited partner.
- Obtained summary judgment on behalf of media company in lawsuit alleging defamation based on opinion broadcast commenting on arrest and charge of dominance therapist.
- Represented Bermuda accounting corporation in RICO and accounting fraud case against excess insurance carrier and directors.
- Represented privately-owned water company in a condemnation case litigated in state and federal trial and appellate courts, including the California and U.S. Supreme Courts.
- Represented national defense contractor in the assertion of federal officer and federal enclave defenses in connection with construction of nuclear submarines in complex asbestos litigation.
- Representation of consortium of Taiwanese banks in attachment of security for defaulted $80 million loan by obtaining appointment of receiver for U.S. furniture wholesaler and retailer.
Professional & Civic Engagement
- California Lawyers Association, Labor and Employment Section
- Contra Costa County Bar Association, Employment Section, Board Member
- Orinda Senior Housing Foundation, Orinda Senior Village, Board Member and Treasurer
Honors and Awards
- AV Preeiminent®, Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™, Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory