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Christine Nicolaides Kearns
Ms. Kearns is the Managing Partner of Pillsbury's Washington, DC office. Lawyers and professionals representing the majority of Pillsbury's practice areas are based in the Washington, DC office, making it the largest office of the firm.
Ms. Kearns is a partner in the litigation group with a focus on employment and employment benefits disputes. She has successfully handled a wide variety of cases before federal and state courts, arbitration panels and administrative agencies relating to complex employment contracts, trade secrets and restrictive covenants, executive compensation, ERISA as well as claims of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation. Ms. Kearns has handled significant appeals before the Second Circuit, Fourth Circuit, District of Columbia Court of Appeals and Maryland Court of Appeals. Ms. Kearns also regularly counsels clients in managing difficult terminations and other employment actions to avoid resultant claims, conducts internal investigations of the most sensitive nature and utilizes mediation to achieve optimal results.
Ms. Kearns has been with the Firm since she completed law school. She served as Chair of Shaw Pittman’s Recruiting Committee (1997–2000), as a member and Chair of the Partner Compensation Committee (2001-2002) and as a member of Shaw Pittman’s Board of Directors (2001-2004).
- Representation of client before the Fourth Circuit to obtain affirmance of summary judgment in a case alleging discrimination and retaliation under the ADA, Title VII, FMLA and ERISA (December 12, 2006), despite application of the new standard for retaliation cases established by the U.S. Supreme Court in Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Rwy. Co., v. White (2006)
- Representation of client before the Second Circuit and New York Court of Appeals, to which the Second Circuit had certified an unsettled question of New York employment law on “constructive discharge,” and secured ultimate affirmance of the decision before the Second Circuit (January 11, 2007).
- Based upon a March 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision, obtained dismissal of a claim filed in the Southern District of New York alleging that the hiring of a group of a competitor’s employees constituted tortious interference (May 30, 2007).
- Obtained summary judgment and attorneys fees in the Southern District of New York for violation of ERISA in denial of severance benefits (June 22, 2006 and September 11, 2006).
- Multiple representation of a major telecommunications company and large government contractor in discrimination and retaliation cases brought by former employees in which our clients obtained summary judgments in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
- Representation of a software provider charged with age discrimination in an arbitration proceeding.
- Representation of several national law firms charged with discrimination.
- Representation of a national law firm in a AAA arbitration filed by former partners in which all claims were denied.
- Multiple representations of a regional bank charged with race discrimination, in which our client obtained summary judgments in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.
- Representation of a national printing company which obtained summary judgment on a multicount complaint filed in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.
- Representation of an international asset management firm in multiple discrimination cases, resolved by dispositive motion or favorable negotiated settlement.
- Representation of senior executives claiming violations of ERISA in federal courts in Maryland and New York.
- Representation of several not-for-profit organizations and associations in extensive internal investigations leading to the dismissal of senior executives without resulting legal action.
- A nine-day AAA arbitration regarding the effect of the sale of the company’s assets on a senior executive’s deferred compensation account.
- Representation of an employee of one of the firm's bank clients, in an action brought against that employee by his former employer claiming misappropriation of trade secrets. The New York Supreme Court granted the employee's Motion for Summary Judgment.
- Representation of registered broker-dealers in a variety of employment matters, including: (a) arbitration proceedings commenced by securities brokers before the National Association of Securities Dealers regarding alleged breach of employment contracts; (b) charges before the New York Branch of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging sexual discrimination; and (c) in the New York Supreme Court where a competitor sued for tortious interference with employment contracts.
- Washington's Top Lawyers, Litigation, Employment, Washingtonian (2009, 2011)
American Bar Association; The Lawyers Club of Washington, D.C.; The Barristers
U.S. District Court for the Districts of Columbia and Maryland, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second, Fourth and Sixth Circuits, U.S. Supreme Court
"Social Media – Legal Implications for Hiring and Managing Employees," Practicing Law Institute New York, New York, September 7, 2012
"Drafting and Negotiating Executive Employment Agreements," DC Bar CLE Program, June 12, 2012
"Title VII Update Including Developments in the Areas of Sexual, Religious and Racial Harassment," ALI ABA Advanced Employment Law Conference, Washington DC, March 22-24, 2012
Mock Jury Demonstration/Defense Case - ALI ABA Advanced Employment Law Conference Washington DC, March 22-24, 2012
"Misclassification of Independent Contractors – It's a Big Deal," Pillsbury Government Contracts Group's Executive Roundtable, April 25, 2012
"Misclassification of Independent Contractors," Pillsbury Client Briefing, New York, October 27, 2010
"Changing Currents in Employment Law 2010: Recent Trends and Developments," DC Bar, October 26, 2010
"Misclassification of Independent Contractors: It's a Big Deal," Pillsbury CLE Marathon, Northern Virginia, September 30, 2010
"Title VII, FMLA, EEO and Your Contingent Workforce," Contingent Workforce Risk Forum, May 12, 2010
"Fundamentals of Employment Law," DC Bar, June 14, 2010
"Legal Issues Regarding Employee Privacy in the Workplace," Pillsbury Webinar, March 11, 2010
"Fundamentals of Employment Law—Establishing the Employment Relationship," Co-sponsored by the Labor and Employment Law Section and the Litigation Section of the District of Columbia Bar, October 20, 2009
"Employment Law Outlook 2009," Pillsbury's Employment & Labor Practice Breakfast Briefing, Washington, D.C., January 2009
"Conflict Management Techniques for Supervisors: What You Can Do Right Now to Reduce Stress and Improve Cooperation in Your Workplace," Business and Legal Reports Teleconference, March 27, 2008
A How To Guide to Employee Terminations, Association Management, August 2000
Responding Effectively to a Claim of Sexual Harassment, Association Management, September 2001
Complying with the Family and Medical Leave Act, Association Management, October 2003
Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training Laws, Association Management, February 2005
"Educating Your Firm on Sexual Harassment," Fulcrum Information Services 3rd National Summit on Women in Law Firms, January 2001
"Educating Your Firm on Sexual Harassment," National Institute for Women in Law Firms, January 2003
"Specialized Considerations in Settling Employment Claims," General Colglie Re EPLI Conference, May 2001
"Introduction and Overview," Strategies for Effective Employee Documentation and Record Keeping, Lorman Educational Services, May 2001
"U.S. Supreme Court Decisions on Requirements for Age Discrimination Relations and ADA Coverage for Asymptomatic HIV," Shaw Pittman Annual Employment Breakfast Briefing, September 1998
"Arbitration of Employment Disputes," Shaw Pittman Annual Breakfast Briefing, "Avoiding Employment Litigation," June 1999
"Avoiding Litigation," Shaw Pittman Employment Breakfast Briefing, "Reducing Employment Risks in the Electronic Age," June 2000
"Recent Noteworthy Employment Decisions," Shaw Pittman Annual Employment Breakfast Briefing, October 2002
"Leave of Absence, Including ADA, FMLA and USERRA," Shaw Pittman Annual Employment Breakfast Briefing, September 2003
"Handling Serious Misconduct in the Workplace," Shaw Pittman Annual Employment Breakfast Briefing, October 2004
"Nuts and Bolts of ADA, FMLA, and Workers' Comp Regulations: Defining Employer Rights and Responsibilities Under State and Federal Disability and Leave Laws," Council on Education and Management, "Untangling the FMLA, ADA and Workers' Comp Laws," March 2002
"Using Recent Court Decisions to Help You Accurately Identify Serious Health Conditions," FMLA Update, Counsel on Education in Management, September 2002
Limitations Posed by the Attorney-Client Privilege on In-house and Outside Counsel as Whistleblowers, Employee Relations Law Journal, Fall 2005