Seth Rafkin is a partner in the Cooley Employment & Labor and Commercial Class Action Litigation practice groups. He joined the Firm in 1998 and works out of Cooley's offices in New York and San Diego. Mr. Rafkin is a member of the New York, California and Washington, DC bars.
Mr. Rafkin's practice focuses on employment matters, including counseling, single plaintiff litigation and wage and hour class action defense. Mr. Rafkin also handles general business litigation. He represents clients in a variety of industries including life sciences, medical devices, software and other technologies, retail and textiles.
Mr. Rafkin regularly counsels clients on a broad range of employment issues including:
- Leaves of absence
- Executive employment agreements
- Confidential and proprietary information
- Employment handbooks and policies
- Non-competition and non-solicitation
- Overtime exemption and independent contractor classification
- Wage and hour compliance
- Incentive compensation plans
- Terminations, reductions in force and WARN Act compliance
- Internal investigations
- Manager training regarding harassment and other employment issues
- Human resources practices audits
Mr. Rafkin has represented employers in cases involving an array of issues including:
- Race, gender, religious and disability discrimination
- Commission and executive compensation disputes
- Workplace violence
- Trade secrets misappropriation
- Non-competition enforcement
- Wage and hour class actions
He has tried cases to juries, judges, arbitrators and administrative agencies.
Past matters (non-class action) include:
- Defense of health care vendor against trade secret claims by national competitor. Damages sought in excess of $30M. Jury returned a verdict in favor of client. Court granted client's motion for a finding of bad faith against the plaintiff and awarded our client $1.6M in attorneys' fees and costs.
- Defense of leading business software company against former employee's whistleblower retaliation claims. Jury returned a verdict in favor of the company (affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals).
- Defense of biotech company in arbitration of discrimination and retaliation claims brought by former director of marketing. The arbitrator found in favor of the company on all claims.
- Defense of large employer against former employee's disability discrimination claims. The jury returned a verdict in favor of company on all claims.
- Summary judgment in favor of employer on race discrimination claims.
- Obtained preliminary injunction against competitor seeking to prevent hiring executive.
- Defeated application for declaratory relief to invalidate non-competition agreement.
Past wage and hour class action matters include:
- Defeated motion to certify a class of California employees in wage and hour case against leading business software company.
- Defense of leading Southern California construction company against union-backed class action asserting wage and hour violations. The trial court denied the plaintiffs' motion to certify a class – a ruling affirmed by the California Court of Appeal.
- Dismissal of Cal-WARN Act class action at pleading stage.
- Represented defendant owner of a fleet of catering trucks in an independent contractor classification case. Class certification was denied. Bench trial on claims of the five named plaintiffs resulted in denial of all claims and attorneys' fee award in favor of defendant.
- Represented large retailers in wage and hour class actions. Class certification denied.
- Summary judgment and fee award in favor of employer in prevailing wage class action.
Recent Speaking Engagements
- Avoiding Employment Law Pitfalls, VSH Symposium, June 2011 (San Diego)
- Navigating Leaves of Absence, Connections Conference, March 2011 (Las Vegas)
- Leaves Of Absence, Ultimate Software Interactive HR Workshop, February 2010 (Los Angeles)
- Class Action Litigation: A Primer for In-House Counsel, Corporate Counsel Institute, December 2010 (Atlanta)
- Managing The Modern Workforce, CONNECT Entrepreneur FrameWorks Workshops, February 2009
- HR Practices: A Litigation Perspective, SHRM (San Diego Chapter), March 2008
- University of California, Davis School of Law
JD, 1998, Order of the Coif, American Jurisprudence Awards for Evidence and Constitutional Law
- Humboldt State University
BA Political Science, 1994
- District of Columbia
- New York
- American Bar Association
- Association of Business Trial Lawyers
- Society for Human Resources Management