Practice and Industry Groups

Patti C. Perez

Shareholder San Diego

Ms. Perez’s practice is dedicated exclusively to conflict resolution and conflict avoidance in the workplace. Her conflict resolution practice involves helping companies find solutions during moments of crisis. This includes conducting independent workplace investigations (she has conducted in excess of 1,200 investigations) and providing consulting services on complex issues including disability and pregnancy accommodations, and issues related to gender identity issues, among others. Her conflict avoidance work includes a robust training practice, as well as the design and execution of numerous proactive programs that help companies become employers of choice.

Ms. Perez practices in the areas of employment law and human resource management. A graduate of the UCLA School of Law and a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources, Ms. Perez has practiced employment law since 1992. She has worked in Mexico City directing an international judicial education program, has trained thousands of human resources, legal and other professionals, and has extensive work experience as an employment attorney and an HR executive.

In addition to her professional experience, Ms. Perez has gained expertise through her work on numerous statewide and national boards. She currently serves as a member of the Fair Employment and Housing Council. She was appointed to the Council by Governor Edmund G. Brown in June of 2013 and confirmed by the California Senate in April of 2014. Ms. Perez previously served as a Commissioner on California’s Fair Employment and Housing Commission. Appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008 and confirmed by the California Senate in 2009, Ms. Perez’s work as Vice Chair of the Commission (from 2008-2011) included adjudicating matters brought before the Commission, drafting regulations clarifying the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), mediating disputes, and participating in a series of presentations aimed at educating the public on how to comply with California’s civil rights laws. Ms. Perez sat on the Commission regulation-drafting subcommittees for both the pregnancy discrimination and the disability discrimination regulations, with the disability discrimination regulations enacted effective as of December 30, 2012. She has also served as the Chair of the California State Bar’s Labor & Employment Law Section (representing over 7,500 labor and employment lawyers throughout the state) and she has testified at EEOC hearings. She also currently serves on the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing Task Force on the Study of Sexual Harassment.

Prior to joining Ogletree, Ms. Perez founded her own firm in California, and prior to that, practiced employment law at two San Diego law firms. Ms. Perez also served as the head of HR and Employee Relations Department, where she provided advice and counsel on all areas of employment law to the firm’s attorneys and staff managers.

A former Project Director for a U.S. government-sponsored judicial exchange and education program in Mexico City, Ms. Perez, who is a native Spanish speaker, worked in collaboration with a judicial advisory board responsible for the design and delivery of educational conferences in the U.S. and Mexico.

Ms. Perez is a native Spanish speaker and offers services in English and Spanish.


Experience

CONFLICT AVOIDANCE PRACTICE:

  • Training: Ms. Perez provides training on a wide variety of topics including: harassment prevention (Ms. Perez is the primary author of regulations clarifying requirements to meet AB1825 standards); diversity and unconscious bias; workplace investigations; management practices (interviews, coaching and discipline, terminations, evaluations); leadership; disability issues; and numerous other topics that involve the intersection between employment law and HR. Ms. Perez also provides keynote addresses for a wide variety of organizations.
  • Design and Execution of Comprehensive Diversity Program: Ms. Perez leads Ogletree’s D&I Solutions Group. Our solutions include helping companies identify the direct link between diversity and business success; they provide assistance with the design and execution of programs that will help shape the company into an employer of choice, and these programs provide tangible ways for companies to increase market share. 

    Specific services cover the entire gamut of diversity categories and training is offered in English and Spanish.  Services include:

    • Conducting initial needs assessment and strategic planning for companies who want to start an initiative from scratch, or who want to revamp an existing plan, including developing a comprehensive plan and schedule for the implementation of a program.
    • Formulating mission statements that emphasize the company’s commitment to all members of the workforce.
    • Working with senior management to execute communication plans that makes leadership buy-in clear.
    • Implementation of numerous components of a comprehensive program, including (among others):
      • Establishing comprehensive recruitment efforts to increase diversity, and designing programs to retain and promote to increase inclusion.
      • Assistance with the implementation of mentor programs, forming employee resource groups, analysis of where problems might exist in terms of promotion opportunities and implementation of solutions to eliminate those barriers and establishing other programs to support the company’s D&I efforts.
      • Heling managers hone evaluation and conflict resolution skills to diminish loss of diverse talent.
    • Training sessions to discuss diversity issues (including issues related to implicit or unconscious bias) and plans that clearly link D&I efforts to increased sales and increased market share, profitability, competitiveness and brand reputation.
    • Assistance with the implementation of outward-facing efforts, including working with marketing departments to publicize diversity efforts to clients and others, establishing minority vendor programs, and working with community organizations to support internal and external aspects of diversity programs

  • Design and Execution of Conflict Avoidance and Conflict Resolution Programs: Ms. Perez routinely helps companies implement programs to avoid and resolve conflict. This includes comprehensive conflict resolution programs (developing a comprehensive system to receive, handle and resolve complaints), developing programs to address disability accommodation requests and well as developing communication plans to avoid conflict in the first place.

CONFLICT RESOLUTIONPRACTICE:

  • Independent Workplace Investigations: Ms. Perez assists clients from a wide variety of industries in all areas of human resources and employment law. She combines her legal expertise with her real world knowledge to provide clients with practical advice on all types of HR and employment law issues. Ms. Perez has developed a particular expertise in conducting workplace investigations covering the entire gamut of employment law and HR matters in California and across the United States. She has worked with both the private and public sectors and with unionized and non-unionized work settings covering a wide array of industries. Ms. Perez wrote Workplace Investigations: Seven Critical Steps to Success™ and trains HR professionals and line managers across the country on how to conduct fair, thorough and lawful workplace investigations. Ms. Perez also wrote the chapter on workplace investigations for Advising California Employers and Employees published by the California’s Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB)
  • Disability Issues: Additionally, Ms. Perez provides consulting services involving issues related to employee disabilities, including providing guidance on the interactive process and expert advice on how to analyze reasonable accommodation requests. Ms. Perez was a primary author of regulations clarifying the Fair Housing and Employment Act as related to disability discrimination issues that went into effect on December 30, 2012. Ms. Perez’s chapter on the interactive process and the reasonable accommodation analysis appears in CEB’s Drafting Employment Documents for California Employers. Ms. Perez has also drafted articles on issues related to the interactive process and the reasonable accommodation analysis that have been published in the Law Review of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the California State Bar as well as in the CEB’s Business Law Practitioner.
  • Wage and Hour: Ms. Perez has also conducted numerous wage and hour audits, including audits to determine whether employees have been properly classified (exempt versus non-exempt) and audits related to compliance issues for nonexempt employees (timekeeping, etc.)
  • Spanish Business Solutions: Because of her native Spanish speaking skills, Ms. Perez has worked extensively with entities with a large percentage of Latino and Spanish-speaking employees. She provides all consulting and training services in Spanish and includes cultural nuances unique to the Latino culture.

Professional Activities and Speeches

Professional Activities:

  • Fair Employment Housing Council (Council Member, 2013 - present)
  • Fair Employment Housing Commission (Vice Chair, 2008 - 2011)
  • California State Bar Association (Advisor and Past Chair of the Executive Committee of the Labor & Employment Law Section, 2010)
  • UCLA School of Law Alumni Association (Member, Board of Directors)

Speeches:

  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - ''Workplace Strategies “TED Talks”: Embracing Diversity in Divisive Times'' - San Diego - May 05, 2017
  • Ogletree Deakins Navigating California Employment Law Seminar - ''Becoming a California Super Sleuth: Investigations Through an Expert Lens'' - Napa - March 02, 2017
  • Ogletree Deakins Webinar - ''Beyond the Routine: Lessons Learned From Complex High-Stakes Workplace Investigations'' - March 29, 2016
  • Labor and Employment Counsel Exclusive - ''The Twists and Turns of “Routine” Workplace Investigations: Solutions to Common Challenges'' - Phoenix - November 12, 2015
  • Oglketree Deakins Webinar - ''Conducting Effective Workplace Investigations: Lessons Learned From The Trenches'' - October 21, 2015
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - ''Fifty Shades of Grey (Areas): A Workplace Investigation Workshop'' - San Antonio - May 13, 2015
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - ''The Hits Keep Coming—California Employment Law Update'' - San Antonio - May 13, 2015
  • 21st Annual Public Sector Conference - ''Accommodations and Interaction: Best Practices for Handling Requests'' - Berkeley - April 24, 2015
  • Navigating California Employment Law Seminar - ''What’s New in California Employment Law? Plenty!'' - Napa - February 26, 2015
  • San Diego Employer’s Advisory Council - ''Workplace Investigations: Putting out the Fires'' - San Diego - October 22, 2014
  • California State Bar Conference - ''Workplace Investigations: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly'' - San Diego - September 12, 2014
  • Ogletree Deakins Webinar - ''Disability Accommodations and the Interactive Process: Steps to Take, Shortcuts to Avoid, and Traps for the Unwary'' - August 05, 2014
  • Ogletree Deakins Webinar - ''Disability Accommodations and the Interactive Process: Steps to Take, Shortcuts to Avoid, and Traps for the Unwary'' - August 05, 2014
  • DFEH Webinar - ''Sexual Harassment Prevention Training'' - April 16, 2014
  • San Diego County Bar Association - ''Fair Employment and Housing Council: Recent Changes, Regulations on the Horizon'' - San Diego - March 12, 2014
  • Employment Round Table of Southern California In Collaboration with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing - ''The New Disability and Pregnancy Regulations: Key Provisions, DFEH Enforcement Perspective, Employer Best Practices'' - Los Angeles - March 26, 2013
  • State Bar Labor and Employment Law Section Webinar - ''FEHA Disability Discrimination Regulations: A Long-Awaited Clarification of Key Components to this Complex Law'' - February 19, 2013
  • State Bar Labor and Employment Law Section Meeting - ''Basics of Litigating FEHA Cases'' - Newport Beach - November 2012
  • Association of Workplace Investigators Webinar - ''Investigating Complaints of Disability Discrimination'' - August 2012
  • ACWA 2011 Fall Conference - ''Eight Steps to Conducting Workplace Investigations'' - Anaheim - November 2011
  • State Bar of California Labor and Employment Section Annual Meeting - ''Ethical Rainmaking: Strategies of Difficult Ethical Times'' - Anaheim - October 2011
  • CEB Seminar - ''Fundamentals of Employment Law'' - Los Angeles - October 2011
  • California State Bar 84th Annual Meeting - ''Workplace Investigations on Trial: Can an Investigator Make or Break Your Case?'' - San Diego - September 17, 2011
  • State Bar of California Labor and Employment Section Webinar (moderator) - ''Recent Developments in Disability Discrimination Law in California: The Continuing Saga'' - June 2011
  • State Bar of California Labor and Employment Section Webinar (moderator) - ''Recent Developments in Disability Discrimination Law in California: The Continuing Saga'' - June 2011
  • State Bar of California Labor and Employment Section, 17th Annual Public Sector Conference - ''The Interactive Process: How To Make It Work Effectively for The Employer and The Employee'' - Sacramento - May 2011
  • State Bar of California Labor and Employment Section - ''Disability Discrimination – Brown Bag Series'' - San Francisco - 2011
  • State Bar of California Labor and Employment Law Section’s 28th Annual Meeting - ''Litigating A Disability Discrimination Case – From Intake Through Trial'' - San Francisco - October 2010
  • 2010 Litigation and Labor & Employment Group Meeting for MERITAS - ''Mastering the Art of Conducting Workplace Investigations'' - San Antonio - October 2010
  • State Bar of California’s 83rd Annual Meeting - ''Hot Topics in Investigations of Workplace Complaints'' - Monterrey - September 2010
  • State Bar of California Labor and Employment Law Section Webinar - ''City of Ontario vs. Quon – Electronic Privacy in the Workplace'' - July 2010
  • California Association of Workplace Investigators and the Bar Association of San Francisco - ''Mastering the Art of Investigations'' - San Francisco - June 2010
  • California Association of Workplace Investigators and the Bar Association of San Francisco - ''Mastering the Art of Investigations'' - San Francisco - June 2010

Published Works

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Our Insights

Is Your Investigator More Biased Than You Think? Part II: How to Keep Truthiness Out of Your Workplace Investigations

July 18, 2017

Is Your Investigator More Biased Than You Think? Part I: How Unconscious Bias Can Disrupt Your Workplace Investigations

July 17, 2017

An Insider’s Look at California’s New Gender Identity Regulations: Restroom Access, Pronoun Preference, and More

June 28, 2017

Check the Drama at the Door, Part II: A 10-Point Checklist for Avoiding and Resolving Workplace Conflict

January 23, 2017

Check the Drama at the Door, Part I: A 10-Point Checklist for Avoiding and Resolving Workplace Conflict

January 19, 2017

Conflict-Avoidance and Conflict-Resolution Mistakes that Ruin Workplace Culture, Part III: Failing to Address Workplace Conflicts

November 02, 2016

Conflict-Avoidance and Conflict-Resolution Mistakes that Ruin Workplace Culture, Part II: Creating a Perception of Unfairness

October 31, 2016

Conflict-Avoidance and Conflict-Resolution Mistakes that Ruin Workplace Culture, Part I: Failing to Recognize and Confront High-Risk Situations

October 27, 2016

Ripped From the Headlines, Part II: Three Investigation Lessons to Learn from Recent Scandals

September 14, 2016

Ripped From the Headlines: Three Investigation Lessons to Learn From a Political Controversy

May 19, 2016

The New California Regulations Part IV: Support Animals in the Workplace

April 21, 2016

The New California Regulations Part III Sexual Harassment and Abusive Conduct Training

March 28, 2016

The New California Regulations, Part II: The Transgender Workforce

March 21, 2016

The New California Regulations, Part I: Preventing and Correcting Wrongful Behavior

March 17, 2016

Top 10 Workplace Investigation Mistakes: Part II

October 15, 2015

Top 10 Workplace Investigation Mistakes: Part I

October 14, 2015

Accommodations Legalese: 5 Key Terms Every Employer Should Know

September 17, 2015

Your Compliance Toolbox: 7 Tips for a Successful Interactive Process

August 28, 2015

Lessons from Deflategate: 5 Ways to Avoid Workplace Investigation Fumbles

August 03, 2015

The CFRA Amendments: How to Prepare Your Organization

July 13, 2015

The Interactive Process Dance, Part Two: What Happens When the Music Stops?

March 18, 2015

The Interactive Process Dance, Part One: What Happens When the Music Stops?

March 17, 2015

Media

Media Quotes

August 14, 2017 - SHRM Online - "Set Ground Rules for the Different Types of Service Animals"
May 30, 2017 - Marketplace - "Yes, those sexual harassment training videos are terrible"
April 21, 2017 - SHRM Online - "California Employers Must Grasp Various Criminal-History Restrictions"

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