Austin E. Smith

Office Managing Shareholder || Denver

Austin Smith is the Managing Shareholder of Ogletree Deakins’ Denver office, and he has devoted his career to advising and counseling employers on issues affecting their relationship with their employees. From questions about compliance with state and federal wage and hour laws and regulations to drafting effective policies to prevent discrimination, harassment, and violence in the workplace, as well as assisting employers in navigating complex drug testing-related concerns, Austin has extensive experience assisting employers to prevent potential liabilities down the road. He is also a frequent speaker on issues impacting the employment relationship and regularly conducts training for clients, economic groups, professional organizations, and continuing legal education seminars across the country.

In addition to providing sound advice and counsel to clients, Austin devotes a significant percentage of his practice to defending employers against single-plaintiff, collective, and class action suits in both state and federal courts. He has also represented employers in administrative proceedings before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the United States Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Colorado Civil Rights Division, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and numerous other state and federal agencies across the country.

Learn more about Austin E. Smith

Austin’s broad range of experience includes:

  • Lead counsel in numerous state and federal employment discrimination cases, including cases alleging discrimination based on age, color, disability status, gender, genetic information, national origin, race, and religion.
  • Lead counsel in numerous cases alleging violations of state and federal wage and hour laws and regulations, including single-plaintiff, collective, and class action lawsuits in both state and federal courts.
  • Lead counsel for both plaintiffs and defendants in a number of cases alleging violations of restrictive covenants (noncompetition and nonsolicitation agreements).
  • Draft countless severance, separation, non-competition, non-solicitation, confidentiality, and trade secret agreements.
  • Lead counsel on both state and federal appeals of employment law cases.
  • Supervise and conduct wage and hour compliance audits and provide advice to clients on compliance with state and federal laws and regulations.
  • Supervise and conduct audits of employment policies and practices.
  • Supervise and conduct due diligence efforts on behalf of both acquiring and acquired employers in the context of human resources, labor, and employment law audits.
  • Draft various employment policies, handbooks, and training materials for employers.
  • Advise employers on state and federal drug laws and regulations, especially in light of multiple states’ decisions to permit the medical and/or recreational use of marijuana.
  • Extensive experience counseling clients on the impact of the WARN Act on reductions in force and plant closings.
  • Experience advising employers in response to union representation campaigns, both as lead counsel and as part of a team to provide advice and counsel to management.
  • Lead counsel on countless OSHA investigations.

Education

  • J.D., summa cum laude, , University of Alabama School of Law, 2005
  • B.A., with distinction, University of Colorado, Boulder, 2002
  • A.A., Arapahoe Community College, 1999

Admittance to Practice

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Colorado
  • U.S. District Court, Middle, Northern and Southern Districts of Alabama
  • U.S. District Court, Central, Eastern, Northern and Southern Districts of California
  • U.S. District Court, District of Colorado
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Circuits

Professional Activities

  • American Bar Association
  • Alabama Bar Association
  • Birmingham Bar Association (past member)
  • Colorado Bar Association
  • Denver Bar Association
  • Douglas/Elbert County Bar Association
  • California Bar Association

Speeches

  • ASIS International, Greater Kansas City - "Marijuana in the Workplace: An American Experiment" - Kansas City - March 7, 2019
  • Corporate Labor and Employment Counsel Exclusive - "Scripts and Scrapes: The Continued Increase of Drugs in the Workplace" - La Quinta - November 8, 2018
  • Rocky Mountain Payroll Conference - "Putting Humpty Dumpty Together Again: Strategies for Addressing Payroll Discrepancies" - Blackhawk - October 19, 2018
  • Leadership Program of the Rockies - "The Dramatic Battle for the Supreme Court" - Denver - September 24, 2018
  • Northern Colorado Human Resources Association - "Responding to ‘Alt’ Views in the Workplace" - Loveland - August 2018
  • Denver Chapter Payroll Association - "Navigating Complicated Wage Calculations" - Denver - June 2018
  • Canadian Arbitrators and Judges Conference - "The Legalization of Cannabis: The International Experience" - Montreal - April 28, 2018
  • Mile High SHRM Monthly Member Program - "Not Just Another Wage & Hour Update" - Denver - April 11, 2018
  • Mile High SHRM Annual Conference - "Responding to “Alt” Views in the Workplace" - Denver - January 29, 2018
  • Ogletree Deakins Webinar - "Parties, Gifts, and Religious Expression: What Employers Need to Know This Holiday Season" - November 30, 2017
  • Ogletree Deakins Managing A Workforce in 2018 - "The Pot Paradox: Marijuana May Be Legal, But Using Weed Has Consequences" - Denver - November 10, 2017
  • Pipeline Testing Consortium Seminar - "OSHA Never Sleeps: Drug Testing in an Ever Changing Regulatory Environment" - Wichita - November 2017
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Safety Symposium - "Smoke in Your Eyes: The Trend Toward the Legalization of Medical and Recreational Marijuana" - Dallas - October 26, 2017
  • Ogletree Deakins Seminar - "The Dizzying Array Of State And Local Employment Laws - Marijuana And Other Drug Laws" - Scottsdale - October 20, 2017
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - "“Headline News”—The Perfect Start to Your Workplace Strategies" - San Diego - May 4, 2017
  • Council of Autism Service Providers (CASP) Annual Conference - "HR Compliance and Litigation Avoidance in 2017" - Las Vegas - January 2017
  • Ogletree Deakins Briefing - "Avoid Making Your Holiday Party The Gift That Keeps On Giving" - Englewood & Fort Collins - December 2016
  • MHSHRM Webinar - "What the FLSA Overtime Delay Means to You … Today" - November 30, 2016
  • Ogletree Deakins Corporate Labor and Employment Counsel Exclusive Seminar - "Rocky Mountain High: The Proliferation of Recreational and Medical Marijuana Laws" - Colorado Springs - October 29, 2016
  • Ogletree Deakins Seminar - "7-Eleven Wage and Hour Presentation" - Colorado Springs - October 20, 2016
  • Ogletree Deakins Seminar - "Managing a Workforce in 2017, The Costs of Litigation" - Englewood - September 16, 2016
  • Denver Chapter Payroll Association - "What's the DOL Up to These Days?" - Denver - July 21, 2016
  • Ogletree Deakins Webinar - "Dazed and Confused By Drug Laws? A Sober, Clear-Eyed Approach to Multistate Compliance" - May 18, 2016
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - "Dazed and Confused By Drug Laws? A Sober, Clear-Eyed Approach to Multistate Compliance" - Chicago - May 4 - 7, 2016
  • University of Denver MBA Program - "When All Else Fails . . . We Litigate" - Denver - May 2, 2016
  • Employment Law Briefing - "The ‘Other’ Wage & Hour Rules Colorado Employers Need to Know" - Fort Collins - April 27, 2016
  • Employment Law Briefing - "The ‘Other’ Wage & Hour Rules Colorado Employers Need to Know" - Denver - April 26, 2016
  • Mile Hi SHRM Monthly Member Program - "When All Else Fails . . . We Litigate" - Denver - March 9, 2016
  • Mile Hi SHRM Conference - "FLSA: Fear, Loathing and Something Awful" - Denver - October 14, 2015
  • Colorado SHRM State Conference - "Termination Documentation Pitfalls" - Keystone - October 1, 2015
  • Boulder Area Human Resource Association - "Independent Contractors, The Poison or the Cure" - Lafayette - August 20, 2015
  • Ogletree Deakins Webinar - "Workplace Drug Policies After Coats v. Dish Network – What Employers Need to Know" - July 28, 2015
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - "High Times – Managing Legal Marijuana and the Workplace" - San Antonio - May 13 - 16, 2015
  • Ogletree Deakins Seminar - "The Truth About Dating in the Workplace" - Englewood - February 10, 2015
  • Ogletree Deakins Seminar - "Medical Marijuana in Workers Comp" - Birmingham - February 5 - 6, 2015
  • Rocky Mountain Regional Payroll Conference - "Exempt v. Nonexempt: How to Avoid Common Pitfalls in Employee Classification" - Blackhawk - October 16, 2014
  • Ogletree Deakins Seminar - "Navigating the Termination Process – It’s Never Easy, But It Is Manageable" - Englewood - September 26, 2014
  • Ogletree Deakins Corporate Labor and Employment Counsel Exclusive Seminar - "High Times: How Evolving (and Devolving) Drug Laws Impact Workplace Policies" - Dana Point - September 18, 2014
  • BLR Webinar - "Exempt v. Nonexempt: How to Find & Fix Common Misclassification Mistakes" - May 29, 2014
  • BLR Webinar - "Exempt v. Nonexempt: How to Find & Fix Common Misclassification Mistakes" - May 29, 2014
  • Association of Corporate Counsel - "Avoiding FLSA Liability Through a Culture of Work-Life Balance" - Denver - May 22, 2014
  • Association of Corporate Counsel Presentation - "Avoiding FLSA Liability Through a Culture of Work-Life Balance" - Denver - May 22, 2014
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - "Drug Policy Rehab: The Straight and Narrow on Legal Marijuana" - Las Vegas - May 8, 2014
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - "Drug Policy Rehab: The Straight and Narrow on Legal Marijuana" - Las Vegas - May 8, 2014
  • BLR Webinar - "Exempt v. Nonexempt: How to Find & Fix Common Misclassification Mistakes" - April 30, 2014
  • BLR Webinar - "Exempt v. Nonexempt: How to Find & Fix Common Misclassification Mistakes" - April 30, 2014
  • Ogletree Deakins Briefing - "The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: New Risks for Employers or Much Ado About Nothing?" - Englewood - April 8, 2014
  • Ogletree Deakins Briefing - "The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: New Risks for Employers or Much Ado About Nothing?" - Englewood - April 8, 2014
  • BLR Webinar - "Exempt v. Nonexempt: How to Find and Fix Misclassification Mistakes" - March 27, 2014
  • BLR webinar - "Exempt v. Nonexempt: How to Find and Fix Misclassification Mistakes" - March 27, 2014
  • Ogletree Deakins Seminar - "Staying One Step Ahead of the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division" - Englewood - October 25, 2013
  • Ogletree Deakins Seminar - "Staying One Step Ahead of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division" - Englewood - October 25, 2013
  • Business & Legal Resources Webinar - "Exempt v. Nonexempt: How to Find & Fix Common Misclassification Mistakes" - June 27, 2013
  • Business & Legal Resources Webinar - "Exempt v. Nonexempt: How to Find & Fix Common Misclassification Mistakes" - June 27, 2013
  • Senior Women's Corporate Counsel - "Recognizing and Responding to Threats in the Workplace" - Denver - June 17, 2013
  • Senior Women's Corporate Counsel - "Recognizing and Responding to Threats in the Workplace" - Denver - June 17, 2013
  • Association of Corporate Counsel - "Managing and Responding to Threats in the Workplace: The Legal Risks and Remedies" - Denver - May 29, 2013
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - "Medicine, Merriment, Mischief, Mayhem, & Marijuana: Is the Workplace Going to Pot?" - New Orleans - May 9, 2013
  • Association of Legal Administrators - "Amendment 64: What It Does and Does Not Mean for Colorado Employers" - Denver - April 25, 2013
  • Doyle Inn of Court - "Marijuana Laws in Colorado: A Panel Discussion" - Denver - February 20, 2013
  • Ogletree Deakins Briefing - "How to Manage Departing Employees and Minimize Potential Liability in the Process" - Englewood - February 19, 2013
  • Ogletree Deakins Seminar - "How Smartphones, the FLSA, and Work-Life Balance Can Coexist" - Denver - October 12, 2012
  • Ogletree Deakins Briefing - "Hot Topics in Wage & Hour: What Employers Need to Know for 2013" - Colorado Springs - October 5, 2012
  • American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration Annual Conference - "Avoiding FLSA Liability Through a Culture of Work-Life Balance: How the Smartphone has Upset that Balance and What Can Be Done to Stem the Tide" - Denver - September 24, 2012
  • Medical Marijuana & the Workplace Seminar - "Interplay of Colorado's Amendment 20 (Medical Marijuana Amendment) with Existing Federal and State Laws" - Denver - February 17, 2012
  • Employers Council's Lunch 'n Learn - "Union's Latest Tactics to Recruit Your Employees" - Salt Lake City, Utah - August 31, 2011
  • Colorado Bar Association Young Lawyers Division's Annual CLE Event - "Perspectives on Medical Marijuana in the Workplace" - Denver - November 11, 2010
  • Colorado Defense Lawyers Association's Annual Convention - "Medical Marijuana in the Workplace: An Increasingly Hazy Situation" - Vail - August 13, 2010
  • Colorado Bar Association-Approved CLE Presentation - "Business Breakfast Series: Employment Law 101" - Denver - July 14, 2010
  • Society for Human Resources Management, Regional Conference - "The Fair Pay Act and Lilly Ledbetter: An Overview and Discussion" - Birmingham - Spring 2009
  • Marshall County Manufacturing Association Business Development Conference - "A WARN Act Primer" - Guntersville - January 2009
  • Marshall County Manufacturing Association Business Development Conference - "Legal Update, National Labor Relations Act" - Guntersville - January 2009
  • April 2018 - The Practitioner's Guide to Colorado Construction Law - "Employment and Immigration Law in the Colorado Construction Industry"
  • November 2015 - The Practitioner's Guide to Colorado Construction Law - Colorado CLE - "Employment and Immigration Law In the Colorado Construction Industry"
  • February 2014 - The Colorado Lawyer - "Book Review: The Fall of the House of Zeus: The Rise and Ruin of America's Most Powerful Trial Lawyer"
  • June 2013 - FDLI Update - "The New Normal: How Food and Drug Manufacturers Can Successfully Navigate Federal Agencies Vigorous Enforcement Actions"
  • April 2013 - The Colorado Lawyer, Volume 42, No. 4 - "Advising Colorado Employers in Response to Threats of Workplace Violence"
  • January 24, 2013 - Law Week Colorado - "Two Ogletree Deakins Attorneys Elected Shareholders"
  • September 21, 2018 - Law Week Colorado - "Best Lawyers 2019: Labor and Employment"
  • April 17, 2018 - BusinessDen - "Employment law firm moves office from downtown"
  • September 11, 2017 - Law Week Colorado - "Overtime Rule Dies In Federal Court: Employers Should Not Be Complacent, Because Changes Will Come"
  • January 25, 2017 - HR Magazine - "Marijuana Laws: Navigating the Shifting Landscape"
  • November 10, 2016 - SHRM Online - "More States Legalize Recreational and Medical Marijuana"
  • June 6, 2016 - Law Week Colorado - "Off-Duty Activities Statute Generates New Case Law"
  • June 29, 2015 - Law Week Colorado - "Outside The Law: Street Legal"
  • June 15, 2015 - Denver Post - "Colorado Supreme Court: Employers can fire for off-duty pot use"
  • June 15, 2015 - Law360 - "Zero-Tolerance Pot Policies Clear Hurdle In Dish Ruling"
  • June 15, 2015 - Denver Business Journal - "Employees can be fired for pot use, Colorado Supreme Court rules"
  • September 8, 2014 - Law Week Colorado - "Rules for Counsel in Political Season"
  • August 4, 2014 - Law Week Colorado - "The Legal Perils of Telecommuting"
  • June 16, 2014 - Law Week Colorado - "No Carry Policies OK for Companies"
  • January 7, 2014 - Thomson Reuters - "Legal Pot and The Employee"
  • November 25, 2013 - Law Week Colorado - "Anti-Bullying Policies Urged"
  • October 2013 - Practical Law: The Journal - "GC Agenda: Maintaining a Drug-Free Workplace (Interview)"
  • July 22, 2013 - Law Week Colorado - "A How-To For When Execs Get DUIs"
  • April 29, 2013 - Law Week Colorado - "Ruling Limits Employee Resource"
  • February 25, 2013 - Law Week Colorado - "In Firing, Stick To The Script"
  • November 12, 2012 - Law Week Colorado - "Employers Anxious over Pot Law"
  • Best Lawyers in America (2019)
  • Recipient, Dean M. Leigh Harrison Award
  • Hugo L. Black Scholar
  • Order of the Coif
  • Harola A. Bowron, Jr. Labor & Employment Law Award
  • Henderson M. Somerville Award
  • Editor, Alabama Law Review
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Golden Key Honor Society
  • Dean’s List (University of Colorado)
  • Phi Theta Kappa
  • Dean’s List (Arapahoe Community College)
  • Rising Star, Colorado Super Lawyers (2013 – 2015)
  • Colorado Super Lawyers (2016-present)

Insights by Austin E. Smith