Diane M. Saunders

Shareholder || Boston

Whether she is handling litigation or simply providing advice and counsel, Diane Saunders employs a strategic approach to solving her clients’ legal and business problems. She always strives to achieve cost-effective results that are consistent with her clients’ overall business objectives. Ms. Saunders is a skilled and aggressive litigator and possesses significant expertise in class and collective action matters and complex cases. Ms. Saunders has been helping employers with their labor and employment issues and business disputes for over 20 years. Her clients include businesses of all sizes and in a variety of industries, as well as non-profit organizations. She is a Chair of the firm’s Retail Practice Group, and a member of the firm’s Steering Committee for the Class Action Practice Group.

Ms. Saunders has tried over a dozen matters in federal and state courts, as well as before administrative agencies and in arbitration proceedings. Ms. Saunders regularly handles appeals in state and federal courts. She also defends employers in investigations and enforcement actions conducted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. Representative matters include wage and hour, confidential information, trade secret and non-competition issues, discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, whistleblower, and workplace torts and contract disputes.

Ms. Saunders defends class and collective action suits alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Equal Pay Act, and Massachusetts wage and hour laws, including the Massachusetts Tips Law and the Massachusetts Independent Contractor Law. She also defends pattern and practice discrimination class actions, including allegations of class-wide discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation.

In addition to her litigation practice, Ms. Saunders regularly advises employers on employment law and wage and hour compliance and best practices. She reviews employee handbooks and employment policies, drafts employment agreements and non-competition agreements, conducts wage and hour audits, designs employment arbitration programs, and advises clients on best practices during workplace investigations.

Ms. Saunders has been listed in Best Lawyers in America since 2013 and has been recognized by Super Lawyers since 2006 as one of the leading employment lawyers in Massachusetts and New England. She is AV Preeminent Peer Review rated in Martindale-Hubbell and is a Fellow in the Litigation Counsel of America. She is a frequent speaker at education programs for attorneys, human resources professionals, business owners, and managers.

Ms. Saunders graduated from American University’s Washington College of Law with honors and served as an Articles Editor on the American University Law Review. Immediately following her graduation from law school, she served as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Richard S. Salzman, District of Columbia Superior Court.

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Class and Collective Action Defense

Ms. Saunders handles wage and hour class and collective actions brought in both state and federal courts under the Fair Labor Standards Act, Equal Pay Act, Massachusetts Tips Law, Massachusetts Payment of Wages Law, Massachusetts Independent Contractor Law and other state laws.  Representative claims include those alleging claims of failure to pay overtime, denial of meal and rest periods, violations of the minimum wage laws, failure to pay overtime at the proper rate, improper rounding and docking, and employee misclassification unjust enrichment, and tortious interference. Ms. Saunders also handles pattern and practice discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation claims brought under federal and state law on a class-wide basis, including putative class claims brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Significant examples of her representation in the area of class and collective actions include the following:

Employment Law and Litigation

Ms. Saunders has over 20 years of experience in all aspects of employment law, from day-to-day counseling to handling complex litigation through trial and appeals. She has significant experience with the myriad laws governing the workplace, including Title VII, the Equal Pay Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, as well as the various state laws that also govern the employer-employee relationship. In addition to issues of discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation based on age, race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, and disability, Ms. Saunders regularly advises and represents employers in connection with matters such as: employee privacy; voluntary and mandatory employment arbitration programs; accommodating people with disabilities; religious accommodations; workplace investigations; reductions-in-force; criminal records inquiries; employee leave issues; and whistleblower issues.

Her extensive experience in the area of employment law includes:

Protecting Confidential Information, and Customer and Employee Relationships

Ms. Saunders assists her clients with creating and implementing policies, practices, and restrictive covenant agreements designed to protect their valuable confidential business information and trade secrets from misappropriation, and to protect their customers, clients, vendors, suppliers, and employees from improper solicitation. Ms. Saunders also assists her clients with creating and implementing best practices and policies to ensure that they do not violate their competitors’ restrictive covenant agreements, or find themselves embroiled in unfair competition and trade secret litigation. When litigation becomes necessary, she provides aggressive, cost-effective representation. Ms. Saunders has handled successfully many temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction motions on behalf of her clients.

Her notable client victories in this area include the following:

Wage and Hour

Ms. Saunders assists employers with proactive initiatives to ensure wage and hour compliance, such as internal wage and hour audits of pay policies and practices. When litigation is brought against her clients, Ms. Saunders defends both single plaintiff wage and hour matters, as well as claims brought on a class-wide basis. She also represents employers during investigations and audits conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.

Some of the wage and hour issues that Ms. Saunders frequently addresses include: employee classification; tipping and tip pooling; overtime; rounding; docking; off-the-clock work; meal and rest periods; vacation pay; pay at termination; deductions from wages; prevailing wages; holiday and premium pay; and payroll frequency.


Admittance to Practice

Professional Activities

  • National Association of Women Lawyers
  • National Retail Federation (Committee on Employment Law, Chair of EEOC and Supreme Court Subcommittee)
  • American Bar Association (Labor and Employment and Litigation Sections)
  • Massachusetts Bar Association (Labor and Employment Section, former Section Council Member and Committee Chair)
  • Boston Bar Association (Labor and Employment Section)
  • Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association (Chair of Senior Practice Committee and former Board Member)
  • The Boston Club


Insights by Diane M. Saunders