Gillian P. Yee

Shareholder Detroit (Metro)

Gillian Yee–currently recognized as the exclusive winner of the Client Choice 2017 Award for Employment & Benefits in Michigan and selected to Michigan Super Lawyers 2017–is a Shareholder at the Metro Detroit office of Ogletree Deakins.

Gillian has extensive experience providing employment-related counseling and litigation services to management clients in a wide range of areas, including discrimination, harassment, and retaliation; non-compete, non-solicitation, and confidentiality agreements; medical leaves and accommodations; and wage and hour laws. Gillian's practice primarily focuses on protecting companies' interests in state and federal courts and arbitration; however, she also regularly represents employers in pre-litigation matters and routinely provides advice and counsel on both the legal issues and the practical considerations confronting employers to avoid litigation.

In 2010, Gillian partnered with three others to revitalize the Michigan Asian Pacific American Bar Association (MAPABA) after several years of inactivity, serving as its Vice President and President. Since stepping down from the executive board in 2016, Gillian continues to lead MAPABA's efforts to connect APA attorneys practicing in Michigan. Passionate about diversity, inclusion, and assisting in the professional development of associates within her office and across the firm, Gillian proudly serves as Co-Chair of ODA3 (the firm’s Business Resource Group supporting Asian-American attorneys), the Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador for the Metro Detroit office (2013 to present), and the Professional Development Ambassador for the Metro Detroit office (2015 to present).

Prior to joining Ogletree Deakins, Gillian interned for Justice Robert P. Young, Jr. of the Michigan Supreme Court and for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Detroit. Gillian is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where she received Bachelor of Art degrees in English and Linguistics, and Wayne State University Law School, where she earned a Juris Doctor degree and served as the Managing Editor for The Journal of Law and Society.


Experience

Employment Counseling and Litigation Avoidance

Gillian understands legal challenges within the context of business needs and regularly advises management on employee issues, the strategic implementation of policies and procedures that conform to the applicable legal landscape, and litigation avoidance (including pre-suit agency charges). Gillian’s significant experience includes the following:

  • On a daily basis, provides practical recommendations to clients regarding a myriad of state, federal, and local employment issues (for example, termination, final payment of wages, corrective action, onboarding new hires, requests for leave, drug testing and medical marijuana, safety complaints, garnishments, etc.)
  • Prepared and revised scores of employee handbooks, stand-alone policies and agreements, and internal procedures for small businesses and multi-state companies across numerous industries
  • Created a 50-state garnishment compliance tool for employers with multi-state operations
  • Developed a methodology for classification of independent contractors by a large staffing agency to avoid risk of IRS misclassification
  • On behalf of a well-known national telecommunications company, conducted a large-scale audit of FLSA classifications of its employees
  • Secured several findings of no cause from the EEOC and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights based on compelling position statements
  • On behalf of a global chemical management services provider, negotiated a favorable settlement and full release of a discrimination complaint filed with the Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Administration
  • Successfully represented an HVAC supplier in an appeal of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency’s determination denying unemployment benefits to a former employee

Employment Litigation and Appellate Matters

Gillian defends employers against lawsuits brought under various state and federal employment laws, including the FLSA, FMLA, ADA, ADEA, Title VII, Section 1981, Michigan’s equivalent statutes and common laws, and state-specific statutes such as Michigan’s Whistleblowers’ Protection Act and Michigan’s Payment of Wages and Fringe Benefits Act. Gillian litigates these matters in state and federal courts at the trial and appellate levels, as well as in the arbitration setting.  Some examples include:

  • Secured summary judgment of a former employee’s claims for disability discrimination and failure to accommodate on behalf of a well-known national discount retailer
  • On behalf of a large hospital system, achieved summary judgment on claims of FMLA interference and retaliation
  • On the eve of trial, obtained a favorable settlement in an age discrimination case on behalf of a national over-the-road motor carrier
  • Defended a national correctional health facility against claims of constitutional violations, as well as race and gender discrimination
  • On behalf of a global sales and marketing services company, obtained a favorable settlement in a suit alleging sexual harassment by a supervisor
  • Successfully obtained leave to file an interlocutory appeal of the trial court’s denial of summary disposition of an employee’s lawsuit (alleging whistleblower violations, public policy violations, retaliatory harassment, and various theories of discrimination), which promptly resulted in a favorable settlement of all claims

Unfair Competition and Trade Secrets – Restrictive Covenants, Tortious Interference, Misappropriation, and Related Claims

Gillian is particularly experienced in the legal nuances and business constraints as they relate to enforcing and invalidating restrictive covenants, such as agreements regarding non-competition, non-solicitation, and confidentiality, as well as related claims involving tortious interference, misappropriation of trade secrets, civil conspiracy, etc.

Not only is she well-versed in drafting, reviewing, and providing strategic recommendations regarding such agreements, Gillian routinely prevails at the litigation stage – whether engaged by the client to initiate suit or defend against enforcement.

Gillian litigates these matters in both state and federal court, and through her representation of employers in several courts across the state, Gillian’s familiarity with each county’s specific requirements – recently developed for each specialized Business Court in Michigan – serves her clients well. Her recent litigation experience (e.g., temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions, permanent injunctions, evidentiary hearings, expedited discovery and successful and creative resolutions) includes:

  • On behalf of a national industrial battery service and repair provider that hired a low-level, non-sales employee from a competitor, achieved dismissal of lawsuit (including claims of tortious interference) and successfully obtained an order invalidating the restriction on such employment contained in the employee’s non-competition agreement with her former employer
  • Secured a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction on behalf of an HVAC supplier against a former salesperson, who was ultimately enjoined from competing on behalf of his subsequent employer in a significantly restricted sales territory for nearly twice the duration of the non-competition agreement and from further disclosing the client’s confidential information indefinitely
  • On behalf of the same client, obtained a favorable resolution whereby a former marketing employee agreed to resign from her subsequent employment with a competitor, following the filing of a lawsuit (alleging breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, and statutory conversion) to enforce the terms of her non-competition and confidentiality agreements
  • After two days of testimony at the evidentiary hearing on a breach of contract lawsuit brought on behalf of a national health care provider to enjoin a former physician from unlawful competition, ultimately negotiated a settlement agreement whereby the physician agreed to move his medical practice outside a negotiated geographic restriction
  • On behalf of a local home health care provider, initiated an action for breach of contract and misappropriation against a former employee, forcing the employee to divest her ownership interest in a competing business, and subsequently defended against her counterclaim (alleging civil conspiracy, civil RICO violations, and abuse of process)

Professional Activities and Speeches

Professional Activities:

  • National Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) - Labor and Employment Law Committee
  • Michigan Asian Pacific American Bar Association (MAPABA) - Immediate Past President
  • State Bar of Michigan (SBM) - Labor and Employment Law Section
  • Macomb County Bar Association (MCBA) - Labor and Employment Law Committee, Immediate Past Chair
  • Ogletree Deakins’ Professional Development and Inclusion (PDI) Committee - Professional Development Ambassador
  • Ogletree Deakins' AAA Business Resource Group (Co-Founder and Co-Chair)

Speeches:

  • State Bar of Michigan (SBM) Labor & Employment Law Section’s Luncheon & Discussion - ''Perspectives on the Profession from Women of Color'' - Detroit - December 08, 2015
  • The Institute of Continuing Legal Education’s (ICLE) First Annual Entrepreneurial Law Institute - ''Employment Law: Tips to Avoid Legal Pitfalls with Employees'' - Detroit - May 29, 2015
  • Wayne State University Law School APALSA General Meeting - ''My Career Path: It's All About Making and Maintaining Relationships'' - Detroit - February 22, 2011
  • Ogletree Deakins Briefing - ''Today’s Mobile Workplace And Social Media Sites: What Hazards Lie Ahead?'' - Troy - April 21, 2010

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