Kate LaQuay is a partner in the employment and labor and employment litigation groups. Kate represents clients in defense of wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, wage/hour disputes, whistleblower claims, and various other employment law-related matters, bringing broad experience in business litigation and regulatory matters and resolving employment disputes on behalf of employers. Her practice also encompasses a wide variety of other representations, including breach of contract claims, corporate director/officer liability issues, and unfair competition disputes.

Kate received a B.A. in Political Science from Stanford University and received her J.D., Order of the Coif, from the University of California, Davis School of Law. During law school, she served as an editor of the U.C. Davis Law Review and a member of the Trial Practice Honors Board and earned American Jurisprudence Awards in three subjects. She also completed a judicial externship for the Honorable Garland E. Burrell, Jr., U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of California.

Representative Employment/Labor Law Experience:

  • Successful resolution of numerous claims asserting discrimination, retaliation, and harassment based on sex, sexual orientation, race, national origin, age, pregnancy, and disability, as well as alleged failure to make reasonable accommodation, to engage in the interactive process, and interference with, or retaliation based on, right to family or medical leave, pursuant to written dispute resolution program requiring mediation/arbitration of claims
  • Resolved investigations on behalf of multiple clients, without litigation, following charges of discrimination filed with California Department of Fair Employment and Housing
  • Defeated breach of contract, constructive termination and California Labor Code Section 970 claims asserted against Fortune 500 company by motion to dismiss
  • Represented employer and individual defendant accused of same-sex sexual harassment, assault and false imprisonment, achieving favorable settlement after filing of motion for summary judgment/summary adjudication
  • Defeated all claims asserted by former employee against Fortune 500 company by successful motion to dismiss based on plaintiff’s discovery abuses and failure to prosecute
  • Represented employer, as well as individually named defendants, in defense of sexual orientation discrimination/harassment claims asserted by a former manager. Defendants contended the manager had been terminated for misuse of corporate credit card and falsification of expense reports. Following deposition of plaintiff and mediation, all claims were resolved on terms favorable to defendants
  • Successful resolution of former supervisor’s claims asserting national origin/religious discrimination, on behalf of Fortune 500 company. The company contended the supervisor had been terminated following its investigation into claims that the supervisor had sexually harassed and retaliated against a subordinate. All claims were resolved on terms favorable to the company through mediation
  • Successful defense of claims brought by former manager who claimed company violated California Labor Code based on alleged misclassification of the manager as an exempt employee
  • Defeated claims asserted against human resources employee for alleged violation of California Family Rights Act by successful motion to dismiss. Court agreed no claims could be stated against the human resources employee based on the allegedly wrongful termination of plaintiff’s employment
  • Represented Fortune 500 company in connection with whistleblower claims (California Labor Code Sections 98.6 & 1102.5) asserted by former employee who allegedly had reported that others were working “off the clock” and complained of a “hostile work environment”
  • Defended client in class action based on purported failure to pay employees vested vacation pay at termination and to provide accurate wage statements. Court approved settlement of all claims after mediation
  • Successful defense of claims brought under California’s Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) based on alleged failures to provide compliant rest breaks, reimburse employees’ expenses, pay overtime at required rates and provide accurate wage statements. Claims were resolved through mediation, resulting in court approval of settlement
  • Defended client accused of violating Fair Credit Report Act and failure to: pay overtime wages, provide meal and rest breaks, reimburse expenses, pay wages when due, and provide compliant wage statements. Favorable settlement was approved by court following mediation
  • Represented employer in arbitration proceeding to resolve former manager’s claims of discrimination/retaliation and violations of California Labor Code (allegedly unpaid overtime, compensation for missed meal and rest breaks, failure to reimburse for expenses, etc.). Employer asserted counterclaims based on former employee’s fraud, misappropriation of assets and breach of duties of care and loyalty. All claims were resolved prior to arbitration hearing
  • Represented alleged joint employers in defense of claims asserted as a class/collective action under the Fair Labor and Standards Act (“FLSA”), the California Labor Code, California Wage Orders, and California’s Business & Professions Code based on purported failures to pay overtime, to pay wages when due and to provide accurate wage statements. Defendants filed counterclaim against named plaintiff, asserting claims for breach of contract and fraud. All claims were resolved following direct negotiation between the parties, and the parties’ settlement agreement was approved by the court
  • Advised clients with respect to issues including mandatory agreements to arbitrate employment disputes, investigation of complaints made by employees, equal pay issues, reductions in force / WARN notices, legally-required family or medical leave, no-rehire provisions, confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements

Commercial Litigation/Other Experience:

  • Represented plaintiff in breach of contract action seeking recovery of more than $1 million for services rendered
  • Defense of claims for damages based on breaches of commercial leases
  • Represented physician and professional medical corporation seeking damages based on violation of expense-sharing agreement. Arbitration award in favor of the physician and his corporation was confirmed by Superior Court. Defeated appeal seeking to overturn award
  • Defended company in class action asserting violations of Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”)
  • Defended consumer lender in action asserting claims for negligence and conversion based upon alleged seizure of property
  • Represented computer manufacturer in coordinated lawsuits brought by employees who asserted they suffered various injuries as a result of “systemic chemical poisoning” which they allegedly suffered while working in clean room environments. Drafted multiple motions in limine, including successful motion to preclude references to study of “estimated risk of cancer” among employees
  • Successful challenges to publication of information/images, pursuant to Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Achieved client’s objective of prompt removal of proprietary images from multiple digital platforms
  • Advised company on website accessibility/ADA compliance issues
  • Represented defendant in lawsuit asserting claims made pursuant to Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Client Alerts

CALIFORNIA COMPLIANT: New Complexities for California Employers in Managing Family/Sick Leave

Family Care Leave Currently, CFRA allows employees to take leave to care for several categories of family members who suffer from a serious health condition. “Designated persons” selected by the employee will join that list. That term is vaguely defined to mean “any individual related by blood or whose association with the employee is the

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Client Alerts

CALIFORNIA COMPLIANT: California Establishes Mandatory Bereavement Leave

AB 1949 grants to eligible employees a right to five days of bereavement leave after the death of a family member as defined in the act. Employees are eligible for such leave after just 30 days of employment. The list of family members whose passing qualifies the employee for leave is not as broad as

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Press Releases

Munck Wilson Mandala Welcomes Employment Litigation Team James H. Berry, Jr. and Kate LaQuay

“This is the kind of growth we have focused on in our LA office since opening in 2018,” said managing partner William A. Munck.  “We started with a strong litigation team, adding corporate and transactional lawyers, and now we have a dynamic team of employment litigators who bring decades of experience representing clients in LA

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Client Alerts

California Weighs Making Fast Food Franchisors Liable for Employment Law Violations Affecting Employees of Franchises

If signed into law, Assembly Bill 1228 (the “Fast Food Franchisor Responsibility Act”) would add to the Labor Code Section 2810.9, making covered fast food franchisors jointly responsible (with the franchisee) for the franchisee’s violations of specified laws, rules, and regulations. For example, the franchisor would share liability for violations of the state’s Fair Employment and Housing

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Client Alerts

California Compliant: Countdown to California Minimum Wage Increases

On January 1, 2023, California’s statewide minimum wage increased to $15.50/hour for all employers.  But starting July 1, 2023, employers in every city and municipality listed below will be required to pay more than the state’s required minimum ($15.50/hour) due to local laws requiring higher hourly rates. Employees in the city of West Hollywood, for example, must be

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Client Alerts

California Compliant: Court Orders Delay in Enforcement of the CCPA

The CCPA (Civil Code Section 1798.100, et seq.) requires California businesses to inform consumers about the collection and use of the consumer’s personal information. The Act prohibits businesses from collecting, using, retaining, or sharing such information except to the extent “reasonably necessary and proportionate to achieve the purposes for which” the information is obtained. The legislature

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Client Alerts

California Compliant: Are California’s Wage Orders About to Be Re-Written?

Many of the specific wage and hour requirements that California employers must follow are set forth in industry-specific “Wage Orders.” The current Wage Orders, which are available at https://www.dir.ca.gov/iwc/wageorderindustries.htm, were drafted more than 20 years ago by the IWC. The IWC, which was created by the Legislature as part of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR),

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Client Alerts

CALFORNIA COMPLIANT: Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions for California Employers in 2023

California employers may be challenged to fulfill their New Year’s resolutions in 2023, which has brought significant changes in various California labor and employment laws. Some of the most widely applicable new laws that will impact the workplace in 2023 include: Given that California law provides that overtime-exempt employees must receive a salary of at

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In the News

As the Heat Index Rises, Standards for Keeping Employees Cool May Also Change

Written as a column for Daily Journal by MWM’s Kate LaQuay and Sahar Shiralian The dog days of summer are almost over, which is cause for celebration for many Californians. Recent historic heat wave were likely the sizzling inspiration for a new proposed regulation establishing a heat illness standard for indoor work areas. On Aug.

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Client Alerts

Significant Potential Changes to Cal/WARN Requirements

Among the changes that likely will affect California employers beginning in 2024 are new rules for giving advance notice to employees and government officials when a group of workers will lose their jobs because of a “mass layoff, relocation, or termination.” A bill amending the California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act (Cal/WARN, Labor Code Section

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Client Alerts

California Compliant: Imminent Increase in Requirement to Provide Paid Sick Leave to California Workers

Employees’ Accrual & Use of Paid Sick Time, Historically Since 2015, California has required employers to provide employees a limited amount of paid sick leave. The entitlement to paid sick leave is set forth in Labor Code Sections 245.5, 246 and 246.5. These statutes broadly define “employer,” for this purpose, as including any person (or

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Client Alerts

California Compliant: New Rules to Record and Investigate Violence in California Workplaces

What is “Workplace Violence”? SB 553 defines “workplace violence” as “any act of violence or threat of violence that occurs in a place of employment.” Workplace violence can include, for example: use of, or threats of, physical force against an employee; and use of, or threats of, a firearm or other “dangerous weapon.” It does

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Client Alerts

California Compliant: Governor Declares That FEHA Already Prohibits Discrimination Based on “Caste” and Therefore Vetoes SB 403

Co-sponsors of SB 403 argued that “[c]aste may not be as visible as race to the California legislature, but it is a longstanding system of exclusion…”. Notably, the Legislature declared that SB 403 should not “be construed to mean that discrimination on the basis of ancestry does not already include discrimination on the basis of

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Client Alerts

California Compliant: California Workers Entitled to Leave for “Reproductive Loss” Beginning January 1st

Employees’ Existing Right to Take Bereavement Leave Last year, the Legislature amended the California Family Rights Act (CFRA, Government Code Section 12945.2, et seq) to grant eligible workers the right to take unpaid leave after the death of a family member. Government Code Section 12945.7, which became effective on January 1, 2023, requires companies employing

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Client Alerts

California Compliant: California Adds Teeth to Prohibitions Against Non-Competes

What Is a Prohibited Non-Compete Agreement? As a matter of public policy, California favors an open market for workers, so that they may move from one business to another as they choose. Although some states (at least for now) permit individuals and businesses to enter into contracts that “reasonably” restrict the individual’s right to work

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In the News

MWM Helps Families Celebrate New Beginnings on National Adoption Day

Munck Wilson Mandala’s Los Angeles-based attorneys Kate LaQuay, Jane Davidson, and Sahar Shiralian partnered with the Alliance for Children’s Rights to launch a pro bono program aimed at facilitating foster care adoption. The team successfully represented three families in finalizing their adoptions on National Adoption Day, which was celebrated on November 18, 2023. The in-person

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Client Alerts

California Compliant: When Workplace Rules May Be “Unfair Labor Practices”

Subjects Often Covered by “Workplace Rules” Most employers develop and distribute standards, rules, or a code of conduct applicable to their employees. Communicating written expectations for workplace conduct (whether as part of an Employee Handbook, or a standalone document) benefits both employees and employers. In a perfect world, employees understand (and avoid) behavior that might

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Client Alerts

California Compliant: California Trailblazes with Two New Employment Laws Protecting Employees’ Off-Work Use of Cannabis

Assembly Bill 2188 / Prohibition of Employment Discrimination Based on Off-Work Use Until now, California employers have been permitted to reject applicants, or discipline employees, based on their use of marijuana – even if that occurred during non-work hours and away from the workplace. The state Supreme Court confirmed in 2008 that voters’ efforts to

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Client Alerts

California Compliant: The Year in Review – Changes to California’s Employment Laws

1. Expansion of the Entitlement to Paid Sick Leave. Beginning in 2024, California workers will be entitled to take more days of paid sick leave each year. Senate Bill 616 amended Labor Code Sections 245.5 and 246 to increase employees’ minimum rate of accrual of paid sick time to 40 hours, or five days, each

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Client Alerts

California Compliant: New Resources for Drafting Workplace Violence Prevention Plans

Background – Senate Bill 553 Senate Bill 553 (SB 553) amended Labor Code Section 6401.7 and added new Labor Code Section 6401.9. The bill expanded employers’ obligations with respect to the prevention of workplace injuries by adding a requirement to create a written plan specifically designed to prevent and record instances of “workplace violence.” A

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Client Alerts

California Compliant: Changes to California’s Requirements for Reporting of Pay Data

Background – Pay Data Reporting According to the CRD, California’s legislature imposed pay data reporting requirements to “encourage [] employers to self-assess pay disparities along gendered, racial, and ethnic lines in their workforce and to promote voluntary compliance with equal pay and anti-discrimination laws.” The state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits discrimination “in compensation

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Client Alerts

California Compliant: Hiring Workers Just Got More Complicated in California

Background – California’s Fair Chance Act and the City of LA’s Fair Chance Ordinance California’s Fair Chance Act (FCA, Government Code Section 12952) restricts both the time when and extent to which employers can consider a person’s conviction history in making employment decisions (read more here). Among other things, the FCA prohibits covered employers from:

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Client Alerts

California Compliant: California’s Supreme Court Reiterates Standard for Resolving Whether Time Spent for Security Checks Is “Hours Worked”

“Hours Worked” and California’s Various Wage Orders One reason wage and hour questions can be complicated in California is that the state has seventeen different Wage Orders. Most of the Wage Orders relate to specific industries or occupations, with a catch-all for “miscellaneous employees.” Guidance from the state’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement explains how

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In the News

Refresher On Employee Qualifications For Summer Interns

Nearly half of all college students complete an internship before they graduate, according to a 2023 Gallup Inc. report.[1] But internships can create special legal risks for employers. Permitting students to join your workforce as interns for a limited period offers them a valuable opportunity to gain real-world experience. Businesses can benefit, too, from having extra help

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University of California Davis School of Law, JD, 1995

Order of the Coif

Trial Practice Honors Board, 1994-1995
Editor of U.C. Davis Law Review

Stanford University, AB, 1992

Political Science

  • ChIPs (Advancing Women in Tech, Law & Policy) member
  • Cardinal Counsel, founder
  • California Bar Association
  • California Lawyers Association
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association

  • Women of Influence: Attorneys
    Los Angeles Business Journal, 2023
  • Leaders of Influence: Labor & Employment Attorneys
    Los Angeles Business Journal, 2022-2023

California, 1995

U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit