Amy L. Lessa
Amy Lessa is a partner in the firm's San Diego office. She handles employment matters before state and federal courts and has extensive experience defending employers in administrative matters before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), the Worker's Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) and the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (CUIAB).
Amy's practice involves representation of employers in a variety of matters including harassment and discrimination litigation, workplace violence injunctions, immigration law, wrongful termination and breach of contract claims. Amy's practice focuses heavily on the prevention side of employment claims and positioning problem employment situations for the best possible defense.
Amy regularly advises employers on methods to avoid employment claims, including the effective use of policies and procedures, providing manager training on "best practices," and giving day-to-day, practical advice on pressing employment issues, such as wage-hour compliance, employee leaves of absence and the management and termination of problem employees.
Amy works with employers in a diverse group of industries including automobile dealerships, restaurants, bars and franchises, craft breweries and brew pubs, law firms, hotels, amusement parks, banks, country clubs, property management firms, non-profits, and clothing and apparel, among others.
Amy is "AV" Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell.
Amy obtained an arbitration victory in a difficult religion and national origin based harassment and constructive discharge lawsuit involving allegations of daily anti-Semitic and ethnic slurs by a top salesperson. The plaintiff claimed that he was forced to quit after management did nothing in response to his repeated complaints because it allegedly valued its top producer over the plaintiff. After a three-day arbitration the judge found for the employer on all claims. The victory was due in large part to our detailed reconstruction of the plaintiff’s prior and subsequent employment history showing repeated poor sales performance in multiple jobs over the years. In addition, the arbitrator awarded our client its costs and attorneys’ fees.
Amy’s other litigation successes include:
- An award of summary judgment in a lawsuit involving claims brought by a current employee for unlawful withholdings and deductions.
- Early dismissal of a race discrimination lawsuit.
- An award of summary adjudication on six of twelve claims brought by a former employee for retaliation, breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, and Labor Code violations for wage discrimination. Amy was also successful in eliminating the plaintiff’s ability to recover punitive damages.
- After two years of aggressively defending a breach of contract claim brought by a vengeful and litigious former employee, Amy prevailed in getting the plaintiff to walk away, voluntarily dismiss his lawsuit and to pay her client a nominal amount.
Honors & Leadership
- Served as the Legislative Chair on the Board of Directors for the North County Personnel
- Association in San Diego for five years
- Active member of the San Diego chapters of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), and Connected Women of Influence (CWI)
- Member of the San Diego County Bar Association and the Labor & Employment Law Section of the California State Bar
- Allied Trade Member of California Craft Brewers Association
- Allied Trade Member of Brewers Association
Amy serves on the Board of Directors and is a founding member of Many Moms, a non-profit corporation that helps children in need. Amy also supports Grace Babies’ Home in Tijuana through YUGO ministries, a non-profit missions organization, and she annually participates in the "Buddy Walk" for the Down Syndrome Association of Orange County.
Seminars & Speaking Engagements
- Legally Required Sexual Harassment Prevention Training: It's Never Too Late To Comply - California Craft Brewers Association8.6.15
- Overtime Exemptions and Misclassification Issues: Brewing Wage and Hour Violations Could Seriously Interrupt Your Craft12.3.14
- "The Highs (and Lows) of Managing Brewery Employees in the Wake of Legalized Recreational Marijuana,” California Craft Brewers Association 2018 Spring Conference
- “Essential Steps Every Employer Should Know When Designing Effective Workplace Policies and Procedures” - Webinar
Insurance Office of America
- “Moms in Business – Do Moms Sacrifice Their Business and/or Career by Having Kids?”
CEO/Executive Panel Forum for the San Diego chapter of Connected Women of Influence
- University of San Diego School of LawJ.D. 1999
- California State University, ChicoB.A. 1994
- Supreme Court of California
- U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California