Labor & Employment

Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC has a team of experienced labor and employment attorneys able to meet local agencies’ labor and employment legal needs from training; day-to-day wage, hour and leave advice, including Fair Labor Standards requirements; disciplinary documentation; decision and effects bargaining; to administrative hearings and litigation.

We provide labor and employment services to the cities of Auburn, Barstow, Grass Valley, Lakeport, Ojai, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena, Yountville, the South East Los Angeles County (SELACO) Workforce Improvement Board, Truckee Fire Protection District, Barstow Fire Protection District and other local governments around California.

Employment Law Team: Teresa L. (“Terri”) Highsmith and Holly O. Whatley lead Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley’s labor and employment practice and offer decades of collective experience in advising public agency clients regarding all aspects of public employment law, including:


  • FMLA, CFRA, pregnancy disability leave, leave abuse
  • ADA and FEHA accommodation
  • HIPAA compliance
  • Discipline, including Skelly rights
  • Peace Officer Bill of Rights
  • Firefighter Procedural Bill of Rights
  • Public Employee Pension Reform Act (PEPRA)
  • Collective bargaining
  • Unfair Labor Practice claims
  • Pitchess motions
  • Personnel records
  • Personnel policies
  • FLSA and other wage and hour advice
  • Whistleblowing claims
  • Harassment claims
  • Civil service rules

Labor Relations, Bargaining and Negotiation

  • Scope of Bargaining
  • Effects v. decision bargaining
  • Preparation of Employee-Employer Relations Resolutions
  • Advice on “meet and confer” and “meet and consult” obligations
  • Impasse declarations and unilateral implementation
  • AB 646 “fact finding”
  • Rules for Unit Recognition and Determination and decertification elections
  • Arbitrations

Administrative Proceedings and Litigation

  • Harassment and misconduct investigations
  • Grievance, arbitration, and writ actions
  • Discipline investigations and hearings
  • Employment litigation
  • Responding to the EEOC and DFEH
  • Complaints to the Labor Commissioner
  • Responding to Unfair Labor Practice charges before PERB
  • Acting as Sabey counsel for administrative hearing bodies


  • Enforcement of discipline policy
  • How to conduct an investigation
  • Standards of conduct in the workplace (for employees and management)
  • Discrimination and harassment (for employees and management)
  • Navigating federal and state leave laws
  • Evaluating and managing public agency employees