Steve has more than 35 years of experience counseling and defending employers in connection with local, state and federal laws. He also represents employers in court and before administrative agencies.
His advice practice is dedicated to helping employers solve problems such as employee discipline and discharge, leaves of absence, discrimination and harassment claims, and threats of employee violence.
Steve prepares and negotiates employment, confidentiality and non-compete agreements. He also counsels executives and professionals on employment and separation agreements, and assists with corporate transactions such as purchases and sales of businesses. Steve also advises boards of directors, and their executives, on employment, management and governance issues.
Steve has extensive litigation experience and represents public and private employers in lawsuits claiming discrimination, harassment, wrongful discharge and violations of wage and hour, employee benefits, trade secrets and non-compete obligations. He also appears before local, state and federal administrative agencies and arbitrators in employment and labor matters.
Seattle Theatre Group, Board Member 2002-present
- Chair, 2022-present
- President, 2020-2022
Representative Work: Cases
- Won jury trial for an employer accused of age discrimination by laid-off union employee.
- Prevailed in hearing before the U.S. Department of Labor brought by a union business agent who claimed that the company conspired with the union to discharge him.
- Co-counsel in class action claiming pay for commuting in company vehicle; certification defeated and individual claim resolved promptly.
- Co-counsel for large employers in two U.S. Department of Labor collective actions claiming that employees worked off the clock; summary judgment obtained in one case, and the other settled favorably.
- Won summary judgment on discrimination / harassment claims for financial services companies.
- Obtained temporary restraining orders in two cases where employees refused to return computerized documents and information.
- Won summary judgment on sex bias claim by male employee of performing arts client.
- Convinced OSHA that a safety whistleblower on a construction site was not subject to a hostile work environment.
- Obtained anti–harassment orders against former employees.
- Defended company in ERISA cases brought by former executive seeking payments under a Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan and by pension funds seeking payment of withdrawal liability.
Representative Work: Transactions
- Employment and labor counsel in sales of business, including due diligence, drafting of purchase agreement language, preparation of offer letters, executive employment agreements and employee communications.
- Assistance to client in reductions in force.
- Counseling of clients facing threat of workplace violence.
- Creation of documentation for background investigations, hiring, leaves of absence, requests for disability accommodation, last chance agreement and severance agreements.
- Preparation of policies such as travel pay, use of cell phones and social media.
- Management training on employment law topics, including avoiding harassment and discrimination, performance management, and hiring.
- Advice to and training of boards of directors on employment and governance issues.
- Duff on Hospitality Law, 6.30.20
- Duff on Hospitality Law, 5.21.20
News & Insights
- Foster Garvey Newsroom, 9.6.23
- 57 Foster Garvey Attorneys Recognized Among the 2024 Best Lawyers in America; Two Portland Attorneys Named ‘Lawyer of the Year’Foster Garvey Newsroom, 8.17.23
- Foster Garvey Newsroom, 8.18.22
- Inc. Magazine, 2.18.22
- Foster Garvey Newsroom, 8.19.21
- Foster Garvey Newsroom, 8.20.20
- Seattle Indian Health Board Research Helps Create Government Task Force for Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska NativesFoster Garvey Newsroom, 1.7.20
- Foster Garvey Newsroom, 2019
- Foster Garvey Newsroom, 8.15.19
- Foster Garvey Newsroom, 11.1.18
- Speaking EngagementSeattle, WA, 8.19.22
- EventVirtual Event, 4.26.22
- "Working From Home – A Panel Discussion," The Seminar Group's 24th Annual Labor & Employment Law ConferenceSpeaking EngagementSeattle, WA, 8.19.21
- Speaking EngagementLewistown, MT, 8.7.21
- "Employment Law Challenges During (or After) the Pandemic: Returning Employees to the Office or Managing Them at Home," NASCUS (The National Voice of the State Credit Union System)Webinar5.28.20
- WebinarVirtual Event, 5.27.20
- Webinar5.8.20 and 5.11.20
- "Legal Update Regarding Issues Arising in the Pandemic Environment," Washington Trucking Associations WebinarWebinar4.27.20
- "Evaluating Potential Employee Violence: Protecting the Employer and Co-Workers," Lorman Education ServicesSpeaking EngagementOctober 2016 and October 2019
- Speaking EngagementSeattle, WA, 8.22.19
- "#MeToo and the Corner Office - The Credit Union CEO's (or Regulator's) Role in Preparing for and Responding to Sexual Harassment Claims," National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors State System Summit 2019Speaking EngagementSan Francisco, CA, 8.13.19
- Speaking EngagementMay 2019
- "Where Governance and Employment Law Meet," Credit Union Association of the Dakotas Directors CollegeSpeaking EngagementFargo, ND, 4.11.19
- Speaking EngagementApril 2019
- Speaking EngagementApril 2019
- Speaking EngagementAugust 2018
- “Top New Employment Law Developments Affecting Washington Housing Authorities,” Association of Washington Housing Authorities Spring 2018 MeetingSpeaking EngagementMay 2018
- EventSeattle, WA, 9.15.17
- EventSeattle, WA, 5.4.17
- "Reasonably Accommodating Employees With Disabilities: Fulfilling Legal Duties and Addressing Management Challenges," International Association of Venue Managers Region ConferenceSpeaking EngagementMay 2017
- "Top 3 Employment Law Issues That Should Keep You up at Night," Northwest Credit Union Association, MAXX Annual ConventionSpeaking EngagementSeattle, WA, 10.13.16
- "Employment Law Considerations for New U.S. Employers," Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Washington StateSpeaking EngagementOctober 2016
- "Bullying and Violence in the Workplace: Legal and Practical Considerations," Washington Housing Authorities Accounting Professionals ConferenceSpeaking EngagementSeptember 2016
- Speaking Engagement8.26.16
- "Bullying and Violence in the Workplace: Legal and Practical Considerations," Association of Washington Housing AuthoritiesSpeaking EngagementApril 2016
- Speaking EngagementSpokane, WA, 10.8.15
- Speaking Engagement9.30.15
- "Top 3 Employment Law Issues for 2015 That Should Keep You up at Night," Foster Pepper's 10th Annual Bankers BriefingEventSeattle, WA, 5.21.15
- EventSeattle, WA, 4.21.15
- EventSeattle, WA, 11.18.14
- "The Alphabet Soup of Federal Employment Law," Tribal Employment Rights & Law: Sovereignty, Jurisdiction and Best PracticesSpeaking EngagementJuly 2014
- "Social Media and the Workplace - Protecting the Hospital in the Digital Age," Washington State Hospital Association's NW Council's Hot Topics MeetingSpeaking EngagementEdmonds, WA, 6.6.14
- OSHA Imposes New Requirements on Employers to Investigate Potential Transmission of COVID-19 in the Workplace5.20.20
- New Proclamation from Governor Inslee Empowers “High-Risk” Employees and Creates New Duties for Washington Employers4.16.20
- July 2017
- NLRB: Employers Cannot Ban Employees From Using Company’s Email System for Union-Related Communications12.17.14
- Unsafe at Any Speed: Unauthorized Passengers in Employer-Owned Vehicles May Sue Employer for Driver’s Negligence2.26.11
- "Wage Transparency Legislation Brings Unique Challenges and Benefits for Employers," Radio Matters BlogRadio Matters Blog, 5.2.23
- Law360, 6.14.19
- "Effective Negotiation of Executive Employment Agreements," Inside the Minds: Negotiating and Employment Agreements, Leading Lawyers on Constructing Effective Employment Contracts 2012
- WIB HR & Training Digest, February 2012
- Corporate Counsel Magazine
- National Underwriter
- Washington, 1999
- Illinois, 1983 (inactive)
J.D., Cornell Law School (cum laude), 1983
B.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison (with distinction), 1978
- Phi Beta Kappa
- U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, Law Clerk for the Hon. John C. Shabaz, 1982-1983
Honors & Recognition
- The Best Lawyers in America©
- Labor Law – Management, 2012-present
- Litigation – Labor & Employment, 2013-present
- Best in the Business: Leading Lawyers in the Puget Sound Region, Seattle Business magazine
- Labor – Management, 2013
- Litigation – Labor & Employment, 2013