Jeffrey A. James

Jeffrey A. James is a shareholder with SEBRIS BUSTO JAMES and the head of the firm’s litigation group. He has represented employers in labor and employment matters since 1988. Jeff’s practice focuses on helping employers comply with state, federal and local employment laws and defending employers when litigation arises. He also prosecutes matters on behalf of employers seeking to enforce employment agreements, restrictive covenants, or other obligations. Jeff is a trial and appellate attorney who has successfully represented clients in proceedings before state and federal courts at all levels, as well as before administrative agencies and in alternative dispute resolution proceedings. Jeff is a frequent speaker at legal and industry seminars on issues affecting the workplace.


Examples of Recent Litigation Experience

Appeal

Lodis v. Corbis Corporation, 192 Wn. App. 30 (2015), review denied (June 29, 2016). Affirmed defense verdict after third jury trial. “Trials matter. The results of trials matter.”

Trial

Washington v. Group Health Cooperative, King County Superior Court Case No. 13-2-19841-0. Unanimous defense verdict for our client on all counts. Plaintiff was terminated during his probationary period for being argumentative and not following established policies. He claimed his termination was the result of disability discrimination and for requesting reasonable accommodation. Trial took 10 days.

PR Connections, dba Dynamo Recruiting, Inc. vs. RBL Partners, Pierce County Cause No. 12-2-10769-1. Unanimous defense verdict for our client after 3-week jury trial, plus convinced the jury to award our client over $500,000 on counterclaims for breach of contract, defamation, and tortious interference. Over $1M in fees and costs awarded post-trial as prevailing party.

Lodis v. Corbis Corporation, Case No.: 08-2-20301-8 SEA. Three separate jury trials totaling 10 weeks in trial, discretionary review proceedings before the Washington State Supreme Court and full appeal before the Washington State Court of Appeals, Div. I. Unanimous defense verdicts for our clients on all of plaintiff’s claims against the corporation and its CEO (age discrimination, retaliation, aiding and abetting), verdict on counterclaim against plaintiff for breach of his fiduciary duties, with an award of over $42,000 in damages; verdicts and positive evidentiary rulings upheld on appeal.

Andrews v. Harrison Medical Center, Kitsap County Superior Court Case No. 07-2-01630-1. Two-week jury trial involving claim for marital status discrimination following remand from the Washington State Court of Appeals, Div. II, overturning grant of summary judgment. Jury returned a unanimous defense verdict for our client after deliberating for little over an hour.

Summary Judgment/Directed Verdict

Allyis, Inc. v. Jeremy and Nicole Schroder and Simplicity Consulting, Inc., King County Superior Court Cause No. 14-2-25900-0 SEA. Obtained dismissal with prejudice of all claims (breach of contract, tortious interference, violation of the uniform trade secrets act, violation of the consumer protection act, injurious falsehood, and unjust enrichment), plus full award of fees and costs against plaintiff corporation and its counsel for asserting frivolous claims.

Blade v. Slalom, LLC, Multnomah County (Oregon) Case No. 120708627. Summary judgment granted on plaintiff’s retaliation claim.

Andrews v. Harrison Medical Center, Kitsap County Superior Court Case No. 07-2-01630-1. Summary judgment granted on plaintiffs’ claim for marital status discrimination.

Lahrichi v. GigOptix, et al., King County Superior Court Case No. 09-2-17151-3 SEA. Obtained directed verdict dismissing all of plaintiff’s various discrimination, contract, and tort claims. Verdict upheld on appeal by Washington Court of Appeals, Division I, and defeated petition for review by Washington Supreme Court and United States Supreme Court.

Arbitration

Two-week long arbitration in Chicago, Ill. on claims for misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment. Plaintiff sought $1.5M in damages, plus attorney fees. Arbitrator awarded plaintiff zero damages and zero attorney fees or costs.

One-day arbitration in New York, New York on breach of contract claim. After cross-examination of plaintiff, Arbitrator signaled intent to grant defense motion for directed verdict, leading plaintiff to drop claim and walk away.

Settlement/Resolution

Represented King County in multi-plaintiff high profile litigation involving law enforcement officers accused of creating hostile work environment and engaging in retaliatory conduct. Helped negotiate favorable pre-trial settlement.

Represented State of Washington in high profile litigation involving allegations against State Senate. Helped negotiate favorable pre-trial settlement.

Represented CEO and President of multi-billion dollar corporation accused of age discrimination and wrongful termination. Helped negotiate favorable pre-trial settlement.


Practice Focus

  • Litigation
  • Discrimination
  • Class Actions
  • Business Torts
  • Wage and Hour
  • Reasonable Accommodation
  • Hiring/Firing
  • Labor Relations
  • Employment Contracts
  • Retaliation
  • Restrictive covenants
  • Reductions in Force (RIF) and WARN Compliance
  • Confidentiality and Trade Secrets
  • Unemployment Compensation
  • Personnel Policies
  • Safety and Health
  • Training

Professional & Community Activities

Jeff has been actively involved in federal, state, and local bar associations for over two decades. He is admitted to practice before the U.S. District Courts for the Western and Easter Districts of Washington, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court, as well as Washington and Oregon. He is the past-Secretary of the Executive Board of the Washington State Bar Association – Labor & Employment Law Section, and past- Chair of the Washington Defense Trial Lawyers – Employment Law Committee. He is also a member of the Washington Bar Association, Intellectual Property Section; the King County Bar Association, Labor and Employment Section; and the American Bar Association, Labor and Employment Section, where he serves as Management Co-Chair of the Technology Subcommittee/Employee Rights and Responsibilities Subcommittee. He is a past member of the King County Bar Association Board of Trustees and past member of the Seattle Children’s Pediatric Bioethics Advisory Council. He currently serves as a member of a judicial subcommittee evaluating the Employment Chapter of the Washington Practice Jury Instructions and is a mentee for law students at Seattle University School of Law.

Jeff has been repeatedly named as a “Super Lawyer” by Washington Law & Politics and is listed in The Best Lawyers in America, the Best Lawyers in Seattle, and The International Who’s Who of Management Labour & Employment Lawyers. He was named a “Lawyer of the Year” for Management-Side Employment Litigation in 2016 by Best Lawyers publication. He has received the highest possible peer review rating for competency and ethics (AV) by Martindale-Hubbell. For nearly 50 years he has cultivated a passion for soccer as a player, coach, and supporter of the Seattle Sounders. When he is not in trial or spending time outdoors with his family you can find him playing guitar or tinkering with cars.


Educational Background

Jeff earned his J.D., magna cum laude, from Seattle University School of Law in 1988, where he was Lead Articles Editor of the Law Review. In 1988 he served as an extern for The Honorable Eugene A. Wright, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Jeff received his B.A., cum laude, from Western Washington University in 1984.


Presentations

  • Speaker, “2009 Labor and Employment Law Year in Review”, Spring Conference, Washington State Healthcare Human Resources Association, April 29, 2010
  • Panel Participant, “Proportionality in Electronic Discovery—Ediscovery for the other 95% of Us,” 2010 Employment Rights & Responsibilities Committee Midwinter Meeting, American Bar Association, March 24, 2010
  • Panel Participant, “Everything You Need to Know to Be Ready for the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA)”, Technology in the Practice & Workplace Committee Midyear Meeting, American Bar Association, April 30, 2009
  • Speaker, “2008 Labor and Employment Law Year in Review”, Spring Conference, Washington State Healthcare Human Resources Association, April 19, 2009
  • Panel Participant, “Sexual Harassment Arbitration in the Union vs. Non-Union Worlds”, 2009 Employment Rights & Responsibilities Committee Midwinter Meeting, American Bar Association, March 28, 2009
  • Speaker, “Independent Contractor or Employee? Ways to protect yourself against improper classification and unintended consequences”, Progressive Business Audio Conferences, May 22, 2008
  • Speaker, Seventh Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference, Washington State Bar Association, November 9, 2007
  • Speaker, “Managing Your Legal Career”, Washington State Bar Association, November 7, 2007
  • Speaker, Washington Council of School Attorneys, October 20, 2006
  • Speaker, Sixth Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference, Washington State Bar Association, October 4, 2006
  • Speaker, Federal Case Law Update, Washington Law Institute, September 26, 2006
  • Speaker, 2006 Annual Winter Meeting, King County Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section, January 19, 2006
  • Speaker, Best of CLE, December 1, 2005
  • Speaker, Federal Law Update, Washington Law Institute, November 4, 2005
  • Speaker, Fifth Annual Labor and Employment Conference, Washington State Bar Association, October 19, 2005
  • Speaker, Federal Law Update, Washington State Bar Association, October 19, 2005
  • Speaker, Law and Trade Secrets in Employment Law, Seminars International, August 23, 2005
  • Speaker, “There Must Be 50 Ways to Leave Your Employer”, IP, Tech & Trade Secrets, LSI, August 23, 2005
  • Speaker, “Taxation of Settlement Payments”, Brown Bag Lunch, Washington State Bar Association, June 17, 2005
  • Speaker, “Navigating The Hidden Dangers Of The Hiring Process”, Seven Deadly Sins CLE, Washington State Bar Association, April 21, 2005
  • Speaker, Wage and Hour Law, Washington State Bar Association, May 25, 2004