With more than two decades of complex litigation and strategic counseling experience, Carrie Gonell focuses on class, collective, and representative suits and advice in the financial services, retail, technology, and airline industries. She advises on wage and hour compliance issues, such as wage payment, meal/rest breaks, expense reimbursement, suitable seating, and exemption misclassification.
Carrie has litigated federal and state claims in courts throughout California and nationally, including arguing before the California Supreme Court, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth and Second Circuits, and the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. She has litigated more than 100 complex cases, and successfully compelled arbitration, defeated class certification, limited discovery, defended removals to federal court and helped negotiate many favorable settlements of wage and hour actions.
Carrie is a trusted advisor on employment and compliance issues, leveraging her significant litigation experience to provide practical guidance to limit litigation risks. She has managed numerous cost-effective audits, with a focus on California, to identify wage and hour compliance opportunities and execute solutions. She is a co-leader of the firm’s retail and ecommerce industry team, providing industry-specific thought leadership on cutting-edge legal issues facing retailers on the West Coast and throughout the country.
Carrie also has an active pro bono practice working on immigration issues and family/children’s rights. Human Rights First recognized Morgan Lewis with the Marvin E. Frankel Pro Bono Award in 2019 for outstanding pro bono service on behalf of asylum seekers following three successful grants of asylum within a year on immigration trials that Carrie led. Carrie was also recognized by Sanctuary for Families for her pro bono work in New York family court and has also served as a court-appointed special advocate in the CASA program in California.
Wage and Hour Class and/or Collective Action Experience
Defeated class certification in action alleging off-the-clock, regular rate, meal/rest periods, and related wage and hour claims
Defeated putative nationwide FLSA collective action and New Jersey class action alleging misclassification and off-the-clock work by various bank branch employees
Defeated class certification in case brought on behalf of bank tellers alleging that their employer violated California law by failing to provide them with suitable seating at their workplaces
Defeated class certification in action brought by financial services relationship managers alleging misclassification
Defeated class certification in action alleging misclassification of nonlicensed accounting professionals as exempt from overtime
Secured dismissal of the representative Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) allegations in a putative class action on behalf of sales floor employees claiming failure to provide suitable seating
Defeated class certification in purported nationwide collective action and California class action seeking overtime pay and reimbursements and alleging failure to provide meal and rest breaks and itemized wage statements on behalf of a financial services company
Defeated class certification in purported California class action seeking expense reimbursements for loan officers
Defeated class certification and collective action notice in purported nationwide Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) collective action and New York State class action challenging the overtime exemption status of store managers and claiming that nonexempt store-level employees worked off the clock without paying overtime or minimum wages
Defeated class certification on meal and rest break claims in California wage and hour class action brought by bankers alleging that they were misclassified and seeking overtime pay and meal and rest period pay; overtime claims settled while additional briefing on certification was pending
Defended nationwide wage and hour class and FLSA collective action alleging unpaid wages for preshift and postshift time for financial services branch employees; settled on very favorable terms pending a decision on certification
Defended purported nationwide FLSA collective action claiming that call center employees worked off the clock
Secured dismissal and compelled arbitration, upholding collection action waiver, in putative FLSA collective action seeking overtime pay for retail store managers
Defended purported New York state class action challenging the overtime exemption status of “back-office” employees and claiming that New York-based call center employees worked off the clock; resolved following motion to dismiss
Defended purported nationwide FLSA collective action and New York state class action challenging the overtime exemption status of customer service representatives in federal court; withdrawn by plaintiffs following motion to dismiss
Obtained a ruling granting motion to compel arbitration in a putative state law wage and hour class action filed against a financial services company
Convinced court to grant motion compelling arbitration in California wage and hour class action filed against a national retailer
Obtained ruling granting motion to compel arbitration on all non-PAGA claims in wage and hour class action filed against a financial services company
Fordham University School of Law, 1998, J.D.
Northern Arizona University, 1995, B.A.
US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
US District Court for the Northern District of California
US District Court for the Central District of California
US District Court for the Southern District of California
US District Court for the Southern District of New York
US District Court for the Western District of New York
US District Court for the Eastern District of New York
Awards and Affiliations
Fellow, The College of Labor & Employment Lawyers
Member, Practice Group of the Year, Employment, Law360 (2019)
Writing and Research Editor, Fordham Law Review
Adjunct Faculty Member, Fordham University School of Law
Rising Star, Labor and Employment Law, Law360 (2012)