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David Paxton advises and represents businesses, business owners, and executives in the areas of labor & employment law, complex litigation and whistleblower claims. He chairs the firm’s labor and employment practice, is a frequent guest speaker at national and regional employment law seminars, and has consistently been named to Best Lawyers in America for Labor & Employment law since 1999.

  • Years with Gentry Locke
  • U.S. Supreme Court victory
  • Years married to an amazing woman
  • Movie premiere – Remember the Titans
  • You’ve been with Gentry Locke for over 30 years. What makes this firm unique?

    It is our culture. We make a point to look for ways to work collaboratively together, as opposed to fostering “Lone Rangers.” We recognize that everyone brings different strengths and weaknesses, and this has caused us to develop a fierce commitment to being a true partnership. We value thinking that is outside the box and creative solutions, and we challenge one another to bring our “A-game” at all times. What is important is that in the process, we have fun and really enjoy working and being together.

  • Tell us something interesting about your background.

    My family has deep roots in Virginia, so much so that when I was born in New York (my father was in the Air Force), my grandmother sent a Mason jar filled with rich dirt so she could say I was born on Virginia soil! My parents and I were soon back in Salem, Va., where I grew up. After college, I spent a full year traveling and living out of a backpack. I saw most of Western Europe and spent three months in Israel living on a kibbutz. Israel is an amazing place. I’ve been fortunate to have gone back three times.

  • How would your peers in the firm and your clients describe you?

    I hope they would say that I am hardworking, a good listener, compassionate, and not afraid to take on difficult issues or speak the truth.

Education

  • University of Virginia School of Law, J.D. 1980
  • U.S. Naval Justice School, Honor Graduate 1980
  • Hampden-Sydney College, B.A. summa cum laude 1976, Phi Beta Kappa; Omicron Delta Kappa 1975; Baker Scholar 1972-1976

Experience

Complex & Multi-Party Litigation

  • Secured jury verdict for three members of insurance company’s Board of Directors in defense of claims brought by Commissioner of Insurance for fraud, fiduciary duty, conspiracy and securities violations. Also later recovered more than $3 million in attorney fees on indemnity claims
  • Secured summary judgment on §1981 public accommodation discrimination claims brought against large franchisee of national restaurant chain by the Washington Lawyers Committee
  • Secured dismissal of anti-trust and constitutional claims brought against statewide organization that regulates public school athletics in Virginia by local media organization seeking to broadcast playoff games
  • Represented President of Peanut Corporation of America in connection with congressional and criminal food safety investigations, and in lawsuit to secure D&O coverage for defense costs
  • Represented national restaurant chain in connection with contrived “mouse in the soup” claims resulting in the felony criminal conviction of two persons who made allegations
  • Represented college athlete on civil rights claims involving sexual assault allegations and successfully challenged the constitutionality of federal law resulting in statute being declared unconstitutional by U.S. Supreme Court

Employment Litigation

  • Represents employers on a broad cross-section of industries on claims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation, as well as wage and hour disputes in federal and state courts
  • Represented employers and employees in litigation involving claims of theft of trade secrets, disclosure of confidential information, violations of non-competition/restrictive covenants, and other business torts
  • Represented international pharmaceutical company to successful conclusion on contract claims against former inventor who began a competing company
  • Obtained $4 million jury verdict for privately held company against its former president on claim to recoup bonus paid under theory of unjust enrichment
  • Represents senior executives and professionals in disputes with companies
  • Represented U.S. subsidiary of large multi-national company on claims of ADEA, ADA and FMLA discrimination allegations to successful resolution
  • Secured summary judgment in complex ADA case brought against Fortune 100 company
  • Represented large national retailer in claims of sexual harassment by former female employee to successful resolution
  • Represented national manufacturer on claims involving age and disability discrimination to successful resolution
  • Represented college coaches against public universities on breach of contract, NCAA violations, etc.
  • Represented publicly-traded company in contractual dispute with former employee over valuation of stock option benefits upon termination of employment resulting in favorable court settlement
  • Represented senior executive in negotiation of dispute with high-tech company over vesting and valuation of stock option rights resulting in favorable out of court settlement

Labor & Employment

  • Represents and advises management from a broad cross-section of industries on full range of labor and employment issues that arise on a daily basis such as hiring, E-verify, I-9s, FMLA/ADA, USERRA, wage and hour, Affirmative Action Plans, COBRA, OFCCP audits, harassment and discrimination complaints, investigation of misconduct, OSHA complaints, termination, EEO charges, DOL investigations, and union avoidance
  • Represented executive management team in negotiation of executive employment contracts which included equity compensation packages in connection with a $250 million private equity deal
  • Represented founder and CEO of high-tech company in negotiation of executive employment contract in anticipation of venture capital investment
  • Represented U.S. based companies in establishing indigenous workforce for new operations in India
  • Represents management in various industries in planning and implementing workforce reductions
  • Represents local school boards and police departments on employment-related matters

Religious Organizations

  • Provides general corporate advice to several non-profit and Christian organizations
  • Represented Board of Directors of non-profit organization in disputes with its founder and key members of management which led to agreed-upon separation without litigation
  • Represented company in acquisition of large network of Christian radio stations

Affiliations

  • Fellow, Virginia Law Foundation (Inducted 2014)
  • Chair, ALFA International Labor and Employment Law Section (2015-Present), Member of Labor & Employment Law Section Steering Committee (1996-Present); Member, ALFA International Board of Directors (2014-Present)
  • Member, Labor & Employment Law Section, American & Virginia Bar Associations (1986-Present)
  • Member, Virginia CLE Steering Committee, Labor & Employment Section (2000-2010)
  • Board of Directors, VHSL Foundation, Inc. (2004-2009)
  • Board of Directors, Interfaith Hospitality Network of Roanoke Valley (2005-2009)
  • Member, Planning Committee, Gridiron Club, Hampden-Sydney College (2007-2011)
  • Member, Church Council, St. John Lutheran (2006-2009). President (2008-2009)

Awards

  • Voted Top Employment & Labor Attorney by readers in The Roanoker magazine’s “Best Of” (2012)
  • Named a Top Rated Lawyer for Labor and Employment law and Commercial Litigation by American Lawyer Media (2013)
  • Named one of The Best Lawyers in America® for more than seventeen consecutive years in the area of Employment Law – Individuals & Management (1999-2018); Labor Law – Management (2011-2018) and Labor & Employment Litigation (2011-2018), named “2017 Roanoke Lawyer of the Year” for Labor & Employment – Litigation
  • Named to the “Virginia’s Top 50 List” of Virginia Super Lawyers (2007) and Virginia Super Lawyers in the area of Employment & Labor Law (2007-2017), included in Super Lawyers Corporate Counsel edition (2009-2011) and Super Lawyers Business Edition US in the area of Employment & Labor (2012-2014)
  • Listed in Benchmark Litigation as a Local Litigation Star for Labor & Employment and General Commercial (2012-2015) and Insurance (2015); and Benchmark Plaintiffs for Labor & Employment (2012-2014), General Commercial, and Insurance (2014)
  • Designated one of the Legal Elite in the Labor/Employment field by Virginia Business magazine (2000-2016)
  • Named a “Legal Eagle” for Employment Law – Individuals, Employment Law – Management, Labor Law, and Litigation – Labor & Employment by Virginia Living magazine (2012)
  • Inclusion on the Virginia Amateur Sports Wall of Honor in its inaugural year (2009)
  • Navy Commendation Medal, Distinguished Legal Work (1983)
  • Rated AV/Preeminent

Published Work

  • Co-author, Rule 68 Offers of Judgment – a Useful Defense Tool; The VADA Journal of Civil Litigation, Vol. XXIV, No. 4 (Winter 2012-2013)
  • Co-Author, The Virginia Lawyer: A Deskbook for Practitioners, Chapter 4, Employment Law: Employee Rights and Employer Responsibilities (2000-2007)
  • Co-Author, Annual Survey of Virginia Law: Labor & Employment Law, 40, University of Richmond Law Review, 241 (2005 & 2007)