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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. As the demand for internal fact investigations has grown, David has been engaged by businesses, financial institutions, local government agencies and non-profits to lead and conduct investigations into allegations of misconduct or unlawful activities, and he works closely with the firm’s white collar practice. 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.


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


Complex & Multi-Party Litigation

  • Representing national mining company in complex contract dispute involving claims against rail company; case pending in federal court in Roanoke, Virginia
  • Representing a private equity and venture capital firm, and its owner in defense of a lawsuit asserting ERISA and securities violations; case pending in federal court in Roanoke, Virginia
  • Trial counsel for Rolling Stone and Sabrina Erdely in Eramo v Rolling Stone, a case tried to a jury for 3.5 weeks in federal court in Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Secured summary judgment for the plaintiff in Doe v Alger, a seminal case that recognized the due process rights of students at state universities accused of sexual misconduct based on a property right in continued enrollment
  • Represented and successfully defended defendant in special litigation committee investigation of a derivative action for breach of fiduciary duty, where state court dismissed the shareholder’s claims based on special litigation committee report
  • 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 state association 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
  • Trial and appellate counsel to college athlete accused of sexual assault and prevailed on the constitutional challenge to civil remedy under VAWA before U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Morrison

Employment Litigation

  • Represented and successfully defended a US subsidiary of multinational company in response to a whistleblower claim brought under the Energy Reorganization Act before OSHA Administrative Law Judge and Administrative Review Board
  • Directed internal investigation conducted by former FBI agent of senior officials of a local governmental agency accused of various act of misconduct, which led to no charges or litigation
  • Directed internal investigation conducted by former FBI agent into alleged claims of misconduct of a senior executive of large regional financial institution, which lead to a resolution with no subsequent litigation
  • Obtained $4 million jury verdict for privately held company against its former president on claim to recoup bonus paid under theory of unjust enrichment
  • Represented and successfully prosecuted claims on behalf of a US subsidiary of an international pharmaceutical company against a former employee and a newly formed company on claims of breach of contract and tortious interference; Shire, LLC v Mickle, a case brought in federal court in Roanoke, Virginia
  • 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 and successfully defended a national restaurant on claims of racial discrimination by a former employee in federal court in Newport News, Virginia
  • Representing a national retailer in defense of a racial discrimination and defamation claim by a customer in federal court in Norfolk, Virginia
  • Representing a national logistics company on claims by a current employee alleging race discrimination in federal court in Roanoke, Virginia
  • Represented a company in defense of collective and class action claims for unpaid wages under the FLSA and applicable state laws
  • 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 manufacturer and retailer on claims of sexual harassment by former female employee to successful, pre-litigation resolution
  • Represented national manufacturer on claims involving age and disability discrimination to successful resolution
  • 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 senior executives and professionals in disputes with companies
  • 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 college coaches against public universities on breach of contract, NCAA violations, etc.
  • 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


  • Fellow, Virginia Law Foundation (Inducted 2014)
  • Chair, ALFA International Labor and Employment Law Section (2015-2018), Member of Labor & Employment Law Section Steering Committee (1996-Present); Member, ALFA International Board of Directors (2014-2017)
  • Member, Labor & Employment Law Section, American & Virginia Bar Associations (1986-Present)
  • Member, Virginia CLE Steering Committee, Labor & Employment Section (2000-2012), Chair (2010-2011)
  • Board of Directors, Positive Alternative Radio, Inc. (2017-Present)
  • 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)


  • Named one of The Best Lawyers in America® for over twenty consecutive years in the area of Labor Law – Management (2022), Employment Law – Individuals & Management (1999-2022), and Labor & Employment Litigation (2011-2022), named “2017 Roanoke Lawyer of the Year” for Labor & Employment – Litigation and “2020 Roanoke Lawyer of the Year” for Employment Law – Individuals
  • Named to the “Virginia’s Top 50 List” of Virginia Super Lawyers (2007) and Virginia Super Lawyers in the area of Employment & Labor Law (2007-2022), included in Super Lawyers Corporate Counsel edition (2009-2011) and Super Lawyers Business Edition US in the area of Employment & Labor (2012-2014)
  • Named “Go To Employment Lawyer” by Virginia Lawyers Weekly (2020, 2022)
  • Listed in Benchmark Litigation as a Local Litigation Star for Labor & Employment and General Commercial (2012-2018) and Insurance (2018); and Benchmark Plaintiffs for Labor & Employment (2012-2014), General Commercial, and Insurance (2014)
  • Designated one of the “Legal Elite” in the Labor/Employment Law field by Virginia Business magazine (2000-2016, 2018-2021)
  • Designated as a Fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation (2014)
  • Named a “Legal Eagle” for Employment Law – Individuals, Employment Law – Management, Labor Law, and Litigation – Labor & Employment by Virginia Living magazine (2012)
  • 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)
  • Inclusion on the Virginia Amateur Sports Wall of Honor in its inaugural year (2009)
  • Navy Commendation Medal, Distinguished Legal Work (1983)

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)
The results of client matters depend on a variety of factors unique to each matter. Past successes do not predict or guarantee future successes.
David Paxton Virginia attorney