Charles S. Birenbaum serves as the firm's Chair of Northern California. Chuck is an experienced labor and employment attorney who focuses his practice on traditional labor and employment law matters and has wide-ranging experience litigating in state and federal courts as well as various administrative agencies. He has testified on proposed legislation impacting entire industries before state legislative committees, and he has interfaced and negotiated with labor organizations, politicians, regulators, and industry leaders to resolve complex issues for his clients in the health care, energy, construction and other industries.
Chuck is an experienced trial lawyer, having tried race harassment class actions, noncompetition trials, unfair labor practice hearings before the national Labor Relations Board, and multiple arbitrations. His appellate work includes decisions from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit under the National Labor Relations Act, Labor Management Relations Act, and the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act.
In the area of traditional labor law, Chuck has a broad array of experience in collective bargaining, union organizing and trust fund litigation for employers in the construction, energy, health care, manufacturing, and service industries. He has first chaired collective bargaining for all bargaining units at a health care system; first chaired collective bargaining over a bargaining unit of registered nurses at a dialysis provider; first chaired collective bargaining for construction agreements covering billions of dollars of heavy infrastructure development; and first chaired collective bargaining for a steel manufacturer and fabricator.
Chuck has been honored by numerous organizations for his labor and employment practice. In 2013 alone, Chambers USA listed him for his work in labor and employment law, Human Resources Executive® magazine named him one of the nation's top 100 most powerful labor attorneys, and The Daily Journal singled him out as one of California's top 75 labor attorneys.
Areas of Concentration
· Labor and employment class actions
· Traditional labor law
· Appellate advocacy
· Employment law advice, counseling and training
· Unfair competition, restrictive covenants and trade secrets
Professional & Community Involvement
· Member, Oberlin College, President's Advisory Council, 2011-Present
· Arbitrator, American Arbitration Association, Employment Law Panel
· Chair and Member, Georgetown University Law Center, National Law Alumni Board
· Member, Bar Association of San Francisco
· Member, State Bar of California
· Past Adjunct Professor, Santa Clara University Law School
· Past President, Lawyers Club of San Francisco
Awards & Recognition
· Listed, The Best Lawyers in America, Labor & Employment Law, 2007-2014
· Listed, Chambers USA Guide, Labor & Employment Law, 2013
· Listed, Human Resources Executive® magazine, "Top 100 Most Powerful Labor Attorneys," 2013
· Listed, The Daily Journal, "Top 75 Labor Attorneys in California," 2013
· Listed, Super Lawyers magazine, Northern California Super Lawyer, 2004-2013
· Acted as lead trial counsel for the defendants in Adams et al. v. Pinole Point Steel Company et al. (No. C-92-1962MHP, N.D.Cal. September 26, 2012). The Federal District Court for the Northern District of California's Judge Marilyn Hall Patel rendered a defense judgment with a 66-page opinion for a group of steel companies in a race harassment class action certified by the court over 15 years ago. The court noted that the class certification was probably unwarranted based on the trial record and the class counsel did not appeal the judgment.°
· Represented an employer in a noncompetition trial in California Superior Court under Cal. B&P Code 17200 et seq.°
· Represented employers in multiple unfair labor practice hearings before the National Labor Relations Board.°
· Represented a sole-source community provider of health care by analyzing its work force and recommending work force restructuring to modernize its employment architecture and respond to the new PPACA legislation. This resulted in extensive collective bargaining over nurse, technical and service and maintenance workers and representation in all ensuring unfair labor practice litigation and arbitration. The employer was able to implement needed work force changes.°
· Represented a leading provider of on-board entertainment for a cruise and event company in a wage and hour class action in California, which included allegations of failure to pay overtime and expense reimbursement violations.°
· Represented a blood dialysis center in connection with unfair labor practices charges before the NLRB brought by UFCW Local 262 of New Jersey. Charges arose out of its attempt to become the exclusive collective bargaining representative of licensed practical nurses, registered nurses and other employees. The union alleged that the employer violated federal labor laws by terminating two and threatening other employees. Termination-related charges were dismissed and the union withdrew the remaining charges.°
· Represented the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation in a class action alleging breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA. Won summary judgment on the pleadings that a plaintiff could not bring that type of action under Title I of ERISA.°
° The above representations were handled by Mr. Birenbaum prior to his joining Greenberg Traurig, LLP.
Publications & Presentations
Articles, Lectures & Publications
Chuck has published articles addressing a variety of labor and employment issues in both the public and private sectors, and regularly lectures at seminars, workshops and continuing education programs.
· Author, "The Evolution of Construction Union Greenmail: Legal and Political Developments, Adverse Consequences and Combat Tips," Employee Relations Law Journal, Aspen Vol. 35, No. 4, Spring 2010
· Moderator, "The General Counsel as a Strategic Business Partner," Corporate Counsel Leadership Forum, Argyle's Executive Forum, NY, October 2011
· Moderator, "Ethical Considerations for Companies and Candidates Before, During and After Job Search," Hard-To-Find CLE Credits Program, Association of Corporate Counsel, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, Santa Clara, CA/Burlingame, CA, January 2010 and January 2011
· Speaker, "Employee Fraud and Conducting Effective Internal Investigations," All Hands Meeting, Silicon Valley Association of General Counsel, Santa Clara, CA, December 2009
· Speaker, "Impact of the Stimulus Package on California's Power Market," 5th Annual California Power Market Forum, Platts, San Francisco, CA, November 2009
· Moderator, "Ethical Issues When In-House Counsel Change Companies," Hard-To-Find CLE Credits Program, Association of Corporate Counsel, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, San Francisco, CA, January 2009