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Catherine C. Smith

Of Counsel
Fax +1.206.623.7022
Catherine Smith is of counsel in the firm’s Labor, Employment and Workplace Safety group. She represents and counsels employers regarding a broad range of labor and employment issues including employee terminations and performance management, disability accommodation, leaves of absence, background checks and hiring procedures, wage and hour compliance, protection of trade secrets, union avoidance and administration of collective bargaining agreements.

As a member of both the California and Washington bars, Ms. Smith has significant experience advising national employers with operations in California, Washington and throughout the United States. She also regularly counsels clients with California employment issues.

Ms. Smith partners with the corporate practice group to assist clients with employment matters related to mergers and acquisitions. She regularly drafts and updates a variety of employment-related documents including employment policies and handbooks, offer letters and employment agreements, incentive compensation and commission agreements, non-compete, invention assignment and non-disclosure agreements, severance agreements, staffing agency agreements and independent contractor agreements.

Ms. Smith has represented employers in state and federal court, mediation, arbitration, labor commission and other administrative agency hearings, union grievance proceedings and National Labor Relations Board proceedings. She also assists clients with responses to pre-complaint demand letters and administrative agency charges, negotiating early settlements, and drafting cease and desist letters to protect employer trade secrets and enforce restrictive covenant agreements.

Ms. Smith has experience representing employers in state and nationwide wage and hour class actions and conducting wage and hour audits.

Ms. Smith also has experience advising motion picture and television producers regarding their obligations under the various guild collective bargaining agreements, including SAG, AFTRA, DGA, WGA, AFM and IATSE.

Professional Background

Prior to joining K&L Gates, Ms. Smith was Counsel at a Los Angeles, California law firm and focused her practice on labor and employment matters.


  • Selected to the Washington Rising Stars List (2015, 2016 and 2017)
  • Rising Star, Southern California Super Lawyers, Los Angeles Magazine (2009, 2010 and , 2011, 2015–2018)

Speaking Engagements

  • Microenterprise 101, Employment Law, Wayfind, 2015 and 2016
  • Washington Employment Law Letter, FMLA Master Class, 2012
  • Current Wage and Hour Issues, 2011
  • Labor and Employment Law Breakfast, 2011
  • The Lurking Dangers of California Employment Law, 2011

Additional Information

Ms. Smith externed for the Honorable Justice Carlos Moreno of the California Supreme Court.

Ms. Smith has particular experience representing clients in the retail, hospitality, restaurant, manufacturing, financial service, telecommunications, entertainment, healthcare, pharmaceutical, software and payroll service industries. She has also counseled and represented public school districts and utilities.

Government Agency Charges and Investigations

  • Prepared numerous position statements, represented employers in investigative interviews, settlement conferences and hearings, and successfully obtained dozens of dismissals from administrative complaints filed with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, U.S. Department of Labor, National Labor Relations Board, Washington Human Rights Commission, California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Wage and Hour Class Action Litigation

  • Successfully defeated class certification in state-wide class action filed by sales personnel against telecommunications company alleging overtime misclassification and meal and rest period violations.
  • Represented franchise party supply retailers in multi-employer wage and hour class action alleging misclassification of store managers, including three-week trial of class action claims.
  • Represented national pizza restaurant chain in several state-wide wage and hour class actions alleging overtime misclassification, off-the-clock, uniform, business expense and meal and rest period claims, resulting in summary dismissal of claims and favorable settlements.
  • Obtained early dismissal of proposed class action lawsuit filed against national steakhouse restaurant chain by former employee alleging unlawful tip pooling. Drafted brief on appeal, resulting in an agreement by the plaintiff to voluntarily dismiss her claims.
  • Represented national banking association in multidistrict litigation filed by call center and retail employees throughout the United States alleging off-the-clock and meal and rest period claims.

Single-Plaintiff Litigation

  • Represented automobile manufacturer in single-plaintiff disability discrimination matter resulting in successful dismissal of complaint on summary judgment.
  • Successfully obtained summary dismissal of glass ceiling gender discrimination suit filed by an executive of a multinational software company.
  • Represented title insurance company in wage/hour and contract claim, resulting in voluntary dismissal of action by the plaintiff.
  • Obtained preliminary injunction against former financial service company employee who misappropriated employer’s trade secrets.
  • Obtained summary dismissal of claims in hybrid duty of fair representation/ breach of collective bargaining agreement filed by litigious pro se plaintiff against multinational aerospace and defense company.

Entertainment Labor Issues

  • Advised entertainment industry employers regarding guild and union organizing campaigns, union picketing and strikes, employer obligations regarding new media and other guild agreement provisions, pension and health, foreign productions, compensation, work conditions and work hours.
  • Represented clients in federal court against lawsuits filed by the American Federation of Musicians (“AFM”) alleging breach of the AFM collective bargaining agreements.
  • Negotiated single project letter of acceptance and related terms with the AFM in connection with documentary and concert productions.
  • Represented television production companies in wage and hour class actions filed by production crew, resulting in favorable court-approved class settlements.
  • Negotiated and prepared agreements for below-the-line and above-the-line staff including deal memos, writer agreements, editor agreements, loan out agreements, consultant, independent contractor and employment agreements.
  • Advised entertainment clients concerning the employment of minors and assisted clients in obtaining ratification and court approval of minors’ entertainment contracts.