Cathleen S. Yonahara

Tel. 415.541.0200


  • University of California, Hastings College of the Law, J.D., 1999
    Hastings Women’s Law Journal

  • Brandeis University, B.A., 1994

Bar Admissions

  • California Supreme Court, 1999
  • United States District Court: California, 1999
  • Hawaii Supreme Court, 1999

Practice Areas

  • Employment Litigation
  • General Business Litigation
  • Employment and Labor Advice and Counseling

Prior Experience

  • Associate, Cooper White & Cooper LLP, 1999-2005
Cathleen S. Yonahara

Cathleen Yonahara concentrates her practice on employment and labor law. Cathleen has successfully represented employers in courts and before various government agencies, including the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and the California Labor Commissioner. She has litigated all types of employment matters, including claims of discrimination, harassment, failure to accommodate, retaliation, wrongful termination, breach of contract, violation of California Family Rights Act, misappropriation of trade secrets, and wage and hour violations. Cathleen also represents clients in commercial business disputes.

In addition to her litigation practice, Cathleen also provides advice and counseling to employers on all aspects of the employment relationship in order to avoid potential legal disputes. She advises employers on the myriad legal requirements facing California employers including anti-discrimination and harassment laws, family and medical leave laws, wage and hour compliance, and proper classification of independent contractors and exempt employees. She conducts audits of her client’s employment practices, policies and agreements to ensure compliance with federal and state employment laws, and drafts employee handbooks and personnel policies, and employment, arbitration, confidentiality and severance agreements. She also counsels executives on negotiating employment agreements and severance agreements.

Cathleen serves as the Assistant Editor to the California Employment Law Letter, a semimonthly newsletter focused on current labor employment cases in California. She is an experienced speaker and trainer on all aspects of the employment relationship.

Representative Cases

  • Bradford v. Crown Cork and Seal (defense jury verdict on claims of disability discrimination and violation of the California Family Rights Act)
  • Sherry v. Roseville (summary judgment of claims of age discrimination and disability discrimination)
  • Shasby v. Amalfi (summary judgment of age discrimination claims)
  • Phillips Farms v. Frank Lin (award of over $530,000 for wine sold and delivered, and defense jury verdict of distributor’s wrongful termination counterclaim)

Speeches and Publications (selected)

  • Assistant Editor and Contributor Author, California Employment Law Letter, 2007 to present
  • Contributing Author, 50 Employment Laws in 50 States, 2008 to present
  • Wage & Hour Master Classes, BLR Seminars
  • FMLA/CFRA Master Classes, BLR Seminars
  • ADA Compliance Master Classes, BLR Seminars
  • California Employee Handbooks, BLR Seminars
  • Legislative Updates on New California and Federal Laws, BLR Seminars
  • “Equal Pay for Equal Work: How to Develop a Proactive Strategy for Countering Fair Pay Act Claims,” BLR Seminar
  • “Harassment and Retaliation: EEOC’s Renewed Interest in Eradicating Conduct Breeding Hostile Work Environments and Retribution,” Advanced Employment Issues Symposium
  • “Mock Trial: Pregnancy Discrimination or Legitimate Termination?” Advanced Employment Issues Symposium
  • “California Dreamin’: Employee Friendly Laws Explained for the Multi-State Employer,” Advanced Employment Issues Symposium
  • “Managing Employees with Chronic Illnesses – Legally and Compassionately,” Advanced Employment Issues Symposium
  • “The ‘Treacherous Triangle’ Just Became a Square: Manage Your FMLA, ADA, Workers’ Comp; GINA Overlap Challenges,” Advanced Employment Issues Symposium
  • “Sexual Harassment: A Litany of Litigation and Liability,” Advanced Employment Issues Symposium
  • “New Moms in the California Workplace: Your Leave and Accommodation Obligations Explained,” BLR Seminar
  • Telecommuting Arrangements: How to Effectively and Legally Manage Remote Talent,” Advanced Employment Issues Symposium

Professional Activities

  • ABA, Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section, Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Committee, Vice Chair
  • Conference of California Bar Associations, Board of Directors, Past Regional Director
  • BASF Delegation to Conference of California Bar Associations, Past Chair, Past Vice Chair, Executive Committee member
  • ABA and BASF Labor and Employment Section Member
  • Justice & Diversity Center, Community Organizations Representation Project, Volunteer
  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, Volunteer

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