About Melanie Pate
Ms. Pate, a partner in the firm's Litigation practice group, focuses primarily on Labor and Employment issues. She spent 15 years working in the Arizona Attorney General's Office, including nearly five years as Division Chief Counsel of the Arizona Civil Rights Division, almost two years as Chief Counsel for the Compliance Section of the Civil Rights Division, and nine years as an adviser and litigator in the Employment Law Section.
She brings a true insider’s perspective into how state and federal civil rights agencies function, and she has strong relationships with key stakeholders within these agencies.
Employment Law Advice and Representation. Ms. Pate provides emergency advice, preventative counseling, and ongoing employment guidance to HR Directors and in-house counsel. She drafts, reviews, negotiates and enforces employment contracts, including non-compete and non-solicitation provisions and executive compensation agreements. She also helps her clients prepare employee handbooks, create social media usage policies, and implement effective performance management policies.
Recently, Ms. Pate:
- Provided emergency on-call advice about terminations, employee contract payoffs, and internal investigations to a large healthcare employer.
- Assisted a large national employer with drafting and negotiating an executive employment agreement.
- Provided preventative counseling to a large international employer regarding an employee issue involving the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Administrative Proceedings Before EEOC and ACRD. To help her clients resolve disputes without going to court, Ms. Pate routinely represents clients in proceedings before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Arizona Civil Rights Division (ACRD), including mediation and conciliation efforts.
By leveraging her past experience as the ACRD’s Chief Counsel, Ms. Pate helps her clients develop defense strategies that take into account how state and federal civil rights agencies make administrative rulings on employment law matters.
Employment Litigation. Ms. Pate has significant experience representing employers in cases involving discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, FMLA, FLSA, OSHA, whistleblower and immigration issues.
Recently, Ms. Pate:
- Defended a state agency in federal court in a case involving sex discrimination and retaliation.
- Obtained dismissal of eleven of thirteen claims in a complex case involving a large national employer, and prevailed on a motion to dismiss the foreign corporation associated with the employer.
- Successfully negotiated the favorable resolution of an EEOC charge filed against a large Tucson employer.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility. Ms. Pate helps public and private employers navigate and interpret complex federal rules and regulations regarding ADA Title II and Title III accommodation and accessibility issues. Recently, she assisted a major airline with an ADA accessibility matter.
Fair Housing Laws. In addition to her employment law practice, Ms. Pate helps housing providers, state agencies, property managers and real estate companies comply with state and federal Fair Housing laws. She often defends her clients against discrimination complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the ACRD. She most recently represented the Arizona Department of Housing in a dispute with HUD regarding appropriate housing for deaf and hearing-impaired individuals.