MORRIS & STONE, LLP -- WRONGFUL TERMINATION DEFENSE
Wrongful Termination Defense Attorneys 

MORRIS & STONE, LLP

Orange County's Premiere
Wrongful Termination Defense Attorneys


(714) 954-0700


Commitment to Successful Results and Superior Service

If you’re an employer, a wrongful termination lawsuit or wage claim by a former employee can threaten everything you’ve worked so hard to build. With most firms, defense against a wrongful termination action can be extremely costly. If you’re facing litigation from a former employee, you need the qualified wrongful termination defense lawyers at Morris & Stone protecting your interests. Our more than 20 years of wrongful termination defense experience allows us defend such actions aggressively and efficiently; usually at a fraction of the cost of other firms.

The wrongful termination defense attorneys at Morris & Stone have handled matters alleging: 

  • Unpaid overtime

  • Unpaid Wages

  • Age Discrimination

  • Gender Discrimination

  • Race Discrimination

  • Nationality Discrimination

  • Pregnancy Discrimination

  • Sexual Harassment

  • Retaliatory Discharge

You expect and deserve competence, experience, and commitment concerning your legal matter, and promptness, respect and information in regard to client service.  At Morris & Stone, we offer excellent client service in addition to our legal expertise.  Our long record of success spans 23 years and includes innumerable trials in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego Counties.  We understand that while the results of the case are by far the most important part of the legal process, respectful treatment, frequent communication, and helpful information can help bring a positive legal experience to each client.

Many attorneys claim to do trial work but rarely, and sometimes never, enter a courtroom. Too often, attorneys settle cases in order to avoid the courtroom and/or the time commitment of a trial.  At Morris & Stone, we are ready and able to take your matter to trial if that is the best way to resolve the matter. We will not settle out of court unless you want us to; we will not refer your case to another firm for trial unless it is your best interests; and we will not hand your case off to a less experienced associate.  At our firm, your case will be handled by one of our partners.

Cutting-Edge Legal Representation

We bring the knowledge and methods necessary to quickly resolve legal disputes throughout Orange County and Southern California.  We are results-oriented, with a constant eye on the bottom line.  Our cutting-edge technology and techniques allow us to bring you the highest quality legal services, usually at a fraction of the cost charged by other firms.  Call now for a no-cost consultation at (714) 954-0700, or submit your question by email. 

Top Appellate Attorneys

Morris & Stone provides exceptional legal representation to businesses and individuals in several areas of law, and extensive experience on appeals.  No judgment obtained by Morris & Stone has ever been reversed on appeal, but we have repeatedly prevailed on appeals for our clients.  Most of our appeal victories came after the client was told by their former trial counsel that a victory on appeal was not possible.  Be sure to review our Recent News page for details on several of our appeal wins.  Our attorneys bring creative solutions to all your litigation and appeal requirements.  Whether your appeal is based on Breach of Contract, Employment Law, Defamation, Internet Law, Business Matters or virtually any other area of civil law, let us save your case.


Our Commitment


At Morris & Stone, we treat our clients with courtesy and integrity. We guarantee realistic, honest legal advice to allow you to decide on an informed course of action.  Our attorneys have years of experience and notable results.

Our consistent track record of uncompromising ethics instills confidence and trust.  We use cutting edge technologies to maximize your results at the highest efficiency. This allows us to respond quickly, and give you the most relevant information and perspective.  


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Respected by Our Clients and the Legal Community

"Perhaps it is my age or 40+ years of experience in the law, but it is compelling to comment that the performances of both counsel in this case, in terms of dedication to the law, to their clients, and to their scholarship make me proud to again call myself a 'Lawyer.'"

-- Judge Robert J. Polis (Ret.), commenting on the performance of counsel from Morris & Stone.

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"All I can say is blessed are those who have you as their legal representative."

-- L.N.

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"But just know that we are proud of the fact that you represent us and you do a damn good job of it! And we love Deanna too!"

-- T.T. (Client on a real estate matter, referring to Aaron Morris and Deanna Stone Killeen.)

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"Aaron Morris is one hell of a good attorney."

-- J.C. (Counsel for Bank of America, addressing the court, after losing to Aaron Morris in Los Angeles Superior Court.)

Recent Decisions Regarding Wrongful Termination Cases


California Court of Appeal Rejects “Multi-Tasking” Argument for Exempt Employees

An interesting case involving the Safeway grocery chain could have some far reaching ramifications for California employers.

First a little law. In California, a manager can be exempt from overtime pay, so long as the manager is “primarily engaged” in managerial duties. Historically, at a typical grocery store, managers do much more than manage. This case shows little has changed, and the plaintiff, Linda Heyen, when promoted to assistant manager, continued to do all the things she had done before she was promoted, but with added supervisory duties. So, when Heyen was fired, she sued, claiming that she should not have been treated as an exempt employee and was entitled to overtime pay.

Safeway argued that Heyen was properly categorized as exempt, because she was primarily engaged in managerial duties, regardless of what she was doing. When she was stocking shelves, she was still supervising the other employees. When she was running the register, she was still supervising other employees. Here is the claim by Safeway:

Safeway urges that store managers such as Heyen necessarily “multi-task” by engaging in “exempt” and “nonexempt” activities at the same time. In other words, while Heyen and other managers “might be checking and bagging (or doing stock work) they were also always still managing the store operations, including engaging in activities such as observing store operations and employee activities, and instructing employees in their assignments and any corrective measures that needed to be taken.” By instructing the jury that it must determine whether an activity was “exempt” or “nonexempt” based on the primary purpose for which Heyen undertook it, the court “effectively [read] the concept of concurrent duties almost out of existence.” Instead, Safeway suggests, the trial court should have instructed the jury that any time Heyen spent simultaneously performing “exempt” and “nonexempt” duties “should be considered to fall on the `exempt’ side of the ledger.”

Here is how the Court of Appeal responded to that argument:

Although there is some intuitive appeal to Safeway’s contention, it is unsupported by California law. As we have said, the federal regulations cited in Wage Order 7 expressly recognize that managers sometimes engage in tasks that do not involve the “actual management of the department [or] the supervision of the employees therein.” (§ 541.108(a).) In those circumstances, the regulations do not say, as Safeway would have us hold, that those tasks should be considered “exempt” so long as the manager continues to supervise while performing them. Instead, the regulations look to the supervisor’s reason or purpose for undertaking the task. If a task is performed because it is “helpful in supervising the employees or contribute[s] to the smooth functioning of the department for which [the supervisors] are responsible” (§ 541.108(a), (c)), the work is exempt; if not, it is nonexempt.

Thus, the federal regulations incorporated into Wage Order 7 do not support the “multi-tasking” standard proposed by Safeway. Instead, they suggest, as the trial court correctly instructed the jury, that the trier of fact must categorize tasks as either “exempt” or “nonexempt” based on the purpose for which Heyen undertook them.

The lesson here for employers is that you don’t get to create exempt employees with a change in title, unless that employee really does become a manager performing primarily managerial duties. From the employee’s perspective, if she gets a promotion to manager, but finds herself still performing the same duties, then she is probably entitled to overtime pay.


Is Discrimination Against Redheads Illegal in the Workplace?


When I am explaining the concept of at-will employment, to illustrate the point that an employer can fire an employee for anything so long as it does not violate public policy or statute, I will sometimes say, “He could decide he doesn’t like the color of your hair and fire you for that.” But an interesting case out of New Jersey might prove me wrong.

According to an article in the New York Post, the NYPD sent out an anti-bias message this month to Manhattan sergeants and lieutenants, who were told that redhead harassment would not be tolerated.

“We’re apparently victims now,” said one cop with ginger locks. “We’re protected from discrimination.”

No lawsuit has been filed against the city, but the feds say a claim alleging unfair treatment over red hair would be supported by federal law, which bars workplace bias against applicants and employees based on race, national origin, skin color, religion, sex or disability.

Wait a second. What does hair color have to do with any of those protected classes? That’s were things get interesting. Think about it. If you had to guess the nationality of someone with red hair, what would you pick? You’d probably guess Ireland, because people with red hair are found in higher numbers in Britain and Ireland than elsewhere, according to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. So if someone could prove discrimination against redheads, that would mean that there is a disparate impact against those of Irish dissent, and nationality is a protected class.

These are the sort of mental games that only attorneys play. In the real world, it would be very unlikely that anyone is going to suffer adverse job action or discrimination based on being a redhead. As one retired officer quoted by the New York Post stated, “To put redheads in a protective class — that’s ridiculous!” However, the analysis is still useful to illustrate how a seemingly “innocent” form of bias can create illegal discrimination.


Women Can be Fired for Being Too Attractive, Says Iowa Supreme Court

A seemingly horrible decision out of Iowa provides an extreme example of how discrimination is only actionable if it involves a protected class.

In a very rare move, the Iowa Supreme Court had already issued a ruling in this case but withdrew its own ruling to give it more consideration. On Friday it reissued the ruling, standing by it decision that a dentist acted legally when he fired an assistant because he found her too attractive.

The dentist fired the employee because he felt she was a threat to his marriage, and the court ruled that is permitted, even if the employee has not done anything to lead the boss to believe he would ever have a shot at a relationship. The court held that a firing under these circumstance does not amount to illegal sex discrimination because it is the result of feelings, not gender.

The court upheld the ruling of the trial judge, who dismissed a discrimination lawsuit filed against dentist James Knight, who fired his assistant Melissa Nelson, even though he admitted he always agreed that she had been a great employee for ten years she worked for him. The trial judge and the appeal court did not see the termination as having anything to do with gender, because Nelson was replaced by another woman, and Knight’s entire staff consists of women.


NOTICE PURSUANT TO BUSINESS & PROFESSIONS CODE SECTION 6158.3: The outcome of any case will depend on the facts specific to that case. Nothing contained in any portion of this web site should be taken as a representation of how your particular case would be concluded, or even that a case with similar facts will have a similar result. The result of any case discussed herein was dependent on the facts of that case, and the results will differ if based on different facts. And of course, these endorsements and quotes do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.