400 South Hope Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071
is a partner in O’Melveny’s Los Angeles office and a member of the Labor and Employment Practice. He is a former Chair of the Litigation Department, and Vice-Chair of the Firm.
Bob is a labor lawyer who focuses his practice on representing major companies in federal court litigation under the Railway Labor Act and the National Labor Relations Act, arbitrations, labor negotiations, National Mediation Board and National Labor Relations Board matters, and employment law litigation and counseling. Representative past and current clients include: American Airlines Group, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Alaska Air, Astar Air Cargo, AirTran Airways, Pan American World Airways, America West Airlines, Midwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Northwest Airlines, AMR Eagle, Atlas Air, Flying Tigers, Federal Express, Pacific Southwest Airlines, Polar Air, Delphi Corporation, and Mylan Laboratories.
Bob has also been labor counsel to several airlines regarding mergers, asset acquisitions, and ESOP transactions. Bob is a past Co-Chairman of the American Bar Association’s Railway and Airline Labor Law Committee, and is a Senior Editor of The Railway Labor Act
Bob has argued significant labor law cases before the US Court of Appeals, Second, Third, Fourth, Seventh, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and District of Columbia Circuits, and the Colorado Supreme Court. During the 2001-02 term, he represented US Airways
before the US Supreme Court in US Airways, Inc. v. Barnett
, a case involving reasonable accommodation requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act. He previously served on the Board of Governors of The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, Inc.
Illustrative Professional Experience
- Joseph Brown, et al v. United Airlines Inc. and Ben Mitchell v. U.S. Airways Inc., 720 F.3d 60 (1st Cir. 2013). Represented US Airways, Inc. in the First Circuit Court of Appeals decision surrounding an alleged nationwide class action claim by United Airlines Inc. and US Airways skycaps.
- Air Transport Ass’n of America, Inc. v. National Mediation Bd., 663 F.3d 476 (D.C. Cir. 2011) – Represented the Air Transport Association of America, Inc., the principal airline industry trade group, in challenging the National Mediation Board’s new voting rules under the Railway Labor Act and the Administrative Procedures Act.
- McMahon v. Delta Air Lines, Inc. Slip Copy, 2011 WL 5572628 (D. Minn.2011) – Successfully represented Delta Air Lines, Inc. in opposing a preliminary injunction seeking to change the pay and profit-sharing payments for approximately 7,000 pre-merger Northwest flight attendants.
- Air Line Pilots Assoc. v. United Air Lines, Inc. Slip Copy, 2011 WL 4543820 (E.D. NY 2011) – Successfully represented United Airlines, Inc. in opposing a preliminary injunction sought by the Air Line Pilots Association regarding United's implementation of revised flight operations procedures in connection with its merger with Continental.
- US Airways, Inc. v. U.S. Airline Pilots Ass’n F.Supp.2d, 2011 WL 4485795 (W.D. NC 2011) – Represented US Airways, Inc. in convincing a federal court to grant the airline’s request for a preliminary injunction to stop an illegal slowdown by its pilots.
- U.S. Airlines Pilots Association v. US Airways, Inc.– 2012 WL 909834 (E.D. NY 2012) -Successfully represented US Airways, Inc. on a motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging interference with collective bargaining rights, failure to maintain the "status quo," bad faith bargaining, and failure to exert every reasonable effort to settle disputes.
- Air Line Pilots Association International v. US Airways Group, Inc. et al, 609 F.3d 338 (4th Cir. June 23, 2010) – Represented US Airways Group, Inc. and US Airways, Inc. in obtaining a precedent-setting dismissal of a two-count complaint brought by the Air Line Pilots Association alleging that the Railway Labor Act required a multi-party arbitration board.
- Air Line Pilots Association v. Spirit Airlines, Inc., 08-CV-13785 (E.D. Mi. 2009) – Represented Spirit Airlines in a case filed by ALPA alleging bad faith bargaining under the Railway Labor Act. The court granted Spirit's motion to dismiss under FRCP 12(b)(6), adopting the carrier's arguments regarding duties under Section 2, First of the RLA.
- US Airways, Inc. v. Barnett, 535 U.S. 391, 122 S.Ct. 1516, 152 L.Ed.2d 589 (U.S. Apr. 29, 2002) – Represented US Airways before the US Supreme Court in a landmark action deciding that employers ordinarily have no obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act to violate a seniority-based bidding system in order to accommodate an employee with a disability
- In re US Airways Group, Inc. (January 6, 2005) – Successfully represented US Airways in action under Section 1113(c) of Bankruptcy Code for rejection of labor contracts (first time in airline industry)
- International Ass’n of Machinists v. US Airways, Inc., 358 F.3d 255 (3rd Cir. 2004) – Successfully represented US Airways before the Third Circuit in an action alleging that the outsourcing of aircraft maintenance constituted a “major dispute” under the RLA
- In re US Airways Group, Inc. (E.D. Va. 2002) – Represented US Airways in actions seeking rejection of collective bargaining agreements under the US Bankruptcy Code, ultimately resulting in successful negotiations of restructured collective bargaining agreements for nine employee groups
- United Air Lines, Inc. v. International Ass’n of Machinists, 243 F.3d 349 (7th Cir. 2001) – Successfully represented United before the Seventh Circuit in an action against its mechanics’ union seeking injunctive relief under the RLA against a unlawful slowdown campaign by United mechanics
- Bishop v. Air Line Pilots Association, 2000 US App. Lexis 3270 (9th Cir. 2000) – Successfully represented American Eagle in the defense of a putative class action against the carrier and the pilots’ union challenging a novel ratification procedure for a new collective bargaining agreement
- US Airways, Inc. v. National Mediation Board, 177 F.3d 985 (D.C. Cir. 1999) – Successfully represented US Airways in the first case ever to invalidate a representation certificate issued by the NMB on the basis that the carrier had been denied its First Amendment rights during the organizing campaign. This case established two major legal precedents – the right of the federal courts to invalidate an NMB certificate on Constitutional grounds, and a carrier’s right to engage in free speech during a representation election
- America West Airlines, Inc. v. National Mediation Board, 119 F.3d 772 (9th Cir. 1997) – Represented America West Airlines in an effort to invalidate a certification issued by the NMB on the basis that the Board had allowed former employees to vote in the representation election
- Pilkington v. United Airlines, Inc., 112 F.3d 1532 (11th Cir. 1997) – Successfully represented United Airlines in the defense of a multiple-plaintiff lawsuit alleging that United had failed to protect pilots who worked during a 1985 strike from harassment by the pilots’ union, extending the preemption doctrine established in the Fry decision discussed below to strike replacements
- Fry v. Air Line Pilots Association, 88 F.3d 831 (10th Cir. 1996) – Successfully represented United Airlines in a multiple-plaintiff action similar to Pilkington, establishing that the doctrine of Railway Labor Act preemption bars a claim by cross-over pilots that the carrier took insufficient actions to protect them from post-strike harassment
- Pyles v. United Air Lines, Inc., 79 F. 3d 1046 (11th Cir. 1996) – Represented United Airlines in the successful defense of a claim that United unlawfully failed to hire a former Pam Am pilot because he had undergone eye surgery, establishing that the claims were preempted by the Railway Labor Act and federal Aviation Act
- Lancaster v. Air Line Pilots Association, 76 F. 3d 1509 (10th Cir. 1996) – Represented United Airlines in a claim against United and the pilots’ union alleging that the plaintiff had been unlawfully terminated for failure to pay union dues
- Association of Flight Attendants v. United Airlines, Inc., 71 F.3d 915 (D.C. Cir. 1995) – Represented United Airlines in a dispute over the application of United’s flight attendant agreement to flight attendants employed by a subsidiary corporation
- Tee v. UAL Corp., 91 F.3d 163 (11th Cir. 1996) – Represented United Airlines in a class challenge by unrepresented employees to United’s 1994 ESOP transaction, establishing that the employees had no standing to object to the terms of the agreement between United and its unions
- Long v. Flying Tiger Line, Inc., 994 F.2d 692 (9th Cir. 1993) – Successfully represented The Flying Tiger Line, Inc. in an ERISA dispute, establishing the legal principle that a grievance before the System Board of Adjustment was the exclusive method to challenge the carrier’s calculation of pension benefits
- America West Airlines, Inc. v. National Mediation Board, 986 F.2d 1252 (9th Cir. 1992) – Successfully represented America West Airlines in an action to enjoin the NMB from distributing a notice to the carrier’s employees as a remedy in a carrier interference case, establishing the legal principle that NMB had no authority to adjudicate or remedy alleged violations of the Railway Labor Act
- Rakestraw v. United Airlines, Inc., 981 F.2d 1524 (7th Cir. 1992) – Successfully represented United Airlines in a multiple-plaintiff challenge to a collective bargaining agreement that altered the plaintiffs’ seniority rights, establishing the legal standard for carrier liability in a duty of fair representation case
- Association of Flight Attendants v. United Airlines, Inc., 976 F.2d 102 (2nd Cir. 1992) – Successfully represented United Airlines in a dispute with the flight attendants’ union over establishment of a Paris domicile, obtaining an expedited reversal of the district court’s injunction on the ground that the carrier’s actions constituted a “minor dispute” subject to arbitration under the Railway Labor Act
- Air Line Pilots Association v. UAL Corp., 897 F.2d 1394 (7th Cir. 1990) and 874 F.2d 439 (7th Cir. 1989) – Represented United Airlines in an action by the pilots’ union regarding poison pill provisions in a labor contract
- Connors v. America West Airlines. Inc. (D. Ariz. 1995) – Successfully defended America West Airlines in lawsuit by 400 former mechanics challenging their terminations in connection with subcontracting of maintenance operations
- Pollock v. Continental Airlines, Inc. (W.D. Wash. 1995) – Defended America West Airlines in action by 200 former employees of Continental Airlines alleging that they were replaced by younger employees of America West at various stations throughout the US
- Gantchar v. United Airlines, Inc. (N.D. Ill. 1993) – Represented United Airlines in lawsuit by 32 flight attendants alleging sex and national origin discrimination; obtained summary judgment on majority of claims, and settled remainder on highly favorable terms
- Judice v. United Airlines, Inc. (C.D. Cal. 1993) – Successfully defended United Airlines in action by 222 former skycaps alleging that subcontracting of skycap work, and termination of skycaps, constituted discrimination
American Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law Section, Equal Employment Opportunity Committee and Railway and Airline Labor Law CommitteeTeacher/Lecturer,
ALI-ABA; The American Arbitration Association; Practicing Law InstituteHonors,
Ranked among the Top 20 Lawyers In Traditional Labor & Employment Law by Lawdragon
(June 2015); selected for inclusion in the 2015 Super Lawyers Business Edition
; named an Employment MVP by Law360
(2012-2013); listed in The Best Lawyers in America©
for his work in the practice area of Employment Law - Management (2013-2016); selected by the Daily Journal
as a Top Labor & Employment Lawyer (2010-2012, 2014-2015); ranked by Chambers USA
(2007-2015); recognized as "one of the Leading Employment Lawyers in the United States" and named “The Nation’s Most Powerful Employment Attorneys” by Lawdragon
(2011-2015); named to the Southern California Super Lawyers lists (2008-2015); “Highly Recommended” lawyer in Dispute Resolution and Arbitration by PLC Which Lawyer?
(2010); recognized in Legal 500
for Labor and Employment: Labor-management Relations (2011-2015); selected as “Dealmaker in the Spotlight” by The American Lawyer
, "Modernization for Aviation and Railway Industries," Employment Law360
(February 2012, co-authored with Natasha Waglow and Sloane Giddon)Speaker
, “Election Campaigns,” “Management and the Mediation Process and Emergency Boards,” “Judicial Enforcement of the Railway Labor Act and ‘ULP’s’: Is There
‘Protected Activity’ under the RLA?,” and “Affiliations, Mergers, and Consolidations” at The American Law Institute’s Airline and Railroad Labor and Employment Law: A Comprehensive Analysis (October 2012)
University of Michigan Law School, J.D.: magna cum laude; Order of the Coif
University of California at Berkeley, B.A.: with great distinction; Phi Beta Kappa
California; District of Columbia; New York
DOL Issues Final FMLA Regulations Applicable to Airline Flight Crew Employees (Labor and Employment Alert)
US Supreme Court Issues Opinion in Ricci v. DeStefano (Labor and Employment Alert)