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Patricia C. Perez
SPHR, Attorney at Law
Patricia C. Perez Patti Perez is founder and President of Puente Consulting APC. Established in 2001 and boasting an impressive national client list, Puente has become a strategic business partner for companies of all sizes.

Ms. Perez is a legal expert in the areas of employment law and human resource management. A graduate of the UCLA School of Law and a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources, Ms. Perez has practiced employment law since 1992. She has worked in Mexico City directing an international judicial education program, has trained thousands of HR, legal and other professionals, and has extensive work experience as an employment attorney and an HR executive.

Fair Employment and Housing Commission

In addition to her work at Puente, Ms. Perez also served as Commissioner on California’s Fair Employment and Housing Commission (FEHC) for three years. Appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008 and confirmed by the California Senate in 2009, Ms. Perez’s work as Vice Chair of the FEHC included adjudicating matters brought before the FEHC, drafting regulations clarifying the Fair Employment and Housing Act, mediating disputes, and participating in a series of presentations aimed at educating the public on how to comply with California’s civil rights laws. Ms. Perez sat on the FEHC regulation-drafting subcommittees for both the pregnancy discrimination and the disability discrimination regulations.

Previous Work Experience

Prior to working with Puente, Ms. Perez practiced employment law at two San Diego law firms. She represented clients in all facets of labor and employment law, from counseling to litigation.

Previously the head of the Human Resources and Employee Relations Department for one of the world’s largest law firms (the Washington D.C. office of Skadden Arps), Ms. Perez provided advice and counsel on all areas of employment law to the firm's attorneys and staff managers. She developed and supervised training and was responsible for all facets of HR, including compliance, recruitment, conducting investigations of discrimination and harassment, policy development, compensation, and strategic planning.

A former Project Director for a U.S. government-sponsored judicial exchange and education program in Mexico City, Ms. Perez, who is a native Spanish speaker, worked in collaboration with a judicial advisory board responsible for the design and delivery of educational conferences in the U.S. and Mexico..

Awards/Professional and Community Involvement/Speaking

Ms. Perez is the Immediate Past Chair of the California State Bar Labor and Employment Law Section (a Section made up of over 6,500 California labor and employment attorneys). She is also active in other community and professional organizations, including the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) national and local chapters, the American and San Diego County Bar Associations (she is a member of the Labor and Employment Law Sections for both), and San Diego MANA (a National Latina organization). She is also a past member of the Board of the UCLA Alumni Association, and currently serves on the Board for the UCLA School of Law.

Additionally, Ms. Perez has been featured in numerous publications, including the San Diego Business Journal and SHRM’s HR Magazine. She was profiled by San Diego Biz Magazine as a successful San Diego Businesswoman in 2008. In 2007, she won the Woman Business Owner of the Year Award, presented by the San Diego chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners and was also named one of San Diego Metropolitan Magazine’s “40 under Forty” – an award given to the region’s outstanding young business and civic leaders.

A much sought-after speaker, Ms. Perez makes frequent presentations about HR and employment law topics, including recent speaking engagements for the California Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Association of Workplace Investigators and SHRM. Additionally, Ms. Perez has taught employment law at UCSD and has also been a featured guest on KPBS radio.

Areas of Expertise

At Puente, Ms. Perez assists clients from a wide variety of industries in all areas of HR and employment law. She combines her legal expertise with her real world knowledge to provide clients with practical advice on all types of HR and employment law issues.

Ms. Perez has developed a particular expertise in conducting workplace investigations covering the entire gamut of employment law and HR matters. In addition to conducting investigations throughout California, Ms. Perez has assisted clients in the resolution of workplace disputes in Arizona, Alaska, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania, among several other states. She has worked with both the private and public sectors and with unionized and non-unionized work settings covering a wide array of industries. Ms. Perez wrote Workplace Investigations: Seven Critical Steps to Success™ and trains HR professionals and line managers across the country on how to conduct fair, thorough and lawful workplace investigations. Ms. Perez also wrote the chapter on workplace investigations for Advising California Employers and Employees published by the California’s Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB).

Additionally, Ms. Perez provides consulting services involving issues related to employee disabilities, including providing guidance on the interactive process and expert advice on how to analyze reasonable accommodation requests. Ms. Perez’s chapter on the interactive process and the reasonable accommodation analysis appears in CEB’s Drafting Employment Documents for California Employers. Ms. Perez has also drafted articles on issues related to the interactive process and the reasonable accommodation analysis that have been published in the Law Review of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the California State Bar as well as in the CEB’s Business Law Practitioner.

DOWNLOAD A COPY OF MS. PEREZ'S CV.

Education and Certifications
  • University of California, Los Angeles, Bachelor of Arts in English, 1989
  • UCLA School of Law, JD, 1992
  • Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) Senior Professional in Human Resources, 2000
Professional Memberships
  • California Fair Employment and Housing Commission, Vice Chair (2008-2011)
  • California State Bar Association, Advisor and Past Chair of the Executive Committee of the Labor & Employment Law Section (Chair in 2010)
  • UCLA School of Law Alumni Association, Member, Board of Directors
  • Association of Workplace Investigators, Member of Best Practices Subcommittee
  • UCLA Alumni Association, Member, Board of Directors (1996-1998)
  • San Diego County Bar Association, Member of the Labor & Employment Law Section
  • Society for Human Resource Management (National and San Diego Chapter), Member
  • Lawyers Club of San Diego, Member
  • San Diego La Raza Lawyers, Member, Board of Directors (1995-1996)
  • William B. Enright American Inn of Court, Associate (1994-1995)
  • MANA of San Diego, Member, Board of Directors
Publications
  • Navigating California Disability Law: Lessons for the Business Savvy , California Business Law Practitioner, Volume 26/Number 2, Spring 2011, published by CEB

  • It Takes Two to Tango: The Interactive Process Dance , California Labor & Employment Law Review, Volume 24 No. 5, September, 2010

  • Workplace Investigations (Chapter 16A), Advising California Employers and Employees , published by Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB), February 2012

  • Chapter on Disability Discrimination Issues (Chapter 6) in Drafting Employment Documents for California Employers published by CEB, October 2011

  • Workplace Investigations Toolkit: Seven Critical Steps to Success , Puente Consulting, Inc. reference manual for conducting workplace investigations

  • Practical Ways to Deal with Workplace Bullies, California Labor and Employment Law Review, Volume 22 No. 3, May 2008

  • Employers Face a Hobson’s Choice Under DOJ’s McNulty Memo, contributing author, ABA Labor & Employment Law Section’s Hot Topics Newsletter, May 2007

  • Five Steps to Updating Sexual Harassment Prevention Training: Educating Supervisors is Key to Complying with State Law AB1825, San Diego Business Journal, February 2007
Speaking Engagements
  • Eight Steps to Conducting Workplace Investigations, Co-Speaker with Neal S. Meyers Daley & Heft LLP, ACWA 2011 Fall Conference, Human Resources Program, Anaheim, California, November 2011

  • Ethical Rainmaking: Strategies of Difficult Ethical Times, Speaker, State Bar of California Labor and Employment Section Annual Meeting, Anaheim, California, October 2011

  • Fundamental of Employment Law Seminar: Speaker, CEB, Los Angeles, CA, October 2011

  • Workplace Investigations on Trial: Can an Investigator Make or Break Your Case? Speaker, California State Bar 84th Annual Meeting, September 15, 2011

  • Recent Developments in Disability Discrimination Law in California: The Continuing Saga , State Bar of California Labor and Employment Section, Webinar Moderator, June 2011

  • Disability Discrimination – Brown Bag Series, State Bar of California Labor and Employment Section , Organizer/Moderator, February 2011, April 2011, July 2011 and October 2011

  • The Interactive Process: How To Make It Work Effectively for The Employer and The Employee , Speaker, State Bar of California Labor and Employment Section, 17th Annual Public Sector Conference, May 2011, Sacramento, California

  • Litigating A Disability Discrimination Case – From Intake Through Trial , Speaker, State Bar of California Labor and Employment Law Section’s 28th Annual Meeting, October 2010, San Francisco, California

  • Mastering the Art of Conducting Workplace Investigations , at the 2010 Litigation and Labor & Employment Group Meeting for MERITAS, October 2010, San Antonio, Texas

  • Hot Topics In Investigations of Workplace Complaints, State Bar of California’s 83rd Annual Meeting, September 2010, Monterrey, California

  • City of Ontario vs. Quon – Electronic Privacy in the Workplace, Speaker, State Bar of California Labor and Employment Law Section, July, 2010

  • Mastering the Art of Investigations, Speaker, California Association of Workplace Investigators and the Bar Association of San Francisco, June 2010

  • Guest lecturer at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, Employment Discrimination, San Diego, Fall 2009

  • How to Conduct Employment Investigations, panelist at the California State Bar’s Labor and Employment Law Section’s 2009 Annual Meeting, Berkeley, California, October 2009

  • So Much to Talk About, So Little Time: Recent Developments in the Area of Disability Discrimination, panelist at the California State Bar’s Labor and Employment Law Section’s 2009 Annual Meeting, Berkeley, California, October 2009

  • The Nuts and Bolts of the DFEH Administrative Process, panelist at the California State Bar’s Labor and Employment Law Section’s 2009 Annual Meeting, Berkeley, California, October 2009

  • Latest Developments at the Fair Employment and Housing Commission, presenter at Jones Day’s Employment Law Update, Irvine, California, October 2009

  • The Importance of Compliance Training, California Chamber of Commerce (webinar), July 2009

  • How to Prevent Harassment, panelist, program presented by the California State Bar’s Labor and Employment Law Section, Los Angeles, California, June 2009

  • Jerks at Work: Practical Tips for Working with Workplace Bullies, co-presenter at the California Public Employers Labor Relations Association’s 33rd Annual Training Conference, Monterey, California, November 2008

  • Ethical Issues in Workplace Investigations, co-presenter at the California State Bar’s Labor and Employment Section’s 2008 Annual Meeting, San Diego, California, November 2008

  • Employment Law Issues in the Biotechnology Industry, co-presenter, Presented by the California State Bar and San Diego County Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Sections, March 2008

  • Ethical Issues in Workplace Investigations, co-presenter at the California State Bar’s Section Education Institute Meeting, San Diego, California, January 2008

  • Crisis Management During Corporate Scandals-An In House Perspective, co-presenter at the California State Bar’s Labor & Employment Law Section Annual Meeting, October 2007

  • Guest speaker on sexual harassment training, These Days with Tom Fudge, KPBS San Diego, January 2007

  • Ethical Issues in Class Action Matters, co-presenter at the American Bar Association’s Labor & Employment Law Section’s Ethics Subcommittee Midwinter Meeting, Manzanillo, Mexico, February= 2007

  • Beyond Harassment and Discrimination: Getting to the True Meaning of Diversity, Presenter, Society for Human Resource Management National Diversity Conference, Los Angeles, October 2007

  • Finding the Right Balance in Your Diversity Initiative by Including Your Allies and Opponents, Society for Human Resource Management National Diversity Conference, Los Angeles, October 2007

  • An Introduction to Employment Law, speaker, California State Bar Labor & Employment Law Section Annual Meeting, San Jose, California, October 2006

  • Esquire, Private Eye: Ethical Dilemmas in Workplace Investigations, California State Bar Labor & Employment Law Section Annual Meeting, Anaheim, California, October 2005

  • Sex, Sex, Sex: Everything You Wanted to Know About Gender in the Workplace, California State Bar Section Education Conference, January 2005

  • Managing a Diverse Workforce, California State Bar Section Education Conference, January 2005

  • Preparing for 2005: An HR Professional’s Guide to a Successful New Year, Hilton Cluster Group, November 2004

  • Things that Keep In-House Counsel Up at Night, California State Bar Labor & Employment Law Section Annual Conference, November 2004

  • Cross Border Employment Law, California State Bar Annual Convention, October 2004

  • The Essentials of Wage & Hour Law, Hospitality Human Resource Association, October 2004

  • Resolving Wage & Hour Legal Issues: A Practical Approach, presented in conjunction with Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, July 2004

  • Avoiding Lawsuits through Effective Employee Discipline & Dispute Resolution, San Diego SHRM Law Day, January 2004

  • Top Ten Issues Corporate Counsel Face, California State Bar Labor & Employment Law Section Annual Conference, October 2003

  • Instructor, Employment Law (part of the HR Certificate Program at UCSD Extension), Fall 2003

  • Sex, Drugs & Rock and Roll: The Legal Limits of Workplace Behavior, California State Bar: Section Education Institute Conference, January 2003

Expert Witness Work

Ms. Perez has been designated as an expert involving numerous employment law issues including:
  • The extent to which a company had an obligation to conduct an investigation
  • The adequacy of workplace investigations
  • Whether companies provided employees with reasonable accommodations for their disabilities
Ms. Perez has developed a particular expertise in conducting workplace investigations covering the entire gamut of employment law and HR matters. In addition to conducting investigations throughout California, Ms. Perez has assisted clients in the resolution of workplace disputes in Arizona, Alaska, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania, among several other states. She has worked with both the private and public sectors and with unionized and non-unionized work settings covering a wide array of industries. Ms. Perez wrote Workplace Investigations: Seven Critical Steps to Success™ and trains HR professionals and line managers across the country on how to conduct fair, thorough and lawful workplace investigations. Ms. Perez also wrote the chapter on workplace investigations for “Advising California Employers and Employees” published by the California’s Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB).

Additionally, Ms. Perez provides consulting services involving issues related to employee disabilities, including providing guidance on the interactive process and expert advice on how to analyze reasonable accommodation requests. Ms. Perez’s articles on issues related to the interactive process and the reasonable accommodation analysis have been published in the Law Review of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the California State Bar as well as in the CEB’s Business Law Practitioner. She also wrote a chapter involving these topics for a book to be published by CEB in October 2011.

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