People: Esteban Shardonofsky, Partner

Photo of Esteban Shardonofsky, Partner

Esteban Shardonofsky

Partner

Houston
Direct: (713) 225-1001
Fax: (713) 225-2340
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Esteban (Steve) Shardonofsky is a Partner in the Labor and Employment Practice Group of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, and Chair of the Houston office Labor & Employment Department.  He is Board Certified in Labor & Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  Mr. Shardonofsky represents employers and management in federal and state court, arbitration and before administrative agencies such as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) in connection with all aspects of employment litigation—from inception through trial or arbitration, as well as on appeal.  He advises and represents clients in the energy/oil services, healthcare, construction, banking/finance, and hospitality industries.

Mr. Shardonofsky has substantial expertise in defending employers in wage and hour class and collective action lawsuits, including matters involving allegations of misclassification of employees and failure to pay overtime.  He has also successfully defended employers in disputes with executives over breach of contract claims and has defended employment claims under various state and federal statutes, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Section 1981 of Title 42 of the United States Code, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, and the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act.  Mr. Shardonofsky also has experience litigating complex discrimination “pattern and practice” cases under Title VII.

Mr. Shardonofsky provides employment counseling and best practices advice to managers and human resources professionals relating to personnel handbooks and policies, employee relations, internal complaints and investigations, FMLA and ADA accommodation and leave, as well as other employment issues which employers face routinely.  He also provides training for attorneys, executives, human resources professionals, and managers on best EEO practices, preventing sexual harassment, and avoiding employment litigation claims.

Mr. Shardonofsky oversaw attorney pro-bono efforts in the Houston office from 2010 to 2014.  During that time, the Houston office twice won “pro bono office of the year” awards.  He also participates in various pro bono activities, including prisoner civil rights cases and assisting unaccompanied and undocumented minors through immigration proceedings.

Mr. Shardonofsky was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and is fluent in Spanish.

Esteban (Steve) Shardonofsky is a Partner in the Labor and Employment Practice Group of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, and Chair of the Houston office Labor & Employment Department.  He is Board Certified in Labor & Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  Mr. Shardonofsky represents employers and management in federal and state court, arbitration and before administrative agencies such as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) in connection with all aspects of employment litigation—from inception through trial or arbitration, as well as on appeal.  He advises and represents clients in the energy/oil services, healthcare, construction, banking/finance, and hospitality industries.

Mr. Shardonofsky has substantial expertise in defending employers in wage and hour class and collective action lawsuits, including matters involving allegations of misclassification of employees and failure to pay overtime.  He has also successfully defended employers in disputes with executives over breach of contract claims and has defended employment claims under various state and federal statutes, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Section 1981 of Title 42 of the United States Code, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, and the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act.  Mr. Shardonofsky also has experience litigating complex discrimination “pattern and practice” cases under Title VII.

Mr. Shardonofsky provides employment counseling and best practices advice to managers and human resources professionals relating to personnel handbooks and policies, employee relations, internal complaints and investigations, FMLA and ADA accommodation and leave, as well as other employment issues which employers face routinely.  He also provides training for attorneys, executives, human resources professionals, and managers on best EEO practices, preventing sexual harassment, and avoiding employment litigation claims.

Mr. Shardonofsky oversaw attorney pro-bono efforts in the Houston office from 2010 to 2014.  During that time, the Houston office twice won “pro bono office of the year” awards.  He also participates in various pro bono activities, including prisoner civil rights cases and assisting unaccompanied and undocumented minors through immigration proceedings.

Mr. Shardonofsky was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and is fluent in Spanish.

Education

  • J.D., University of Houston Law Center (2005)
    Head Articles Editor, Houston Journal of International Law
    Order of the Barons

  • B.A., University of Houston, summa cum laude (2002)
    in Classical Studies

  • Certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt

Admissions

  • Texas

Courts

  • All Texas state courts
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern, Northern, Southern and Western Districts of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, pro hac vice
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, pro hac vice
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Oklahoma, pro hac vice
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, pro hac vice 
  • U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, pro hac vice 
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, pro hac vice 

Affiliations

  • Seyfarth Shaw LLP National Pro Bono Committee
  • Society for Human Resources Management
  • Houston Bar Association, Labor and Employment Section
  • Houston Young Lawyers Association (Executive Board Member, 2006 – 2007)

Accolades

  • Board Certified in Labor & Employment Law by Texas Board of Legal Specialization
  • 2018 “Top Lawyers Under 40” Award from the Hispanic National Bar Association
  • Mr. Shardonofsky has been selected to be included in The Best Lawyers In America.  This publication is based on a peer review process where leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers in 135 practice areas, covering all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  The lawyers selected are the top 1%, based on the evaluations received.
  • Mr. Shardonofsky also has been recognized as a Super Lawyer in the area of Labor & Employment Law and Litigation. Super Lawyers is a Thomson-Reuters, peer-review rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.
  • 2017 “Recognized Practitioner” by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business
  • 2011 Seyfarth Shaw Pro Bono Team of the Year — In 2011, Mr. Shardonofsky and his colleagues achieved a very impressive win at the Texas Supreme Court in a pro bono family law matter. Our clients, a low-income couple, took in Zachery when he was just 6 months old. His mother had abandoned him and his father was unable to care for him. Our clients rescued Zac from abuse and unspeakable living conditions.  Out of the blue, Zac's mother reappeared and asserted that she should have custody of Zac. Even though she had mistreated, neglected, and ultimately abandoned Zac, she claimed that he had been kidnapped from her. The Seyfarth team prevailed at the Texas Supreme Court and defended our clients' right to maintain custody of Zac.
  • 2009 Seyfarth Shaw Pro Bono Team of the Year — In 2009, Mr. Shardonofsky assisted in the representation of a Texas prisoner alleging violations of his civil rights, and co-second chaired a three-day trial in federal district court on his behalf.

Community Involvement

  • Houston Center for Literacy (f/k/a Houston READ Commission) — Board of Directors and Vice-Chairman (appointed by Houston City Council)

Representative Engagements

Representative Class and Collective-Action Wage & Hour Matters

  • Successful defense of numerous on-site investigations by the Wage-Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor and corresponding state employment agencies, including investigations related to misclassification of employees, miscalculation of the regular rate, and failure to pay overtime.
  • Cameron Mitchell Restaurants adv. Gary, No. 3:18-cv-00688-G (N.D. Tex.) (nationwide FLSA collective action alleging misclassification of sous chefs)
  • Memorial Hermann Health System and Diligent Texas Dedicated, LLC adv. Romano, No. 4:18-cv-825 (S.D. Tex.) (FLSA collective action alleging misclassification of independent contractor delivery couriers)
  • Rowdy Farms, LLC, d/b/a 1845 Oil Field Transport, et al. adv. Smith, No. 18-CV-00043 (W.D. Tex.) (Rule 23 class action involving common law claims for unpaid wages, fraud, and beach of contracts)
  • ACG adv. Chancellor et al., No. 4:18-cv-00062  (E.D. Tex.) (voluntary dismissal pending arbitration of putative statewide collective action involving servers and other tipped employees for alleged violations of the minimum wage and tip credit rules under the FLSA)
  • Aldi, Inc. adv. Nino, No. 3:17-cv-01441 (N.D. Tex.) (FLSA claim involving misclassification of assistant store managers)
  • American Surgical Assistants, Inc. adv. Cavanaugh, No. 8:17-cv-03055 (M.D. Fla.) (successful mediation of FLSA claims involving misclassification of administrative professionals)
  • Republic Services, Inc., et al. adv. Serrano, et al., No. 2:14-cv-000775 (S.D. Tex.) (partial summary judgment victory on FLSA claims resulted in shrinking collective action from approximately 500 to 20 employees; subsequently amicably resolved remaining claims following bench trial)
  • Texas Roadhouse, Inc., et al. adv. Bontempi, et al. v., No. 3:15-1587-TLW (D. S.C.) (multi-state FLSA collective action concerning alleged failure to pay minimum wage by requiring plaintiffs to participate in an invalid tip pool)
  • American Surgical Assistants, Inc. adv. Martinez, No. 4:14-cv-02889 (S.D. Tex.) (FLSA claims involving misclassification of nursing and administrative professional)
  • AmeriGroup Corp. adv. Scott, No. 4:14-cv-00385 (S. D. Tex.) (successful mediation of single-plaintiff FLSA off-the-clock case)
  • Northgate Constructors, A JV d/b/a Kiewit Texas Construction, L.P. adv. Azero, No. 4:13-cv-00862-O (N.D. Tex.) (FLSA case concerning alleged misclassification of entry-level civil engineers)
  • Wachovia Corporation, et al. adv. Scutts, et al., No. 12-cv-7194 (S.D.N.Y.) (defeated conditional certification of a proposed nationwide class of personal bankers alleging off-the-clock work)
  • Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. et al. adv. Fernandez, et al., No. 12-cv-7193 (S.D.N.Y.) (defeated class and conditional certification of a proposed region-wide class of personal bankers alleging off-the-clock work)
  • Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. adv. Richardson, et al., No. 04:11-cv-00738 (S.D. Tex.) (successfully opposed conditional certification in nationwide off-the-clock FLSA case brought on behalf of former Wells Fargo personal bankers)
  • Wachovia Corporation, et al. adv. Switzer, et al., No. 04:11-cv-01604 (S.D. Tex.) (successfully opposed conditional certification in nationwide off-the-clock FLSA case brought on behalf of former Wachovia financial specialists, and obtained summary judgment on lack of “willfulness” under the FLSA)
  • Wachovia Corporation, et al. adv. McNeill, et al., No. 4:11-cv-01401 (S.D. Tex.) (defense of nationwide off-the-clock FLSA case brought on behalf of former Wachovia bank tellers; case settled favorably with payment to individual named plaintiffs only)
  • Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. adv. McNeill, et al., No. 4:11-cv-01400 (S.D. Tex.) (defense of nationwide off-the-clock FLSA case brought on behalf of Wells Fargo bank tellers; case settled favorably with payment to individual named plaintiffs only)
  • Jacobs Field Services of North America, Inc. adv. Jackson, No. 3:10-cv-00338 (S.D. Tex.) (defeated conditional certification of case brought by hourly employees for uncompensated walking time from parking lot to work station)
  • H&R Block Eastern Enterprises, Inc. adv. Greene, et al., No. 10-21663 (S.D. Fla.) (successful pre-answer motion to dismiss FLSA nationwide collective action brought on behalf of tax professionals based on novel improper claims splitting arguments)
  • Farmers Insurance Exchange adv. Mahoney, No. 4:09-cv-02327 (S.D. Tex.) (multi-state FLSA collective action brought on behalf of insurance claims representatives alleging defendant’s automated scheduling system failed to include, and provide compensation for, all compensable activities throughout the work day)
  • H&R Block Eastern Enterprises, Inc. adv. Llano, et al., No. 09-22531 (S.D. Fla.) (successfully opposed conditional certification in nationwide off-the-clock FLSA case brought on behalf of tax professionals.  Subsequently obtained order to decertifying Miami-Dade County collective action)

Other Representative Labor and Employment Matters

  • Baker Hughes, Inc. adv. Phipps, No. 4:18-cv-00462 (S.D. Tex.) (voluntary stay and dismissal pending arbitration of age discrimination claim)
  • Donnelley Financial, LLC adv. Oldenstam, No. 4:17-cv-03891 (S.D. Tex.) (successful mediation of FMLA interference and retaliations claims)
  • Georgia-Pacific  adv. Garrett, No. 9:17-cv-00068 (E.D. Tex.) (obtained summary judgment dismissal of all claims, including race discrimination and constructive discharge)
  • Aldi, Inc. adv. Wheeler, No. 2:17-cv-02044 (D. Kan.) (successful mediation of disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, workers’ compensation retaliation, and constructive discharge claims)
  • Chanel, Inc. adv. Wenck, Case No. 4:16-cv-03486 (S.D. Tex.) (successful mediation of age discrimination claim, including prior early dismissal of “pattern or practice” claim under Title VII)
  • Rexam Beverage Can Company adv. Vanderberg v., No. 3:15-cv-00214 (N.D. Miss.) (won complete summary judgment on age and disability discrimination, and FMLA retaliation claims)
  • Automated Logic Consulting Services, Inc. adv. Authier, No. 5:15-cv-993-DAE (W.D. Tex.) (won complete summary judgment on defamation and breach of contract claims for unpaid bonus and vacation time)
  • AmeriGroup Texas, Inc. adv. Fernandez, No. 2015-DCV-2038 (El Paso County District Court) (successful mediation of workers’ compensation retaliation, disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, and retaliation claims)
  • Brandenburg Industrial Serv. Co. adv. Ieremia, No. 2014-cv-1133 (El Paso District Court) (successful mediation of workers’ compensation retaliation and quasi-contract claims)
  • US Foods, Inc. adv. Chrystal, No. 14-cv-967 (W.D. Ok.) (successful mediation of disability and race discrimination, and constructive discharge claims)
  • AmeriGroup Texas, Inc. adv. Garcia; Case No. 2014-42732 (Harris County District Court) (successful mediation of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, IIED, and constructive discharge claims)
  • Aldi, Inc. adv. Adams, No. 5:14-cv-00025 (W.D. Ok.) (successful mediation of Title VII and Section 1981 claims involving alleged failure to promote, harassment, retaliation, and constructive discharge)
  • US Foods, Inc. adv. Butler, No. 5:14-cv-01179 (W.D. Ok.) (successful mediation of disability and race discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and breach of contract claims)
  • Otis Elevator Co. adv. Williams, No. 13-00057 (M.D. La.) (won complete victory on early motion to dismiss claims of race discrimination and retaliation; also prevailed on appeal to the Fifth Circuit)
  • Sikorsky Support Services, Inc. adv. Anderson, No. 2:13-cv-000208 (S.D. Tex.) (won complete summary judgment on race discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims)
  • Carrier Corp. adv. Combest, No. 6:12-cv-00376 (E.D. Tex.) (won complete summary judgment on age and disability discrimination claims)
  • General Elec. Intl, Inc. adv. Smith, No. 12-03720 (Dallas County District Court) (successful mediation of age discrimination claims)
  • Akzo Nobel adv. Green, No. 2012-cv-3400 (Harris County District Court) (successful mediation of age and disability discrimination, and workers’ compensation retaliation claims)
  • Accenture LLP adv. Benson, No. 2011-CI-06327 (Bexar County District Court) (successful mediation of national origin and age discrimination claims)
  • Sikorsky Support Services, Inc., adv. Mitchell, No. 4:10-cv-00889 (S.D. Tex.) (won complete summary judgment on gender discrimination and sexual harassment claims; also prevailed on appeal to the Fifth Circuit)
  • Honeywell Int’l, Inc. adv. Vargas, No. 2010-3250 (El Paso District Court) (successful mediation of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, retaliation, slander, invasion of privacy, IIED, wrongful imprisonment, and employment-related negligence claims)
  • Sikorsky Support Services, Inc., adv. Hernandez, No. C-10-326 (S.D. Tex.) (won complete summary judgment on sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation claims; also prevailed on appeal to the Fifth Circuit)
  • Farmers Insurance Exchange adv. Leps, No. 10-10686 (US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit) (summary judgment affirmed for employer in FLSA retaliation case against national insurance company brought by a former property claim representative.  The court also assessed all court costs against the plaintiff)
  • Jacobs Field Services of North America, Inc. and ExxonMobil Corporation adv. Boutin, No. H-09-0322 (S.D. Tex.) (won complete summary judgment on sex discrimination and retaliation claims; court also found plaintiff could not establish joint-employer relationship)
  • Allied Waste Industries, Inc. adv. Williams, No. 1:09-CV-705 (E.D. Tex.) (won complete summary judgment on religious discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims)
  • Accenture LLP adv. Quintanilla, No. 5:09-cv-00052 (W.D. Tex) (successful mediation of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and retaliation claims)
  • Kiewit Texas Construction L.P. adv. Olmedo, No. 5:08-CV-00061 (S.D. Tex.) (won complete summary judgment on race and national origin discrimination cliams)
  • Crowne Plaza San Antonio Riverwalk, et al. adv. Munoz, No. 2007-CI-10185 (Bexar County District Court) (successful mediation of sexual harassment, gender, and national origin discrimination claims)

Presentations

  • Co-Presenter, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Employment Litigation (But Were Afraid to Ask),” 2018 Gulf Coast Symposium on HR Issues (May 2018)
  • Panel Moderator, “Preventing and Responding to Sexual Harassment in the Age of #MeToo and Time’s Up! -- An Interactive Discussion,” Seyfarth CLE, Houston, TX (February 2018)
  • “Back In The News But Not A New Risk Exposure -- Sexual Harassment In The Workplace,” ABA Insurance Risk Management Forum, Austin, TX (January 2018)
  • Co-Presenter, “Keeping #MeToo From Becoming #YouToo: Revisiting and Rethinking Best Practices for Preventing & Responding to Sexual Harassment,” HR Houston, Houston, TX (January 2018)
  • Co-Presenter, “Ethics for In-House Lawyers,” American Petroleum Labor Lawyers Association Conference, Houston, TX (October 2017)
  • Co-Presenter, “Politics at Work and the Future of the American Workplace,” Seyfarth CLE, Houston, TX (May 2017)
  • Co-Presenter, “Ethics @ Work,” Seyfarth CLE, Houston, TX (December 2016)
  • “Strategies for Implementing the Revised Overtime Rules,” Texas Workforce Solutions, Conroe, TX (August 2016)
  • “2016 Changes to the FLSA: Practical and Strategic Compliance,” 2016 Gulf Coast Symposium on Human Resources Issues (May 2016)
  • Co-Presenter, “Understanding the Most Volatile Employment Issues of 2016,” Seyfarth CLE, Houston, TX (March 2016)
  • “Spotting and Solving Compensation Problems: How to Pay Employees Properly,” Texas Society of CPAs 2015 CPE Expo, Odessa, TX (November 2015)
  • Co-Presenter, “A Primer and Legal Update on Employment Claims and Strategy for General Litigators,” Houston Bar Association CLE, Houston, TX (October 2015)
  • Co-Presenter, “Top 10 Pre-Trial Strategy and Employment Law Issues from Plaintiff and Defense Perspectives,” Bridgeport CLE, Houston, TX (June 2015)
  • “Hot Topics in Background Screening and How to Mitigate the Risks,” 2015 Gulf Coast Symposium on Human Resources Issues (May 2015)
  • Co-Presenter, “Layoffs Without Liability: Advanced Strategies for Reducing Headcount,” CLE for in-house counsel and HR professional (February 2015)
  • “Understanding Misclassification of Independent Contractors: A Primer for Accountants and Financial Professionals,” Loreman Seminar, Houston, TX (November 2014)
  • “Avoiding EEOC and NLRB Scrutiny of Severance Agreements and Ordinary Employment Policies,” HR Houston CLE, Houston, TX (October 2014)
  • Co-Presenter, “Ethics @ Work,” CLE for in-house counsel, Houston, TX (April and August 2014).
  • Co-Presenter, “Top L&E Developments: What Happened in 2013 and What to Watch for in 2014,” Seyfarth CLE, Houston, TX (February 2014)
  • “Upcoming Changes to the White Collar Exemptions, and What They Mean for Energy Employers,” Seyfarth Shaw’s Energy Employment Law Group CLE Seminar, Houston, TX (June 2014)
  • “Common Cents FLSA Compliance,” CLE course for Houston-area attorneys, Houston, TX (April 2014)
  • “Emerging Wage & Hour Issues,” Texas Labor & Employee Relations Consortium, San Antonio, TX (October 2013)
  • “Energy Employers’ Common (and Costly) Wage & Hour Mistakes,” Seyfarth Shaw’s Energy Employment Law Group Seminar, Houston, TX (September 2013)
  • “Traversing the Morass: What is Compensable Time Under the FLSA,” Bridgeport CLE, Houston, TX (September 2013)
  • “Little Known Retaliation Claims That Bite Back: FLSA, Workers’ Compensation, and FMLA Retaliation,” Houston Bar Association CLE, Houston, TX (July 2013)
  • “Worst Case Scenarios at Work,” Seyfarth Shaw Breakfast Briefing, Dallas, TX (June 19, 2013)
  • “Looking Back at 2011 -- Supreme Court L&E Cases,” Seyfarth Shaw Breakfast Briefing, Houston, TX (April 11, 2012) 
  • EEO and Employment Law Training Presentation to Energy Industry Managers and Human Resources Professionals, Houston, TX (November 2011 & January 2012)
  • “Emerging Privacy Issues in the Workplace,” Houston Bar Association CLE, Houston, TX (June 2011)
  • EEO and Employment Law Training Presentation Managers and Human Resources Professionals in Healthcare Industry, Houston, TX (March 2011)
  • “Workplace Harassment: Prevention, Identification, and Remediation,” Lorman Seminar, McAllen, TX (November 2008)

Publications