Representing individuals who have the courage to exercise their rights.

Representing individuals who have the courage to exercise their rights

Our focus is on protecting and enforcing employee rights through mediation, trial or arbitration.

At Duckworth & Peters, LLP, we work together with our clients to guide them through the litigation process and ensure the protection of their legal rights. We value our clients’ input and believe strongly in working together as a unified team to accomplish our clients’ goals.

People

Thomas Duckworth

Thomas Duckworth

Attorney

Tom Duckworth represents employees in a broad range of employment matters in federal and state court litigation and administrative proceedings. He has advised and represented employees and employers in numerous matters, and has litigated employment discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, fraud, defamation, privacy and wage and hour disputes in state and federal trial and appellate courts as well as a myriad of arbitration tribunals, such as FINRA.

Since being admitted to the Bar in 1991, Tom has been involved in a wide variety of civil litigation. For several years, he practiced employment law with Kathleen (“Kay”) Lucas, where he represented clients in a broad range of employment matters in federal and state court litigation and administrative proceedings. In 2001, Tom became a partner at Otis Canli & Duckworth where he headed the firm’s employment group. In December 2005, Tom formed the law firm Duckworth & Peters, LLP. The firm added Noah Lebowitz in 2007 and renamed the firm Duckworth • Peters • Lebowitz, LLP. In 2010 the firm added Monique Olivier as a partner. Recently, Noah Lebowitz and Monique Olivier left the firm, so the firm has been renamed Duckworth & Peter LLP.

Tom has significant alternative dispute resolution and trial experience. He has regularly been included in Martindale-Hubbell’s Bar Registry of Preeminent American Lawyers and has achieved an AV Preeminent rating, the highest possible peer rating, from 2005 to the present. Tom has also been recognized as a Super Lawyer in 2008 to the present.

Tom is a certified mediator and sits on several Bay Area court mediation panels including the Northern District of California and is currently mediating a wide variety of employment law privately as well.

Tom received a B.A. degree from the University of California Santa Barbara and his J.D. from USF School of Law. Tom is a member of the California bar and is admitted to practice before all state and federal courts in California.

Erika Heath

Erika Heath

Attorney

Erika focuses her practice on two areas: (1) representing consumers and employees in both individual and class action cases, and (2) litigating important appellate issues.

After graduating law school in 2009, Erika got her start as an attorney working in the trenches at Atlanta Legal Aid Society in Georgia.  As a legal aid attorney, she represented indigent clients in a variety of matters (including employment, housing, and consumer disputes), but she focused her practice on protecting low-income consumers from abusive business practices.

In conjunction with her legal aid work, Erika has participated in a number of high profile cases, including her work as lead counsel on the case of Strickland v. Alexander, which ultimately led to a federal court declaring Georgia’s garnishment process to be unconstitutional and enjoining most consumer garnishments in the state.  See Strickland v. Alexander, 153 F.Supp.3d 1397 (2015); see also Strickland v. Alexander, 772 F.3d 876 (11th Cir. 2014).  Her other noteworthy cases have included various other important consumer topics.  See e.g.Goudelock v. Sixty-01 Ass’n of Apt. Owners, 895 F.3d 633 (9th Cir. 2018); Slater v. U.S. Steel Corp., 871 F.3d 1174 (11th Cir. 2017); In re Ngwangu, 529 B.R. 358 (Bankr. N.D. Ga. 2015); Venable v. SunTrust Bank, 299 Ga.655 (2016); Raysoni v. Payless Auto Deals, 296 Ga. 156 (2014).  In the summer of 2017, she served as co-counsel in the trial of Bowerman v. Field Asset Services, Inc. (N.D. Cal.), which led to a jury verdict of more than $2 million for 11 employees who were misclassified as independent contractors.

Erika has received numerous awards for her work in consumer protection, including the 2015 Consumer Achievement of the Year award from the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA).  She also regularly lectures on consumer topics at local meetings and national conventions.

Erika moved with her family to the Bay Area in 2015, when she became licensed to practice law in California.  She earned her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts.  Before attending law school, she obtained a finance degree from Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas, and worked in business and finance in both Germany and Dallas.  She is an active member of the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA), the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA), and NACA.

Mark Peters

Mark Peters

Attorney

Mark Peters focuses primarily on representing employees in employment disputes before state and federal agencies and before judicial and arbitral tribunals.

Following graduation from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles in June 1992, Mark started his career in 1992 with a boutique insurance defense firm, where he gained experience litigating complex civil cases including construction defect matters and injury liability defense. After two years of defense experience, Mark determined he needed to represent individuals, rather than corporations, and had the opportunity to make the shift when he was recruited by one of the top personal injury attorneys in the state. During his tenure there, Mark litigated numerous personal injury cases on behalf of moderately to catastrophically injured individuals, including cases of wrongful death, product and premises liability, medical and dental malpractice, as well as automobile, aviation and construction site liability.

In 1997, Mr. Peters’ practice began to focus increasingly on representing individuals in employment disputes. For more than two decades now his practice has focused almost exclusively on the representation of employees and former employees in disputes with employers in both state and federal courts, and before state and federal agencies and commissions. His litigation experience includes cases involving discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, FMLA and CFRA violations, fraud, defamation, commission and wage violations, as well as wage and hour violations on both an individual and class-wide basis. Mark is also frequently retained by individual employers and small businesses to consult and provide advice and consultation on workplace and employment matters.

Beginning in 2009, Mark’s practice has included serving as a private mediator in employment matters. Mark also serves as a panel mediator for the Northern District Federal Court and the Alameda County Superior Court, and as a Settlement Conference Officer for the San Francisco County Superior Court, as well as the Marin County Superior Court’s Mandatory Settlement Program. Since 2009, Mark has successfully mediated hundreds of cases, both as a court appointed panelist and as a privately retained mediator.

Mark is licensed to practice before all state and federal courts in the State of California, including the Northern, Eastern, Central and Southern District Courts and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Mark has been named a Northern California Super Lawyer (limited to the top 5% of attorneys in the State) each year beginning in 2009. He is a member of the California Employment Lawyers Association, Consumer Attorneys of California (former Member, Board of Governors), Bar Association of San Francisco, Marin County Bar Association, and Coalition of Concerned Legal Professionals.

PRACTICE

Employment

Representing employees is all about making sure each of us has a level playing field on which to compete in the workplace. Without a level playing field, no other civil rights can be achieved.

It’s hard enough to survive in this world toiling 40+ hours a week in jobs which may or may not be personally rewarding. To have our performance tainted, blocked, inhibited, or in any way harmed by someone else’s discriminatory conduct is abhorrent. To have our labor go underpaid, unpaid or exploited by employers which do not comply with basic wage laws is unconscionable. To have employers cheat us out of commissions or bonuses earned through efforts for and dedication to the company is outrageous.

The civil rights movements which gave rise to workplace fairness legislation all have one common goal—that we be judged by the content of our character. The only way this vision will ever be fully realized is when the workplace is free from discrimination and everyone has the opportunity to forge their own destiny, to put food on the table for their family, and to reap the benefits of their own labor.

We work with clients who have the courage to come forward to protect their rights to be free from discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, wage and hour violations, and any other violations that occur in the workplace. We negotiate employment agreements, provide advice on employment matters, and litigate to protect and enforce our clients’ rights.

If you believe you have been harmed by unlawful workplace practices, please contact us.

 

MEDIATION

Mediation Services

Tom Duckworth and Mark Peters both work regularly as private mediators, and likewise serve on various court mediation panels throughout the bay area. Both Tom and Mark have litigated hundreds of cases on behalf of plaintiffs, in addition to representing small and mid-sized employers on occasion over the years, and in so doing have gained insight and invaluable experience that allows them to understand the often-times unique issues confronted by parties involved in litigation or pre-litigation employment disputes. They have successfully taken their experience and channeled it in a constructive way allowing them to succeed as mediators, who can appreciate and understand the perspective of all parties to the mediation process. Their approach emphasizes collaboration and facilitation among the parties to help them find their resolution in the matter.

For more information about the mediation services each provides, please visit Tom and Mark’s mediation bio pages or contact them directly if there are any additional questions or to reserve a mediation date.

Mediation Location

Our offices can accommodate up to four separate parties, with a large conference room which can accommodate ten people comfortably, a second conference room which can accommodate six comfortably, and a two partner offices which can accommodate 2-3 people in each. If larger or additional parties are involved, please let us know ahead of time so we can discuss alternative arrangements. Both Tom and Mark are also available for mediations throughout the Bay Area and California.

Tom Duckworth: Mediation
Since 1996, Tom Duckworth has exclusively litigated a broad spectrum of employment cases on behalf of both businesses and individuals. Mr. Duckworth’s business clients included Sharper Image, Jamba Juice, SP Carpet Pros and a host of other small businesses. Mr. Duckworth also represented and continues to represent individuals in a variety of employment related matters including discrimination, wrongful termination, contract negotiations, wage and hour and class action cases. Because of his familiarity with both sides of an employment case, Mr. Duckworth has proven himself to be well suited to mediate such cases. Mr. Duckworth has been facilitating early settlement conferences as a panelist for the San Francisco Superior Court since 1998. He has also received over 40 hours of intensive mediation training with Steven Rosenberg. Tom also serves as a Mediator and an Early Neutral Evaluator for the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California’s ADR Program. He is now focusing his efforts on private mediations of employment disputes. 
Mark Peters: Mediation
After spending his early career litigating personal injury cases (on both the plaintiff and defense side), in 1999 Mark began to specialize in the litigation of employment cases in state and federal courts and various arbitration forums. In both his personal injury work and subsequent and current employment work, Mark has participated in hundreds of mediations or other informal case negotiations since his admission to the bar in 1992. Recognizing the value of the process and reaching a level of comfort navigating through it, Mark began to recognize his talents and personality were well suited to the role of “mediator.”  

Mark started conducting mediations in 2009 for the San Francisco Superior Court through the Early Settlement Program administered by the Bar Association of San Francisco. At the beginning of 2011, Mark was accepted for membership to the mediation panel with the Northern District Court, which included 40+ hours of mediation training prior to elevation onto the panel. Also in 2011, Mark began serving as a Settlement Conference Panelist with the Sonoma County Superior Court, and in March 2012 was appointed to the panel of the Alameda County Superior Court Mediation Program. In September 2012, Mark was also appointed to serve as a Settlement Conference Officer with the San Francisco Superior Court’s Mandatory Settlement Conference program, through which he now handles a wide range of litigation matters, from personal injury to business disputes to employment matters, and everything in between. 

In addition to his work as a volunteer panelist serving the various state and federal courts in the bay area, Mark conducts private mediations out of the firm’s offices in San Francisco. Mark has mediated both individual and class action cases, involving virtually every type of claim, including: discrimination based on gender, age, race, religion, disability (including disability access cases), sexual orientation, national origin, and pregnancy; sexual harassment; wage and hour violations; whistleblower/retaliation; wrongful termination; invasion of privacy; violations of the California Family Rights Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, and employment-related defamation. Between his private mediation practice and his service on the aforementioned court mediation panels, Mark has successfully mediated hundreds of cases since 2009.

PROCESS

At Duckworth & Peters LLP, we realize many people who come to us are not familiar with the nuances of negotiation and litigation. As a result, we strive from the outset to clearly explain the process and strategies for a successful outcome.

The following is a brief overview of our internal process:

1. Case Summary

Before they become clients, each individual seeking representation with us is asked to prepare a summary of the events leading to the conduct about which they are complaining. This enables us to assess the merits of the case and to determine what issues may arise during the representation. It also allows us to avoid conflicts of interest so that each client we represent is assured of our complete loyalty and single-minded advocacy on their behalf.

2. Consultation

Once the summary is received and evaluated, an initial consultation is scheduled where the individual will meet with one of the partners from the firm. The purpose is to explore the needs of the individual, discern challenges and obstacles to resolution and develop strategies for meeting client goals. At the end of the consultation, the client will have an understanding of his or her rights under the law and will typically be asked to perform some additional investigation. The partners will also review any documents that have been provided by the individual at this time.

3. Retainer Agreement

The firm will generate a retainer agreement if the individual and firm agree to proceed. The retainer agreement sets forth the terms of the relationship so that both the client and the firm have a similar understanding of how the representation will proceed, the services the firm will and will not provide and the client’s responsibilities to the firm during the engagement.

4. Negotiation

As a general practice, the firm seeks to explore the possibility of a resolution at the earliest opportunity. This is generally before a complaint is filed in court. A negotiated settlement at this stage generally represents the most cost effective and timely resolution of a case. The partners are experienced in all facets of Alternative Dispute Resolution including arbitration and mediation. We will counsel the client on the risks and benefits of various ADR procedures to maximize the potential for resolution. Generally, the benefit to the client of early resolution is the avoidance of costly and protracted litigation.

5. Litigation

Should early negotiation reach an impasse, the firm and the client will meet for another consultation to determine whether to proceed to litigation.

Litigation is initiated by the firm’s filing of a complaint in state or federal court or an arbitral tribunal on the client’s behalf. Once the complaint is filed, the defendant is required to respond to the complaint by admitting or denying the allegations of complaint. After the defendant has responded to the complaint, the parties engage in the discovery process. This time-consuming process requires that the client be available for depositions and to give responses to written questions posed by the employer called interrogatories. After discovery is completed, the parties will either go to arbitration or trial where either an arbitrator or a jury will resolve the matter.

Other Services

The partners at the firm are available for consultation and legal advice on employment (including drafting and reviewing executive compensation and severance agreements), disability, consumer and civil rights matters.

Additionally, Tom Duckworth and Mark Peters are available to serve as private mediators to assist parties in reaching resolution of their disputes.

CONTACT US

If you believe you have been harmed by unlawful conduct,
please contact us:

Duckworth & Peters LLP

369 Pine Street, Suite 410
San Francisco, CA 94104

415.433.0333

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