Lawrence P. Schaefer
Owner and President
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Client Service Philosophy
“My clients inspire me every day. It’s a privilege to help victims of illegal workplace conduct move past this trauma and have their dignity and self-worth restored, while holding the offending employer accountable.”
Lawrence P. Schaefer
Lawrence P. Schaefer has earned the respect of judges and other lawyers for his thorough and aggressive client advocacy in negotiation and litigation. He focuses exclusively on representing people who have been subject to employment discrimination at work. Larry serves as the firm’s President and head of litigation.
Over the course of his long and often ground-breaking career, Larry has taken on some of the largest and most powerful companies in the country, helping tens of thousands of people recover damages suffered as a result of illegal corporate conduct. Larry has a strong focus delivering services to physicians and mental health professionals, and has represented hundreds of medical professionals. He chose this field of practice to give a voice to victims of workplace misconduct and tirelessly pursues claims for his clients to recover full damages as a result of illegal conduct.
Larry has earned a reputation as a lawyer who assists clients in every way possible to best recover from the effects of illegal workplace conduct. He has represented numerous executives in severance negotiations and litigation. He was lead counsel in a case establishing the “just cause” standard for termination in Minnesota on behalf of a former Cargill Vice President, securing a judgment of more than $500,000 and establishing the legal principal that just cause is not present unless there is some form of misconduct.
In his free time, Larry enjoys golfing, bicycling, attending sporting events and traveling with his wife, Toni.
Areas of Practice:
- Employment Litigation
- Class Action
- Multi-Plaintiff Cases
- Executive Severance
- Minnesota, 1988
- U.S. District Court District of Minnesota, 1988
- U.S. Court of Appeals 8th Circuit, 1989
- Juris Doctorate Degree, magna cum laude, Order of the Coif, University of Minnesota Law School, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1988
- Bachelor of Art’s Degree, University of Chicago, Honors in Political Philosophy, Chicago, Illinois, 1984
Results: Larry Schaefer
The Client: Radiology Clinical Director at Large Twin Cities Hospital.
Problem: The client received serious complaints regarding alleged improper patient care and management issues. The peer review process was initiated, which appeared to be headed to termination of privileges/employment and report to National Database, with serious licensure ramifications. The client was on involuntary unpaid leave as the process proceeded.
Approach: Investigated basis for complaints in great detail and discovered that most emanated from a younger subordinate male physician who wanted to assume the Director role, and that the Peer Review Committee members had bypassed numerous procedural safeguards and appeared, also, to indulge bias, whether on age, religion (client was only Jewish physician in system), or gender (male physicians had been treated far more favorably in similar circumstances). Our client had previously complained about behavior of subordinate physician, describing it as harassment and age/gender motivated, and no corrective action was taken. Younger male subordinate also appeared to have improper role in Peer Review process. We began to assert both discrimination and retaliations claims, as well as malice and breach of contract in Peer Review, and Hospital and Clinic promptly agreed to engage in mediation.
Solution: After three long mediation days, the Hospital and Clinic agreed to not only stop the Peer Review process with no adverse action or report to NPDB, but agreed to substantial severance terms which allowed physician to resign and resume her successful career elsewhere. Hospital and Clinic also agreed to pay for legal fees, mediation fees, and tail malpractice insurance as highest level permitted under policy.
The Client: Senior Internal Medicine physician at large Twin Cities Hospital.
Problem: The client, who was of Asian Indian national origin, was subject to an inappropriate manipulation of the intake/referral system at the Hospital which steered patients asking for his services to other physicians. Significant evidence suggested that this may have been motivated by national origin bias. His complaints about the ongoing manipulation of this system were disregarded without any corrective action taken. He was terminated for dubious productivity reasons as his practice declined as a direct result of this patient referral manipulation.
Approach: Successfully litigated claims in both state and federal court on client’s behalf when the Hospital would not reinstate the client and agree to reasonable compensation terms.
Solution: The state court action involved tort claims for interference with existing and potential business relationships, involving the improper “steering” of referrals to other physicians. Improper manipulation was proved by offering the testimony of numerous patients who requested the services of our client, but were steered to other providers. Secured a jury verdict as a result with significant economic loss and emotional distress/damage to reputation compensation to our client. Thereafter, the federal lawsuit for national origin discrimination settled on very favorable terms.
The Client: Surgeon at large rural County Hospital.
Problem: Physician who our client was hired to “partner with” in surgical practice and who was to retire after two years of this partnership resisted this arrangement, to the point where he actively defamed our clients to staff and patients, refused to support our client’s practice in any manner (and even refused to do “rounds” on our client’s patients, with life-threatening results. Client’s frequent complaints to Hospital administration were ignored and instead the offending physician was supported.
Approach: Wrote detailed proposal letter to the Hospital CEO and copied Board Members which presented breach of contract, misrepresentations in inducing client to join Hospital, as well as defamation and the ongoing interference with our client’s treatment of and relationship with existing patients. Followed up with numerous letters describing continuing interference and defamation, as well as retaliation for making initial complaints. Hopsital eventually agreed to early mediation.
Solution: Mediation, which occurred over two days, resulted in agreed upon resignation, payments amounting to approximately five years of compensation to our client, mutual non-disparagement, and limited waiver of non-compete obligation which allowed our client to promptly accept another lucrative position.
The Client: Experienced Pediatrician in large multi-clinic facility who was placed on performance improvement plan due to alleged lack of productivity.
Problem: After years of productive service, Clinic administration had changed and new administration alleged our client was failing to meet productivity standards, as measured by “relative value units” (RVUs) assigned to various patient treatment options.
Approach: Presented strong evidence that our client was being disfavored, in contrast to younger pediatricians, in types of patient assigned. Patients likely to generate significant RVUs were directed to younger, more favored physicians. Our client had also raised complaints in the past about the productivity measurement being inconsistent with providing medical treatment with integrity and a focus on preventative medicine, and was also retaliated against.
Solution: Contract provided for six month severance in the event of involuntary termination without cause. Clinic agreed to substantially increase this (to over one year) in light of claims arising from above facts, and agreed to waive non-competition and non –solicitation to allow client to move to nearby clinic and transport many patients to new provider.
Client: Transgender College Professor
Problem: Denied tenure amidst many negative comments about accommodation requests and other subjective impressions revealing discomfort with client’s status as a transgender professor.
Approach: In letter protesting tenure denial decision, stressed client’s tremendous accomplishments as non-tenured professor, popularity with vast bulk of student population, and clear evidence of bias which infected decisions. Proposed robust transition package as professor no longer wanted to continue career in that environment.
Solution: After extensive and unproductive initial direct negotiations with outside counsel, college agreed to mediation and matter was resolved at mediation for severance approaching two years of compensation and other terms which allowed client to transition to other employment opportunities without tenure denial on record.
Client: Openly Gay Executive
Problem: Client faced imminent termination for baseless reasons after strong 20 year career.
Approach: Developed evidence that President/CEO of organization had sexual orientation bias. Presented this evidence in detailed proposal letter, along with client’s well-established exceptional past reviews and pretextual reasons for potential termination, before termination decision had been communicated to client. The client received both homophobic comments and hate mail at the workplace.
Solution: In direct negotiations with Senior in-House counsel, was able to secure severance package which provided well in excess of one year of transition compensation, accelerated vesting of past options, and favorable reference letter.
Client: Openly Gay Male at Advertising Agency
Problem: Manager in office party had made disparaging comments regarding Gay Pride celebration and had made frequent comments directly to client regarding his “effeminate” manner, among other disparaging statements. Client was denied training and advancement opportunities provided to others, and was ultimately terminated in RIF affecting only two other employees, after being passed over for promotions for four years.
Approach: When pre-litigation negotiations failed, prosecuted case with local advocacy organization, through extensive discovery (including depositions). Summary judgment denied and case was positioned for one-week trial.
Solution: Before pre-trial submissions were filed, were able to secure significant compensation, well over 10X what had been offered client pre-litigation.
The Client: Over twenty female miners integrating a previously all-male worksite. Jenson v. Eveleth Mines, et al., a groundbreaking sexual harassment case depicted in the movie “North Country” starring Charlize Theron.
Problem: Subject to unrelenting sexual harassment with no support from management and active participation in harassment from foreman and supervisors.
Approach: Larry Schaefer prosecuted this case for over eight years as the first ever sexual harassment class-action, through every phase of litigation. Larry was one of three lead trial counsel in the first successfully prosecuted class action hostile environment sexual harassment case.
Solution: Case certified as first sexual harassment class ever certified; inadequate damage awards overturned on appeal and ultimately secured millions in settlement for class members, making new and important law at every step in process. The history of the case is chronicled in CLASS ACTION: The Story of Lois Jenson and the Landmark Case that Changed Sexual Harassment Law (Doubleday 2002) (C. Bingham, L. Gansler), and was the basis for the movie “North Country,” starring Charlize Theron.
The Client: 3,000+ Financial Advisors
Approach: Larry Schaefer served as co-lead counsel in this gender discrimination class action successfully prosecuted on behalf of more than 3,000 financial advisors.
Solution: The case settled for $31 million and extensive injunctive relief that revamped the compensation and promotion system, imposed internal training, and specific complaint resolution procedure.
The Client: 200+ Female Technicians
Approach: Larry Schaefer acted as lead counsel in this class action gender discrimination claim involving female technicians at 6 CBS-owned stations.
Solution: After a class was certified, the case settled for more than $8 million in compensation and comprehensive injunctive relief involving distribution of overtime, assignments, training and reporting obligations on behalf of approximately 200 female employees.
The Client: Executive Vice President of HR
Problem: Complains of sexist hierarchy, breach of promise to award her promotion to parent company, as well as sexual harassment.
Approach: Larry Schaefer presented facts and detailed analysis of legal claims in letter to Chairman.
Solution: Negotiate significant exit severance package including multiple years of compensation, voluntary resignation, reference letter, outplacement services paid by company, and client is now serving in similar capacity in another company.
The Client: Individual Race Discrimination.
Approach: Larry Schaefer was trial counsel in an individual race discrimination case.
Solution: The jury awarded the plaintiff $380,000, including a $250,000 punitive damages award.
The Client: 150+ African-American Salaried Auto Manufacturer Employees.
Approach: Larry Schaefer was lead alternative dispute resolution counsel in this race discrimination case representing approximately 150 African American salaried employees throughout the company’s U.S. operations.
Solution: Claims were successfully prosecuted and resolved in a comprehensive, negotiated ADR procedure involving mediation, discovery and trial phases.
The Client: 250+ Employees.
Approach: Larry Schaefer was the lead counsel in this race discrimination class action consisting of more than 250 current and former employees.
Solution: The case was successfully settled for $3.1 million plus injunctive relief changing the method of evaluating, promoting and compensating class members and imposing extensive training obligations as well as a specific complaint procedure.
The Client: 1,000+ Employees of a Document Services Company.
Approach: Larry Schaefer was co-lead counsel
Solution: Successfully prosecuted race, national origin and Fair Labor Standards Act – based class and collective actions involving claims of more than 1,000 employees.
The Client: 2,000+ Railroad Company Employees.
Approach: Larry Schaefer participated in the successful prosecution of this race discrimination class action involving all terms and conditions of employment affecting certain hourly employee and all management employees.
Solution: Obtained settlement of more than $24 million in compensation and comprehensive injunctive relief for more than 2,000 employees.
The Client: Terminated Asian-Indian internal medicine physician
Problem: Denied hospital privileges and attempts made to preclude his treatment of existing patients.
Approach: Larry Schaefer prosecuted interference with business relations and defamation) (in state court and national origin discrimination (in federal court).
Solution: Secure favorable jury verdict on state claims in excess of $500,000, and thereafter settle discrimination claims on eve of trial allowing recovery of all damages and re-establishment of patient base and all privileges.
The Client: Terminated African-American baggage handler at large local airline with 10 year track record of good performance
Problem: Client terminated for positive drug test after alleged “reasonable suspicion” justified request for drug testing, under circumstances which suggested racist manager was behind this.
Approach: Larry Schaefer prosecuted race discrimination claim to jury in federal court.
Solution: Jury returns liability verdict which includes full back pay, emotional distress damages, and $300,000 punitive damage award. Case settled on appeal with award to client and fees paid by airline.
The Client: 400 Bank Employees.
Approach: Larry Schaefer participated in the prosecution of this successful age discrimination collective action on behalf of almost 400 terminated bank employees.
Solution: The case settled for $58.5 million, establishing one of the largest per capita recoveries for any case in this field.
The Client: 300+ Terminated Employees.
Approach: Larry Schaefer participated in the prosecution of this successful age discrimination collective action representing more than 300 terminated employees.
Solution: Obtained a $28.5 million settlement.
The Client: Director-level executive a major multinational insurance corporation selected for termination in alleged RIF.
Problem: Standard RIF package provided less than year of compensation, imposed full non-compete/non-solicitation obligations, and diminished stock option rights.
Approach: Larry Schaefer presented a detailed factual recitation of how RIF selection was age-biased and criteria were subjective and flawed, demonstrate how alleged performance issues were example of “papering file” in an effort to justify termination selection.
Solution: Engaged directly with Assistant General Counsel in charge of employment matters and negotiate severance to over two years pay, accelerated vesting of options and other benefits, termination changed to voluntary resignation, and non-compete waived and non-solicitation limited to one year (from two). After one-year period Client is now competing effectively and retaining most of past clientele base.
The Client: 75,000 401(k) Participants.
Approach: Larry Schaefer participated in the prosecution of this novel ERISA class action, challenging management of 401(k) funds on behalf of more than 75,000 participants.
Solution: Class action status was approved and the case was settled for $26 million. Plaintiffs also obtained the appointment of an independent advisor to assist in fund management, comprehensive reporting obligations and introduction of new funds, and extensive reporting obligations.
The Client: 500+Pension Plan Participants, Representing Terminated Executives.
Approach: Larry Schaefer participated as one of the lead counsel in an ERISA challenge to the failure to honor promises made following a company purchase in funding a pension plan, including taking the deposition of the CEO.
Solution: The case settled for substantial monetary and injunctive relief.
The Client: Terminated Vice President of Financial Company
Problem: Denied bonus and severance due to alleged “for cause” termination because of poor investment track record.
Approach: Larry Schaefer litigated claim through jury trial and appeal, demonstrating that “for cause” cannot be established based on investment results beyond client’s control.
Solution: Achieve jury verdict in excess of $500,000, upheld on appeal, while establishing the leading Minnesota case authority interpreting what constitutes “for cause” termination in the employment setting.
The Client: Entire Executive Team (consisting of seventeen members) of litigation services company
Problem: Compensation and bonus system not honored due to actions of parent company, at cost of over $5,000,000 to this group, with permanent changes planned.
Approach: Larry Schaefer engaged executives at parent company directly on behalf of group, demonstrating breach of past obligations and intent of executive team to initiate litigation if necessary, with vast exposure to company.
Solution: Parent company Board elects to reverse course, overturns prior breach, restore compensation and bonus potential to past levels, and compensate every member of team to full measure of loss in the past.
The Client: CEO of US subsidiary of International Corporation.
Problem: Client is facing notice of termination for claimed cause and little severance and forfeiture of stock options.
Approach: Larry Schaefer engaged directly with General Counsel and later outside counsel to present detailed factual background and legal analysis of breach of contract and national origin discrimination claims.
Solution: Negotiate severance package which fully restores full severance benefits and stock option retention/exercise rights under existing contract, characterizes separation as voluntary resignation, and substantially limits non-compete/non-solicitation obligations.
Client: HR Director in corporate center of major multi-national locally based Fortune 50 Company with over 30 years of devoted, successful service.
Problem: Client was terminated in RIF and offered one week of pay for every year of service, with some favorable stock vesting terms, but forfeiture of unvested options.
Approach: Larry Schaefer litigated age discrimination and retaliation claims successfully through extensive discovery and over 10 depositions, overcoming summary judgment and preparing for two-week trial.
Solution: Secure settlement of over 600K one month before trial, with termination converted to resignation, reference letter, and more favorable stock vesting terms.
Client: Three high-performing, long-tenured female sales representatives of Oncology-focused Pharmaceutical Sales Company
Problem: Clients were terminated after alleging sex discrimination/harassment claims, allegedly for sales results and other failure to follow policy/foster “teamwork”.
Approach: Larry Schaefer filed detailed Federal Court Complaint in California alleging retaliation and gender discrimination/harassment and engage California legal counsel retained by company in mediation as a result.
Solution: Mediation resulted in aggregate settlement for three clients for in excess of 600K, with terminations converted to resignation and reference letters and outplacement services.
Client: Company Chief Information Officer on involuntary leave.
Problem: Placed on leave and threatened with termination for alleged policy violations after complaining about CEO’s abusive and discriminatory conduct toward his department, serious data privacy invasions against employees, and false statements made against CIO.
Approach: Larry Schaefer raised whistleblower, retaliation and defamation claims in draft Complaint sent to counsel hired by company, and engage directly in extensive negotiations concerning appropriate separation terms.
Solution: Secured over six months of severance, waiver of non-compete and other terms which allowed CIO to immediately move to similar position in other arm of organization in Tennessee.
Client: Large 50+ member condominium association
Problem: Damaged and rapidly deteriorating underground garage facility needing 500K in repairs, inadequate reserves for common area upkeep and repairs, and monthly association dues set at unrealistically low levels by developer selling units.
Approach: Larry Schaefer prosecuted claims for fraud under Minnesota law protecting condominium owners and imposing significant obligations on developers when developing and selling condominium units for establishing adequate reserves and setting monthly dues at realistic levels.
Solution: Secured over $750K settlement for Association weeks before trial set to commence that allows repairs to be done and reserves to be established to handle future repair needs.
Articles Larry has Published
Larry frequently lecturers to lawyers at continuing legal education conferences, and has published numerous articles on a variety of topics involving employment discrimination, class actions and multi-plaintiff litigation. Larry’s published works include:
- Physician employment rights: A new legal landscape, Minnesota Physician, August 2019
- Can an Employer Restrict a Physician’s Right to Practice or Continue to Treat Established Patients after the Employment Relationship Ends?, MD News, June 2015
- Ensuring Due Process during Peer Review, MD News, May 2015
- Peer Review and Discrimination: No Place for Employers to Hide Improper Bias, MD News, April 2015
- Under the Microscope: A Review of Physicians’ Employment Rights When Complaints Occur, MD News, March 2015
- Schaefer Halleen LLC: Experienced Counsel for Complex Legal Issues, MD News, February 2015
- Legal Considerations for Physicians, MD News, December 2014
- Cutting Edge ADEA Issues in Litigation: How to Overcome Significant Obstacles and Prevail in Establishing Age Discrimination, 2014 Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May 19-20, 2014 (co-author and Moderator of panel discussion)
- Continuing Developments in Disability Litigation: The Impact of Mental Health Diagnosis on Accommodation and Related Issues, 2014 Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May 19-20, 2014 (co-author and Moderator of panel discussion)
- What’s Wrong With The Other Side: Examining Assumptions About Opposing Counsel, 2014 Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May 19-20, 2014 (co-author with Toni Halleen)
- Representing the Attorney-Client, Eight Circuit NELA Conference, April 11-12, 2014 (co-authored and presented with Nick May)
- When the Problem is a High Impact Player: Issue to Consider When the Plaintiff is a Current Executive or Holds a Unique Position. Presented at ELI Employment Law Seminar, August 2013
- Cutting Edge Issues in ADA Litigation. Presented at annual MILE Upper Midwest Employment Law Seminar, May 2013
- Common Law Employment Claims. Presented for MSBA in connection with training for MSBA Employment Law Specialist Certification (updated from 2010 Presentation and Article), July 2012
- Salespeople – Can’t Live With Them, Can’t Live Without Them – Managing Disciplining and Firing the Salesperson. Presented at annual MILE Upper Midwest Employment Law Seminar, May 2012
- Thorny Issues in ADA Litigation. Presented at annual MILE Upper Midwest Employment Law Seminar, May 2012
- Updating Your ADA Litigation Strategy in Light Developments Following the ADAAA. Presented at annual MILE Upper Midwest Employment Law Seminar, May 2011
- Common Law Employment Claims. Presented for MSBA in connection with training for MSBA Employment Law Specialist Certification, July 2010
- Updating Your ADA Litigation Strategy in Light of the ADAAA. Presented at annual MILE Upper Midwest Employment Law Seminar, May 2010
- Choosing the Claims, the Courts, and the Defendant’s: A Plaintiff Counsel’s Perspective. Presented at annual MILE Upper Midwest Employment Law Seminar, May 2009
- Age Discrimination Update. Presented at annual MILE Upper Midwest Employment Law Seminar, May 2008
- Wage and Hour Case Update, Co-written with David Goldstein for MSBA Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May, 2006
- Strategies in Age Discrimination Litigation, MSBA Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May, 2004
- The Surest Ways to Get Sued– Co-authored with Robert Boisvert, Minnesota Institute of Legal Education CLE seminar “Litigating in the Employment Arena”, June, 2001
- Class Actions and Multi-Plaintiff Litigation, Annual MSBA Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May, 2001
- The Art and Practice of Jury Selection, A Plaintiff’s Counsel’s Perspective, MILE Seminar “Litigating in the Employment Arena”, March, 2001
- Demystifying Class Actions, Annual MSBA Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May, 2000
- Common Obstacles in Proving Age Discrimination Claims, Minnesota Annual Human Rights Commission seminar, November, 1999
- Preparing the Fee Petition: When to File and the Amount to Seek, Annual MSBA Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May, 1999
- Insights into Eveleth Mines Litigation, MILE CLE Seminar, February, 1999
- Strategies and Considerations in Class Action Employment Discrimination, Co-authored with Terry Demchek of the Saperstein firm, NELA Chicago Convention, March, 1998
- Maximizing Compensatory Damage Awards– Co-authored with David Borgen of the Saperstein firm., Eighth Annual NELA Convention in Toronto, Canada, June & August 1997
- Is Your Workplace at Risk for a Class Claim of Harassment?, MILE CLE Seminar, January, 1997
- Use of Expert Witnesses in Employment Litigation- A Plaintiff Counsel’s Perspective, MSBA Seminar, November, 1996
- Basics of Effectively Preparing Your Case In Minnesota, MILE CLE Seminar, October, 1996
- Federal District Court Case Analysis, Annual MSBA Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May, 1996
- Discrimination Update: 1990-91 Federal and State Supreme Court and Appellate Decisions, written with K. Graham & D. Palmquist for MSBA Upper Midwest Employment Institute, May 1992
- Limiting Liability When Discharging Employees, co-written with C. Chalmers for MSBA Upper Midwest Employment Institute, May 1990
- Member, National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA), 1995 – Present
- Member, NELA – Minnesota Chapter
- Member, Minnesota State Bar Association
- Member, Hennepin County Bar Association
- Member, Minnesota Lawyers, 1988 – 1993
- Member, International Human Rights Committee
- Member, Legal Aid Society, 1988 – 1993
- Board of Directors, Minnesota Justice Foundation, 1989 – 1992
- Counsel, Board of Directors, Harriet Tubman Battered Women’s Shelter, 2001 – 2002
- Volunteer, Harriet Tubman Battered Women’s Shelter, 1990 – 1993, Counsel, Board of Directors
- 2013-2017 Named a Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters Super Lawyers Publication
- On behalf of American Lawyer Media and Martindale-Hubbell™, Larry was selected as a ‘2013 Top Rated Lawyers in Labor & Employment’. Lawyer Media and Martindale-Hubbell put together a special section highlighting Top Rated Lawyers in Labor & Employment Law. The section ran in The American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel, and National Law Journal.
- Larry has been consistently AV rated, the highest available rating, by Martindale-Hubbell™.
- AWARE Award, Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, 2010, for giving a voice to victims and raising awareness about sexual violence.
- Selected for inclusion in Woodward/White’s The Best Lawyers in America and has been designated a Minnesota “Super Lawyer” as determined through a comprehensive survey conducted by Minnesota Law & Politics magazine.
- Described in Chamber’s & Partner’s Client Guide to America’s Leading Business Lawyers as follows: “Lawrence Schaefer specializes in discrimination litigation. His first class’ work has impressed his peers who refer to him as “One of the best attorneys in the state.”
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