Lesley Beth CurtisPartner
Practice: Lesley Beth Curtis practices labor and employment law on behalf of unions and employees, and specializes in plaintiff-side labor, employment and education law. She has represented employees in a wide range of employment issues, including in discipline, dismissal, and layoff actions, as well as in appeals of denial of disability benefits and other benefits before private arbitrators, the California State Office of Administrative Hearings, various public boards, the Superior Courts of numerous counties, and the Third District Court of Appeal. She has multiple published Court of Appeal decisions, and has worked to expand the rights of teachers and employees through advocacy. She has also represented private employees in gender discrimination and pregnancy discrimination suits. Ms. Curtis is a California Teachers Association Group Legal Services Attorney, and has defended teachers in layoff, tenure and discipline matters and has enforced the Education Code rights of faculty, teachers and classified aides in a variety of settings.
Education: Ms. Curtis obtained her undergraduate degree from Claremont McKenna College in 1993, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and was awarded the Berger Award for Outstanding Senior Woman and the William H. Alamshah award for Student Leadership.
Ms. Curtis is a 1996 graduate of the King Hall School of Law, University of California at Davis where she was on the Moot Court Team and Moot Court Board. She was selected by the law school as a National Member of the Order of the Barristers for excellence in oral advocacy. Immediately after graduating, Ms. Curtis served as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Elaine Watters of the Sonoma County Superior Court in a multiple defendant capital trial.
Ms. Curtis was admitted to practice in California in December, 1996, and is admitted to practice law in the State of California and before the California Federal District Court of the Eastern District of California.
Lecturer/Speaker: Ms. Curtis has lectured for the California Continuing Education of the Bar on Employment Law in California, and has also lectured on Administrative Hearing Practice, as well as on the Family and Medical Leave Act for other private legal education organizations. As a California Teachers Association Group Legal Services Attorney, Ms. Curtis performs training sessions throughout Northern California for teachers on a variety of legal issues, including on Education Code rights and on the California Brown Act (California.s Open Meeting law).
Legal Memberships: Ms. Curtis is a member of the California Bar Association Labor and Employment Chapter, the Sacramento County Bar Association Labor and Employment Chapter, Women Lawyers of Sacramento, and the Tahoe Truckee Bar Association.
Examples of Notable Cases:
Sacramento City Teachers Association v. Sacramento City Unified School District Board of Trustees (2021) Obtained a judgment that a school district violated the Brown Act. The Sacramento Superior Court denied the issuance of a Writ of Mandate but found that, "the District violated Section 54957 [of the California Government Code, i.e. the Brown Act] when it discussed the "release" of multiple administrators in closed session on February 21, 2019...." Importantly, the Court found that Section 54957 (often called the "personnel exception" to the Brown Act's open meeting mandate) allows closed sessions to discuss singular employees but not groups of employees.
Fernandez v. California Public Employees Retirement System (2020) Obtained a Judgment in Superior Court granting a Petition for Writ of Mandate in part against CalPERS. The Court found that that CalPERS had abused its discretion when it applied an unwritten rule to reduce the payrate of a former Superintendent to that of an Assistant Superintendent for purpose of retirement calculations.
Sacramento City Teachers' Association v. Sacramento City Unified School District (2020) Obtained a Judgement in Superior Court granting a Petition for a Writ of Mandate and finding that the District had illegally laid off child development teachers out of seniority order in violation of California Education Code section 8366. Ordered the rehiring of four child development teachers who had been laid off out of seniority order, and held that seniority for child development teachers is determined using a District-wide seniority list and not be individual program.
In the Matter of the Reduction in Force against S.G. (before the Board of the Cascade Union Elementary School District) (2016) Obtained a Proposed Decision from an Administrative Law Judge finding the proposed layoff of the teacher at issue to be without cause. Teacher was reemployed following the decision.
Achene v. Pierce Joint Unified School District (2009) 176 Cal.App.4th 757: Successfully established the right of probationary teachers in California to not be dismissed mid-year for unsatisfactory performance without first being given notice of such unsatisfactory performance and a chance to remediate pursuant to California Education Code section 44938.
Davis Joint Unified School Dist. V. Jacobs ( 2002) Yolo County Superior Court Case No. 2008030189: Successfully preserved the right of teachers to only have fitness for duty examinations conducted pursuant to the California Education Code, with all of the procedural protections of California Education Code section 44942, and not simply by the District's unilaterally chosen doctor. Awarded attorneys fees under the California Private Attorney General statute, with a multiplier of 2, for preserving an important public right.
Community Service and Activities: Ms. Curtis volunteers with the Truckee Humane Society and is a member of the California Lyme Disease Association. She also volunteers with the nonprofit KIND (Kids in Need of Defense).