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Cheryl D. Orr



Employers nationwide make Cheryl Orr their first call for their most complex employment law matters. Cheryl’s litigation practice focuses on strategically resolving federal and state class, collective and California Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) actions, as well as particularly sensitive and thorny single-plaintiff matters. Her litigation experience positions her to work with employers to prevent and/or remedy underlying issues. She and her team provide the full range of employment law counseling, investigation, training and audits (wage and hour, pay equity and human resources compliance) services. Cheryl leads the firm’s international labor & employment practice, and its San Francisco office. Cheryl is a member of the Trial Law Institute and Diversity Law Institute.

Wage-and-Hour Class, Collective and PAGA Litigation

Cheryl is a recognized national leader in defending multiparty wage and hour actions, including state and federal class actions, national Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) collective actions and PAGA actions. Having handled hundreds of these actions, she can quickly analyze the best game plan — whether that is compelling the matter to arbitration, working toward dismissal of some or all of the claims through dispositive motions, defeating class or collective certification, trying the case to verdict, expeditiously resolving the matter and/or some combination of the above. She knows the “players” and how to best navigate a result that is in every client’s best interest.

Single-Plaintiff Employment Litigation

Certain single-plaintiff employment cases — whether due to the underlying facts, persons involved, novel legal theories or potential exposure (monetary or publicity) — demand heightened experience. Cheryl helms the defense of tricky wrongful termination, discrimination, whistleblower and unfair competition cases, whether they are headed for trial or need to be resolved quickly and quietly.

Counseling, Compliance and Training (CTT)

Cheryl has a deep knowledge of the underlying law and how to assist clients to prevent issues and to remedy liability exposure. Having practiced employment law in federal and California state courts for many years, Cheryl offers efficient wage-and-hour advice and works with her colleagues on the CTT team to advise on a broad range of employment issues and best practices. Her compliance work includes conducting national and state human resources and wage-and-hour audits. She also is retained to conduct high-profile investigations regarding employment and regulatory issues and to help manage reductions in force for employers while avoiding subsequent litigation. Cheryl is a frequent speaker and trainer on topics such as new developments in employment law, wage-and-hour laws, #MeToo and gender parity issues.

Representative Experience

  • Defeating conditional certification of a national FLSA collective action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California alleging unpaid overtime for all nonexempt employees of a national furniture retailer and getting claims dismissed against the individual defendants
  • Defeating class certification on California statewide claims brought by employees of a Big Box store merchandiser in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California for unpaid minimum and overtime wages, meal and rest period premiums, and waiting time and wage statement penalties
  • Obtaining complete dismissal of a national FLSA collective action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California involving "on call" pay and overtime issues for drivers of a national respiratory care company
  • Defeating conditional certification for a major clothing retailer in a national collective action brought pursuant to the FLSA in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida wherein the plaintiff alleged wage and hour violations following the reclassification of her position as an Assistant Department Manager from exempt to nonexempt
  • Convincing a plaintiff to voluntarily dismiss her California statewide putative class and PAGA representative action filed against a chain retailer in Riverside Superior Court and brought on behalf of California nonexempt employees of a chain baby retailer based upon a showing of compliant policies and practices
  • Compelling to arbitration—and ultimately obtaining dismissal with prejudice of all claims—a statewide putative class and representative action brought against a craft store chain in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California that involved meal and rest break, failure to pay wages, inaccurate wage statements, unfair business practices, and PAGA claims
  • Striking all state class action claims and limiting conditional certification of an FLSA collective action to three units of a hospital in a class/collective hybrid action brought by a former nurse against a hospital in Wisconsin state court for meal period and overtime claims
  • Settling (while class certification and summary judgment motions were pending) a statewide putative class action filed in San Mateo Superior Court for nuisance value with the named plaintiffs who alleged multiple wage and hour claims (unpaid regular and overtime wages, noncompliant meal and rest periods, untimely payment of final wages, noncompliant itemized wage statements, unpaid/forfeited vacation, and violation of PAGA) against a pharmaceutical supply company’s call center
  • Obtaining summary judgment in (and complete dismissal of) a state wage and hour class action filed in Orange County Superior Court by hourly drivers against a respiratory care company and involving statutory and contractual overtime claims
  • Limiting conditional certification of a national FLSA collective action (overtime, travel pay, donning and doffing, off-the-clock) brought in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas against an international inventory company to one district and then prevailing on both a decertification and summary judgment motion
  • Resolving a statewide putative independent contractor misclassification class action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against an international packaging company through an individual settlement and dismissal of class claims
  • Obtaining complete voluntary dismissal of a state wage and hour putative class action filed in Washington Superior court against an international retailer (alleging violations of state wage and hour laws concerning payment for training) upon demonstration of compliant policies and practices.

Personal Interests

Cheryl enjoys traveling with her husband, visiting family in her native South Dakota and cheering the Golden State Warriors (win or lose).

Related Topics


Bar Admissions


Court Admissions

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California


Columbia Law School
J.D. (1988)

University of Minnesota
B.A. magna cum laude (1985)

Insights & Events

Other Perspectives

Published Opinions

Cheryl’s published opinions date back to early in her career. Representative samples include:

  • Veronica Foods Co. v. Ecklin, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101325 (N.D. Cal. June 29, 2017)
  • Ohlinger v. Marsh USA, Inc., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46543 (D. Nev. Mar. 29, 2017)
  • McEarchen v. Urban Outfitters, Inc., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33335 (E.D. N.Y. Mar. 7, 2017)
  • Lopez v. Nextera Energy Operating Services, LLC, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60028 (N.D. Cal. May 5, 2016)
  • Jackson v. Kaplan Higher Educ., LLC, 2015 WL 2095206 (E.D. Cal. May 5, 2015) (106 F.Supp.3d 1118)
  • Ortiz v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 2014 WL 4961126 (E.D. Cal. Oct 1, 2014) (52 F.Supp.3d 1070)
  • Fardig v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., 2014 WL 2810025 (C.D. Cal. June 13, 2014)
  • Combs v. Greenfield, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54622 (N.D. Cal. May 11, 2010)
  • Wren v. RGIS Inventory Specialists, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74789 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 24, 2009)
  • Gomez v. Lincare, Inc., 173 Cal.App.4th 508 (2009)
  • Johnson v. RGIS Inventory Specialists, 554 F. Supp.2d 693 (E.D. Tex. 2007)

Firm Blog Contributions

  • LaborSphere – a resource providing coverage and insights on breaking cases, recently enacted legislation and a broad range of labor issues

Leadership & Community

Firm Leadership

  • Leader, Labor & Employment Practice Group
  • Office Leader, San Francisco
  • Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP — Managing Partner, 2016-20; Chair (2014-20), Co-Chair (2008-14), Labor and Employment Group; Regional Partner in Charge, San Francisco Office, 2019-20


  • Chambers USA — California, Labor & Employment, 2015-24
  • National Law Journal — "Employment Law Trailblazers List," 2022
  • Super Lawyers — Employment and Labor, 2020-23
  • Daily Journal — Top Labor & Employment Lawyers, 2015-23
  • Kaplan Educational Foundation — “Stand Up for Diversity Award” Honoree, 2021
  • Lawdragon, Leading U.S. Corporate Employment Lawyer, 2020-21, 2024
  • Daily Journal — Top California Women Lawyers, 2016-20, 2022-23
  • Lexology Client Choice Awards — California, Employment & Benefits, 2018
  • Litigation Counsel of America — Senior Fellow
Awards Methodology
No aspect of these recognitions has been approved by the highest court of any state.
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