On September 2, 2022, President Joe Biden nominated P. Casey Pitts to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, a seat vacated by Judge Lucy Koh upon her elevation to the Ninth Circuit. Mr. Pitts is a partner at the law firm Altshuler Berzon LLP, where he spent most of his career litigating complex labor law cases. When he was confirmed on June 14, 2023, he became the only openly LGBTQ+ Article III judge actively serving on the District Court for the Northern District of California.
Mr. Pitts was born in Moorhead, Minnesota in 1980. He graduated Yale University with a B.A. in 2003 and earned his J.D. from Yale Law School in 2008. After law school, Mr. Pitts clerked for the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt, Circuit Court Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Starting as an associate in 2009, and later becoming a partner in 2017, Mr. Pitts has dedicated his legal career to practicing labor law at Altshuler Berzon LLP. His practice focuses on representing workers, international and local labor unions, consumers, government entities, and public interest organizations in complex impact and appellate litigation.
Mr. Pitts’ areas of expertise include constitutional law, employment discrimination, federal and state wage and hour laws, collective litigation on behalf of workers and consumers, federal and state labor laws, voting rights, antitrust law, and intellectual property law. He handles his clients’ cases at all phases of the litigation process, from pretrial discovery and motions at the trial court level, through the completion of appeals, including briefing and oral argument during Supreme Court proceedings. He has litigated in federal and state courts across the country, including the Supreme Court of the United States, the Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeal; in federal district courts across the country, and numerous state trial and appellate courts. In addition to his litigation practice, he represents local unions in collective bargaining, including negotiating contracts and pursuing grievances to enforce those contracts.
The following cases are representative of Mr. Pitts’ litigation career:
In SEIU Local 87 v. NLRB (9th Cir. 2021), a union of janitorial services workers brought a complaint against their employers for firing workers who were protesting their working conditions, including pervasive sexual harassment, on a public sidewalk outside the employer’s building. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal administrative agency tasked with addressing unfair labor practices, concluded that the workers’ demonstrations were unlawful because they were considered a “secondary boycott.” Mr. Pitts served as lead counsel for the union, which petitioned for judicial review of the NLRB’s decision. Mr. Pitts presented at oral argument to a Ninth Circuit panel of judges, who unanimously granted the union’s petition and reversed the NLRB’s ruling. The matter is now on remand to the NLRB and Mr. Pitts continues to serve as lead counsel for the union in those administrative proceedings.
In California by & Through Becerra v. Azar (N.D. Cal. 2020), six States, two labor unions, and nine healthcare providers sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, challenging a rule issued by the Center for Medicaid Services that prohibited providers of Medicaid-funded homecare services from providing customary benefits to employees, such as retirement benefits and paid sick leave. The District Court ruled for the plaintiffs on their claims that the rule was arbitrary and capricious because it was based on an incorrect interpretation of a statute. Mr. Pitts was co-lead counsel for the labor unions and individual providers.
In William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, LLC et al. v. Writers Guild of America (C.D. Cal. 2020), three of the largest Hollywood talent agencies sued the Writers Guilds of America. The Guilds adopted a Code of Conduct, which prohibited talent agents who represented Guild members from engaging in certain practices that create conflicts of interest and subsequently thousands of Guild members terminated their relationships with any agent who refused to sign the Code. The agencies alleged that by adopting and enforcing the Code, the Guilds violated federal antitrust and labor laws. The Guilds and Guild members countersued the talent agencies, claiming they violated the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), antitrust law and California’s laws of fiduciary duty and fraud. The talent agencies ultimately dismissed their claims and agreed to comply with the Guild’s Code of Conduct. Mr. Pitts served as co-lead counsel for the Guilds and Guild members, including providing legal advice as they planned for and implemented the Code of Conduct, and negotiating and finalizing the Guilds’ settlement agreements with the agencies.
In Chamber of Commerce v. City of Seattle (9th Cir. 2018), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and an Uber-subsidiary challenged a Seattle ordinance that created a process through which independent contractor drivers, who work for companies like Uber and Lyft, could designate a representative to engage in collective negotiations with those companies. The district court granted Seattle’s motion to dismiss the case in 2017 and the Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part. Following remand, the Chamber and Uber dismissed their challenge to the ordinance. Mr. Pitts served as co-lead counsel for Seattle and was responsible for briefing motions and presenting at oral argument for Seattle in the Ninth Circuit appeal.
Vergara v. California involved a state constitutional challenge to certain provisions of California law that provide public school teachers with limited protections against budgetary layoffs and termination without cause. Mr. Pitts represented the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers, which both intervened to defend the challenged statutes. The trial court concluded, after a multi-week trial, that the statutes were unconstitutional. The court’s decision was reversed after the Court of Appeals found that the plaintiffs failed to show that the challenged statutes caused the educational disparities as the plaintiffs alleged. Mr. Pitts served as associate counsel at all stages of the trial court proceedings. He also was one of the primary attorneys responsible for briefing their successful appeal and defending the Court of Appeal’s decision against the plaintiffs’ petition for California Supreme Court review.
Villarreal v. R.J. Tobacco Co. (11th Cir. 2016) was a proposed collective action case under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), challenging the hiring criteria used by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in which recruiters were instructed to “stay away” from more experienced candidates. The district court dismissed the claims, on the grounds that the ADEA does not permit applicants for employment to pursue such claims and that the statute of limitations had expired. A panel of Eleventh Circuit judges reversed the district court, holding that the plaintiff was entitled to an extension of time under the statute of limitations and that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s interpretation of the ADEA allowed for the plaintiff to bring such a claim. The Eleventh Circuit’s entire bench then reheard the case and reversed the panel’s decision. The Supreme Court denied the petition for a writ of certiorari. Mr. Pitts served as co-lead counsel and had the primary responsibility of briefing and arguing the case in both the district court and on appeal, including before the eleven-judge Court of Appeals panel.
In Broussard v. First Tower Loan Corp (E.D. La. 2015), First Tower Loan Corp fired Mr. Broussard after discovering that he was transgender and insisted that he begin presenting as female rather than male. Along with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center, Mr. Pitts assisted in bringing a Title VII lawsuit asserting that Tower Loan’s actions constituted impermissible sex discrimination. The District Court ordered Mr. Broussard to arbitrate his claims against Tower Loan. The arbitrator ultimately ruled in Mr. Broussard’s favor and awarded him substantial backpay and emotional distress damages. Tower Loan subsequently agreed to implement company-wide policies to prevent future discrimination against its transgender employees.
In Gomez v. City of Escondido, San Diego Super. Ct. Case No. 37-2011-00060480-CU-CR-NC (Hon. Earl H. Mass III), Mr. Pitts represented several Latino voters and a state labor federation who sued the City of Escondido, challenging the at-large election system used to elect City Council members. The plaintiffs claimed that the City violated the California Voting Rights Act on the grounds that the at-large voting system unlawfully impaired the ability of minority voters to elect candidates of their choice or otherwise influence the outcome of elections. As part of a settlement, the City agreed to convert its City Council elections to a district-based system, which would allow underrepresented populations to have a say in their local representation.
Professional Activities and Accolades
Mr. Pitts has engaged in various pro-bono projects throughout his career. He currently serves as an Appellate Representative to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference and as a member of the amicus and judiciary committees of BALIF, the San Francisco Bay Area’s LGBTQ+ bar association. He also volunteers with the Workers’ Rights Clinic of Legal Aid at Work.
Mr. Pitts has presented at professional conferences on topics including state and federal wage and hour laws; constitutional challenges to teacher tenure; and the use of statistical evidence in employment discrimination class and collective actions. Mr. Pitts was named a “Rising Star” in the 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 Northern California Super Lawyers listings in San Francisco Magazine.