Labor, Employment and Personnel

Dannis Woliver Kelley provides sound counsel based on up-to-the-minute information, solid expertise, and extensive experience in California labor relations, employment and personnel law. Districts need and receive immediate access to our seasoned attorneys who help successfully navigate a course through constantly evolving issues.


Dannis Woliver Kelley played an integral role in the evolution of labor law in the public education sector, representing public education agencies even before the Educational Employment Relations Act was passed in 1976. Our attorneys bring this unique historical perspective to the bargaining table combined with the most up-to-date research and information available.

We understand that negotiations over working conditions fundamentally impact teaching and learning conditions for employees and students. Dannis Woliver Kelley attorneys have always been at the forefront of innovation, negotiating for the 21st century in areas such as evaluation, non-traditional compensation systems, jointly administered health and welfare programs, and innovative salary formulas that obviate the need for annual negotiations.

We provide incomparable service and results-oriented advice to employers throughout California in all areas of labor-management relations. Members of our firm are certified trainers in interest-based bargaining. We regularly negotiate on behalf of our clients concerning wages, working hours, health care cost containment, leaves of absence and numerous other issues within the seemingly ever expanding scope of negotiations.

Our unsurpassed knowledge of California labor and education law enables us to provide effective and highly successful representation by:

  • Developing a strategy for the process and desired substantive outcomes of negotiations.
  • Negotiating collective bargaining agreements from the crafting of initial proposals to final language.
  • Advising on contract administration, grievance processing and representation before mediators, arbitrators and the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).
  • Defending against unfair labor practice charges.
  • Consulting in representation and decertification elections and bargaining unit modification proceedings.
  • Counseling employers in the lawful response to picketing, strikes, and other forms of concerted activity.

We embrace a philosophy of attacking the issues together with our colleagues across the bargaining table, to the exclusion of attacking each other. We help districts foster and maintain productive and problem-solving environments that result in substantive negotiations where real concerns are presented and addressed. Our leadership has helped districts resolve disputes that may otherwise have escalated into costly legal confrontations that adversely impact workforce morale. We proactively seek cost-effective solutions that avoid litigation; however, we are fully prepared to handle all aspects of any lawsuits that may arise.

The negotiation process does not end with the signing of an agreement. Rather, the contract is a dynamic document that can be affected positively or negatively, depending on the degree of vigilance management displays in effective contract administration. Dannis Woliver Kelley provides in-services with staff on contract enforcement and all aspects of grievance processing, including representation at arbitration hearings and PERB unfair practice hearings.


From health care costs to retirement benefits, leaves of absence, discrimination laws, effective evaluation and documentation, employee discipline to hiring/firing practices, California public schools face an increasingly complex, confusing and often conflicting collection of statutes, regulations and court decisions.

Amidst this regulatory disarray, our overarching goal is to assist districts in implementing employment practices that empower them to establish and maintain the highest quality work force for the benefit of students.

Dannis Woliver Kelley attorneys have a keen understanding of the Education Code as well as the myriad state and federal laws regulating personnel practice in public schools. Our global expertise, based on decades of experience, enables our attorneys to spot issues, analyze consequences of various options, and provide solutions to issues that span the arc of the employment relationship from hiring to termination.

We provide effective and practical representation in areas such as:

  • Evaluation and documentation of employees.
  • Certificated termination proceedings.
  • Classified disciplinary hearings for both merit and non-merit system school districts.
  • Investigations and due process compliance.
  • Certificated and classified layoffs.
  • Response to discrimination claims (EEOC, DFEH, OCR).
  • Protecting Boards and districts from liability for employee misconduct.