James J. McDonald Jr.

Regional Managing Partner, Irvine

Partner, Los Angeles

Jim McDonald is managing partner of the Irvine office and a partner in the Los Angeles office. He is also the firm's marketing partner and chair of the firm's Development Committee.

Jim tries employment cases before juries, judges and arbitrators. His practice especially focuses on executive terminations, workplace harassment and discrimination claims, the Americans with Disabilities Act, mental health issues in the workplace, and trade secrets and unfair competition matters. Jim also advises employers on how to prevent employment disputes from arising, on how to manage union strikes and picketing, and on the labor and employment aspects of mergers and acquisitions.

Jim is author of the book California Employment Law: An Employer’s Guide, published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in 2016. He is also editor of the second edition of the treatise, Mental and Emotional Injuries in Employment Litigation published by BNA Books in 2001 and author of more than 50 published articles. He has spoken before many organizations on issues such as religion in the workplace, mental disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the defense of psychological injury claims in employment litigation, new theories of harassment and discrimination, and the use of expert witnesses.

Jim serves as Vice Chair and General Counsel of the Irvine Chamber of Commerce, and he is a past Chair of the Chamber's Board of Directors.

Jim is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) by the Human Resources Certification Institute and he holds the SHRM-SCP certification as well. He also teaches labor and employment law in the Human Resources Management Program at the University of California, Irvine.

Representative Work

Class Action Defeated with Arbitration Agreement.  Jim led a team of attorneys who defeated a putative class action alleging race and national origin discrimination against a Southern California employer.  A judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court held that the twelve year old arbitration agreement signed by the plaintiff and putative class representative, which did not contain an express class action waiver, nonetheless barred a class action because the parties agreed only to arbitrate with one another and not with a class.

Appellate Court Affirms Summary Judgment for Employer in Disabilities Case.  Jim successfully argued before a California Court of Appeal in favor of a trial court's award of summary judgment to a national manufacturing company against a former manager who was terminated after he failed to return to work after 14 months of medical leave.

Arbitration Victory in Defamation, Tortious Interference Case.  Jim tried and won a case in arbitration before a retired judge in which the plaintiff claimed her former employer defamed her and interfered with her business following her termination for misrepresenting to an unemployment  appeals judge the reason for her missing an appeal hearing. 

Strike Victory Against Carpenters Union.  Jim led a team of attorneys that assisted a national construction contractor in winning a strike by the Carpenters Union on all counts.  The strike against three large construction projects in Southern California ended after less than a month, the strikers were replaced, and no delays occurred.  Jim obtained two injunctions against violent and mass picketing and filed a section 303 lawsuit against the Carpenters that resulted in a six-figure settlement for the employer.  The team also pursued unfair labor practice charges before the National Labor Relations Board which issued a complaint.

Bar Admissions

  • California
  • Georgia

Court Admissions

Georgia Supreme Court
Supreme Court of California
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
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

Professional Activities

Member, Editorial Board, Employee Relations Law Journal
Member, Labor and Employment Law Section, American Bar Association
Member, Society for Human Resource Management


Eighty-Four Fisher & Phillips Attorneys Selected to The Best Lawyers in America 2016
August 17, 2015

Fisher & Phillips Attorney Selected For Inclusion in 2015 Southern California Super Lawyers
January 21, 2015

Listed in The Best Lawyers in America since 2007.
Listed in Southern California Super Lawyers since 2007.
Recipient of Burton Award for Legal Writing, 2006.
"AV" rated by Martindale-Hubbell.


New Equal Pay Law Likely to Affect Law Firms
December 31, 2015

New Gender Pay Equity Rules Ahead for California Employers
October 10, 2015

Connected Employees Pose Many Problems
March 1, 2015

Labor And Employment Aspects Of Mergers And Acquisitions
March 10, 2014

Will the DSM-5 Lead to Crazy Employment Law?
July 11, 2013

New Mental-Health Manual Likely to Impact HR
May 22, 2013

New Commission Agreements Law Requires Review of Pay Plans
February 1, 2013

Not-So-Free Speech at Work
September 25, 2012

"Lookism": The Next Form of Illegal Discrimination
November 10, 2010

Take Your Dog to Work Day - Everyday
January 15, 2007

Eliminate Vacation Policies for Attorneys
January 10, 2007

Humpty Dumpty Goes to Court
September 25, 2006

You (Might) Have the Right to Remain Silent
June 1, 2006

"Social Framework" Evidence: Why Social Psychology Should Not Supplant Clinical Evaluations in Harassment and Discrimination Cases
April 1, 2006

Be Nice, or Be Sued
March 25, 2006

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire
December 1, 2005

I Want a Nicer Boss
September 1, 2005

Let's Talk About Sex
June 1, 2005

The Narcissistic Plaintiff
March 25, 2005

You're Looking at Me Like I'm Crazy!
December 25, 2004

Weeds in the Garden
September 25, 2004

Taking Out the Garbage
June 1, 2004

What's God Got to do With It?
December 1, 2003

Civil Rights for the Aesthetically-Challenged
September 1, 2003

My Life's a Mess and It's All Your Fault
June 1, 2003

Posttraumatic Stress Dishonesty
March 1, 2003

The Problem of False Claims of Clergy Sexual Abuse
January 1, 2003

I'll Never Work in this Town Again
December 1, 2002

The Ninth Commandment
September 25, 2002

This Place Makes Me Sick!
June 25, 2002

Personality Disorders in Employment Litigation
April 25, 2002

Sticks and Stones
March 25, 2002

Posttraumatic Latefiling Syndrome
December 25, 2001

My Disability Made Me Do It!
September 25, 2001

Putting a Price on the Pain
December 25, 2000

The Equal Opportunity Jerk
June 25, 2000

The Rise of Psychological Issues in Employment Law
December 25, 1999

A Plaintiff's Obligation to "Avoid Harm Otherwise"
September 25, 1999

Legal Alerts

California Policies Against Harassment Face New Regulations
March 10, 2016

California Employers Will Face Significant New Equal Pay Law
October 6, 2015

California Employers Should Brace For Significant New Equal Pay Law
September 14, 2015

California Enacts "Fix-It" Legislation to Cure Ills of Paid Sick Leave Law
July 14, 2015

Quotes and Soundbites

How to Find a Trustworthy Employment Attorney
March 1, 2016

Yahoo's Forced Ranking Raises Legal Questions About Ratings
February 4, 2016

New California Fair-Pay Law Reaches Kansas City-Based Employers
January 4, 2016

How California's Equal Pay Law Affects All Employers
November 27, 2015

Why Managers Should Care About California's New Pay Law — and Not Just in California
October 24, 2015

Peer Reviews at Work Not a Risk-Free Proposition
September 22, 2015

Overtime Rule May Hurt Workplace Morale
August 12, 2015

Blurred Lines: The Distinction Between Employee and Independent Contractor is Getting Fuzzy
August 4, 2015

National Law Firm Celebrates 25-Year Milestone in Orange County
June 10, 2015

Calif. Employers Have Another Reason to Scrutinize Settlement Agreements
May 27, 2015

Should You Conduct Employee Background Checks?
May 22, 2015

California Drought: How HR Can Help
April 23, 2015

How to Stop the Workplace Bully
December 12, 2014

Mental Health Issues Create Delicate Workplace Situations
October 28, 2014

Employees' Use of Sharing Economy Poses Risks
October 14, 2014

Service-Dog ‘Fakers': Could It Happen at Work?
April 21, 2014

Employee Leaves In California: Your To-Do Checklist
February 4, 2014

Fisher & Phillips Partners Quoted In Inside Counsel
January 3, 2014

Disability Diagnoses
August 1, 2013

New Mental Disorders Mean ADA Headaches For Employers
May 19, 2013

Beauty Bias
September 1, 2012

Bill Would Ban ‘Unemployed Need Not Apply' Ads
August 9, 2012

How to Hire Winners (and Avoid Wackos)
August 1, 2011

My Disability Made Me Do It
June 28, 2011

New Regs Could Lead to Greater Acceptance of Psychiatric Service Dogs in the Workplace
June 7, 2011

Newsletter Articles

Do New Anti-Trafficking Requirements Apply To Your Company?
November 2, 2015

Death Threats Lead To Employer's ADA Victory
September 1, 2015

Come To Work And…Get Some Sleep?
June 1, 2015

Updated Psychiatric Manual May Pose New Challenges for Employers
July 1, 2013

Has The NLRB Outlawed Courtesy?
January 2, 2013

"Here's Looking At You, Kid" - The EEOC Looks For Beauty Bias
July 2, 2012

Beauty And The Bias
November 1, 2010


Chairman of the Board of Directors (1998-99), Vice Chair and General Counsel, Irvine Chamber of Commerce (1999-present)
Vice President, The Colony at Indian Wells Homeowners Association (2010-present)


  • Georgetown University, Washington, DC
    J.D. 1984, cum laude
  • New College of Florida, Sarasota, FL
    B.A. 1981

Bar Admissions

  • California
  • Georgia