Since the start of his career, Michael Strauss has been standing up for the interests of employees in California. He has recovered well over $100,000,000 for his clients. He has also broken legal ground in the state and federal appellate courts and won significant victories in civil trials and arbitrations.
In many class action and PAGA cases, Michael has obtained outstanding settlements for employees. Comparing one of these settlements to the other wage-and-hour recoveries in the Ninth Circuit, the Central District of California remarked that Michael’s settlement was “exceptional.” Ladore v. Ecolab, Inc., No. CV 11-9386 FMO (JCX), 2013 WL 12246339, at *10 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 12, 2013) (approving settlement with average payment of $52,000 for hundreds of class members).
Michael’s greatest strength as a lawyer is creativity. Doing so has already attracted the attention of the United States Supreme Court. Michael was the first attorney to bring a series of wage-and-hour cases against the offshore oil industry for wage-and-hour violations occurring on oil platforms in federal waters off the coast of California. Those cases, which he filed on a class action basis, resulted in substantial recoveries for many, many individuals who worked on those platforms. The cases also broke legal ground, and in 2019 the Supreme Court heard one of Michael’s cases -- Parker Drilling Mgmt. Servs., Ltd. v. Newton, 204 L. Ed. 2d 165, 139 S. Ct. 1881, 1886 (2019). The Parker Drilling decision, which squarely addressed Michael’s novel legal theories, established new precedent for determining when state law applies on offshore oil platforms. (Unfortunately for Michael, the Supreme Court ruled against his clients.)
In addition to the Parker Drilling case, which Michael argued at the Ninth Circuit, he has argued many appeals in both state and federal courts. Published appellate decisions briefed and argued by Michael include Curtis v. Irwin Indus., Inc., 913 F.3d 1146, 1149 (9th Cir. 2019), which addresses the standard for federal preemption of certain state wage-and-hour claims, Mauia v. Petrochem Insulation, Inc., 5 F.4th 1068, 1070 (9th Cir. 2021), which clarifies the standard set by Parker Drilling, and Fritsch v. Swift Transportation Co. of Arizona, LLC, 899 F.3d 785, 788 (9th Cir. 2018), which deals with the amount-in-controversy requirement of the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA).
Other unpublished cases Michael briefed and/or argued include:
Sarantopoulos v. Shepherd Home Health Care, Inc., No. B267364, 2017 WL 3124059, at *1 (Cal. Ct. App. July 24, 2017) (reversing trial court decision in favor of employer on many wage-and-hour claims)
Britto v. Zep Inc., No. A141870, 2015 WL 5657147, at *1 (Cal. Ct. App. Sept. 25, 2015) (affirming $1.2 million fee award in wage-and-hour case)
Hotvet v. First Wilshire Sec. Mgmt., Inc., No. B271092, 2018 WL 1165464, at *1 (Cal. Ct. App. Mar. 6, 2018) (partially affirming order denying motion to compel arbitration)
Newton v. Parker Drilling Mgmt. Servs., Ltd., 860 F. App'x 536 (9th Cir. 2021) (clarifying Parker Drilling standard after remand to district court)
Vazquez v. Warren Distrib., Inc., No. B292573, 2020 WL 3888067, at *1 (Cal. Ct. App. July 10, 2020) (partial reversal of order denying motion for class certification)
Davis v. Komoto Pharmacy, Inc., No. F073753, 2018 WL 3640555, at *1 (Cal. Ct. App. Aug. 1, 2018) (affirming trial victory for pharmacist misclassified as exempt)
In addition to class action and appellate work, Michael focuses his practice on individual actions for wage-and-hour violations, wrongful termination, discrimination, and whistleblower retaliation. He also works as a mediator in all types of employment disputes.
Michael is an active member of the California Employment Lawyers Association, where on its legislative committee he works with other dedicated attorneys to draft and promote new laws to strengthen worker protections in the state. He also is the Chairman of the Steering Committee for the Ventura County Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service. Michael is also a board member of a private school in Ojai, California, and coaches an interscholastic cross-country mountain bike team.
Born and raised in Ventura, California, Michael attended Ventura High School, then received an undergraduate degree in history from UC Berkeley. Michael went to law school at Wake Forest University.