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THE EMPLOYEE’S ADVOCATE.

Linda Luna Lara

Linda Luna Lara Works Hard and Wins Big For Workers Wronged By Employers

Based on my personal experiences of witnessing the effects of a wrongful termination and the financial and emotional devastation it can cause on an individual and family I became wholeheartedly passionate about employee rights,” says Linda Luna Lara, Founding Partner at Lara & Luna, APC.
Indeed, Lara has been dedicated to employees’ rights and serving the community dating back to a young age based on the values instilled in her by her father. The reason? The rewards she’s reaped have been unquantifiable. Lara has truly gone above and beyond to help others to the best of her ability. She takes pride in her pro bono work with legal organizations such as Kids In Need of Defense and involvement in the Orange County Bar Community Outreach Committee working as a volunteer with the Orangewood Children’s Center and the St. Thomas More’s Legal Society’s volunteer work with Isiah’s house. “I’ve always felt like I’ve gotten back so much more than I’ve given,” she adds.

HARD WORKER BY NATURE
Lara, an Orange County native, earned her B.A. at Cal State Fullerton and her law degree from Chapman University. After earning her J.D. in 2005, Lara knew she would eventually start her own law firm practicing employment law but knew that she needed to get hands-on experience in litigation to become an effective advocate for employees. “Every job I took on—even if not in the field I ultimately wanted to practice in—taught me valuable lessons. Working at an insurance defense firm and as an in-house counsel gave me the perspectives of how employment law cases are investigated and evaluated by insurance adjusters and employers. I also learned all about the billable hours put into these cases,” she says.
Though there had never been any doubt in Lara’s mind about the fact that she was destined to work for the workers, she also knew that to practice law the way she wanted to practice law, she would need to open her own practice. “I have always envisioned myself as a business owner, and after gaining the necessary experience in my first few years of practice, I was ready to open my own firm,” she explains.

Linda Luna Lara

WORKING EXCLUSIVELY FOR WORKERS
In 2011, Lara did just what she always knew she would do: open a firm that focused exclusively on advocating for employee rights in the workplace. After starting her firm, she met Edward Lara, also an experienced attorney who shared the same passion for serving the community. The two partnered up together, forming the firm Lara & Luna. Incidentally, they were thereafter married and had two boys.
“We represent employees who have been wrongfully terminated or discriminated against in other respects, and pride our firm in constantly staying updated on new cases, statutes and regulations that are coming out. We use the ongoing education along with our experience to our client’s advantage in litigating cases to maximize the outcome for them,” she says.
But that’s not the only role that Lara fills as a ‘worker for the worker.’ The firm’s clients range from executive, to management, to hourly employees. As passionate as the firm is about the law, they are equally compassionate when working with clients who are dealing with feelings of shame, embarrassment, and frustration. “We counsel our clients through a wrongful termination and aggressively litigate their cases until judgement or settlement. We define our firm by three principles: integrity, tenacity, and client-centered representation. Our clients come to us after being told by their employer that they were being fired for something that was their fault, and they are often at a very low point in their confidence levels. We work hard to boost their morale, and assure them that everything is going to be alright, even though it may not seem that way in the moment,” she says.
To that end, Lara & Luna, APC advocates on behalf of employees who have been wrongfully terminated or discriminated against because of disabilities, pregnancy, sex/ gender, race, or because they have become whistleblowers against their employers or have experienced some type of wage theft. Together with her partner, Edward Lara, the firm counts 4 attorneys, 1 post-bar clerk and a support staff, all working together for the common goal of helping those who need a strong voice to stand up to injustice, which all too often devastates not only an individual, but an entire family.
“I put myself in the shoes of our clients in assessing their cases, and I often find myself taking on cases that other attorneys have rejected, because our firm is always up to date on the nuances of employment laws. As such, we can identify legal violations not previously identified, or even very distinct labor code cases that our clients don’t even realize they have suffered. Our job is to prove that the stated reason by the employer that an employee was fired was pretextual, or just an excuse to mask the real reason they were fired,” Lara says.
By way of example, she recalls the case of a client who had worked for an engineering company for more than 20 years. “He was a father figure within the company. A female employee confided in him that she was being sexually harassed by a supervisor. Our client felt that the right thing to do was to bring both the employee and alleged harasser to the HR Department to report the allegations. Instead of conducting a good faith investigation or looking into the claims, the company fired our client for reporting the harassment. The termination caused a rippling affect in his family life,” she says.
But the case would not be easy to prove, Lara says. “When he came to me, he only had about 3 weeks to file a lawsuit before his statute of limitations would pass, and he had been rejected by other attorneys because he only spoke Spanish.”
As partner in her bilingual law firm, Lara wasted no time. “I quickly prepared a lawsuit and was able to track down witnesses to bring up more facts about other instances of sexual harassment and other abuses by the alleged harasser, including extorting other employees. In the end, the company fired the harasser and I got a positive settlement for my client that assisted in giving his family financial stability. He was finally given a voice in litigation, and ultimately became a driving force in the company investigating its employees and cleaning house, and eliminating other bad actors. My client became a hero,” she says.
Lara’s passion for protecting workers against unfair labor practices is uncompromised, regardless of perceived obstacles. “We have litigated cases against some of the largest employers in this country and do not back away from them. We have taken on companies including Wal Mart, Target and the City of Los Angeles. We will take on employers of any size,” she says.
Continuing, she says, “Our attorneys personally evaluate and investigate each case, and we insist on staying current on new case law, statutes and regulations. This enables us to be creative in identifying claims, and updating our lawsuits. We are keen about getting important discovery to maximize results, challenge arbitration when we are able to, and enforcing the client’s rights to obtain necessary evidence either voluntarily or through court orders.” Moreover, the firm’s willingness to fully invest in cases up to and including trial ensures that each client’s case gets the firm’s full attention.
“We hand pick each case, to make sure that we have explored every angle, fully anticipate and prepare for any defenses and obtain witnesses, because we truly care and treat our clients attentively. I love the clients we represent as individuals, and want them to be in a better place both emotionally, and financially. We are here to give advice to get them and their families’ lives back on track after a difficult termination, even when that is not necessarily to our benefit. We encourage our clients to apply for other jobs immediately upon contacting us and encourage them to accept new positions to regain financial stability, even if it will decrease their award. This is about their wellbeing, first and foremost,” she says.

Linda Luna Lara

MORE WORK TO BE DONE: UP TO THE CHALLENGE
These days, Lara and her team are as busy as ever, with new employment law cases being referred by attorneys regularly. “Because we are exclusively dedicated to representing wronged employees, other attorneys referring clients to our firm know that we’re not going to take over their clients.”
Not surprisingly, therefore, “A good deal of our business comes from referrals from fellow attorneys, and we are incredibly grateful for the trust they put in us to fight for those who have been wrongfully terminated or discriminated against. We always provide free initial consultations to any referral, and if we are unable to assist, we will always refer them to a government agency that may be able to assist,” she adds.
Make no mistake, the cases that continue to land in Lara’s lap all share one thing in common: an employee has been illegally terminated or wrongfully discriminated against. However, the circumstances surrounding these wrongful actions are incredibly varied. She does note that of late, there has been an uptick in women standing up against sexual harassment, along with employees who are standing up for their rights after being discriminated against based on race. In addition, her firm is finding more whistleblowers on the receiving end of discriminatory actions. Suffice it to say, Lara and her team couldn’t be more eager to help.
For example, the firm is currently handling a case where her client reported concerns regarding an individual who threatened to shoot and kill people at Cal State Fullerton. Upon learning that the individual had filed for a gun permit, Lara’s client—an employee working for a health care corporation— reported the individual to the school’s police department. The health care corporation terminated Lara’s client following the report. “The corporation is hiding the fact it wrongfully terminated our client when he was just trying to prevent a mass shooting at a school,” Lara says.
In another case the firm is currently handling, Lara is representing a former employee of a non-profit, which is by design, supposed to empower women. “My client worked for an organization that was supposed to be an anti-bullying organization. However, after a student reported disturbing talk by a teacher towards students that had sexual connotations, my client reported on the problem to the superintendent. My client was wrongfully fired in a case where she was protecting young children at a school,” Lara says. In addition, Lara & Luna, APC is also currently handling several cases for individuals in the public sector against the City of Los Angeles, and the Montebello School District for termination of longterm employees after suffering disabling effects of a work injury. Regarding these and similar cases, Lara says firmly, “We are excited to be taking some of these cases to jury trials.”
As far as the future is concerned for Lara, seeing her hard work come to fruition, by way of founding a highly respected firm, earning accolades such as being named a Super Lawyer, and maintaining a perfect 10.0 Avvo rating only drives her to continue to work even harder. “I want to empower my clients so that after coming to me feeling dejected and defeated following a negative employment experience, they walk away knowing they stood up for something.
I want them to feel like they made a difference, and hopefully their action will result in impactful changes made by the company that acted illegally. I love to see clients break through the negative experience of a wrongful termination, and land on their feet in a positive way. I have had so many clients tell me that with settlement funds they were able to purchase a new home, provide for their children, and often end up getting a better job and are so much better off. I use these testimonials to encourage new clients, who have just been terminated to be hopeful. Something positive can come out of a very negative experience.”

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» EDUCATION

  • Chapman University School of Law, Juris Doctor – 2005
  • California State University, Fullerton Political Science, Bachelor of Arts – 2002

» ASSOCIATIONS

  • California Employment Lawyers Association, Member – Since 2010
  • Orange County Bar Association, Member – Since 2006
  • State Bar of California Employment Law Section – Since 2011
  • OCBA Community Outreach Committee, Member – Since 2010
  • Chapman Law Alumni Advisory Board, Board of Director – From 2010-2012
  • Orange County Hispanic Bar Association, Board of Director in 2011 and Member Since 2010

» ACHIEVEMENTS/SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS

  • Super Lawyer – Rising Star, Super Lawyers – 2014-2015
  • 10/10 Superb Avvo Rating
  • Chapman Law Distinguished Alumni Panel Presenter – 2016
  • Orange County Hispanic Bar Association Travel Seminar Presenter – 2012
  • Orange County Bar Labor & Employment Law Panel Presenter – 2011

Contact
Linda Lara, Esq.
Lara & Luna APC
16700 Valley View Ave., Suite 170
La Mirada, CA 90638
P: (562) 444-0010
LLara@LaraLunaLaw.com
LaraLunaLaw.com

Jennifer Hadley

Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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About the Author: Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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