Employment Litigator Joel Allen Joins McGuireWoods in Dallas: New Partner Has Vast Experience in Wage & Hour Claims and Class Actions; Senior Counsel Melissa Hensley Adds Depth to Labor & Employment Practice

New Partner Has Vast Experience in Wage & Hour Claims and Class Actions; Senior Counsel Melissa Hensley Adds Depth to Labor & Employment Practice

May 21, 2015

Joel S. Allen has brought his successful, nationwide employment litigation practice to McGuireWoods as a new partner in the firm’s rapidly growing Dallas office, which has quadrupled in size since it opened 14 months ago.

Allen comes to McGuireWoods from the Dallas office of Morgan Lewis along with experienced employment litigator Melissa Hensley, who has joined the firm as senior counsel. Their arrival continues the firm’s aggressive Texas expansion, particularly in Dallas.

Allen has a national practice. He represents employers faced with wage-and-hour claims and has done so in most states and more than 30 different federal district courts. His clients include employers in traditional employment litigation – discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and disability and leave issues. He has represented multiple employers facing OSHA and U.S. Chemical Safety Board probes and assists clients with the enforcement of employment, noncompete and confidentiality agreements.

Hensley represents employers in federal and state courts, focusing on defending claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act and federal and state discrimination laws.

Among their successes, Allen and Hensley defeated class certification in four different wage-and-hour matters during the past 18 months in four different federal jurisdictions – West Virginia, Ohio, Missouri and Tennessee. Allen and Hensley have also secured more than 20 summary judgments in federal district courts affirming that the executive exemption for overtime pay applies to retail store managers.

“Joel is an accomplished litigator with a highly regarded nationwide practice who is a tremendous addition for us,” said Joel H. Spitz, chair of the firm’s labor and employment practice. “He has a remarkable record of success defending employers against claims under federal and state laws.”

The arrival of Allen and Hensley at McGuireWoods follows the recent additions of noted financial services litigators Stewart Clancy and Justin Opitz to the firm’s Dallas office. Allen and Hensley bring the number of McGuireWoods lawyers in Dallas to 25 compared with six when the office opened on March 31, 2014. Driven by the Dallas expansion, Texas Lawyer last month ranked the firm the fastest growing in Texas for 2014 as it increased the number of lawyers in its Houston, Dallas and Austin offices by 63 percent from the previous year.

“Joel and Melissa are key additions for us as we continue to expand our litigation practice in Dallas,” said Akash Sethi, managing partner of the firm’s Dallas office. “They have stellar reputations, and our clients will benefit from the depth and breadth of their experience.”

Allen earned his bachelor’s degree from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 1988 and his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law in 1991.

“I’ve been so impressed with the powerful team McGuireWoods is building here in Dallas and I’m excited to be part of it,” Allen said. “The firm’s national labor and employment practice has a well-deserved reputation for excellence, and I know my practice will thrive here.”

Hensley received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1991 and her law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1994.

McGuireWoods received a Tier 1 ranking in the 2015 edition of U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” in the practice areas of Litigation – Labor & Employment and Employment Law – Management. In Corporate Counsel’s “Who Represents America’s Biggest Companies” 2014 edition, the firm ranked seventh overall in Labor and Employment, and in the top 20 in Labor Litigation. In addition, seven lawyers on the firm’s labor and employment team are ranked in the 2014 Chambers USA guide.