Scott J. Witlin is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Barnes & Thornburg and a member of the firm’s Labor and Employment Law Department and the Entertainment, Music, Media and Sports Practice Group. Mr. Witlin handles traditional labor and employment matters, including arbitrations, collective bargaining negotiations, compliance with various guild and union agreements, and union organizing campaigns. He represents clients in the entertainment and broadcasting, video game, manufacturing, retail, consumer and industrial products, and transportation industries.
Mr. Witlin has litigated employment cases, including wage and hour class actions, before state and federal courts, state administrative agencies, arbitration tribunals and the National Labor Relations Board. Prior to joining Barnes & Thornburg, Mr. Witlin was senior counsel in the Los Angeles office of Akin Gump. He also has been a shareholder at Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart and a partner with Proskauer Rose. Mr. Witlin has been selected for inclusion in the Best Lawyers in America for the area of Employment Law – Management; Chambers USA: A Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers in the area of Labor & Employment; and Southern California Super Lawyers in the areas of Employment and Labor, as well as Entertainment and Sports. In 2012 he was named a “Top Labor and Employment Lawyer” by the Daily Journal (Los Angeles).
Mr. Witlin’s diverse work within the entertainment and media industries has included:
- Serving as chief negotiator on behalf of a group of leading videogame companies in their negotiations with the AFTRA and SAG.
- Assisting a client obtain an arbitration award reversing the writing credit established through a WGA credit arbitration for the pilot episode of a television series.
- Assisting a client obtain a Federal Court dismissal of claims that a motion picture producer did not own the separated theatrical rights in a classic television series and successfully defending that judgment on appeal to the Ninth Circuit.
- Representation of a major television network in connection with a defensive lockout of its technical employees following a “quickie strike,” including defense of unfair labor practice charges and prosecution of state court injunction litigation.
- Establishing through arbitration the right of a producer to take away “final cut” previously granted a director.
- Representation of producers in connection with attempted writer reacquisition of literary material.
- Defeating a union organizing campaign for a broadcaster involving a unit of 100 employees (including formulation of campaign strategy and tactics and litigation of an NLRB representation hearing).
- Defending a major entertainment company in a high profile sexual harassment case brought against one of its star performers.
Highlights of some of his non-entertainment industry representations include:
- Obtaining partial summary judgment which lead to a favorable settlement of a worker misclassification class action.
- Defending numerous other wage and hour class actions involving issues of worker misclassification, overtime, missed meal and rest periods.
- Obtaining a reversal by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals of a National Labor Relations Board decision holding that the discharge of a striker violated the National Labor Relations Act.
- Obtaining withdrawal during arbitration of a grievance challenging the dismissal of a twenty-year employee.
- Serving as lead negotiator in first contract collective bargaining for a high-end retail establishment.
Mr. Witlin earned his J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1988 and his B.S. from the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations in 1985 where he served on its Board of Trustees.
Mr. Witlin is frequently quoted in the media on issues involving labor and employment law and is admitted to practice in state courts of California, before the United States District Courts for the Central, Eastern, Northern and Southern Districts of California, and before the United States Courts of Appeals for the Ninth and D.C. Circuits.