Anne-Marie Mizel
Anne-Marie Mizel
Senior Counsel, Pittsburgh
Formerly: Ice cream shop attendant as a teenager
Education
  • B.A., Government, Cornell University;
  • J.D., The Law School at the University of Chicago.

I have always loved the intellectual and rhetorical challenge involved in persuasion. Even as a child, I was quick to look for loopholes in parental rules; as a teenager, I may have taken the tendency a little too far and developed a reputation for being argumentative. Since then, I’ve turned what was a natural tendency toward disputation into a career—researching the most groundbreaking legal precedents, marshaling even the most obscure resources available, and persuading judges, juries, and administrative agencies to look favorably on my clients’ positions. Thanks to the tutelage of Arch Stokes and others in our firm, I have also learned to think outside the box and make arguments that other attorneys might not consider, which has led to some creative and unexpected victories. All of this has added up to a career with many highlights in the form of successes in jury trials, in arbitrations, at the negotiating table, and at the administrative level in both the United States and state bureaucracies.

Though I’ve never worked in the hospitality industry, I have enjoyed learning the ins and outs of the businesses of operating hotels and restaurants, and developed an appreciation for the amount of work that goes into both the management and the work of hospitality. I know that dealing with litigation is everyone’s least favorite part of their job, so I make every effort to handle as much of a case as possible with only the minimal necessary imposition on the client’s valuable work time. When we do have to interact, I make a point always to express appreciation of the client’s assistance.

I am a huge fan of the sport of ice hockey; I play badly myself and religiously watch the excellent play of my favorite professional players – especially, of course, my beloved Pittsburgh Penguins. I also play tennis (less badly) and follow the sport all year long. I have always been an amateur and sometime semi-professional musician, and I continue to sing and play drums and keyboards in the musical project One Hand Clapping, which I enjoy with my husband Ed and a childhood friend here in Pittsburgh. Arch can tell the story of the time he and I and a client crashed a piano lounge populated almost entirely by the friends of an important union official in Washington, D.C. That night I sang some blues with the official’s wife, a talented piano player and singer, and the next day we reached agreement with the union on a long-disputed issue in contract negotiations! “Music has charms to soothe the savage beast, to soften rocks or bend a knotted oak.”

I am enthusiastic about the burgeoning hospitality industry in Pittsburgh, with exciting new restaurants and hotels opening seemingly every week, and I look forward to the opportunity to put my experience and creativity to work for many of them.

Picture the following scenario: An employee engages in misconduct at work that results in suspension pending investigation and would normally probably end in termination. But at the time of the suspension, the employee requests and is granted a medical leave. The termination is not finalized while the employee is on leave, and while on leave, the employee claims that the misconduct was caused by a mental illness and requests reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act – in short, they ask for a second chance.

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A recent EEOC case involving an executive who was fired after having an episode of depression underlines the importance of accommodating mental disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).

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The parties in the case of Daneshgari v. Patriot Towing Services, LLC, No. A21A0887 (Ga.App. Oct. 21, 2021), had entered into a four-year non-compete agreement in June of 2016 that Daneshgari and his partner began to violate within a month after signing the agreement. After PTS sued to enforce the agreement in 2018, a trial court in Georgia granted PTS’s motion for a preliminary injunction and ordered the defendants to cease violating the noncompete provision. The defendants ignored the court’s injunction and continued to operate their competing business. The trial court found Daneshgari in willful civil contempt of the preliminary injunction and ordered him to be incarcerated until he paid PTS $20,000 in attorney fees. Less than one week later, Daneshgari paid the $20,000 and was released from incarceration.

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Unionized employers in Illinois may have a useful defense to expensive employee BIPA lawsuits: the management rights clause and federal preemption law. A grievance might be a lot cheaper than a lawsuit.

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On January 27, 2021, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals let employers know that they cannot use recommendations from psychologists to justify disability discrimination in hiring. In Gibbs v. City of Pittsburgh, 989 F.3d 226 (3d Cir. 2021), the City routinely relied on psychologists to evaluate applicants for jobs as police officers. The plaintiff in Gibbs had aced the written test and received a conditional job offer, but two of the three psychologists who interviewed him recommended against his hiring because of his ADHD diagnosis and some criminal history as a youth, which occurred before he began treatment for his ADHD. The trial court dismissed his complaint essentially because it found that passing the psychological test was a prerequisite for the job and concluded that reliance on it did not reflect actionable discrimination. The Third Circuit, however, disagreed.

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We are proud to announce the release of our latest Quarterly Newsletter, which may be found here.

This quarterly covers topics including:

  • Anticipated changes in labor law under the Biden Administration,
  • The latest Assembly and Senate Bills for California,
  • Minimum Wage updates, and
  • Classification of independent contractors.

Our newsletter summarizes key developments in the employment law arena on a quarterly basis, with a focus on how these developments may impact the hospitality industry and your operations. As you may have noticed, the legal landscape changes on a far more frequent basis than four times a year. So, when a particularly significant development occurs, we immediately publish a “Legal Alert” and make it available to each of our clients and subscribers. If you would like to stay abreast of legal developments in real-time, and receive our legal updates in a more timely fashion, we invite you to follow us on Instagram @stokeswagner.

THIS DOCUMENT PROVIDES A GENERAL SUMMARY AND IS FOR INFORMATIONAL/EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO BE COMPREHENSIVE, NOR DOES IT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE. PLEASE CONSULT WITH COUNSEL BEFORE TAKING OR REFRAINING FROM TAKING ANY ACTION.

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DOL's New Tip Rules Delayed

March 8, 2021

Category: Legal Updates

The U.S. Department of Labor has delayed for at least 60 days implementation of changes to the tip credit rules that would have taken effect on March 1. This delay cites the January 20, 2021, memorandum “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review,” which directed the heads of Executive Departments and Agencies to consider delaying the effective dates of all regulations that had been published in the Federal Register but had not yet taken effect.

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As part of his State of the State address on January 11, 2021, Governor Cuomo announced changes in the calculation of unemployment benefits for part-time workers in New York.

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The Department of Labor has issued new tipping regulations, to take effect on March 1, that make a few significant changes, some of which may be advantageous to hospitality employers.

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Exemption from overtime is dependent on two factors: an employee’s salary and an employee’s duties. Effective October 3, 2020, new regulations issued by Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry took effect. These regulations began expanding eligibility for overtime based on salary and updating the task-related tests for determining whether an employee is exempt from overtime.

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Updates to New York Sick Leave Law

September 11, 2020

Category: Legal Updates

On September 30, employees of private employers in New York state will begin to accrue paid sick leave as a new law signed by Governor Cuomo on April 3, 2020, begins to take effect. The law requires most private employers in New York to provide at least 40 hours of paid sick leave each year to all their workers, including part-timers and casual employees. Employees may begin using the accrued leave effective January 1, 2021, or when they begin employment.

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On July 17, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor released new forms for Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) leave. Their stated purpose is to make the process easier, ensure the completeness of the necessary information, and allow for electronic signatures to reduce contact.

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Many employers have “no solicitation” policies for the workplace, prohibiting employees from soliciting for causes of any kind at work. These policies can be tricky to enforce when union solicitation is at issue. In recent years, the Board had narrowed the definition of “union solicitation” to hold that it does not qualify as “solicitation” unless the person soliciting provided a union authorization card to the listener. Now, the Board has reversed that precedent.

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Beginning on March 15, 2020, employers will have to begin providing their Pittsburgh employees with paid sick leave pursuant to a Pittsburgh ordinance passed in 2015. Now that it has cleared judicial hurdles, the new law will require employers to provide their Pittsburgh employees one hour of sick leave for every 35 hours worked within the geographical limits of the City of Pittsburgh. Employers with fewer than 15 employees are not required to pay for the leave for one year after implementation of the law, but beginning on March 15, 2021, even small employers will be required to provide paid leave. The Guidelines for Administering Pittsburgh City Code Chapter 626 describe how to count employees for purposes of determining size of employer.

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On August 9, the National Labor Relations Board released three proposed new rules designed to ease employees’ ability to avoid unionization or decertify unions.

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On June 6, 2018, the NLRB’s new General Counsel, Peter B. Robb, issued guidance regarding the Board’s current policies on Employee Handbooks, expanding on the Board’s recent decision in The Boeing Company, 365 NLRB No. 154 (Dec. 14, 2017), and taking a more employer-friendly approach.

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Recent amendments to Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) ordinance make it even more comprehensive and inclusive. The law provides employees of eligible employers with paid sick time as well as “safe” time to deal with situations such as domestic abuse or sexual assault, or closure of work or school for any health-related reason.

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In July 2016, Santa Monica enacted two minimum wage ordinances, one specific to hotel workers (the “Hotel Workers Living Wage Ordinance”), and the other to any employees of an employer in Santa Monica (“Minimum Wage Ordinance”).

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On January 18, 2018, California’s Department of Industrial Relations Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board, approved a proposed regulation requiring hotel employers to maintain “an effective, written, musculoskeletal injury prevention program (MIPP) that addresses hazards specific to housekeeping.”

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Starting January 1, 2018, San Francisco requires employers to ensure that any space offered for lactation also includes a place to sit, a surface on which to place a breast pump and/or other personal items, access to electricity, and a nearby refrigerator in which the employee can store expressed milk. An employee’s lactation break time may be unpaid if it is not taken within or during an already-specified paid break. The Ordinance strictly prohibits retaliation against anyone who requests lactation accommodation or files a complaint with San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (“OLSE”).

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