Thomas M. O'Connell

Partner

Tel: (951) 826-8337

Location(s)

At a Glance

Tom’s litigation practice broadly encompasses all aspects and stages of litigation for both private and public clients.
 
Tom’s franchise practice focuses on the registration, renewal and organizational fundamentals of franchisors.
 
Prior to law school, Tom served as a Teach for America Corps Member and was named regional finalist for National Teacher of the Year.
 

Thomas O’Connell is a partner in Best Best & Krieger LLP’s Business, Labor & Employment and Municipal Law practice groups. Tom’s litigation practice broadly encompasses all aspects and stages of litigation for both private and public clients in a variety of settings. Practicing in jurisdictions throughout the country, Tom’s cases range from short, simple litigation between employers and employees, to complex litigation between multi-national organizations, to seemingly interminable litigation between franchisors, franchisees and the United States government. Under every circumstance, Tom provides his clients with cost-effective and results-oriented services.
 
Tom’s franchise practice focuses on the registration, renewal and organizational fundamentals of franchisors. Combining his experience as a business owner and litigator and relying on his strategic partnerships and relationships, Tom provides the end-to-end services franchisors and franchisees need to help them achieve their goals. 

After earning his bachelor’s degree and graduating with numerous honors from the University of Southern California, Tom joined Teach for America and taught in South Central Los Angeles. Based on his and his students’ accomplishments during his tenure, Tom was named regional finalist for National Teacher of the Year (Sue Lehman Award). Following Teach for America, Tom obtained his law degree and graduated with honors from Georgetown Law, where he served as editor of the Journal on Law & Policy
 
Since returning to California, Tom has been involved in many local and national professional and community organizations. Tom served as chairman to both the Hesperia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the High Desert Regional Chambers Coalition, and was a founding board member of the Futurus Foundation Board.
 
Prior to college, Tom founded a golf store and competed in numerous amateur and professional golf tournaments. Tom still enjoys playing golf in his free time and, in 2018, was certified by the Titleist Performance Institute for golf instruction and junior golf instruction — a distinction held by the golf teachers who have taught 17 of the last 20 major champions and 27 of the top 30 players in the world.

Representative Matters

  • Appellate Litigation: Served as lead counsel on behalf of five of the largest franchisor and franchisee organizations in a matter brought to the United States Supreme Court regarding “joint employer” liability. 
  • Business Litigation: Successfully defended against a $10 million breach of non-competition agreement claim and successfully pursued a $10 million counter-claim in an action regarding the parties’ competing responses to a government entity’s request for proposal.
  • Construction Litigation: Successfully defended against a $750,000 breach of contract claim for damages allegedly resulting from a subcontractor’s delay of a multi-million dollar development and successfully pursued a $650,000 quantum meruit counter-claim for the general contractor’s failure to pay the subcontractor for work the subcontractor performed.
  • Corporate Litigation: Successfully represented a shareholder of a national developer against his fellow shareholders in an action seeking $50 million for breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing, breach of fiduciary duty, and tortious interference with contract.
  • Employment Litigation: Successfully defended a multi-national employer in a class action lawsuit for $5 million for allegedly unpaid overtime related to the Portal-to-Portal Act.
  • Franchise Litigation: Defending four of more than twenty franchisees involved in a multi-state action initiated by a national labor union for the franchisees’ allegedly unlawful labor practices.
  • Real Estate Litigation: Successfully represented a developer in an action seeking, among other things, approximately $5.5 million and the grant of an undivided property interest necessary to build a mixed-use development adjacent to a metro line.
  • Surety Litigation: Successfully represented a surety and general contractor in an action seeking approximately $5 million and reversal of a branch of the U.S. government’s decision to terminate the contractor for cause.


Tom is admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. District Court for the Central and Eastern districts of California, the Northern District of Florida, the District of Maryland and the Eastern and Western districts of Virginia. He is licensed to practice law in the states of California, Maryland, Virginia and in the District of Columbia.

Education

  • Georgetown Law, J.D.
  • University of Southern California, B.A., Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society 
  • Loyola Marymount University, M.Ed., Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education 
How Will a Much-Anticipated Joint Employer Decision Impact Private and Public Employers?
Legal Alerts Jan 16, 2019

How Will a Much-Anticipated Joint Employer Decision Impact Private and Public Employers?

Browning-Ferris Industries v. NLRB

DOL Exempts Franchise Business Owners from Joint-Employer Liability
Legal Alerts Jul 10, 2018

DOL Exempts Franchise Business Owners from Joint-Employer Liability

New Rule a Welcome Change to Franchise Owners and Small Businesses

Best in Law: Is it Time to Franchise Your Business?
Authored Articles & Publications Jun 18, 2018

Best in Law: Is it Time to Franchise Your Business?

BB&K Franchise Law Attorney Thomas O’Connell Writes About Factors to Consider Before Growing

CNN Joint-Employer Appeal Goes Against NLRB
Legal Alerts Aug 9, 2017

CNN Joint-Employer Appeal Goes Against NLRB

Employers Embrace Decision, But Issue Remains Unresolved

Save Local Business Act Would Clarify “Joint Employer” Liability Under FLSA and NLRA
Legal Alerts Aug 2, 2017

Save Local Business Act Would Clarify “Joint Employer” Liability Under FLSA and NLRA

Legislation Introduced in House of Representatives Addresses Recent Expansion of Joint Employer Doctrine

The Department of Labor Pulls the Plug on the “Persuader Rule”
Legal Alerts Jul 19, 2017

The Department of Labor Pulls the Plug on the “Persuader Rule”

Comment Period Open

Department of Labor Rescinds Two Memos Broadening Joint Employer Liability
Legal Alerts Jun 8, 2017

Department of Labor Rescinds Two Memos Broadening Joint Employer Liability

Impact on Court Decisions is Unclear

California’s Ambiguous Day of Rest Requirements Clarified by State Supreme Court
Legal Alerts May 23, 2017

California’s Ambiguous Day of Rest Requirements Clarified by State Supreme Court

Employers Need to Schedule Accordingly

California Legislature Proposes State Overtime Bill
Legal Alerts Apr 20, 2017

California Legislature Proposes State Overtime Bill

Measure is Similar to Federal Rule That Was Put on Hold by Court

McDonald’s Corp. Dismissed from Suit Over Wage Violations at Franchises
Legal Alerts Apr 10, 2017

McDonald’s Corp. Dismissed from Suit Over Wage Violations at Franchises

Ostensible Agency Theory Rejected by Court

Joint Employer Relationship Between Contractors and Subcontracts Redefined by a Federal Appeals Court
Legal Alerts Mar 31, 2017

Joint Employer Relationship Between Contractors and Subcontracts Redefined by a Federal Appeals Court

New Standard Puts Employer at Significant Risk

Restaurant Chain Must Allow Employees to Wear Union Buttons
Legal Alerts Mar 24, 2017

Restaurant Chain Must Allow Employees to Wear Union Buttons

NLRB Ruling a Cautionary Tale for Employers

Appellate Challenge of NLRB's New Joint Employer Standard Moves Forward
Legal Alerts Mar 7, 2017

Appellate Challenge of NLRB's New Joint Employer Standard Moves Forward

Oral Argument Expected this Week

Authored Articles & Publications Jun 13, 2016

Best in Law: Act Now on New OT Rule

BB&K Attorneys Cynthia Germano and Thomas O’Connell Discuss What Employers Must Know to Comply with New Overtime Rule

The Dramatic Effect of the Department of Labor’s New Overtime Rule
Legal Alerts May 18, 2016

The Dramatic Effect of the Department of Labor’s New Overtime Rule

Employers Will Need New Policies to Ensure Compliance

Authored Articles & Publications Feb 21, 2016

Best in Law: New Joint-Employer Standards Pose Threat to Businesses

BB&K Attorneys Roger Crawford and Thomas O'Connell Discuss in the Press-Enterprise How New Rules May Bring Liability for Lawsuits Involving Workers Who Companies Do Not Directly Control

National Labor Relations Board Rewrites Decades-Old Joint Employer Standard
Legal Alerts Sep 14, 2015

National Labor Relations Board Rewrites Decades-Old Joint Employer Standard

New Standard Leaves No Predictability Regarding the Identity of the “Employer”

  • "Justices Should Clarify Joint Employer Rules," Daily Journal, Sept. 27, 2017