Stephen B. Stern

Stephen B. Stern is a trusted legal advisor and zealous advocate for many businesses and individuals.

Mr. Stern devotes a significant portion of his practice to representing businesses in employment related matters, both as an advisor and litigator. He regularly advises companies on strategic matters involving employment policies, procedures, and practices, such as trade secret protection programs, wage/hour practices, bonus and other compensation programs, social media risks, and independent contractor relationships. He also regularly helps businesses manage individual circumstances that arise on a day to day basis, such as employment terminations, separation agreements, employment agreements, leave requests, employee discipline, requests for reasonable accommodations, and investigations. With respect to adversarial matters, Mr. Stern has defended employers against claims involving Title VII, ADEA, ADA, FMLA, SOX, FLSA, NDAA, IRCA, and other similar federal and state statutes, as well as various torts. Mr. Stern has appeared before the EEOC, DOL, and comparable state and local government agencies, as well as the United States Department of Justice. In addition, Mr. Stern has litigated employment claims in federal and state courts, as well as arbitration, in multiple jurisdictions. While Mr. Stern primarily represents businesses in employment matters, he occasionally represents individuals as well.

Mr. Stern regularly works with businesses on implementing trade secret protection programs, including the strategic use of non-compete, non-solicitation, and non-disclosure agreements, as well as assignment of work product provisions and other contractual provisions designed to protect a company’s intellectual property and other interests. In addition, he often is retained to advise companies and individuals during the hiring process on potential risks when a candidate is subject to restrictions in employment agreements, as well as statutory and common law duties. Mr. Stern has litigated numerous unfair competition cases of significant value involving trade secrets, restrictive covenants, and related tort claims. He has obtained temporary restraining orders (“TROs”) and other relief for companies, as well as defeated such claims, and successfully negotiated resolutions that resulted in substantial relief for companies and/or avoided the cost of litigation.

Mr. Stern also devotes a substantial portion of his practice to representing companies in complex commercial/business disputes in federal and state courts, as well as arbitration, across the country. His cases have involved a wide variety of contract, tort, and statutory claims, including cases involving commercial contracts, real estate disputes, civil RICO, common law fraud, the False Claims Act (“FCA”), fiduciary duties, ownership interests in privately held companies, unfair competition, bank loans, consumer protection claims, unfair lending practices, Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), Equal Credit Opportunity Act (“ECOA”), insurance coverage disputes, enforcement of arbitration provisions, representations and warranties, the disposition of assets/loan collateral, defamation, privacy rights, homeowners’ association issues, constitutional issues, mass torts, product liability claims, construction defects, professional discipline, false imprisonment, and civil rights violations.

Mr. Stern’s substantial experience litigating complex business disputes has led many clients to seek his advice on avoiding litigation. In this regard, Mr. Stern has successfully “reverse engineered” his litigation experience to become an effective advisor and advocate negotiating various business contracts, such as vendor agreements, leases, sales agreements, service agreements, teaming agreements, and subcontracts, as well as various other risk management issues. In addition, Mr. Stern has been retained as a legal advisor and an independent investigator when entities have needed to conduct highly sensitive and complex investigations into various allegations of misconduct. While many of Mr. Stern’s investigations have involved allegations of discrimination, harassment, and various allegations of sexual misconduct, he also has been retained to investigate allegations of fraud and other alleged instances of misconduct in the private sector (for privately held and publicly traded companies), university setting, and prison setting.

Education:

  • J.D., George Washington University Law School, 1996
    • With Honors
  • B.S., Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, 1993

Court Admissions:

  • Maryland
  • Virginia
  • District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Representative Cases:

Trade Secret Misappropriation – represented large, international manufacturer in a case that concerned the misappropriation of a U.S. based subsidiary’s trade secrets and other confidential business information worth millions of dollars involving the manufacturing process of specialty film products; case involved numerous statutory, common law, and contractual claims, including enforcement of confidentiality/non-disclosure agreements; case resolved

Breach of fiduciary duty and other contract/tort claims – defended insurance agency against multi-million dollar claim alleging breach of fiduciary duties and other contract and tort claims where insurer canceled insurance policy mid-term for an insured in a high risk industry based on an alleged change in the risk; dismissed two counts and a demand for $1 million in punitive damages on an early motion; case resolved days before trial

Electronic Security Servs., Inc. v. Higgs, et al. – prevailed on motion to dismiss filed on behalf of employer and newly hired employee, resulting in dismissal of action alleging tortious interference and breaches of non-compete and confidentiality agreements

Civil RICO – defended company and multiple individuals against multi-million dollar civil RICO action that included allegations of common law fraud and involved issues of first impression under RICO; case resolved

University Investigation – retained by large, out of state, public university to conduct independent investigation into highly sensitive allegations of sexual misconduct by a well-known, influential faculty member, and provide comprehensive report of findings

Bagby, et al. v. Severn Savings Bank, FSB – prevailed on motion for judgment on the pleadings and obtained dismissal of pattern and practice discriminatory lending allegations under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (“ECOA”) and Fair Housing Act (“FHA”)

MHD-Rockland, Inc. v. Aerospace Distribs., Inc., et al. – after removing case to federal court, prevailed on motion to dismiss that dismissed all counts, except contract claim, and reduced claimed damages by nearly 90%

Ferris v. Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis – successfully obtained dismissal of Title VII hostile work environment and retaliation claims on motion to dismiss filed on behalf of the employer

Bank of America, N.A. v. Jill P. Mitchell Living Trust, et al. – prevailed by defeating bank’s motion for summary judgment with respect to trust’s misrepresentation and omission claims brought under Maryland Consumer Protection Act

Sharabaika v. HCPM, Inc., et al. – obtained consent decree that protected confidential information and enforcement of a confidentiality and non-solicitation agreement

Doe v. North River Ins. Co. – obtained summary judgment for an insurer where the plaintiff in the underlying action sought coverage for a judgment in excess of $1.1 million

Kerrigan v. landerson61@rocketmail.com – obtained identity of anonymous blogger in defamation case filed by start-up company and its founders

Grissom v. Mills Corp.– defended and resolved SOX whistleblower claim, then prevailed on appeal to vacate trial court’s award of attorneys’ fees and costs to the plaintiff

Snowder v. District of Columbia – prevailed on appeal defending tow truck operator in a purported class action under the Consumer Protection Act where the plaintiffs did not establish the tow operators had a duty to notify vehicle owners their cars were towed

Connolly v. Mills Corp. – obtained jury verdict defending company against allegations that senior executives terminated a former vice president due to his age

Publications and Presentations:

Publications

“Is the Notion that a Customer List is a Trade Secret Outdated?” Association of Corporate Counsel Litigation Committee Newsletter (August 2018)

“How Can the Attorney-Client Privilege be Waived in a Corporate Environment?” Association of Corporate Counsel Litigation Committee Newsletter (May 2018)

“Grammar Counts – The Placement of a Comma May Cost You Millions of Dollars,” Association of Corporate Counsel Litigation Committee Newsletter (March 2018)

“Risk of Identity Theft from Cyberattack Constitutes Sufficient Injury to Sustain Lawsuit,” Association of Corporate Counsel Litigation Committee Newsletter (December 2017)

“Circuit Split Over Standing in Data Breach Litigation Continues,” Association of Corporate Counsel Litigation Committee Newsletter (December 2017)

“Is Social Media Changing the Way We Think of Trade Secrets . . . and How We Protect Them?“ Inside, A Publication of the NYSBA Corporate Counsel Section (Vol. 34, No. 1, Spring/Summer 2016)

“Strategies for Analyzing and Responding to Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblower Claims,” Chapter in Complying With Sarbanes-Oxley’s Whistleblower Provisions, Aspatore Books (2009)

“Pleading a Sarbanes-Oxley Act Whistleblower Claim: What is Required to Survive?,” The Labor Lawyer (Fall 2007)

“Employers Need to Be Aware of the Various Laws, Regulations and Common Duties that Govern Apprenticeship Programs,” Human Resource Executive, Legal Primer (January 25, 2006)

“Supreme Court Rules on Evidentiary Matters Involving Mixed-Motive Employment Discrimination Cases,” FindLaw Corporate Counsel Center (in summary), National Law Journal (September 2003), Corporate Counsel (October 2003)

“Legal Risks of Electronic Surveillance in the Workplace,” Maryland Bar Journal (February 1, 2002)

“Revisiting the 8/80 Rule: Drawbacks and Perk,” Baltimore Business Journal (April 1, 2000)

Sample Speaking Engagements

“HR’s Role in Protecting Trade Secrets,” HR Alliance DC (January 9, 2019)

“Confronting Various Forms of Sex Discrimination,” Frederick County SHRM (December 13, 2018)

“Social Media in the Workplace,” Dulles SHRM (November 14, 2018)

“Conducting Effective Investigations,” 2018 MSBA Legal Summit & Annual Meeting (June 15, 2018)

Panelist, “#MeToo – The Time is Now, a New Day is Coming,” 44th AAAED National Conference and Annual Meeting (June 8, 2018)

“Conducting Effective Investigations,” 44th AAAED National Conference and Annual Meeting (June 6, 2018)

“Independent Contractor Versus Employee Classifications, FMLA, Social Media, and Other Legal Issues,” Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation (April 17, 2018)

“Employee Handbooks & Trade Secrets – What You Need To Know,” Human Resources Association of Southern Maryland (February 28, 2018)

“Me Too?! How am I Supposed to Prevent and Respond to Sexual Harassment in my Workplace?” 2018 Leading Caterers Association Northeast Winter Conference (January 9, 2018)

“Internal Investigations of Employee Complaints and Misconduct,” Strafford Publications Webinar (December 6, 2017)

“Insurance Claims Management Life Cycle and Best Practices,” Panel Discussion, New York State Bar Association Seventh Corporate Counsel Institute (November 2, 2017); Presentation Topic, Litigation Defense Strategies and Concerns

“Legal Issues With Social Media,” Montgomery County SHRM (October 18, 2017)

“Nuts and Bolts of Employee Handbooks and Trade Secret Protection,” Montgomery County SHRM (February 15, 2017)

“Drafting Employee Handbooks and Protecting Trade Secrets,” myLawCLE Internet Video Broadcast (September 12, 2016)

“Social Media In The Workplace,” Northern Virginia SHRM (May 24, 2016)

“Social Media In The Workplace,” Frederick County SHRM (April 28, 2016)

“Legal And Other Considerations For Conducting Effective Workplace Investigations,” Human Resources Association of Southern Maryland (March 16, 2016)

“Avoiding Costly Missteps In Internal Workplace Investigations: Guidance For Employers From Recent Court Decisions,” Strafford Publications Webinar (December 9, 2015)

“Legal Issues With Social Media And How To Manage Those Risks,” Chesapeake Human Resources Association Annual Fall Conference (November 10, 2015)

“Drafting Employee Handbooks: Techniques For Avoiding Liability,” myLawCLE Internet Video Broadcast (November 4, 2015)

“How Not To Get Sued,” Home Performance Coalition Mid-Atlantic Conference (October 21, 2015)

“Workplace Investigations,” Maryland SHRM State Conference (September 29, 2015)

“Human Resource Law From Start To Finish,” National Business Institute Seminar (August 5, 2015)

“Legal And Other Considerations For Conducting Effective Investigations,” AAAED National Conference and Annual Meeting (June 8, 2016) (June 4, 2015)

“Including Individuals With Disabilities – Understanding The ADA,” Montgomery County SHRM (April 30, 2015)

“Top 4 Employer Hot Spots – Off Duty Conduct, Background Checks, Social Media, and Wage and Hour,” myLawCLE Internet Video Broadcast (March 11, 2015)

“Legal Issues with Social Media,” MACPA Technology Conference (December 11, 2014)

“Considerations When Analyzing and Defending Discrimination and Retaliation Claims,” myLawCLE Internet Video Broadcast (December 10, 2014)

“Managing Your Company’s Social Media Risks,” Marketing Executives Network Group – DC Chapter (November 5, 2014)

“Legal and Other Considerations for Conducting Effective Workplace Investigations,” myLawCLE Internet Video Broadcast (October 23, 2014)

“Legal Aspects of Social Media,” Maryland SHRM State Conference (October 6, 2014)

“HR’s Role in Managing Social Media Issues,” Howard County Human Resources Society (July 17, 2014)

“Trending Tools in Time and Attendance Tracking … And The Legality Of Them,” HR.com Webcast (June 17, 2014)

“Quality Assurance in the Real World of Home Performance Contracting,” ACI Chesapeake Regional Home Performance Conference (June 10, 2014)

“New EEOC Enforcement Priorities: What Employers Need to Know,” National Business Institute Teleconference (May 28, 2014)

“Protecting Trade Secrets,” Chesapeake Think Tank (May 16, 2014)

“Conducting Effective Investigations,” Washington Metro Industry Liaison Group (May 15, 2014) (April 28, 2011)

“Conducting Effective Workplace Investigations,” Montgomery County SHRM (February 19, 2014) and “Guidelines for Conducting Effective Workplace Investigations,” (March 17, 2010)

Professional Associations:

  • American Bar Association
  • District of Columbia Bar
  • Maryland State Bar Association
  • Central Maryland Chamber of Commerce, Board Attorney (formerly West County Chamber of Commerce)
  • National Association of Corporate Directors
  • B’nai B’rith International, Executive Board of Directors
  • myLawCLE, Advisory Board