Throughout her 29-year legal career, Debra L. Reilly has conducted over 900 hundred internal workplace investigations for various counties, municipalities (including police departments and fire departments), water districts, sanitation districts, transportation authorities, public and private elementary schools (K-12), private and public colleges and universities, the United States Postal Service (holding a “sensitive” security clearance by the Postal Inspector’s Office), and a multitude of private sector employers (including Fortune 500 companies).  Debra has conducted employment investigations throughout the United States and California, but more particularly in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Imperial, Kern, and Riverside Counties.  She has testified in depositions, arbitrations, and trial concerning the findings of her investigations, all of which conclusions have been upheld by the triers of fact (arbitrators and juries).  Given her legal training and added litigation experience representing both sides of a case (management and employees), Ms. Reilly’s investigations are impartial, objective, and thorough.  Ms. Reilly has also qualified and testified as an expert witness in Human Resources standard practices in conducting harassment and discrimination investigations, as well as Human Resources standard practices in conducting reasonable accommodation assessments of disabled employees and engaging in the interactive process.

In 1984, Ms. Reilly graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology.  In 1989, she received her Juris Doctorate. from the University of San Diego School of Law, where she was a Comments Editor for the San Diego Law Review and was selected to have her article “Reversal of a RICO Predicate Offense on Appeal: Should the RICO Count Be Vacated?” published in Volume 27, Issue 1, of the San Diego Law Review. She was also a Finalist in a USD Moot Court competition in 1989.

After graduation, Ms. Reilly worked as an Extern Law Clerk for Justice David R. Thompson of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals before joining the Orange County-based law firm Murtaugh Miller Meyer & Nelson LLP from 1990 to 1999, where she became a partner practicing employment law on behalf of employers and management, which included the performance of internal workplace investigations since 1994.

In 1999, Ms. Reilly moved to San Diego to serve for one year as the Research Attorney to United States District Judge Larry A. Burns of the United States District Court, Southern District of California. In that capacity, she researched and drafted proposed judicial opinions and orders and handled discovery conferences with legal counsel on such diversified issues as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Civil Rights Act of 1871 (42 U.S.C. § 1983), Copyright/Patent Infringement, Social Security Appeals, Federal Tort Claims Act, and Writs of Habeas Corpus.

Ms. Reilly then joined a Mission Viejo law firm as a named partner for three years heading up the firm’s employment law department before eventually opening her own employment law practice in 2002. In Ms. Reilly’s representation of public entities, corporations, management, and employees, she has handled all facets of employment litigation, including trial work. She has handled numerous administrative proceedings before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the California Labor Commission’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, the Employment Development Department, and the City of Santa Ana Personnel Board.

Ms. Reilly has published numerous articles on employment law and workplace investigations. She has spoken in educational seminars, sponsored by the State Bar of California, the Association of Workplace Investigators, the Orange County Bar Association, and the San Diego County Bar Association on how to conduct prompt, thorough, and impartial workplace investigations. She is a member of the California State Bar (Labor and Employment Law section), the San Diego County Bar Association (Labor and Employment Law section), the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), a past member of the Orange County Bar Association (Labor and Employment Law section), a past member of the North County Personnel Association of San Diego, and a past member of the San Diego Society for Human Resources Management. She is a founding (and current) Board Member of the Association of Workplace Investigators (“AWI”) and has served as the Chair of its Publications Committee since 2009 and Editor-in-Chief of The AWI Quarterly since 2009. Ms. Reilly has also been certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (“SPHR”) by the Human Resources Certification Institute since January 2010. Ms. Reilly also received certification from Pepperdine University School of Law, Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Mediating the Litigated Case (42 hours), in 2008.

Debra can be reached by email at debra@wpinvestigations.com.

Practice Areas

  • Waste and abuse in government contracts
  • Violation of contract procurement policies; contract splitting to avoid threshold of Board scrutiny; violation of competitive bidding laws (Public Contract Code)
  • Misuse and abuse of public funds, gift of public funds, credit card misuse
  • Misuse of public vehicle, travel expense abuse, expense reimbursement fraud
  • Employee violations of Penal Code 424 (misappropriation of public funds), Penal Code 72 (presenting false claim to Public Board or Officer), Government Code 8314 (private person’s use of public resources)
  • Violations of code of ethics, violation of conflict of interest policies
  • Unauthorized, improper use of public property, equipment, or funds for private purposes; improper use of authority for personal gain
  • Bribery or the receiving of or the giving of other unlawful gifts or gratuities Falsification of time cards
  • Counterfeiting of tennis passes to high-level tennis tournament
  • Wage & Hour investigations
  • Harassment, Discrimination, Retaliation based on FEHA, Title VII, ADA, Rehabilitation Act, ADEA, California Code of Regulations “Title V” (sex, race, color, age, ethnicity, pregnancy, disability, religion/creed, national origin, marital status, etc.)
  • Sexual assault/battery
  • First Amendment/freedom of expression issues
  • Reasonable Accommodation of Disabilities / Failure to Engage in Interactive Process
  • California Whistleblower Statute (Calif. Labor Code 1102.5)
  • Mediation of Employment Disputes (pre- and post-litigation)

Professional Associations

  • Association of Workplace Investigators
  • California Bar Association (Labor and Employment Law section)
  • American Bar Association (Labor and Employment Law section),
  • San Diego County Bar Association (Labor and Employment Law section)
  • Orange County Bar Association (Labor and Employment Law section)
  • Society of Human Resources Management
  • San Diego Society of Human Resource Management
  • North County Personnel Association of San Diego
  • Association of Certified Fraud Examiners
  • Association of Title IX Administrators
  • Disability Management Employers Coalition

Recent Legal Training and Certifications

  • Orange County Bar Association, Harassment Causes, Consequences, and Prevention Strategies, March 12, 2018
  • Disability Management Employer Coalition, Liability Alert! HR and Supervisor Ethical Missteps, March 9, 2018
  • Disability Management Employer Coalition, A Return to Life—A Journey of Mental Health and Wellness, March 1, 2018
  • San Diego SHRM, Retaliation Law: SB 306 and Managing Protected Employees, January 2018
  • San Diego SHRM, EEOC and NLRB Developments, Predictive Scheduling, Cross-Border Employment Issues, January 2018
  • San Diego SHRM, Elimination of Wage Disparities, January 2018
  • San Diego SHRM, Legal Update, January 2018
  • San Diego SHRM, Finding Legal Ways to Tackle Employee Attendance Problems, January 2018
  • Canadian Association of Workplace Investigators, A Trauma-Informed Approach to Violence Investigations, June 28, 2017
  • San Diego SHRM, Ethical Dilemmas for HR Professionals, January 2017
  • San Diego SHRM, Workplace Drug Policy Conundrums: Marijuana Legalization, January 2017
  • San Diego SHRM, Conducting a Gender Equity Audit, January 2017
  • San Diego SHRM, 2017 Employment Law Update: The HR Essentials You Need to Know Now, January 2017
  • San Diego SHRM, Social Media in the Workplace, January 2017
  • AWI Annual Conference, Get the Truth: Learn From a Former CIA Officer How to Persuade Anyone to Tell All, October 2015
  • AWI Annual Conference, Case Study From a High-Profile Investigation, October 2015
  • AWI Annual Conference, Cultural Competency and Interviewing People Different than Ourselves, October 2015
  • AWI Annual Conference, Investigation on Trial, October 2015
  • AWI Annual Conference, Complex and Unexpected Scenarios in Workplace Investigations, October 2015
  • AWI Annual Conference, Unique Considerations for Investigating Workplace Bullying Claims, October 2015
  • AWI Annual Conference, Keeping the “Independence” of Independent Investigations, October 2015
  • AWI Annual Conference, Preventing Retaliation: Strategies for the In-House Investigator or Advisor, October 2015
  • AWI Annual Conference, Everything You Wanted to Know About Digital Evidence But Were Afraid to Ask, October 2015
  • AWI Annual Conference, Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation and Effective Workplace Investigations, October 2015
  • AWI Annual Conference, A Frank Discussion Regarding Investigation Advice from Defense and Plaintiff’s Perspectives, October 2015
  • AWI National Training Institute, Investigations and the Law, February 2015
  • AWI National Training Institute, Case Review and Analysis: Defining the Issues and Planning the Investigation, February 2015
  • AWI National Training Institute, Ethics and Related Issues for Investigators, February 2015
  • AWI National Training Institute, Understanding and Avoiding Bias in Investigations and in Our Practice, February 2015
  • AWI National Training Institute, Interviewing Witnesses, February 2015
  • AWI National Training Institute, Report Writing Fundamentals, February 2015
  • AWI National Training Institute, Threat Assessments, February 2015
  • AWI National Training Institute, Special Issues for Inside Investigators, February 2015
  • AWI National Training Institute, Special Issues for Outside Investigators, February 2015
  • AWI National Training Institute, Recognizing Electronic Data Issues in Investigations, February 2015
  • AWI National Training Institute, The Investigation in Litigation: How Investigations are Attacked and Defended, February 2015
  • AWI Annual Conference, Interviewing: The First 90 Seconds and Beyond, November 2014
  • AWI Annual Conference, Spy the Lie: A Former CIA Officer Teaches You How to Detect Deception, November 2014
  • AWI Annual Conference, Year in Review: Legal Update of State & Federal Law, November 2014
  • AWI Annual Conference, Behavioral Analysis: A Tool for Effectively Approaching Witnesses and Clients, November 2014
  • AWI Annual Conference, Tips from the Trenches: Plaintiff’s vs. Defense Counsel, November 2014
  • AWI Annual Conference, Developing a Strategy for an Internal Investigation: An Insider’s Look, November 2014
  • AWI Annual Conference, Trends in Workplace Investigations & California Legal Update, November 2014
  • AWI Annual Conference, Interviewing: Ethical Considerations in Workplace Investigations, November 2014
  • AWI Annual Conference, Groundbreaking Credibility Findings in the EEOC’s Five Factors, November 2014
  • AWI Annual Conference, Untying the Knot: Identifying and Resolving Complex and Unexpected Situations During Workplace Investigations, November 2014
  • State Bar of California, Annual Update in Employment and Labor Law, April 2014
  • State Bar of California, Advanced Issues in Public Employee Discipline, April 2014
  • State Bar of California, NLRB in the Non-Union Workplace, April 2014
  • State Bar of California, The Future of Work: The Virtual Workplace, April 2014
  • State Bar of California, The US Supreme Court: Where the Court Stands on Employment Issues and Where It May Be Headed, April 2014
  • State Bar of California, Practical Litigation Strategies and Ethical Concerns Post-Harris, April 2014
  • San Diego SHRM, California Banning the Box: EEOC Guidance on Criminal Background Checks, January 2014
  • State Bar of California, Bias in the Legal Profession, January 2014
  • AWI Annual Conference, The Investigators’ Toolbox: Technology as a Tool for a Thorough Investigation, November 2013
  • AWI Annual Conference, An Insider’s Peek at Corporate Investigations, November 2013
  • AWI Annual Conference, Mind Your Own Business: Using Social Media as an Investigative Tool, November 2013
  • AWI Annual Conference, The High Cost of Getting Even: Understanding and Investigating Retaliation Claims, November 2013
  • AWI Annual Conference, Capturing the Witness Statement: From the Investigation to Brain Science—What’s the Best Approach, November 2013
  • AWI Annual Conference, Investigator as Deponent: How to Nail Your Deposition Testimony, November 2013
  • Public Sector Employment Law Conference, State Bar of California, Labor and Employment Law Section, May 2013
  • AWI Annual Conference, Beyond the Courthouse Walls: Combining Law, Science, History & Engineering to Build a Better Investigation, November 2012
  • AWI Annual Conference, Legal Update Including the Faragher-Ellerth Defense & CA Issues, November 2012
  • AWI Annual Conference, Investigating in the Big Leagues: From Barry Bonds to Child Pornography, a US Attorney’s Perspective, November 2012
  • AWI Annual Conference, Investigating Disability Discrimination & Failure to Accommodate Complaints, November 2012
  • AWI Annual Conference, Public Sector Investigations, November 2012
  • AWI Annual Conference, Defense Attorney’s View: What We Want from the Investigator and How it Impacts Litigation, November 2012
  • Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) Certification Renewal, Human Resources Certification Institute, January 2013 – January 2016
  • Certification (40 hours training), National Training Institute, Association of Workplace Investigators, June 2012
  • The “Good Enough” Investigation: How to Meet Standards While Controlling Costs, Association of Workplace Investigators, May 2012
  • AWI Annual Conference, Examining the Investigation: A Demonstration of Trial Testimony, November 2011
  • AWI Annual Conference, Expert Testimony on Trial, November 2011
  • AWI Annual Conference, You Want Me to Investigate Who?, November 2011
  • AWI Annual Conference, Enlisting Your Clients’ Help in Maintaining Investigation Integrity, November 2011
  • AWI Annual Conference, Issues in Eyewitness Evidence and Gathering Evidence Beyond Testimonial, November 2011
  • AWI Annual Conference, Data Privacy—The New Frontier, November 2011
  • AWI Annual Conference, Investigation Law: What Do the Legal Authorities Teach Us?, November 2011
  • Employment Round Table of Southern California, Advanced Issues in Workplace Investigations, November 2011
  • Employment Round Table of Southern California, All New EEOC Disability Regulations, Including the Interactive Process, November 2011
  • Employment Round Table of Southern California, Retaliation – Now the #1 Complaint, November 2011
  • Employment Round Table of Southern California, Developments in California New Wage & Hour Issues, November 2011
  • Employment Round Table of Southern California, The Latest on Social Media Issues in the Workplace, November 2011
  • California State Bar, Use of Liability Experts in Harassment Litigation, October 2011
  • CAOWI Annual Conference, Ready, Set, Go: Planning and Perfecting the Investigative Interview, November 2010
  • CAOWI Annual Conference, Enhanced Cognitive Interviewing: A Proven Method That Uses Cognitive Psychology To Get More Information, November 2010
  • CAOWI Annual Conference, The Psychology of Bias: Understanding and Eliminating Bias in Investigations, November 2010
  • CAOWI Annual Conference, Workplace Investigation on Trial: How Defendants Conduct Bulletproof Investigations and How Plaintiffs Shoot Them Down, November 2010
  • CAOWI Annual Conference, Maybe Even the Kitchen Sink: What to Put in the Attorney-Client Agreement for a Workplace Investigation, November 2010
  • CAOWI Annual Conference, Special Issues in Public Sector Investigations: What You Don’t Know Can & Will Hurt You, November 2010
  • CAOWI Annual Conference, ICRA, FRCA, FACTA: Acronyms That Investigators and Clients Need to Know, November 2010
  • CAOWI Annual Conference, Effective Use of Digital Evidence in Workplace Investigations, November 2010
  • CAOWI Annual Conference, Lawyers Performing Workplace Investigations: Avoiding Traps for the Unwary, November 2010
  • SHRM Annual Conference, Internal Investigations: What You Must Know to Avoid Liability Under California Law, June 2010
  • SHRM Annual Conference, Health Care Reform: Impacts for Employers and Employees, June 2010
  • SHRM Annual Conference, Training for Compliance and Litigation Avoidance: Everything You Need to Include in Unlawful Harassment Training for California Supervisors and More!, June 2010
  • SHRM Annual Conference, Fit for Duty? When Medical Examinations are the Answer, June 2010
  • SHRM Annual Conference, Never TMI – Social Networking and California Employment Law, June 2010
  • SPHR Certification, Human Resources Certification Institute, January 2010
  • State Bar of California, How to Conduct Employment Investigations, October 2009
  • State Bar of California, Sexual Harassment Investigations: Conducting Them, Attacking Them, and Pitfalls with Witnesses, October 2009
  • State Bar of California, Retaliation Under Title VII and FEHA, October 2009
  • State Bar of California, Recent Developments in Statutory and Case Law, October 2009
  • State Bar of California, Recent Developments in Disability Discrimination, October 2009
  • State Bar of California, Religion, God in the Workplace, October 2009
  • State Bar of California, Employment Mediation in the 10s, October 2009
  • EEOC Training Institute, Technical Assistance Seminar, September 2009
  • State Bar of California, Labor and Employment Update, 2008
  • State Bar of California, Disability Discrimination, 2008
  • State Bar of California, Personnel Actions in the Public Sector, 2008
  • State Bar of California, Issues of Age Discrimination and the Baby Boomer Generation, 2008
  • EEOC Training Institute, Technical Assistance Program, 2008
  • State Bar of California, Employment Law in the Biotech Industry, 2008
  • State Bar of California, Internal Investigations on Trial: Plaintiff and Defense Perspectives, 2007
  • State Bar of California, Update on Wrongful Termination and Discrimination, 2007
  • State Bar of California, Regulating Private Behavior in the Workplace, 2007
  • EEOC Training Institute, EEO Complaint Process, 2007

Recent Publications

  • Limited-Scope Engagement Agreements for Outside Attorneys Conducting Internal Administrative Investigations, AWI Journal, December 2017
  • Special Issues in Public Sector Investigations, AWI Training Institute, with Marilou Mirkovich, Esq., February 2015
  • Workplace Investigations: The Gold Standard, Calif. Business Law Practitioner–CEB, Spring 2012
  • Conducting Firefighter Investigations: The Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights Act, AWI Quarterly, July 2010
  • Tips for Conducting Peace Officer Investigations, AWI Quarterly, April 2010, with Sue Ann Van Dermyden
  • Practice Pointers for Workplace Investigations, AWI Quarterly, January 2010, with Nancy Bornn
  • Resolving Bitterness and Wounded Feelings in the Office After a Workplace Investigations, AWI Quarterly, January 2010, with Ron S. Brand and Emily Camastra

Education

  • J.D., University of San Diego School of Law, 1989
    • Law Review: Comments and Note Editor, 1989
  • B.S. in Psychology, Brigham Young University, 1984

Bar Admissions

  • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • U.S. District Court, Northern, Central, and Southern Districts of CA
  • State Bar of California since 1990

 

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