Overview

About Karen

Karen O’Connor is a partner in the firm’s Labor and Employment group. Her practice includes counseling and litigation on complex employment issues including leave laws, workplace harassment and discrimination, discipline and documentation, and drug and alcohol issues. She represents clients before Oregon and Washington state and federal courts and in administrative proceedings. Karen co-teaches in the human resources program at Portland State University and is a frequent speaker in the community.

Before joining Stoel Rives, Karen was a partner at Barran Liebman LLP (1999-2012), an associate at Foster Pepper & Shefelman LLP (1997-1999), and served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Malcolm F. Marsh, U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon (1995-1997).

Expand to Read More + See Less -
Experience

Experience

  • Unanimous defense verdict following a one-week jury trial against claims of pregnancy discrimination, gender discrimination and disability discrimination.
  • Defended manufacturer against claims of family leave interference/discrimination, disability discrimination, and wrongful discharge. After 4-day jury trial, obtained a favorable verdict substantially in favor of employer.
  • Obtained summary judgment in a case of first impression regarding whether an employer can terminate an employee for making threats of violence in the workplace, even if the threats are disability-related; summary judgment upheld on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Obtained arbitration award in favor of company against claims by former Chief Financial Officer seeking a multi-million dollar damages award.
  • Obtained defense verdict following one-week jury trial on claims of sexual harassment, race discrimination, FMLA/OFLA retaliation, and wrongful discharge on behalf of large non-profit organization.
  • Defended two age discrimination cases for a large commercial manufacturer, successfully positioning both cases for conclusion, resulting in a complete dismissal of one case and a favorable settlement of the other.
  • Successfully defended brew pub/hotel in 4-day federal court jury trial against claims of race discrimination and retaliation.
  • Successfully defended brew pub/hotel in 3-day state court jury trial against claim of reverse race discrimination, whistleblowing and retaliation.
  • Successfully defended financial institution against claims of Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower and retaliation claims.
  • Defended large software company in arbitration alleging disability discrimination/failure to accommodate and wrongful discharge; obtained limited award substantially in favor of employer.
  • Obtained partial summary judgment on plaintiff’s claims of family leave and disability discrimination claims, which drove favorable resolution of case.
  • Defended a medical device company and several of its New York-based sales employees against claims for tortious interference with contract and breach of employment agreements, among other claims.
  • Conducted investigations of harassment, discrimination and retaliation allegations for public-sector and private sector clients
  • Presented harassment, discrimination, implicit bias, sensitivity and other trainings to dozens of clients and organizations
Expand to Read More + See Less -
Honors

Honors & Activities

Professional Honors & Activities

  • Named by Best Lawyers® as Employment Law-Management “Lawyer of the Year,” Portland, 2015, 2017 and 2019
  • Named by Best Lawyers® Lawyers as one of the 39 “most accomplished female attorneys in corporate-facing practice areas” in the nation for its “Women in the Law” Business Edition, 2019
  • Included in The Best Lawyers in America© (currently: Employment Law-Management, Labor Law-Management, Litigation-Labor & Employment), 2010-2019
  • Selected as one of “America’s Leading Lawyers for Business” (Oregon) by Chambers USA (currently: Labor & Employment), 2010-2019
  • Listed in Oregon Super Lawyers® (Employment Litigation: Defense, Employment & Labor), 2008-2019
  • Listed in Oregon Super Lawyers® in Top 25 Women Lawyers, 2009-2014, 2018-2019
  • Selected as a “Labor & Employment Star – West” by Benchmark Litigation
  • Member, Oregon State Bar Association
  • Mentor, Multnomah Bar Association
  • Member, Oregon Association of Defense Counsel
  • Member, Washington State Bar Association
  • Member, Federal Bar Association
  • Member, American Bar Association

Civic Activities

  • Member, Board of Directors, Audubon Society of Portland, 2008-present
  • Member, University of Oregon Law Student Mentoring Program, 2002-present
  • Member, University of Oregon Law School Alumni Board, 2002-2005
  • Mentor, Multnomah Bar Association Mentor Program, 2002-present
Expand to Read More + See Less -
Insights & Presentations

Insights & Presentations

  • “The Bermuda Triangle of Leave Laws,” Lower Columbia Human Resource Management Association, May 2019
  • “Preparing for the Silver Tsunami and Promoting Values of Diversity and Inclusion” (moderator), 5th Annual Enterprise Risk Management Symposium, April 2019
  • “Ten Things Oregon Employers Should Do Regarding Pay Equity,” Portland Business Journal, Jan. 2019
  • “Labor & Employment Seminar – Oregon’s Pay Equity Law: It’s Here – Are You Ready?," Stoel Rives LLP, Jan. 2019
  • “Attracting And Retaining Skilled Employees,” Portland Business Journal, Nov. 2018 
  • “Lightning Round: Staying Anchored with Your Top 10 Legal Updates,” SHRM/Stoel Rives 16th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference, Feb. 2018
  • “The Bermuda Triangle of FMLA, ADA, and Sick Leave,” SHRM/Stoel Rives 16th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference, Feb. 2018
  • “Labor and Employment Breakfast Briefing: Oregon Legislative Update,” Stoel Rives LLP, Oct. 2017
  • “Issues Facing Employers with a Primarily ‘Graying’ Workforce and a Primarily ‘Millennial’ Workforce,” SHRM/Stoel Rives 15th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference, March 2017
  • “Advanced FMLA/ADA,” SHRM/Stoel Rives 15th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference, March 2017
  • “The ADA Interactive Process: Lessons Learned,” SHRM/Stoel Rives 14th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference, March 2016
  • “Legal Updates,” SHRM/Stoel Rives 14th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference, March 2016
  • “Weaving Through Complicated Americans with Disabilities Act Scenarios,” SHRM/Stoel Rives 13th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference, March 2015
  • “Family Leave & Reasonable Accommodations: Beyond the Basics,” SHRM Rogue Valley Chapter May Legal Seminar, May 15, 2014
  • “Hot Topics: New Developments in Labor and Employment Law,” SHRM Rogue Valley Chapter May Legal Seminar, May 15, 2014
  • “Practical ADA Inquiries,” 11th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference, SHRM Oregon State Council, March 2012
  • “Common Mistakes Employers Make,” Tenth Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference, SHRM Oregon State Council, March 2012
  • “Recent Changes in Labor and Employment Law: What Employers Need to Know,” NW EEO Seminar, Oct. 2011
  • “The Protected-Class Approach to Antidiscrimination Law: Logic, Effects, Reform,” Lewis & Clark Law School 16th Annual Business Law Fall Forum, Sept. 2011
  • “Employment and Labor Law Update,” Barran Liebman LLP Annual Seminar, Sept. 2011
  • Employee & Labor Relations Course, Portland State University Professional Development Center, June 2011
  • “Employment & Labor Law Update,” Oregon NHRMA HR Foundation Conference, June 2011
  • “Annual Employment Law Update,” Oregon Law Institute (OLI) CLE, June 2011
  • “The New ADAAA and GINA Regulations: Keeping Up With The EEOC,” Barran Liebman LLP 2011 Food For Thought Breakfast Seminar, May 2011
  • “Employment & Labor Law Update,” Oregon NHRMA HR Foundation Conference, April 2011
  • “Employment Law Update,” Oregon Governor’s Occupational Safety & Health (GOSH) Conference, March 2011
  • “Employment Law Update,” Annual West Coast Roundtable, March 2011
  • “Employment Law Update,” NW EEO/Affirmative Action Association, Jan. 2011
  • BOLI’s 26th Annual Employment Law Conference, Dec. 2010
  • Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference, Nov. 2010
  • “Social Networking Tips,” Barran Liebman LLP Annual Seminar, Sept. 2010
  • Employee & Labor Relations Course, Portland State University Professional Development Center, June, July 2010
  • “Train the Trainer: Harassment,” Barran Liebman LLP Breakfast Seminar, March 2010
  • “Follow the Law and Go Hands-Free,” The Daily Journal of Commerce, Jan. 2010
  • “Circle of Life: Annual Employment Case Law Update,” Barran Liebman LLP Annual Labor & Employment Seminar, Sept. 2009
  • Quoted in The Daily Journal of Commerce, “Ten Sticky Issues: Portland Attorneys Offer Their Unique Takes on 10 Key Legal Issues Impacting Employers and Their Staffs,” Aug. 2009
  • “Dealing with a Bad Economy: Reductions in Force,” LGPI Annual Conference - Sept. 2009
  • Annual Employment Law Update, OLI, June 2009
  • “NHRMA Presents: Human Resource Foundations - A Guide to Professional Development,” April 2009
  • “New FMLA Regulations: Time to Update Your Forms and Policies,” March 2009
  • “Understanding the New FMLA Regulations: What Every Employer Needs to Know,” Jan. 2009
  • BOLI Employment Law Conference, Dec. 2008
  • “2008 Election Results and Employers: How Will Businesses Be Affected?,” Nov. 2008
  • “What to Expect from the ADA Amendments Act,” Portland Human Resource Management Association, Nov. 2008
  • “Finding the Path Through Messy Terminations,” Annual Employment & Labor Law Seminar, Sept. 2008
  • Employee & Labor Relations, Portland State University, Aug. 2008
  • “OFLA/FMLA Update,” Barran Liebman LLP Breakfast Seminar, March 2008



Related News & Publications


Expand to Read More + See Less -
×
Saved Pages

Use the arrows to arrange content.  Download pages as a .pdf file or share links via email..

{{ item.Title }} {{ item.AttorneyPosition }}, {{ item.AttorneyLocation }} , C. {{ item.AttorneyCell }} , P. {{ item.AttorneyPhone }} , F. {{ item.AttorneyFax }} {{ item.TypeText }} Remove
You have no pages saved
            {{ state | json }}