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Ms. Johnson is a partner at Johnson Heeder LLP. Ms. Johnson represents and advises clients in a range of employment law matters including executive compensation, wage and hour claims, employment contract disputes, work-related gender, race, age, color and national origin discrimination, sexual harassment, disability discrimination and failure to accommodate, State Personnel Board proceedings, Skelly hearings, and federal employee MSPB and EEO hearings.
Prior to joining Johnson Heeder LLP, Ms. Johnson was a partner at a general business firm where she handled a variety of business-related matters, employment litigation, and wage and hour litigation.
Ms. Johnson received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego. She received her law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, California.
Ms. Johnson serves on the Executive Board of the California Employment Lawyer’s Association (CELA), the pre-eminent bar association for California plaintiffs employment attorneys. She has presented at CELA’s prestigious annual conferences. As an active CELA member, Ms. Johnson is part of CELA’s Lobby Day team, traveling to Sacramento every year to meet with California legislators and staff to advocate for changes in the law that will provide working Californians with stronger legal protection.
Ms. Johnson is active in the San Diego legal community and is often recognized for her commitment and skill. Ms. Johnson lectures on employment law topics before state and local bar associations, disability rights agencies, professional associations, and community groups, addressing audiences on wage and hour laws; LGBTQ protections; disability discrimination; ADA compliance; leaves of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA); unemployment benefit appeals; and numerous litigation topics.
Ms. Johnson is a United States Air Force Veteran. She is a long-time resident of San Diego County. She enjoys golf, travel with her partner, gardening, and her dogs Chuck (RIP), Bentley, and Enzo.
The truth about employment? Next to family, it is the most important aspect of a person’s life, their livelihood. As a partner and litigator with Johnson Heeder LLP, Nicole advocates for workers whose rights are jeopardized by race/ethnicity, age, disability, pregnancy, religious, sexual orientation, and gender discrimination, as well as sexual harassment in the workplace. Nicole also protects workers against other employment right infringements such as wage theft, medical leave law violations, and contract disputes. In addition to litigating, Nicole has extensive experience with the transactional side of employment law including contract review and negotiation for severance and other compensation agreements, as well as representation of employees in the reasonable accommodation process.
Nicole answered her calling for employment law early on in her career. While earning her degree, Nicole worked toward enhancing employee rights. In her final year of law school, Nicole transitioned from advocating for employee benefits to anti-discrimination practice, taking an internship with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It was here that she was inspired to open a plaintiff’s employment law boutique. Upon graduation, Nicole took a position with a solo employment law practitioner before hoisting the sails of her own practice dedicated to vindicating employee rights.
With over a decade of focused labor and employment law experience, Nicole represents workers in both the public and private sectors, and served as in-house counsel for the state’s largest public sector labor union for the last four years. Where Nicole’s public sector labor experience includes administrative hearings, unfair practice charges, collective bargaining, grievance arbitration, due process challenges, and other constitutional litigation, it also mirrors her private sector employment experience focusing on remedying all matters of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wage theft by public entities in the civil arena. Nicole also skillfully represents state government workers in administrative hearings before the State Personnel Board, CalHR, and the Public Employment Relations Board, as well as federal government employees before the MSPB and EEOC. Nicole similarly represents local government agency employees, including county, city and special district workers, and has successfully argued before the California Court of Appeal.
Continuously recognized for her skill, advocacy and commitment, Nicole was most recently recognized in the 30th edition of The Best Lawyers in America® for her work in employment law. She was also designated as a San Diego Super Lawyer in 2023, for the third year in a row following six years of recognition as a Rising Star. Endeavoring to raise the bar and cultivate other strong lawyers in the community who provide access to justice, Nicole mentors law students and new lawyers through several law organizations and volunteers as a supervising attorney for employment law clinics.
Beyond lawyering, Nicole is an active member of the community, In leadership at several state and local level bar associations, she serves on diversity committees focused on providing opportunities to underrepresented groups in the profession, and the community at large. Nicole also dedicates much of her time to the advancement of women in law and society.
Outside of the courtroom, Nicole, an avid lover of animals, adopted a Thoroughbred mare rescued from slaughter. When not tending to her affable yet high maintenance pal, Nicole and her husband spend time traveling, enjoying food, kayaking, and taking in the sun.
Honors and Awards