Gordon L. Osaka
  • Sole Practitioner


Portland, OR





Experience.  With over 40 years of employment and labor law experience and having tried hundreds of federal and state court trial cases to verdict, Gordon Osaka has comprehensive legal knowledge, strategies, and common sense to represent employers and management in employment and collective labor law union matters.  He is a perfectionist.  He is cost conscious.  He does not waste time or client money on tactics which have little chance of success.

Born and raised in the then farming community of Fife, Washington, Mr. Osaka graduated from Fife High School in 1967 while playing three varsity sports, football (QB), basketball, and tennis.

Mr. Osaka received his B.A. from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!), majoring in Economics.

He received his J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School (then Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College).   

Admitted to the Oregon State Bar in 1975, Mr. Osaka’s expertise, ethics, and reputation amongst his peers and federal and state court judges have earned him the highest Martindale-Hubbell's AV PreEminent 5.0/5.0 peer rating, a rating voted on by his peers ("A" the highest legal abilities; "V" the highest ethical character).

A member of the Oregon State Bar in good standing and is licensed to practice in all Oregon courts, the United States District Court of Oregon, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Mr. Osaka has tried hundreds of cases in Oregon federal and state court as well as courts throughout the United States in Washington, Idaho, California, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Florida through Pro Hac Vice associations.

He has served on the Oregon State Bar’s Civil Jury Instruction Committee, Board of Bar Examiners, Affirmative Action Committee.  He has served on the Board of the Multnomah County Bar Association.  And presently serves on Oregon Asian Pacific Attorney Bar Association Advocacy Committee. 

Away from court, avocational Mr. Osaka enjoys enjoys family, friends, tennis (his other court), and lapswimming.

Areas Of Practice

  • Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA)
  • Americans Disability Act (ADA)
  • Citizenship Discrimination
  • Collective Bargaining Grievances
  • Covenant Not To Compete
  • Employment Contracts
  • Exempt & Non-Exempt
  • Hostile Work Environment
  • OSHA Violation
  • Overtime
  • Race, Gender, Religion Title VII Discrimination
  • Service Contract Act
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Trade Secret
  • Wage and Hour
  • Whistleblowing
  • Workers' Compensation Discrimination
  • Wrongful Discharge

Bar Admissions

  • Oregon, 1975
  • U.S. Federal Court, 1976


  • Lewis and Clark College Northwestern School of Law, Portland, Oregon
    • Doctor of Jurisprudence - 1974
  • University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
    • Bachelor of Arts - 1971
    • Major: Economics

Representative Clients

  • 3D Plastics, Inc.
  • Beauty Management, Inc., dba Perfect Look
  • Blue Star Charter & Tours, Inc.
  • Bridgetown Realty, Inc.
  • Cameron Care, Inc.
  • Cornerstone Builders, Inc.
  • Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A., Inc.
  • Dill's Star Route, Inc.
  • Endonia Nursery Oregon
  • F.D. Thomas, Inc.
  • Installer's Floorcoverings, Inc.
  • Ocean Pacific International, Inc.
  • Oldcastle Precast, Inc.
  • Oregon Coast Spine Institute, L.L.C.
  • Pacificap Properties Group, LLC
  • Phoenix Electric Company, L.L.C.
  • Real Time Staffing Services, Inc., dba Select Staffing
  • Remedy Intelligent Staffing, Inc.
  • Retail Imaging Management Group, LLC
  • Scholastic Book Fairs, Inc.
  • Sun Forest Construction, Ltd.
  • Xerox Business Services, LLC
  • Xerox Commercial Services, LLC
  • Xerox Corporation
  • Zurich Insurance Company

Honors and Awards

  • Awarded Martindale-Hubbell AV Highest Rating

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Multnomah County Bar Association, Director, 1992 to 1995
  • Oregon State Bar Association, Member, Board of Bar Examiners, 1985 to 1988
  • Oregon State Bar Association, Member, Affirmative Action Committee, 1982 to 1985
  • Committee on Uniform Civil Jury Instruction, Member, 1988 to 1991
  • Committee on Uniform Civil Jury Instructions, Member, 1997 to 2000
  • Asian Pacific American Law Association of Oregon, Director, 1994 to 1994

Representative Cases

Age Discrimination

Long-term employee sued the employer, alleging termination due to age, while the employer attributed the termination to the loss of a major client. Although the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff, a judge granted defendant’s Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict, overturning the jury’s decision as a matter of law. JNOV, often requested by defense attorneys but rarely granted, is appropriate when a jury sympathizes with a plaintiff even though there is no evidence to support the jury’s verdict.

Plaintiff sued the employer, alleging termination due to age, while the employer alleged that plaintiff yelled, screamed, and ultimately pushed a table into a co-employee. Judge ordered mediation resulted in quick settlement.

Breach of Contract

Plaintiff alleged an implied lifetime employment contract after supervisor allegedly assured plaintiff that plaintiff’s job was not in jeopardy. In a jury trial, defendant argued persuasively that the employer had responded to an economic downturn by first cutting back all possible costs and expenses, including executive compensation, before a reduction in force became necessary. During jury selection and closing argument, Mr. Osaka used his “Star Trek” defense. The jury, many of whom were dues paying union members, returned a verdict for the employer.

Union health and welfare trust alleged failure to pay trust benefits pursuant to collective bargaining agreement against employer. The underpayments were caused by an underlying calculation error, and a settlement and payment plan were negotiated on behalf of defendant after arguing that payments ceased to be due at the expiration of the operative agreement, as well as raising a statute of limitations defense.

Citizenship Discrimination Cases (Change to Government Investigations?)

Plaintiff, U.S. Department of Justice, alleged class action against employer for allegedly engaging in pattern or practice of discriminatory hiring against non-resident, work-eligible Hispanics, even though the vast majority of employer’s work force was Hispanic and non-resident Hispanics. In proceedings before an Administrative Law Judge, case dismissed after putative class representative plaintiff failed to produce original social security card for inspection.

Class Actions

Class action wage claim dismissed for want of a sufficient class action pre-litigation notice. The plaintiff proceeded with individual wage claim only, which was quickly settled.

Class action wage claim brought by undocumented workers. After 15-day jury trial, jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff.

Class action wage claim monitored for national temporary worker agency client who was not a party to the action. Pending.

Covenant not to Compete

Former key employee “hip-pocket” business of some of employer’s customers, with intent to consummate the business when employee began work with new employer. Cease and desist letters sent to both former employee and new employer.

Former key employee allegedly opened competing business in violation of employment agreement terms prohibiting such conduct within a specified geographic area.

Disability Discrimination

Seasonal employee alleged that she was not invited back to seasonal job because of carpal tunnel syndrome which prevented her from doing essential functions of job. Case settled.

Plaintiff, a part-time employee because of medical condition, alleged that termination due to disability and not because employer needed full time employee. Case settled via offer of judgment.

Temporary knee injury does not a disability make. After the judge ordered the parties to a settlement conference, the case was dismissed.

Diabetic truck driver alleged disability discrimination after termination for failure to obtain a valid commercial driver’s license. Defense filed a Motion to Dismiss as sanction for plaintiff perjury during a deposition, along with a Motion for Summary Judgment. Summary Judgment for defendant was granted.

Plaintiff, suffering from medical condition, alleged demotions due to disability and asked for damages related to emotional distress. Defendant obtained evidence from plaintiff’s medical records indicating that emotional distress was a symptom of the prior and unrelated serious medical condition, and the case settled.

An employee with a health condition was laid off by employer due to business reasons, then alleged failure to accommodate, failure to engage in interactive process, and termination due to health. The case settled.

Labor Arbitration

Tenured professor terminated for just cause for harassing fellow professor. Union alleged unfair labor practice. The defense forensic computer expert recovered deleted emails that undermined terminated professor’s denial of harassing emails. Arbitrator found in favor of the employer.

Race Discrimination

Employee alleged Mexican Hispanic supervisor harassed him because of his alleged Guatemalan national origin and race. Defense submitted documentary evidence to the government investigator showing that the employee’s country of origin was Mexico. The complaint was withdrawn by the employee.

Hispanic employees allege race discrimination and harassment, which employer strongly denied. During EEOC’s conciliation process, the employer’s modest settlement offer was rejected by employees and no settlement was reached; EEOC ended the investigation and issued a “Right to Sue” letter to the employees. The employees did not pursue matter further.

Caucasian employee alleged reverse discrimination, alleging harassment and discrimination against Hispanic owned and operated employer because he was a Caucasian. The case was resolve through the settlement conference process.

Service Contract Act

State alleging that employees of certain government contractors are subject to State’s overtime laws. Employer settled claims.

U.S. Department of Labor alleged employer failed to pay contract-required wages and benefits to mail haul truck drivers and sought debarment.

After the General Services Administration unilaterally changed employee classifications on government contracts held by the employer, a Department of Labor investigation alleged back wages due because of employee misclassification.

Sexual Harassment

After BOLI dismissed the claims of two female employees for lack of evidence, the employees sued. Over time, details of the plaintiffs’ stories changed, and the employer was vindicated of alleged sexual harassment after a jury trial.

Alleged sexual harassment focused on male co-worker admonishing Plaintiff not to smoke in smoke free lunch room by poking her in sternum. The case settled before the trial ended.

Male supervisor alleged that he was terminated because he complained of sexual harassment of women. The case settled before trial.

Plaintiff alleged sexual harassment by male supervisor. Employer had previously taken prompt and appropriate remedial action, and the case settled quickly.

Woman hired at male-dominated workplace alleged sexual harassment with resulting psychological damage. At trial, after direct examination of woman’s treating psychologist, defense counsel reviewed psychologist’s file which included an additional standardized psychometric test, which was withheld during discovery and deposition, and which raised the probability that woman’s psychological damage was caused by pre-existing alcohol abuse. Employer’s Motion for Mistrial granted.

Plaintiff alleged that Japanese supervisor subjected her to hostile work environment by yelling at her during course of group meeting which yelling, Plaintiff alleged, would not have occurred but for the fact that all Japanese men feel that women are subservient to men. The case was dismissed.

A young female employee alleged the president of the company, who was based a few hundred miles away from plaintiff, was sexually harassing her with gifts and comments. However, plaintiff’s telephone records showed lengthy telephone calls initiated by plaintiff after her alleged rejection, suggesting that alleged harassment may not have been unwelcome. The case settled.

Female plaintiff alleged sexual harassment by gay male supervisor. Case settled.

Woman employee in male dominated industry alleged gender harassment and termination. Employer’s decision to terminate was made before alleged harassment occurred, and the case settled.

Male supervisor and married female subordinate have sex outside of work while the female subordinate is intoxicated, and under advice of counsel, the employer investigated and took prompt and appropriate remedial action. No claim was made.

Female employee alleged to Oregon BOLI that male employer sexually harassed her and fired her when she refused him. Defense based on co-worker testimony and cell phone records, and the complaint was dismissed for lack of evidence.

Wage Claims

New truck driver asks to ride along with an owner-operator to get experience in the industry. After disappearing in a neighboring state, the individual makes a wage claim for the time spent riding in owner-operator’s vehicle. Defendant prevailed at trial and on appeal.

Employees alleged overtime. Defense argued the employees were not entitled to overtime because job duties affected motor vehicle safety involved in interstate commerce pursuant to federal Amtrak Act exemption, which the State of Oregon also exempts. The case settled.

Employee alleges retaliation for making working-off-the-clock wage claim after supervisor chased plaintiff into the bathroom. Case settled.

Individual wage claim settlement follows soon after Class Action wage claim dismissed, and is settled.

Employee’s inconsistent statements undermine employee’s ability to prove wage loss, and the case settled.

Employee alleged employer’s required garnishment deductions exceeded amount permitted by statute. Employer acknowledged excess withholding, and the case was settled.

Plaintiff alleged that he was not paid sales commissions owed. The case was settled.

Oregon BOLI brought a lawsuit against alleged employer on behalf of exotic dancers who were engaged by a third party business. Alleged employer argued that dancers are not employees to whom minimum wage is due. Defense won the case at trial.

Plaintiff alleged state and federal (Fair Labor Standards Act) premium wage overtime claim. Defense focused on the lack of interstate activity, plaintiff’s exempt status, and plaintiff’s inability to quantify his excess work hours during deposition. The case settled.

Plaintiff, commercial truck driver, failed to quantify the amount of time that he allegedly worked without pay through his, inter alia, rest and meal periods. Plaintiff prevailed at trial.

After a confrontation, a long-term employee filed for unemployment and alleged overdue termination wages, while the employer believed employee planned to return to work. The employee also alleged to the unemployment department that she was fired, while employer argued that she quit. The defense was based on evidence from the long history between the parties. An administrative law judge found that the employee had left voluntarily, and no claims were pursued.

Commissioned salesperson claimed unpaid termination wages for commissions earned but not paid until employer received the income. The case was settled.

Commissioned outside salesperson claims minimum wage and overtime wages, in addition to commissions for sales that closed after termination. All claims settled quickly.

Long-time residential apartment manager claimed six years’ wages and overtime. Defense was based on statutory overtime exemptions and documentary evidence of actual work hours. The case settled after depositions were taken.


Plaintiff alleged that he was terminated in retaliation for refusing to participate in a grant application. After some claims were dismissed on summary judgment, the remaining claims settled.

Plaintiff alleged termination due to age and whistleblowing. The case went to trial, and the jury returned a verdict for the defense in less than two hours.

Plaintiff alleged termination was in retaliation for complaining about unsafe work condition. Defense was based on plaintiff’s history of insubordination and job abandonment, including on the day of termination. Case settled after plaintiff’s deposition.

Worker’s Compensation Discrimination

BOLI finds insufficient evidence to support employee’s claim of discrimination for using workers compensation system.

While plaintiff was out on a worker’s compensation injury, a major client called employer refusing to work again with plaintiff. Shortly after plaintiff’s return to work, employer terminated employment for a relatively minor offense. Plaintiff claimed retaliation for using the worker’s compensation system, and the claims were settled.

Plaintiff alleged failure to reinstate to former position after worker’s compensation injury. Employer showed that plaintiff was seeking alternate employment prior to returning to former position, and the case settled.

Monitoring of a State of California case in which plaintiff alleged injuries caused by employer not providing safe workplace.