Melisa counsels and represents universities, colleges, and schools. She regularly guides institutions and individuals in lawsuits involving federal and state constitutional issues, civil rights, intellectual property, employment law, education law and local government law.
Melisa has advocated for her clients before the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the New York State Attorney General, the New York Division of Human Rights, the Office of the Attorney General of Texas, and federal and state courts in New York and Texas.
In addition to her litigation and investigations practice, Melisa assists her clients with training, policy manual review, ethics compliance, and business and employment contract review. She has developed procedures related to student speech, campus law enforcement, employee grievances, surplus property disposal, and drug and alcohol testing.
- Obtained dismissal of Title VI and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 discrimination claims against school district and principal related to student discipline in Mohamed v. Irving Independent School District, 252 F. Supp. 3d 602 (May 18, 2017) and Mohamed v. Irving Independent School District, 300 F. Supp. 3d 857 (Mar. 13, 2018).
- Secured summary judgment for administrator and college against sexual harassment retaliation claims in Gangotena v. Blinn College District, 4:15-cv-3538 (S.D. Tex. May 28, 2017).
- Earned dismissal of First Amendment and retaliation claims against instructor related to student speech in Sanders v. Guzman, 1:15-cv-426 (W.D. Tex. Aug. 3, 2015).
- Achieved $2.7 million federal jury verdict for energy distributor in complex contract and fraud dispute in Lakes Gas Co. v. Fencl Oil & L.P. Co., 2:11-cv-01013 (N.D. Iowa 2013).
- Secured arbitration award for equipment licensor against operator of road-repair equipment in Brazil and successfully defended injunction in Eco Tech Engenharia Ltda. v. Pothole Killers LLC, 1:12-cv-07464 (S.D.N.Y. 2012).
- Represented college in affirmative litigation asserting federal and state claims of misleading representations, false advertising, cybersquatting, and unfair competition against gun range deceptively operated and marketed to suggest college endorsement.
- Counseled schools and colleges on transgender student accommodation, veteran hiring preferences, federal work-study programs, criminal background checks, disability accommodations, and compliance with a broad range of federal statutes and regulations, including 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Clery Act, Title IV, Title VI, Title VII, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission federal grant criteria.
- Race, Color and National Origin: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and A Practical Guide to a Compliant Title VI Program, National Association of College and University Attorneys, Denver, CO (upcoming)
- Legal Issues in Higher Education, Higher Education Leadership Symposium, Purchase, NY, 2019
- New Year, New(ish) Laws: a Practical Guide to New York’s Sexual Harassment Law and New York’s Paid Family Leave Act, Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU), Albany, NY, 2018
- Terminating Employees with Positive Performance Evaluations: Common Scenarios and Practical Solutions, National School Boards Association School Law Seminar, Boston, MA, 2016
- Use It or Lose It: Maintaining Privilege in the Public Information Act Process, Texas Association of School Administrators Conference, Austin, TX, 2016
- Strategic Tips and Practical Guidance for Using Intellectual Property, Texas Association of School Business Officials Conference, Houston, TX, 2015
- Email Overload! Legal Limits on Keeping and Deleting Electronic Records, Texas Association of School Boards Conference, Austin, TX, 2015
- What the New Open Carry Law Means for Gun Prohibitions on School Property, Region 4 Education Service Center Critical Legal Issues for the New School Year Seminar, Houston, TX, 2015
- Accommodating the Religious Beliefs of Public Employees, Region 4 Education Service Center Critical Legal Issues for the New School Year Seminar, Houston, TX, 2014
- Trial Preparation from Start to Finish: Preparing Your Witnesses, Institute for Paralegal Education, National Business Institute, New York, NY, 2013
- Terminating Employees with Positive Performance Evaluations: Common Scenarios and Practical Solutions, National School Boards Association, Presented at the 2016 School Law Seminar, Boston, MA, 2016
- Wiretap Evidence Raises the Bar for Insider Trading Convictions Following Rajaratnam, BNA International World Data Protection Report, 2011