Ashley Steiner Kelly

Partner and General Counsel

Fax: 404.873.7021
Atlanta
171 17th Street NW
Suite 2100
Atlanta, Georgia 30363

Biography

Ashley is a partner in the Litigation practice group and co-chair of the Employment practice group and a member of the Logistics and Post-Acute Care industry teams. She also serves as the firm’s General Counsel and as a member of its Executive Committee. She guides employers through the most pressing human resources issues, using a direct approach to resolving employment matters that preserves positive workplace environments. Her clients span many sectors including the logistics, long-term care, healthcare, background screening, energy, financial services, and retail/hospitality industries. She also has a niche practice representing foreign-based companies that are establishing operations in the United States, and also has a great deal of experience conducting internal investigations, including investigations concerning employers’ high-ranking executives.

As a litigator, Ashley serves as lead counsel in a full range of employment and business disputes, including claims involving allegations of discrimination and harassment, violations of employee leave laws, wage and hour issues, breach of executive employment contracts, benefits disputes, and other complex business litigation matters. She also negotiates executive compensation packages and advises on matters relating to unfair competition and restrictive covenants, such as non-competition, non-solicitation, non-disclosure, and trade secrets agreements. Ashley is known for her strong analysis of complex matters, quickly offering clear advice that is practical and achievable. She frequently appears before administrative agencies and state and federal courts at the trial and appellate levels, as well as in arbitration, mediation, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution. Employers and industry groups often invite Ashley to present on cutting-edge employment and human resources topics.

Experience

  • Advised a national floor manufacturer in connection with a reorganization and reduction in force of its workforce, with no claims filed.

  • Defended a national medical transcription company in a putative class action in federal court in California alleging numerous violations of state and federal wage and hour laws, securing a dismissal with no monies paid.

  • Represented the Board of Directors of a financial institution in connection with an internal investigation of the client’s Chief Executive Officer regarding complaints of discrimination and harassment, completing the investigation and advising the client regarding appropriate action without claims being asserted by the complainant or the CEO.

  • Represented the Board of Directors of a financial institution in connection with an internal investigation of the client’s Chief Executive Officer regarding complaints of discrimination and harassment, completing the investigation and advising the client regarding appropriate action without claims being asserted by the complainant or the CEO.

  • Conducted audit of real estate developer’s wage and hour classifications and pay practices, identifying potential areas of risk and advising regarding the implementation of best practices going forward.

  • Successfully defended an IT staffing company against multiple simultaneous charges of race discrimination, resolving the matters with no monies paid and avoiding a potential class action.

  • Represented the largest healthcare practice of its type in Georgia in connection with a potential class action alleging race discrimination threatened by current and former employees. Although the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission indicated that it was going to pursue the case, we were able to negotiate a favorable settlement prior to suit being brought by the plaintiffs or the agency.

  • Successfully defended numerous physician practices with respect to related federal court actions alleging improper billing and secured an order granting sanctions against the plaintiff for filing a frivolous lawsuit.

  • Advised a multistate distribution company in connection with a comprehensive analysis and overhaul of its restrictive covenant agreements with its workforce, effectively stemming the migration of key employees to its primary competitor.

  • Conducted an internal investigation regarding allegations of racial discrimination against a chief executive of a national equipment rental company.

  • Defended a leading wholesale distributor of petroleum products in several lawsuits by company executives alleging wrongful termination and breach of employment agreements.

  • Represented a distributor of durable medical equipment in connection with an internal investigation of allegations of sexual harassment against a senior executive.

  • Represented a national pipeline company in the restructuring of its twenty-plus state workforce, including providing management training, risk analysis, and handling all transactional aspects of the restructuring, including for the company’s union and non-union workforce. As trial counsel, the firm then secured summary judgment in favor of the company company against an age discrimination claim flowing from the restructuring, with the trial court specifically commenting that the process for implementing the restructuring was fair, non-discriminatory and undertaken in good faith. This ruling was then affirmed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

  • Represented a regional energy provider in connection with an internal investigation of multiple complaints of gender bias against several executives, working in tandem with the company’s internal ethics compliance team.

  • Represented several management teams in executive contract and compensation negotiations as part of billions of dollars of acquisitions by leading technology companies, including Cisco Systems and IBM.

  • Successfully represented a regional heating and air conditioning company in defending against breach of contract and fiduciary duty claims filed by a former executive who was alleging diminution in his ownership interests following his departure to form a competing enterprise.

Credentials

  • Emory University School of Law, Juris Doctor,
    with Distinction
    • Order of the Coif
    • Emory Law Journal, Editorial Board
  • Vanderbilt University, Bachelor of Arts,
    summa cum laude
    • Phi Beta Kappa
    • Alexander Heard Award for Outstanding Graduate in Political Science
  • State of Georgia 1997
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit 2011
  • United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia 2006
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit 2004
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit 2001
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia 1998
  • Georgia Court of Appeals 1997
  • Supreme Court of Georgia 1997
    • American Bar Association—Section of Litigation
    • Atlanta Volunteer Lawyer Foundation and Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta, Volunteer
    • Emory University Law School, Young Alumni Council Class Representative, 1997–2002
    • Lamar Inn of Court, Barrister, 2000–2002

Recognition

  • Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business (Labor and Employment Law), 2009–20
  • “Rising Star,” Georgia Super Lawyers (Employment Litigation: Defense, Business Litigation, Employment & Labor), 2005–06, 2009–11
  • “Top 50” Volunteer, Atlanta Volunteer Lawyer Foundation, 2003

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