Theresa Y. Kananen


Direct: 404.873.7010
Fax: 404.873.7011
171 17th Street, NW
Suite 2100
Atlanta, Georgia 30363


Theresa is a partner in the Litigation and Employment practices, and serves as co-chair of the Payment Systems industry team. She handles both employment litigation and counseling, and a wide variety of litigation and compliance issues in the payments industry.

Theresa devotes a significant portion of her practice to representing the acquiring side of the payments industry—including processors, ISOs, and payment facilitators—in a vast array of legal matters that encompass adversarial fights and regulatory and compliance work. Her practice handling disputes includes litigating with merchants over chargebacks, reserves, data breaches and early termination fees. She also has extensive experience handling government investigations of payments companies by the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and state attorneys’ general. On the compliance and regulatory side, Theresa is often asked to advise clients on compliance with card brand rules, including complex issues regarding surcharging, convenience fee, and cash discounting programs. She also assists clients with preparing and revising the various contracts necessary to facilitate the acquiring relationship, including merchant agreements, payment facilitator agreements, and sponsorship agreements. And, bringing her experience in defending government investigations of the payments industry to bear, Theresa advises acquirers on underwriting and risk monitoring practices to manage the merchant portfolio.

On the employment side, Theresa’s experience includes advising and training employers, and representing them in a full range of employment litigation, including claims involving discrimination and harassment, wage and hour issues, restrictive covenants, the Family and Medical Leave Act, employee benefits, and employment contracts. She has experience before administrative agencies, such as the EEOC and Department of Labor, as well as in both state and federal courts. She also regularly handles workplace investigations involving allegations of discrimination or harassment. Theresa presents regularly on handling the legal aspects of employment-related challenges.

In addition, as a result of her practice in the field of employment law and the payments industry, Theresa has substantial experience with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. She advises clients on issues of compliance in background screening and has handled civil disputes arising out of purported violations of the FCRA.

Theresa graduated magna cum laude from the University of Georgia School of Law, where she was a member of the Georgia Law Review and was honored as Best Notes Editor for 2007-08. She was also awarded for Excellence in Legal Research and Writing and Excellence in the Studies of Constitutional Law, Employment Discrimination Law, and Employment and Labor Law. She previously studied piano performance at the University of North Carolina, and has lived abroad in Brazil and Spain.


  • Obtained a complete defense verdict in a jury trial involving claims of legal malpractice and breach of contract.

  • Successfully represented client in a jury trial, obtaining favorable verdict on client’s trademark and trade dress infringement claims, and defeating counterclaims brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

  • Successfully defended and settled dispute with the Federal Trade Commission on behalf of a payments processor regarding disposition of reserve funds under asset freeze order.

  • Obtained complete dismissal of suit alleging claims for unfair competition and misappropriation of trade secrets against client in the low voltage industry.

  • Defended officers and directors in an action for breach of fiduciary duty before the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

  • Successfully represented US Mammo, LLC in an unlawful competition and business divorce dispute, obtaining favorable settlement.

  • Successfully represented payment processors with regard to litigation with merchants, including disputes regarding early termination of merchant agreement, chargebacks, and disposition of merchant funds.


  • University of Georgia School of Law, Juris Doctor,
    magna cum laude
    • Staff Writer and Editor, Georgia Law Review, 2006–08
    • Best Notes Editor, Georgia Law Review, 2007–08
    • Excellence in the Studies of Constitutional Law, Employment Discrimination Law, and Employment and Labor Law, University of Georgia; 2008
    • Excellence in Legal Research and Writing, University of Georgia, 2008
  • University of North Carolina, Bachelor of Arts - English and Spanish,
    with Honors and Highest Distinction
    • Phi Beta Kappa, 2004
    • Golden Key Honors Society, 2002
    • National Society of Collegiate Scholars, 2002
  • State of Georgia 2011
  • State of Arizona 2008
  • Court of Appeals of Georgia 2011
  • Supreme Court of Georgia 2011
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia 2011
  • State Courts of Arizona 2008
  • United States District Court for the District of Arizona 2008
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit 2008
    • Electronic Transactions Association
    • Merchant Acquirers Committee
    • Employment Law Alliance
    • American Bar Association


  • “Rising Star,” Georgia Super Lawyers, 2018
  • ETA’s Inaugural “40 Under 40”