NAPA – Former Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty colleagues Richard Rybicki and Patrick Sutton have left the firm to form their own specialized practice for employers, calling themselves Employment Law Advocates.

“I felt like the management side of employment law was better practiced in the North Bay with a smaller boutique firm,” said Mr. Rybicki.

“Employment is an area of law that is constantly changing, and we wanted to make sure the focus of our firm was not only representing our clients in court, but also those interested in staying out of court.”

The office is at the corner of First and Main streets in the historic Semorile Building in Napa. Currently the practice includes the two attorneys and one support staff person, but the group does plan to expand and is already in conversations with another attorney.

The two cover a range of services from routine compliance to specialized trial and appellate litigation, and they work with companies and cases of all sizes.

Mr. Sutton said employment law is particularly important in the North Bay where a lot of businesses are small but growing. Also, since the state recently consolidated its employment departments, the agencies coordinate better and have become more aggressive about enforcement.

“Employers tend to outgrow themselves. As they grow, they fall under more coverage, and they don’t keep up and still operate like they are working out of the garage,” he said. Mr. Sutton said the new administration will also affect employers in a big way, especially if regulations to simplify unionization pass.

“If an employer has any feeling their employees are organizing, they should at least speak to an attorney,” Mr. Rybicki said. “The laws are so protective; you can get in trouble immediately. Even an employer that is perfectly well-intentioned can say or do the wrong thing.”

Mr. Rybicki is a contributing editor for The Developing Labor Law, and he is a past chair of the Sonoma County Bar Association labor and employment law section. He is a committee member for the Napa Chamber of Commerce and a board member for the Napa Valley College Hospitality & Tourism Management Program. In his free time, he is an adjunct professor for Napa Valley College and for the Culinary Institute of America – Greystone. He received his law degree from Cornell University and his undergraduate from UCLA.

Mr. Sutton has extensive experience in both public and private employment law and provides workplace training for employers. In addition to his work at the firm, he is a member of the Sonoma County Workforce Investment Board. He received his Juris Doctorate from UCLA and his undergraduate from Seattle University.

For more information about the firm, call 707-222-6361 or visit -->