Melissa A. Barahona’s practice focuses on all aspects of employment-related and commercial litigation before federal and state courts, administrative agencies and alternative dispute resolution bodies. Her employment experience includes defense of claims of discrimination, harassment/hostile work environment, and retaliation; disputes involving the enforcement of employment contracts and restrictive covenants; and tort claims arising out of the employment relationship, such as breach of fiduciary duty, unfair competition and tortious interference. Her commercial litigation experience includes high-stakes disputes involving business torts and breach of contract.
Melissa also advises clients on a broad variety of issues, including terminations and other disciplinary actions; employment and separation agreements; investigations of alleged harassment and other employee misconduct; employment policies and practices; and litigation avoidance.
Melissa also devotes her time to a number of pro bono matters. She has represented clients seeking asylum, as well as clients in matrimonial and custody matters.
Melissa has been recognized by Chambers USA where clients describe her as "very smart" and note that she "offers great insight," by Benchmark Litigation, by Diversity Journal as a Woman Worth Watching, by Latino Leaders Magazine as a Latino Lawyer to Keep on the Watch, by Lawdragon on its 500 X – The Next Generation list, by Super Lawyers as a Rising Star and by Best Lawyers.
Non-Competition Agreements and Restrictive Covenants
- Douglas Elliman Realty in a suit against one of Elliman’s former managers and a competitor firm involving a wrongful scheme to move a dozen agents to the competitor firm. We won a $3.8 million jury verdict on behalf of Elliman, including $2.5 million in punitive damages.
- Northwell Health, one of the largest hospital systems in the U.S., in a lawsuit to enforce employment agreements, including covenants not to compete.
- XPO Logistics and GXO Logistics in multiple state and federal court litigations stemming from disputes over warehouse management services contracts, transportation contracts, theft of trade secrets and non-compete agreements.
Discrimination and Sexual Harassment
- A Chinese-American woman in a sexual harassment and discrimination complaint against a Chinese-based investment bank and two of its employees. The matter settled prior to trial.
- An employee at Dentons, the international law firm, in defense of claims of sexual harassment, a highly publicized “#MeToo” claim.
Commercial Litigation and Other Disputes
- Saw Mill Capital in defense of claims for carried interest and other compensation by a former partner, resulting in a complete victory for Saw Mill Capital after a trial.
- Douglas Elliman Realty in arbitrations involving commission disputes brought before the Real Estate Board of New York on behalf of sales agents affiliated with Douglas Elliman.
- 111 W. 57th Street LLC and Douglas Elliman Realty in defense of breach of contract and tortious interference with contract claims brought by competitor Corcoran Sunshine.
- Unsecured Creditors’ Litigation Trust of Essar Steel Minnesota in pursuing, on behalf of the trustee, breach of fiduciary duty and loyalty claims against the former CEO and CFO relating to the alleged siphoning of hundreds of millions of dollars from a failed construction project by the company’s controlling shareholder.