Joanne Alnajjar Buser


Joanne Alnajjar Buser works in the area of labor and employment law.  Her experience includes the representation of employers in state and federal courts, arbitration, and administrative agencies.  Joanne defends against charges of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wage and hour violations.  In addition, she counsels clients about their employment practices, and drafts agreements and employee handbooks to ensure compliance with federal and state laws.

Joanne has experience successfully litigating employment cases in both the single plaintiff and class action context.  She also has experience successfully litigating cases brought by students against their universities.

Joanne was named a "Rising Star" in the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Southern California Super Lawyers lists as well as the 2012 and 2013 New York Metro Super Lawyers lists.  She was also named to the San Diego Business Journal’s Best of the Bar for 2016.  For 2017, Joanne served as the Chair of the Labor & Employment Law Section for the San Diego County Bar Association.  She also serves on the Board of Directors for Partnerships With Industry.


  • University of Michigan Law School, J.D., 2006
  • University of Michigan, B.A. in History, 2001

Professional Experience

  • Paul, Plevin, Sullivan & Connaughton LLP, Partner, January 2017 – present; Associate, January 2014 – December 2016
  • Jones Day, New York, Associate, September 2009 - December 2013
  • McDermott Will & Emery, New York Associate, September 2006 - September 2009; Summer Associate, May - August 2005
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Legal Unit Intern, June - August 2004


  • All California state courts
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of California
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
  • All New York state courts
  • United States District Courts for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York

Professional Activities

  • Chair, San Diego County Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law Section
  • Member, San Diego County Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law Section
  • Member, State Bar of California, Labor and Employment Law Section
  • Member, Board of Directors, Partnerships With Industry
  • Volunteer, Dress for Success


  • ADA Burden-of-Proof Answers From 9th Circ., Law360, June 2018
  • Title IX Enforcement in the #Me Too Era, Law360, April 2018
  • Declawing the Cat’s Paw Doctrine in Discrimination Cases, Law 360, February 2016
  • Reading Between The Lines Of San Francisco's Retail Rules, Law360, July 2015
  • How To Terminate Employees You're '“Just Not That Into”, Law360, July 2014
  • Systemic Discrimination: Responding to EEOC Investigations and Litigation, Practical Law - The Journal, February 2013


Speaking Engagements

  • 2018 Labor & Employment Conference: Updates & Hot Topics, San Diego County Bar Association, April 2018
  • Performance Management: How to Get More Results with Less Effort and Top 10 Labor and Employment Mistakes, CALPELRA Conference, December 2017
  • The Culture Wars, PPSC Annual Employment Law Seminar, October 2017
  • See You Two Weeks From Never: Accommodations and the Interactive Process, Association of Corporate Counsel, May 2017
  • Moderator, Employment Arbitration: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, San Diego County Bar Association, December 2016
  • Wage and Hour Developments, PPSC Annual Employment Law Seminar, October 2016
  • Panel Speaker, Transgender Litigation, SDHR, January 2016
  • A Deep Dive Into California’s New Fair Pay Act – Key Issues, What to Expect, How to Prepare, Association of Corporate Counsel, March 2016
  • Gender and Beyond, PPSC Annual Employment Law Seminar, October 2015
  • Panel Speaker, Career Panel Discussion Regarding Hiring, Interviewing and Roles in the Law, Dress for Success, September 2015
  • Invited Instructor, Transferrable Job Skills, Dress for SuccessAugust 2015
  • Performance Management & Agreeable Exits, PPSC Annual Update Seminar, November 2014

Representative Matters

  • Obtained summary judgment on a university faculty member’s claims of FEHA gender discrimination, harassment and retaliation
  • Obtained summary judgment for a university on Title IX sexual assault claims and obtained judgment for costs on behalf of the university
  • Successfully argued multiple motions in limine that substantially limited the scope of trial
  • Obtained nonsuit of failure to engage in the interactive process claim at trial
  • Obtained defense verdict in jury trial for public university on claims of harassment and failure to prevent harassment
  • Investigative report of a disability accommodation and harassment claim as independent counsel for city council
  • Obtained summary judgment for a university on claims of breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, defamation, breach of contract, negligence, and negligent infliction of emotional distress
  • Demurrer sustained for public entity employer resulting in narrowing of case issues
  • Petition to compel arbitration granted for employer in harassment and discrimination case
  • Bench trial to defense verdict with fees awarded for employer regarding a Labor Commissioner decision
  • Authored significant sexual assault investigation report as independent counsel for employer
  • Granted monetary sanctions in discovery motion practice for public and private universities