Blackwell Shelley has spent the better part of the last 40 years studying the employment relationship. After he graduated from the University of Virginia, he went to work for a Washington, D.C., think tank studying the federal pension system. That bipartisan group, headed by John Macy and Hastings Keith, had reached the conclusion that the design of the federal retirement systems was dangerously misaligned and would result in inevitable financial collapse. He worked with these two men in an extensive review of the economics, laws, and regulations that controlled government employment and retirement.
Blackwell enrolled in law school at Washington & Lee University and continued his study of labor and employment law. As a student, he wrote for the W&L Law Review about the federal appellate review of a case of sexual discrimination and retaliation. In the late 1980s, he returned to Richmond, Virginia, his hometown, and, following a judicial clerkship, began practicing law.
A substantial part of his practice has focused on the employment relationship. Over the years, he has provided counsel, advice, and representation to hundreds of employees in cases involving discrimination and harassment, wrongful termination, defamation, unpaid wages, non-compete agreements, and the like. He has also represented and advised employers that range from small local businesses, to municipalities, to national banks, as well as brokerages and financial institutions, pension funds, several national trucking companies, Fortune 500 companies, broadcasters, and publishers. Much of this work takes place in court, or on the way to court, but Blackwell also spends a considerable part of his practice helping clients take preventative measures, by reviewing and writing employment contracts and employment handbooks, non-compete agreements, and severance agreements.
- Using Dispositive Motions, VTLA Journal, Vol. 24, No. 2, March 2013.
- Understanding Botnets Virginia Lawyer, June/July, 2012
- Can RECAP Turn PACER Around? Virginia Lawyer, December, 2009
- Restrictive Covenants, Invention Agreements, and other Disfavored Employment Opportunities, Presentation to the Greater Richmond Intellectual Property Lawyers Association (“GRIPLA”), January, 2009
- Electronic Evidence – Who’s Liable? Virginia Lawyer, October, 2008
- Enforceability of waivers of federal statutory employment rights, VTLA Journal, Summer, 2006
- Challenges to enforceability of restrictive covenants in employment agreements, VTLA Journal, Summer, 2006
- Electronic discovery in employment cases (co-author), VTLA Journal, Summer, 2005
- Anna v. Assa Abloy Entrance Systems US Inc., Case No. 3:19-cv-00850 (E.D.Va. 2019). Employee sued employer alleging breach of an employment agreement, particularly a provision regarding entitlement to and payment of severance benefits. The matter was settled to the satisfaction of the employee.
- Tuppince v. Stratford University, Inc., Case No. 3:18-cv-00809 (E.D.Va. 2018). Employee sued employer alleging discrimination on the basis of sex in violation of Title VII and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681. The matter was settled to the satisfaction of the employee.
- Jumpstart Consultants, Inc., v. Robinson, Case No. CL17-2654 (Chesterfield County 2017)/ Robinson v. Jumpstart Consultants, Inc., Case No. 3:18-cv-00487 (E.D.Va. 2018). Former employer sued former employee, a machine operator, on a restrictive covenant in employment agreement. Employee countersued, on behalf of himself and similarly situated employees, for employers alleged failure to pay overtime. The collective action was moved to federal court. The matter was settled to the satisfaction of the employee and the members of the collective action.
- Paradigm Partners International, L.L.C. v. Clear Trail Real Estate Management, L.L.C., Case No. 3:17-cv-517 (E.D. Va. 2017). Plaintiff sued defendant alleging breach of a contract for fees for services rendered in procuring $100 million financing for project. Matter settled to plaintiff’s satisfaction.
- Tyson v. BB&T Corp., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25018 (E.D. Va. Feb. 21, 2017). Employer bank repudiated stock award agreements and forfeited employee’s stock awards when employee sought employment with another bank. Employee sued for breach of contract and to have non-compete agreement held unenforceable. Court denied employer’s motion to dismiss and the dispute was thereafter settled.
- Thompson v. Stratford Univ., Inc., 3:16-cv-589 (E.D.Va. 2016). Employee was the Registrar of employer’s Richmond campus. Employee alleged that employer had discriminated and retaliated against her in violation of the ADA and FMLA and, also, that employer had failed to pay overtime in violation of the FLSA. The matter settled to the satisfaction of the employee.
- Corbett v. Richmond Metro. Transp. Auth., 203 F. Supp. 3d 699 (E.D. Va. 2016). In a case arising under the ADA and FMLA, the Court found that public officers may be held individually liable for FMLA violations.
- Brockdorff v. Wells Mgmt. Grp., LLC, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77197 (E.D. Va. June 15, 2015). Plaintiff employee alleged retaliatory termination in violation of the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act. Court overruled employer’s motion to dismiss and the case settled to the satisfaction of employee.
- Bell v. Stone Central, Inc., Case No. 3:15-cv-500 (E.D.Va. 2015). Employee sued employer for race discrimination and hostile work environment under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 alleging multiple instances of racist epithets and physical threats based on his race. Employer filed a motion to dismiss, which the Court denied. The matter was then settled to the satisfaction of the employee.
- Battle v. Kane 3PL, LLC, 3:14-cv-00557 (E.D.Va. 2014). Employee truck driver initially complained to EEOC that his employer was assigning better routes to white employees, Following this complaint, the employer allegedly retaliated against the employee by fabricating a claim that employee had stolen time from the company and terminated employee. The dispute was settled to the satisfaction of the employee.
- Car Pool LLC v. Hoke, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146798 (E.D. Va. Oct. 11, 2012). Employee had filed an EEOC charge alleging hostile work environment and settled the matter with the employer. Employer subsequently sued employee in state court for breaching the settlement agreement. Employee removed the matter to federal court and reasserted her original hostile work environment claim as a counterclaim and also sued employer for retaliation and breach of the settlement agreement. The matter was settled favorably to the employee.
- Fagan v. Sabra Dipping Co., LLC, Case No. 3:12-cv-00147 (E.D.Va. 2012). Employee, a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve, alleged that she was demoted after her return from military leave and sued her employer for violations of USERRA. The matter was settled to the employee’s satisfaction.
- Michaud v EVB, Case No. 3:10-cv-00778 (E.D.Va. 2011). Employee brought suit against employer bank alleging that bank terminated her in violation of 11 U.S.C. § 525(b) because she filed for bankruptcy. The matter was settled to the employee’s satisfaction.
- Mobley v. Elephant Insurance Co., Case No. 3:10-cv-099 (E.D.Va. 2010). Employee sued employer alleging that employer had retaliated against employee because of employee’s complaints of incidents of race discrimination and racial intimidation at work. The matter was settled to the satisfaction of the employee.
- Bowers, et al. v. Wilder, et al., Case No. CL07-4658 (Richmond City July 23, 2009) (unpublished). On the defendant’s demurrer and plea in bar, Court found that the actions of the defendant, the former Mayor of the City of Richmond, were absolutely immune from suit and the case was dismissed as to him.
- Altimari v. Bev. Mktg. USA, Inc., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109984 (E.D. Va. Nov. 21, 2008). The Court found that the employer’s termination of a manager who demanded payment of his earned bonus offended Virginia public policy and gave the manager a valid claim for wrongful termination against his former employer.
- NGM Ins. Co. v. Secured Title & Abstract, Inc., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78204 (E.D. Va. Sept. 11, 2008) On the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, the Court ruled that defendants had breached their fiduciary duties to plaintiff. Plaintiff’s attorney’s fees and costs awarded in NGM Ins. Co. v. Secured Title & Abstract, Inc., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84193 (E.D. Va. Oct. 17, 2008).
- Knowles v. New Age Digital, Inc., et al., Case No. CL07-2958 (Chesterfield County June 24, 2008) (unpublished). On plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment, the Court found that a non-competition agreement was overbroad and unenforceable because it prevented the employee, a former officer and shareholder of the employer, from working in any capacity for a competitor. The Court also ruled that the accompanying non-solicitation agreement was unenforceable because it prevented the employee from soliciting any person or entity that the employer had ever contacted.
- Pace v. Ret. Plan Admin. Serv., 2007 Va. Cir. LEXIS 203 (Richmond City Sept. 28, 2007). On the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, the Court ruled that the covenants restricting competition in the plaintiff’s employment agreement were facially overbroad, rendering the agreement unenforceable.
“A job is 40 or so hours of your life each week; it’s a paycheck and maybe benefits, too. But a job is more than just that. The work we do is inextricably part of who we are. Understanding that informs every step we take as employment attorneys. We know what’s at stake.”
- Washington & Lee University Law School, Lexington, Virginia, J.D., 1987
- University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, B.A., 1983
- All Virginia Courts
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit
- U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia
- U.S. Bankruptcy Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia
- Judicial Conference of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
- Virginia Trial Lawyers Association
- Virginia State Bar
- Richmond Bar Association
- University of Richmond, T.C. Williams School of Law, Adjunct Faculty