Practice Expertise

  • Non-Compete and Trade Secrets
  • Financial Institutions
  • Employment, Labor and Benefits
  • Employment Litigation

Areas of Practice

  • Employment Litigation
  • Employment, Labor and Benefits
  • Financial Institutions
  • Non-Compete and Trade Secrets
  • Employment Class Action
  • Wage and Hour
  • View More

WSG Practice Industries

WSG Leadership

  • WSG Coronavirus Task Force Group - Member


Stephanie Berntsen provides proactive, common-sense legal advice on employment issues for companies operating in the Pacific Northwest.

As service group leader of Schwabe’s Employment and Labor practice group, she works with a wide array of companies, but has particular experience in the timber, agricultural, construction and emerging technology industries. While Stephanie’s goal is always to help prevent or resolve disputes before litigation, she has extensive experience defending companies against claims of discrimination, retaliation and wage issues (including class actions) in administrative and court proceedings. In addition, Stephanie regularly represents companies in non-competition, non-solicitation and trade secret misappropriation disputes.

Stephanie has represented clients in securities-related matters since 2002, primarily broker-dealers involved in employment and customer-related disputes in Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration. Appreciating the drivers behind each dispute (from the claimant’s and respondent’s perspectives) and the respective business issues, she is proactive and creative in resolving disputes. 


"I have worked with Stephanie Berntsen for a number of years. She's amazing. Very smart, ‎knowledgeable and responsive.‎"

- Venture General Contracting

Bar Admissions

  • California State Courts
  • Washington State Courts
  • United States District Court, Eastern District of Washington
  • United States District Court, Western District of Washington
  • United States District Court, Central District of California
  • United States District Court, Eastern District of California
  • United States District Court, Northern District of California
  • United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit


  • University of California, Davis School of Law, Juris Doctor degree (2000)
  • Colby College, Bachelor of Arts degree (1995)

Areas of Practice

  • Employment Litigation
  • Employment, Labor and Benefits
  • Financial Institutions
  • Non-Compete and Trade Secrets
  • Employment Class Action
  • Wage and Hour

Professional Career

Significant Accomplishments
  • Regularly advise and defend a timber client in multiple employment-related discrimination issues and disputes.
  • Successfully represented and resolved a disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit on behalf of a Fortune 500 shipping company arising from an alleged mental health disability that created unique evidentiary challenges.
  • Successfully defended and resolved a series of customer disputes against a broker-dealer regarding the suitability of Real Estate Investment Trust investments. These matters involved nearly 200 individual claimants.
  • Obtained a temporary restraining order on behalf of a maritime client in a unique employee dishonesty matter.
  • Provide proactive advice and counsel to construction and emerging technology clients on disability, Family and Medical Leave Act, wage classification, independent contractor agreements, retaliation-related issues, hiring, background checks and termination.
  • Represented clients in preliminary injunction hearings arising from the enforcement or defense of non-compete and non-solicitation agreements.
  • Represented financial services firms in enforcement of non-competition and non-solicitation agreements in both court and in arbitration.
  • Obtained defense verdict on behalf of a national play structure manufacturer against gender discrimination and retaliation claims arising from a dress code violation.


Additional Articles
  • Top 10 Employment Law Red Flags
  • OP-ED: What If You Need to Do a Layoff? Practical Steps for Reduction in Force
  • HB 1732 and 1733: Washington’s Long-Term Care Act
  • Aftermath of Martinez-Cuevas v. DeRuyter Brothers Dairy: ESSB 5172 and Overtime Pay for Agricultural Workers
  • Tax Implications of Payments Received under the Washington Paid Family Medical Leave Program
  • Washington Supreme Court Alters State's Agricultural Exemption in the Minimum Wage Statute
  • Paycheck Protection Program Portal
  • CARES Act Questions for the Manufacturing, Distribution and Retail Industry
  • CARES Act Questions for the Agricultural Industry 
  • CARES Act Questions for the Real Estate and Construction Industry 
  • CARES Act Questions for the Transportation, Ports, and Maritime Industries 
  • CARES Act Questions for the Technology Industry 
  • Women Who Lead, Virtually: Key Takeaways  
  • PPP Loan Rules Clarified for Fishing Boat Owners/Operators; OSHA and CDC Interim Guidance for Seafood Processors
  • COVID-19: Preventative Steps to Consider for Workers on a Jobsite
  • CARES Act Resources
  • New Requirements for Noncompetition Agreements in Oregon and Washington
  • Wage Gap and #MeToo Movement Legislation: Impact on Washington Employers
  • Department of Labor and Industries Issued Final Paid Sick Leave Rules 
  • Washington Dairy Farmers Rest Breaks and Meal Periods: Tips to Stay in Compliance
  • Oregon Dairy Farmers Rest Breaks and Meal Periods: Tips to Stay in Compliance
  • Impactful Wage Litigation for Washington Farmers
  • Schwabe in the Field: New Paid Rest Break Ruling Burdens ‎Washington Agriculture — Oregon May ‎Be Next?‎
  • Schwabe in the Field: Oregon's New "Ban the Box" Law Has Implications for Agriculture
  • Subcontracting Work Out to Third Parties Could Still Lead to Joint Employer Liability for Companies
  • Asking for Facebook Passwords? Not in Washington.


  • COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Compliance for Federal Contractors in the Real Estate and Construction Industry
  • Agrotech and Labor Laws Affecting Washington's Agricultural Industry
  • Women in Business: Women Who Lead, Virtually
  • 2019 Washington State Employment Law Webinar
  • 2018 Washington Dairy Conference
  • Key Employment Law Developments in Oregon and Washington: What Employers Need to Know
  • Central Washington Agriculture Seminar
  • Dairy Safety Conference (Speaker: Stephanie Berntsen)
  • The New Overtime Exemption Rules Are Here: What Does Your Business Need to Do to Comply?
  • Hot Topics in the Workplace 
  • Protecting Your Company's Value—Seattle, Oct. 27th

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