Alison L. Tsao

San Francisco Office Managing Partner
San Francisco Office
(415) 981-3233, ext 1201
Download VCARD
Download Bio

CLAY Award, 2015

Immigrated from Hong Kong to U.S. with family in 1980

Fluent in Cantonese

Most Proud Of: Putting herself through college and law school

Learn More about Alison and Areas of Practice

About Alison

Effective, creative, and equally adept at defending employers ranging from mom-and-pop sole proprietors to public entity employers and Fortune 100 companies, Alison L. Tsao resolves disputes involving all forms of discrimination and harassment, wrongful termination, unfair competition and employment-related tort claims.  

She also has two decades of experience successfully defending management in wage and hour class actions and PAGA representative actions, and remains in the forefront of this evolving area by advancing new legal theories.  Tsao is one of a few California attorneys who has taken this type of complex case all the way to trial and through various levels of appeals.  She was also a key member of the trial and appellate team that secured the seminal California Supreme Court decision in Duran v. U.S. Bank, 59 Cal.4th 1 (2014), which helped shape class certification and trial management principles in exemption cases, particularly in the areas of statistical sampling and representative testimony.  Tsao cemented that victory when she again defeated class certification after the case was remanded to the trial court, which was affirmed on appeal in a decision that discussed the weaknesses and unreliability of survey methodology in these types of exemption cases, Duran v. U.S. Bank, 19 Cal.App.5th 630 (2018). 

Tsao successfully represents employers before administrative agencies, California state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate levels, and in arbitrations.  She aggressively pursues early resolution on favorable terms whenever possible, whether through ADR or by dispositive motions, and is known for her tough negotiation skills. 

In addition, Tsao regularly provides training and advice to clients in the areas of risk management and litigation avoidance, keeping them informed of changing laws and best practices in the challenging California legal climate.

contact me


University of California, Hastings College of the Law, J.D., magna cum laude, 1998   

  • Order of the Coif, Thurston Society, 1998
  • Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, Associate Editor, 1997

University of California, Berkeley, B.A., Political Science, with honors, 1995

Written Opinions

Alila-Katita v. U.S. Bank, 2016 WL 4992464 (N.D. Cal. 2016)

Duran v. U.S. Bank Nat. Ass'n, 59 Cal. 4th 1 (2014)

Duran v. U.S. Bank Nat. Ass’n (“Duran II”), 19 Cal.App.5th 630 (2018)

Trahan v. U.S. Bank Nat'l Ass'n, 2015 WL 75139 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 6, 2015)

Wells v. Board of Trustees, 2006 U.S. Dist. Lexis Unpub. 68260 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 7, 2006)

Wells v. Board of Trustees of California State University, 393 F.Supp.2d 990 (N.D. Cal. 2005)

  • Public employer’s immunity and right to terminate employee based on contract for specified term


"Navigating the Legal Landscape: Analyzing the Harvard/UNC Decision and Its Impact on DEI in the Workplace," Co-Presenter, CDF Webinar Series, August 2023

"New California Employment Laws and Developments for 2023," Co-Presenter, CDF Webinar Series, November 2022

"California’s Patchwork of Local Employment Ordinances – a Minefield For the Unwary," Panelist, CDF Webinar Series, February 2021

"Walk the Walk: Initiatives to Diversify the Legal Profession," Moderator, Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, October 2020 

"Sponsors, Influencers, and Career Engineering for Legal Counsel," Panelist, Women, Diversity & Change Summit, June 2019

“Leaders Create More Leaders - Leading and Developing Diverse Leaders In-House and in Law Firms,” Panelist, California Minority Counsel Program (CMCP), August 2018

"Employment Law Basics for the Immigration Practitioner," American Immigration Lawyers Association’s 2018 Annual Conference, June 2018

“Employment Trials – Examining Witnesses,” Alameda County Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Symposium, November 2017

“Mind the Gap: Complying with California’s Fair Pay Act and Wage Equality Act,” California Minority Counsel Program, May 2017

"What is “Fair”? - Complying with California’s Fair Pay Act," CDF Webinar Series, April 2016

"Full-Time Employee vs. Contractor," Hire Smart Seminar hosted by Intuit Inc. and LinkedIn, April 2013

"Wage & Hour Class Actions: What Companies Doing Business in California Need to Know," CDF Webinar Series, September 2012

“Digital Dilemmas: The Price & Perils of e-Discovery,” California Minority Counsel Program, Annual Conference, 2010

“Taking Your Legal Vitamins: Best Practices for California Employers,” Asian American Bar Association of Greater Bay Area, 2008

Professional Affiliations/Leadership/Awards

Received CLAY Award for being recognized as one of the Attorneys of the Year, Class Actions, California Lawyer, 2015 

Listed, Northern California Super Lawyers®, 2020 - 2023

Listed, Thomson Reuters® Stand-Out Lawyer, 2024

California Minority Counsel Program, 2008 - present

  • 2010 Annual Conference Committee Member

Asian American Bar Association, Greater Bay Area, 2005 - present

  • Solo & Small Firms Committee, Co-Chair
  • Women's Committee Member, 2015 - 2016

San Francisco Bar Association

  • Bay Area Minority Summer Clerkship Program Participant, 2010

California Women Lawyers, 2015 - 2016

CDF Labor Law  LLP

  • San Francisco Office Managing Partner since, 2007 - Present
  • Chair, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee, 2020 - Present
    • Co-Chair, 2018 - 2020
  • California Labor & Employment Law Blog, Editorial Board, 2021 - Present

Related News

CDF Named to Bloomberg Law’s 3rd Annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Framework for Strong Commitment…

July 26, 2023

CDF Included in Orange County Business Journal's Embracing DEI Special Report

July 10, 2023

Calif. Whistleblower Decision Signals Change For Employers

July 3, 2023

CDF Labor Law LLP Achieves Mansfield Certification Plus

May 23, 2023

CDF’s California Labor & Employment Law Blog Once Again Listed on Feedspot’s Top 70 Blog List

March 27, 2023

CDF’s California Labor and Employment Law Blog Listed 5th on Feedspot’s “Top 70 California Employment…

November 28, 2022

CDF Named to Bloomberg Law's 2nd Annual DEI Framework

August 16, 2022

Women Mentors and Sponsors: The XX Factor to Breaking the Glass Ceiling in Law

May 25, 2022

CDF’s California Labor and Employment Law Blog Listed 7th on Feedspot’s “Top 40 California Law Blogs…

November 3, 2021

CDF Proudly Sponsors the California Minority Counsel Program's Women of Color Conference

May 18, 2021

CDF Expands Editorial Board for its California Labor and Employment Law Blog

February 8, 2021

CDF Attorneys Selected to 2020 Northern California Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars Lists

July 24, 2020

CDF Once Again Named a Top Law Firm for Female and Minority Attorneys by Law360 for Firms with 20-49 Attorneys

July 9, 2019

CDF’s San Francisco Office Named by The San Francisco Business Times as a 2018 Top Bay Area Law Firms

March 8, 2019

CDF Attorneys Author Article for Inside Counsel on "Trends in PAGA claims and what it means for…

March 19, 2015

CDF Partners Named Attorneys of the Year

February 19, 2015

Blog Entries

California Contemplates Right to Disconnect Law

April 8, 2024

California Supreme Court Broadens Whistleblower Protection for Employees

May 31, 2023

San Francisco Passes Ordinance Requiring Differential Pay for Military Leave 

April 11, 2023

New FAQs Published for California’s Pay Transparency Law

January 11, 2023

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year

December 21, 2022

CDF's California Labor & Employment Law Blog Listed on Feedspot's Top Blog List

November 29, 2022

New California Case Calls Into Question the Viability of Any Time Rounding Practices Where All Hours Worked…

November 3, 2022

 CDC’s New Relaxed COVID-19 Guidelines and How They Affect the Workplace

August 16, 2022

California Court Holds Digital-Only Websites Do Not Qualify As “A Place of Public Accommodation” Under…

August 10, 2022

San Francisco Paid Public Health Emergency Leave Effective October 1, 2022

July 26, 2022

Time Spent Traveling To and Taking Pre-Employment Drug Test Is Not Compensable

June 17, 2022

San Francisco Issues Revised Rules on Vaccination and Masking Requirements

February 2, 2022

U.S. Supreme Court Halts Enforcement of OSHA’s Mandatory Vaccination/Testing ETS

January 14, 2022

Complying with California’s Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Requirements

November 29, 2021

Potential Bill Imposing Vaccination Or COVID Testing Requirements On Private Employers

August 26, 2021

Restitution Under the UCL Is Not Damages

June 23, 2021

Independent Contractors Denied Class Action Status Under the Dynamex ABC Test

March 22, 2021

Default PAGA Penalties Not Recoverable Against Public Entity Employers

March 10, 2021

CDF Expands Editorial Board for its California Labor and Employment Law Blog

February 8, 2021

San Francisco Passes Emergency Temporary Back to Work Ordinance

July 3, 2020

Bay Area Counties Extend Shelter-in-Place Orders Through May 31, 2020

May 1, 2020

Bay Area Counties Impose Social Distancing Protocols for Essential Businesses

April 2, 2020

San Francisco OLSE Issues New Guidance on Use of Paid Sick Leave for COVID-19 Related Reasons

March 24, 2020

Court Affirms Denial of Class Certification for Business Bankers-- Again

January 19, 2018

“Opportunity to Work” Ordinance Imposes New Burdens on San Jose Employers

December 19, 2016

CDF Attorneys Convince Court to Invalidate Use of Representative Testimony in Class Action Trial

February 13, 2012


Our clients can rest assured that our attorneys will protect their time, protect their dime and protect their peace of mind, so they can focus on maintaining productive and rewarding workplaces to remain competitive and successful in their marketplace. CDF - Attorneys you can Trust. Experience you can Trust. Results you can Trust.

learn more

CDF Labor Law LLP © 2024

Why CDF What We Do Attorneys Case Studies News & Events Offices Terms of Use Privacy Policy Cookie Policy