Heather N. Phillips is the senior attorney responsible for Goyette’s Fresno office. She represents public safety officers, firefighters, and various other public employees in both labor and criminal matters. Heather has practiced exclusively in the field of labor/employment and criminal law throughout her career and represented countless individuals in disciplinary matters against an employer or licensing agency at all stages from investigation through the California Court of Appeals, negotiated collective bargaining agreements for various unions, and litigated both plaintiff and defendant side civil Complaints and Petitions for Writ of Mandate to protect and defend her client’s rights. By placing great emphasis on effective communication and negotiation, Heather has been successful in preventing and overturning unjust and unwarranted disciplinary actions for many employees. When communication and negotiation is simply not enough to reach the desired outcome, Heather is equipped with the knowledge and litigation skills to fight for her clients in any forum, ranging from simple unemployment or wage and hour matters through complex constitutional and statutory rights litigation in both state and federal court. In matters wherein a client faces both administrative and criminal charges of misconduct, Heather represents the client in both actions, sparing them the financial and emotional hardship of retaining and communicating with two attorneys.
Regardless of the type or complexity of the matter before her, one of Heather’s primary areas of focus from initial intake until final resolution is client communication, without which goals cannot be clearly identified, let alone attained. One of Heather’s greatest strengths, and perhaps also her greatest weakness, is her empathy for a client’s individual situation that drives her to be a tenacious and passionate advocate, prosecuting/defending each case with the knowledge, skill, and tenacity she would expect if she was the client.
EDUCATION AND BACKGROUND
Heather knew early in life that the law was her calling. She began her college studies towards that goal at just 16 years old, obtaining “POST Level I” and “PC832” certificates, her Bachelor’s degree in Criminology / Law Enforcement from California State University, Fresno, and becoming a licensed attorney by the age of 25. While working part-time and raising her young children, Heather attended San Joaquin College of Law. She graduated second in her class, with high honors, after three years of accelerated study. A recipient of eight Witkin Awards for Academic Excellence, Heather was invited to publish and become a member of the San Joaquin Agricultural Law Review in 2006. Throughout her academic studies, Heather trained with the Madera County District Attorney’s Office and private criminal defense firms and was given the opportunity to draft a Reply Brief on appeal from a sentence of death to the California Supreme Court in 2007.
Heather currently practices throughout the Central Valley, and sometimes beyond, representing clients in various matters, including:
- Internal Affairs Investigations
- Skelly v. State Personnel Board pre-disciplinary reviews
- Public Safety Officer’s and Firefighter’s Bill of Rights training and representation (POBRA and FFBOR)
- Litigation of due process / post-disciplinary administrative appeals
- Defense of licensees before the Central California Emergency Medical Services Agency (CCEMSA), the Board of Behavioral and Occupational Health, the Board of Vocational Nursing, and the Board of Registered Nursing
- Negotiation of Collective Bargaining Agreements / Memorandums of Understanding
- Unemployment insurance appeals
- Court Trials on Appeal from the California Labor Commissioner
- Litigation of unfair practice charges before the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB)
- All aspects of representation before the State Personnel Board
- Litigation of Criminal Complaints, Civil Complaints, Petitions for Writ of Mandate, and various levels of Appeals in both state and federal court