Notable Cases

Virginia Employment Law attorneys have represented individuals in nearly two thousand varied cases. Many employment law matters result in settlement agreements featuring confidentiality clauses. Therefore, the details of many successful cases may not be expounded upon. That said, the following cases were publicly reported by various media outlets:

Employment and Labor Law

  • In 2012, the Roanoke Times featured a front-page piece on the federal age-discrimination case Phillips v. Stellar One Bank, 7:11-cv-00440. The case is notable for surviving a motion to dismiss because Tommy Strelka was able to make a high ranking employee admit to wrongdoing as noted in the federal judge's written decision.
  • In 2013, the Roanoke Times reported on a jury trial that Tommy Strelka won representing a woman who alleged that her public defender sexually abused her in jail. Frith v. Armstrong, Roanoke County Circuit Court, Case No. CL10000378-00.
  • In 2014, the Richmond Times Dispatch and Roanoke Times reported on two racial discrimination cases,Atkins v. VDOT, 1:13-cv-00057 and Wolfe v. VDOT, 2:13-cv-00038, in which the Strelkas represented prevailing parties in Title VII actions against VDOT. The cases were notable both due to the extreme evidence uncovered and the subsequent overhaul of the offices.
  • In 2014, Virginia Lawyers Weekly profiled a case in which the Strelkas won a Title VII jury trial for a female corrections officer who alleged to have been terminated from the Department of Corrections after complaining about her supervising officer's unwanted sexual advances. Reed v. DOC, 7:13-cv-00543.
  • In 2015, Virginia Lawyers Weekly reported on a veteran's rights case in which the Roanoke Circuit Court Judge compelled the Roanoke County Sheriff's office to produce electronically stored information related to the allegations of wrongful termination. This case has been considered a benchmark in the production of digital information in the state of Virginia.
  • In 2016, a CBS affiliate interviewed Tommy Strelka regarding Haynes and James v. Asplundh, a case in which a supervisor brandished an assault rifle at two minority employees.
  • In 2017, Virginia Employment Law represented a former law professor in a Title IX and Title VII suit against the Appalachian School of Law. The matter received national news coverage and is notable for the extension of Title IX protections to faculty.
  • In 2017, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Dunn v. Millirons, that a sheriff could not be shielded by immunity and that a sheriff's deputy could advance wrongful termination claims against the sheriff.
  • In 2017, Virginia Lawyers Weekly published an article on a landmark employment defamation case in which a former employee of a private enterprise sued the state of Virginia for defamation that led to her termination. The case was Hiatt v. Commonwealth and stands as the only time a citizen of Virginia sued the state of Virginia for defamation and won. The jury awarded the plaintiff a judgment higher than the cap of the Virginia Torts Claims Act.
  • In 2018, in Craig v. Bedford County, a federal judge in Lynchburg, Virginia ruled that a former Director of the County could proceed to a jury trial on a 1st Amendment violation of retaliation/wrongful termination. The matter settled thereafter.
  • In 2018, As reported in Virginia Lawyers Weekly, a federal judge issued a landmark opinion in a Virginia Employment Law case. In Spencer v. Bedford County, Judge Norman K. Moon wrote that Ms. Spencer had sufficiently plead counts of Title VII discrimination and retaliation after her wrongful termination from the Bedford Police Department. This case joins others across the nation that have expanded civil rights in the workplace. The article on the case may be read HERE.
  • In 2019, Virginia Employment Law represented a former administrator in a case against former employer Virginia Tech. This administrator complained of a sexually hostile environment and was later terminated from employment. Virginia Tech sought dismissal of her claims, but the motion to dismiss was overruled by the U.S. District Court, Western District of Virginia in Davitt v. Va. Polytechnic Inst. & State Univ., Civil Action No. 7:19CV00456, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 198447 (W.D. Va. Nov. 15, 2019).
  • In 2019, Virginia Employment Law represented a former Human Resources Employee that experienced racial discrimination and retaliation at a manufacturing facility. The U.S. District Court in Abingdon denied summary judgment to the defense and stated that the plaintiff had demonstrated sufficient evidence of a racially charged environment to proceed to trial. See Hairston v. Royal Bldg. Prods., No. 1:18CV00003, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62936 (W.D. Va. Apr. 12, 2019).
  • In 2019, Virginia Employment Law successfully argued before the U.S. District Court, Western District of Virginia, that a former instructor of a commercial driving instruction company had successfully alleged claims of discrimination and retaliation on the basis of gender in a Title VII case. See Salmons v. Commer. Driver Servs., Civil Action No. 7:19CV00532, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 215823 (W.D. Va. Dec. 13, 2019).
  • In 2019, the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Virginia ruled that a former employee represented by Virginia Employment Law, successfully alleged breach of contract claims, when his employer failed to pay him owed commissions. See Sheffer v. Healthcare Servs. Grp., Inc., Civil Action No. 7:19CV00053, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180351 (W.D. Va. Oct. 18, 2019).
  • In 2019, Virginia Employment Law successfully alleged in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Virginia, that a former school nurse had successfully alleged claims of age discrimination against a school system. See Smith v. Lee Cnty. Sch. Bd., No. 2:19CV00023, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168775 (W.D. Va. Sep. 30, 2019)
  • In 2019, Virginia Employment Law produced sufficient evidence to ward of summary judgment in a case concerning a former employee of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services who alleged discrimination and sexual harassment pursuant to Title VII. See Vaughn v. Virginia, Civil Action No. 7:17-cv-00478, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 206106 (W.D. Va. Nov. 27, 2019).
  • In 2020, the U.S. District Court ruled in two cases in which each plaintiff was represented by Virginia Employment Law, that former employees of the Town of Abingdon had properly alleged claims of retaliation pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act. See Icenhour v. Town of Abingdon, No. 1:19CV00033, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19043 (W.D. Va. Feb. 3, 2020) and Kelly v. Town of Abingdon, No. 1:19CV00032, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18465 (W.D. Va. Feb. 3, 2020).
  • In, 2020, the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Virginia ruled that a former employee of a manufacturing facility had produced sufficient evidence to warrant a trial on the issues of retaliation for the employee's use of medical leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. The employer's motion for summary judgment was denied. See Safewright v. Atsumi Car Equip., Inc., Civil Action No. 7:18CV00605, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43137 (W.D. Va. Mar. 12, 2020).
  • In 2022, a Roanoke City Circuit Court jury deliberated for five hours to reach the conclusion that Appalachian Power Company wrongfully terminated Ocal “Bubba” Smith in violation of the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Act. Further, the jury found that APCO tortiously interfered with Mr. Smith’s subsequent employment with a third-party contractor. A Roanoke Times article on the trial is posted below, but may also be read HERE.
  • In 2023, the Fourth Circuit reversed the United States District Court in the Western District of Virginia in Massey v. Va. Polytechnic Inst. & State Univ., 75 F.4th 407 (4th Cir. 2023), ruling that a plaintiff could file federal claims against a state university in a state circuit court.

1st Amendment / Freedom of Speech

  • In 2010, Tommy successfully represented a community civil rights advocate who was sued by a police officer after the individual made remarks at a city council meeting criticizing the local police department's allegedly racist practices. Hicks v. Omar, Roanoke City Circuit, Case No. CL10-1570. Tommy asserted 1st Amendment protections and the matter was ultimately dismissed.
  • In 2012 and 2013 the Washington Post and the Roanoke Times published a series of articles based upon five environmental activists who were criminally charged for protesting against the destruction of a rare old growth swath of forest located adjacent to the Virginia Tech football stadium. Commonwealth v. Paulson, Montgomery County General District Court Case No. GC12021614.
  • Beginning in 2015 and extending through 2017, various media outlets reported on Dunn v. Millirons, 7:14-cv-00429, a federal 1st Amendment retaliation case in which the plaintiff alleged that he had been fired for engaging in federally protected free speech.
  • Beginning in 2016 and extending through 2018, various media outlets reported on Craig v. Bedford County et al., 5:17-cv-00028, a federal case of 1st Amendment retaliation and due process claims.
  • In 2020, Virginia Employment Law represented a former Director of a local DSS Agency that alleged she was terminated as part of a political conspiracy and suffered harassment in the form of a hostile social media campaign. The U.S. District Court ruled in Flanagan v. Pittsylvania Cnty., Civil Action No. 7:19CV00413, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92320 (W.D. Va. May 27, 2020), that the plaintiff had properly pled the rare claims of 1st Amendment Retaliation and a Due Process Deprivation of Liberty Interest.
  • The Flanagan case proceeded through a rare 1st Amendment retaliation jury trial in 2021. Ms. Flanagan prevailed. Her case stands as a safeguard against political bullying and retaliatory partisanship in our local governments.

Criminal Defense

  • In 2011, Tommy was a member of a three-attorney team appointed to represent a mother charged with the first degree murder of her child. After a five-day jury trial, the judge dismissed the first degree murder charge.Commonwealth v. Lockett, Roanoke City Circuit Court, Case No. CR10001245-00.
  • In 2014, Tommy represented a young man charged with first degree murder following a shooting. The co-defendant agreed to a plea deal with the Commonwealth and was incarcerated. After Tommy refused any plea deal on behalf of his own client, the Commonwealth dropped all charges against the defendant days before the jury trial and the defendant was released from custody. Commonwealth v. Manning, Roanoke City Circuit, Case No. CR13001746.

Other Reported Cases

  • Three Rivers Landing of Gulfport, LP v. Three Rivers Landing, LLC, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55871.
  • Huff v. Office of the Sheriff, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12800.
  • Patterson v. Patterson, No. 0602-13-3, 2013 Va. App. LEXIS 240 (Ct. App. Aug. 27, 2013).
  • Martin v. Yokohama Tire Corp., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161228.
  • Lindsey v. Alliant Techsystems, Inc., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97116.
  • Dunn v. Millirons, 176 F. Supp. 3d 591 (WDVA 2016).
  • English v. Commonwealth, 58 Va. App. 711, 715 S.E.2d 391 (2011).
  • McKinley v. Salvation Army, 192 F. Supp. 3d 678 (W.D. Va. 2016).
  • Wagoner v. Lewis Gale Medical Center, LLC, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169129 (W.D. Va. Dec. 7, 2016).
  • Melerski v. Commonwealth, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2918 (W.D. Va. Jan. 11, 2016).
  • Atkins v. VDOT, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16578 (W.D. Va. Feb. 11, 2015).
  • Wolf v. VDOT, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16728 (W.D. Va. Feb. 11, 2015).
  • Reed v. Dept. of Corrections, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16728 (W.D. Va. Feb. 11, 2015).
  • Maristela v. Va. Bd. of Nursing, 2010 Va. App. LEXIS 457 (Ct. App. Nov. 23, 2010).
  • Carter v. Dept. of Games and Inland Fisheries, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161496 (E.D. Va. Sep. 29, 2017).
  • Hooper v. BWXT, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152965 (W.D. Va. Nov. 3, 2016).
  • Branscome v. Va. Dept. of Env. Quality, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179012 (W.D. Va. Oct. 30, 2017).
  • Bennett v. OmniSource Corp. 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149262 (W.D. Va. Nov. 4, 2015).
  • Cash v. Magic City Motor Corp., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8128 (W.D. Va. Jan. 20, 2017).