How Gretchen Helps Clients
Gretchen Woodruff Root is a full-service, labor and employment attorney, focusing on employment litigation. She represents companies in complex employment-related and business disputes in a variety of industries, including financial services, manufacturing, energy, healthcare, and communications.
As a litigator and trial attorney, Gretchen has significant experience litigating collective and class action wage and hour lawsuits under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state wage and hour laws; disputes involving restrictive covenants or injunctive relief; and single and multi-plaintiff actions under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
As a trusted counselor, Gretchen forms strategic partnerships with in-house counsel, human resources professionals, and company executives, and collaboratively engages in preventative planning to ensure compliance and avoid litigation whenever possible. Gretchen advises on issues associated with wage and hour compliance, recruitment and hiring, performance management, discipline and discharge, leave and accommodations, reductions in force, enforcement of non-compete agreements, and protection of trade secrets. And, given her in-depth knowledge of their business, clients often retain Gretchen to handle internal investigations and to negotiate employment agreements, severance packages, and other employment-related agreements.
Since 2019, Gretchen has been the Chair of Buchanan’s Work|WELL program which promotes well-being among the firm's lawyers, professionals, and staff through a variety of tools, resources, and support. The program is part of Buchanan’s commitment to the American Bar Association’s Well-Being Pledge, which promises a proactive and dedicated focus on wellness education, resources, and policies for everyone throughout the firm.
Gretchen has been named to the Rising Star list by Pennsylvania Super Lawyers® in 2016, 2017, and 2018. She was also selected by The Legal Intelligencer as one of 32 “Lawyers on the Fast Track” in 2017. In addition, she received a 2021, 2022 and 2023 Best Lawyers: Ones To Watch recognition for Labor and Employment Law: Management and Litigation – Labor and Employment.
What Clients Can Expect
Gretchen is known to be a pragmatic, problem-solver for her clients. She is adaptable and flexible and easily guides her clients through every stage of litigation. Taking a holistic approach to her litigation and counseling, Gretchen devotes a significant amount of time to understanding her clients’ business needs, culture, and objectives, all of which enable her to provide tailored, client-centric solutions.
Outside the Office
When she is not working, Gretchen enjoys exploring new restaurants in Pittsburgh, working out, and spending quality time with her family, friends, and mischievous/brilliant rescue dog, Callie.
- Secured consent judgment and multi-million dollar settlement for manufacturing client where a former employee and his new employer misappropriate confidential, proprietary, and trade secret information.
- Secured summary judgment for a financial services company in a nationwide collective/class action alleging the company violated the FLSA and the wage and hour laws of 10 states (including Pennsylvania) by applying offsets and chargebacks when calculating the commissions earned by non-exempt sales employees.
- Achieved favorable settlement (less than 10% of the alleged damages as calculated by plaintiff’s expert) for a financial services company in two consolidated nationwide collective/class actions (involving over 1,100 opt-in plaintiffs and over 3,000 class members) alleging that the company violated the FLSA and the wage and hour laws of 12 states (including Pennsylvania) by failing to compensate non-exempt sales employees pursuant to the terms of their offer letters, making deductions from their earned commissions, and requiring them to work off the clock.
- Secured a defense verdict on all claims including counterclaims (affirmed by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania) for a manufacturing company following a state court jury trial on a former field sales manager’s claims that the company owed him $1.3 million for breaching his employment agreement and wrongfully terminating his employment while he was on an expatriate assignment in Singapore with his pregnant wife.
- Secured a defense verdict on all claims for a university following a federal court jury trial on a former Ph.D. student’s claims that the university breached her contract, failed to adequately address her allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault, and discriminated, harassed, and retaliated against her in violation of Title VI and Title IX.
- Defeated a health care network’s motion for a preliminary injunction seeking to prevent a breast surgeon from working for a rival health care network, and obtained dismissal with prejudice of all claims that the surgeon violated the confidentiality, non-compete and non-solicitation provisions of her employment agreement.
- Secured injunctive relief for manufacturing company brought against a former salesperson and his various related-companies, among other things, breach of contract and misappropriating the company’s confidential, proprietary, and trade secret information, obtaining an order that the former salesperson and his various related-companies were to return all company-related information.
- Secured complete victory on all claims for educational institution following a two-day private arbitration on former employee’s claims (whose employment was terminated as part of a reduction in force) involving claims of age discrimination, retaliation, tortious interference, and civil conspiracy.
Case Western Reserve University, J.D., 2010, cum laude;
Elected to Order of the Coif and Order of the Barristers; Editor-in-Chief, Health Matrix: Journal of Law-Medicine; Honors Legal Writing Fellow; Recipient of Dean Dunmore Distinguished Advocate Award for Best Performance in Combined Arts of Legal Research, Brief Writing and Oral Advocacy, Dean Dunmore Moot Court Competition; Recipient of A.E. Bernsteen Award for Best Oral Advocate, Dean Dunmore Moot Court Competition; National First Amendment Moot Court Competition, Quarter-finalist; Recipient of Paul J. Hergenroeder Award for Outstanding Performance in Trial Tactics; Recipient of Richard A. and Brandon S. Collier Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Law-Medicine Curriculum; Recipient of the CALI Award for Excellence: Trial Tactics; Financial Principles for Lawyers
Allegheny College, B.A., 2003, cum laude;
Allegheny Trustee Scholar and Alden Scholar; Recipient of Allegheny Scholar Athlete Award; Lambda Sigma Sophomore Honor Society (2001); President, Economics Society; Member, Student Athletic Advisory Committee
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
- U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
Allegheny County Bar Association
Pennsylvania Bar Association
Federal Bar Association
The Women in Leadership Executive Program at George Washington University, School of Business, Advisory Council Member (2021 – present)
United Way Women’s Leadership Counsel, Member (2014 – present)
Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Success in Law School, Mentor (2012 – 2015; 2017 – 2018)
Multiple Sclerosis Society, Ambassador to MS Leaders Circle (2015 – 2018)
Sarah Heinz House (an affiliate of the Boys and Girls Club), Chair of Associate Board (2014 – 2016); Emeritus Chair and Liaison to Board of Directors (2016 – 2017)