Overview

Erika R. Royal is a lawyer in Holland & Knight's Fort Lauderdale office. Ms. Royal has extensive experience defending management and corporate clients against individual, collective and class action employment-related claims. Ms. Royal has litigated numerous discrimination and retaliation claims arising from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Whistleblower Act, Florida's Workers' Compensation Retaliation statute and other federal, state and local employment-related statutes. Ms. Royal has conducted many sensitive internal investigations of allegations against high-level employees. She has also represented companies in enforcing restrictive covenant agreements.

In addition to employment litigation, Ms. Royal provides strategic advice and counsel on all aspects of the employment relationship, including executive and employment agreements, audits, training, employee handbooks and policies, performance evaluations, social media policies and use, and compliance with federal, state and local employment laws. Ms. Royal provides practical and effective approaches to managing employee leaves, conducting internal investigations, implementing or managing reductions in force and noncompetition covenants, and reducing employers' litigation vulnerabilities. Ms. Royal also is well-versed in employment law for corporate transactions. She has represented clients across a broad range of industries, including financial institutions, transportation, hospitality, healthcare, technology and retail. A frequent author and an engaging speaker, Ms. Royal has addressed numerous employment topics important to her corporate clients, including most recently, COVID-19 Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace.

Ms. Royal participated in Holland & Knight's 2007 Rising Stars program, an intensive and dynamic educational, leadership and marketing training program designed to promote women within the firm. She is chair of the firm's Black Affinity Group and former coordinator of the Fort Lauderdale Women's Initiative, both integral parts of Holland & Knight's commitment to diversity. Ms. Royal was selected to represent Holland & Knight in the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity's 2014 Fellows Program and remains active in the LCLD organization. She was a member of the Leadership Broward Foundation's Class XXXI and a member of the inaugural class of Women Leading Broward. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Leadership Broward Foundation. Trusted by her clients and peers, Ms. Royal was recognized in The Best Lawyers in America Guide as Fort Lauderdale Labor and Employment Lawyer of the Year in 2018.

Experience

  • Obtained dismissal of a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) class action case against global transportation/shipping client on the grounds that the named plaintiff did not have the requisite standing to proceed with the case where the proposed class exceeded 30,000 individuals
  • Obtained a favorable settlement following the filing of a motion to dismiss class action in a nationwide wage-and-hour case brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and various state laws against a large global hospitality client where the proposed class exceeded 1,000 employees
  • Obtained a favorable settlement following the filing of a motion to dismiss class action in a nationwide wage-and-hour case brought under the FCRA against a large global hospitality client where the proposed class exceeded 10,000 individuals
  • Represented a global transportation/shipping client with over 400,000 employees in nationwide Fair Labor Standards Act collective actions alleging that individuals were misclassified as independent contractors; consolidated cases into single action with over 800 opt-in plaintiffs; obtained class decertification and prevented certification of Rule 23 class leading to favorable resolution of the claims of the five remaining plaintiffs

  • Secured arbitration awards for a transportation client in several labor arbitrations involving an interpretation of collective bargaining agreement and disciplinary issues 
  • Obtained a defense judgment in an arbitration of race and age discrimination claim against a financial services client

  • Obtained jury verdict in race discrimination and workers compensation retaliation case; affirmed on appeal
  • Obtained a summary judgment in a sexual harassment claim against a large technology client; affirmed on appeal
  • Obtained a summary judgment in a disability discrimination and workers compensation retaliation case; affirmed on appeal
  • Obtained a summary judgment in federal court in a race discrimination claim by a plaintiff against a global transportation/shipping company; also obtained significant award of attorneys' fees and costs against plaintiff
  • Obtained a summary judgment in numerous disability discrimination, workers' compensation retaliation, race discrimination, sexual harassment, age discrimination, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and wage and hour lawsuits

Credentials

Education
  • Harvard Law School, J.D.
  • Florida State University, B.A., English Literature
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • Florida
Court Admissions
  • All State Courts in Florida
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida
Memberships
  • Leadership Broward Foundation, Board of Directors, 2015-2020
  • Women Leading Broward Class I
  • Leadership Broward Class XXXI
  • National Bar Association
  • Broward County Bar Association
  • Florida Association of Women Lawyers
  • Academy of Florida Management Attorneys
  • Imagine Charter School at Weston K-8, Governing Board, 2013-2020
Honors & Awards
  • Holland & Knight PCS Pro Bono All-Star, 2018, 2019
  • Holland & Knight Community Service All-Star, 2019
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Fort Lauderdale Labor and Employment Lawyer of the Year, 2018 
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Employment Law – Management, Litigation – Labor & Employment, 2014-2016, 2018-2021
  • Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, Fellows Program, 2014
  • Florida Super Lawyers magazine, Employee Litigation: Defense, 2012-2019

Publications

Speaking Engagements

News