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Melanie V. Pate

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Melanie leads her practice with empathy, expertise, and integrity. Clients benefit from her established practice and extensive legal knowledge and experience.

Melanie Pate, a partner in the firm's Litigation Practice Group, focuses primarily on labor and employment issues. She spent 15 years working in the Arizona Attorney General's Office, including six years as a section chief and chief counsel of the Arizona Civil Rights Division and nine years as an assistant attorney general in the Employment Law Section. Melanie has more than 24 years of experience in representing public and private employers of all sizes and across a wide variety of industries, and she specializes in helping employers prevent litigation through preventative counseling and proactive risk management strategies.

Employment Law Advice and Representation

Melanie provides emergency advice, preventative counseling, training, and ongoing employment guidance to HR directors and in-house counsel. She prepares, reviews, negotiates, and enforces employment contracts and severance agreements, including non-disclosure, non-compete and non-solicitation provisions, and executive compensation agreements. She also helps her clients prepare and update employee handbooks, create social media usage policies, and implement effective performance management policies and practices.

Administrative Proceedings Before EEOC and ACRD

Melanie routinely represents clients in proceedings before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Arizona Civil Rights Division (ACRD), including mediation and conciliation sessions.

By leveraging her past experience as the ACRD’s chief counsel, Melanie helps her clients develop defense strategies that take into account how state and federal civil rights agencies make administrative rulings on employment law matters.

Employment Litigation and Arbitration

Melanie has significant experience representing employers in cases in state and federal court and arbitration involving discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, FMLA, FLSA, OSHA, whistleblower, and immigration issues.

Recently, she:

  • Obtained summary judgment for a large national employer in a workers’ compensation retaliation case.
  • Obtained summary judgment for a tribal employer in a national origin discrimination case.
  • Successfully negotiated the favorable resolution of a lawsuit filed against a large Tucson employer by a former executive.
  • Conducted several complex internal investigations for large public and private employers.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility

Melanie helps public and private organizations navigate and interpret complex federal rules and regulations regarding ADA Title II and Title III accommodation and accessibility issues. Recently, she assisted a major airline with an ADA accessibility issue and represented multiple entities in website accessibility litigation matters.

Fair Housing Laws

In addition to her employment law practice, Melanie helps housing providers, state agencies, property managers, and real estate companies comply with state and federal Fair Housing laws. She recently represented the Arizona Department of Housing in a dispute with HUD regarding appropriate housing for deaf and hearing-impaired individuals.

Personal Approach

Melanie has a talent for strategic thinking, risk management, and problem evaluation. She committed to employment law during her first year out of law school and she has since dedicated herself to fully understanding employment laws, policies, best practices, and the changing obstacles employers face. Melanie’s competitive edge is her natural ability to connect with clients, her passion for resolving issues, and her skill at anticipating potential risks. She is highly regarded by her colleagues and clients for being unflappable and professional, even in the most difficult cases with the most challenging opponents.

Melanie’s father was a lawyer and her uncle was a magistrate judge in northern Arizona, so problem solving is in her blood. In her free time, Melanie follows politics, enjoys reading historical biographies, likes to travel, and enthusiastically attends her kids’ basketball games.

More About Melanie V. Pate


  • J.D., University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law, 1996
  • B.S., magna cum laude, University of Arizona, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, 1992

Bar Admissions

  • Arizona, 1996

Court Admissions

  • Arizona Superior Court
  • U.S. District Court, District of Arizona
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit


  • State Bar of Arizona Labor and Employment Section, Executive Council Member, 2015-2023; Budget Officer, 2020-2021; Secretary, 2019-2020; CLE Committee Chair, 2015-2016
  • Arizona Commission on Judicial Performance Review, Attorney Member, 2020-2021
  • American Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section
  • Arizona Association of Defense Counsel, Board Member, 2014-2015
  • Arizona Attorney, Editorial Board, Past Member

Honors & Recognitions

  • The Best Lawyers in America, Litigation - Labor & Employment, 2019-2022
  • Chambers USA, Labor & Employment, 2018-2022
  • Benchmark Litigation, "Labor & Employment Star - West," 2018-2021
  • Arizona Bar Foundation, "Top 50 Pro Bono Attorneys" Award, 2020
  • Arizona Business Magazine, “Most Influential Women in Arizona,” 2016
  • John P. Frank Pro Bono Awards Luncheon, "Pro Bono Attorney of the Year," 2016
  • Arizona Trial Lawyers Association College of Trial Advocacy, Graduate
  • Arizona Attorney General's Office, "Emerging Star" Award, Civil Division, 2005



Melanie Pate gives frequent presentations to clients and trade organizations on employment law, ADA accessibility, and fair housing. Some of her recent presentations include: 

  • Speaker, "Top Five Things to Do to Avoid Being Sued by Your Employees," Women Leading Government 2021 Conference, October 2021
  • Panelist, "Preparing for the New Office Normal," BOK Financial Insurance Webinar, September 2020
  • Webinar Co-presenter, "Managing the Workplace in a Pandemic: Tips for Employers to Survive the Era of COVID-19," Tempe Chamber of Commerce., Aug. 25, 2020
  • Presenter, "PPP Flexibility Act, Executive Order 2020-40, and New EEOC Guidance," Association of Arizona Nonprofits Webinar, June 2020
  • Presenter, "Everybody Back to Work - Now What Do You Do?" Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, May 2020
  • Co-presenter, “Breaking Impasse in Mediation,” ABA Advanced Mediation and Advocacy Skills Institute, October 2016
  • Presenter, “FLSA White Collar Exemptions Update,” CLE by the Sea, July 2016
  • Co-presenter, “What Does the Future Hold for the EEOC’s Enforcement Activities?” CLE by the Sea, July 2016
  • Presenter, “EEOC/ACRD Charges: Charge Prevention and the Investigation Process,” SHRM-GT Conference, April 2016
  • Presenter, “What’s New at the EEOC:  2016 Update,” SHRM-GT Conference, April 2016
  • Presenter, “Title III of the ADA:  What You Need to Know,” Client Training, April 2016
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