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Sean Becker
Sean Becker
Partner — Labor & Employment
Partner — Labor & Employment

Sean Becker

Sean Becker
Houston

1001 Fannin Street
Suite 2500
Houston, TX 77002

start quote symbolEmployment-related challenges can present some of the most important, and sensitive, issues that our clients face. I help them manage those matters by leveraging my experience as a litigator, transactional lawyer and advisor. Together, my colleagues and I provide highly practical, commercial advice and resolve sensitive employment matters efficiently and effectively.end quote symbol
Sean Becker

Sean Becker, the head of the Employment, Labor and OSHA practice, brings a unique perspective to his work advising clients on day-to-day employment issues and transaction-related employment matters: As a veteran employment litigator, he can identify and navigate potential liabilities that might otherwise go unnoticed. It’s a skill that has proved invaluable as Sean has managed a variety of sensitive employment-related matters and managed the labor and employment aspects of hundreds of acquisitions, divestitures and other transactions.

In his more than two decades of practice, Sean has also developed longstanding relationships with private equity clients and companies that rely on his counsel on issues such as non-competition and non-solicitation matters, including the structuring of restrictive covenant regimes, and the defense and pursuit of non-competition and unfair competition-related claims. He regularly negotiates and drafts executive employment agreements, severance agreements, and other employment-related contracts.

In addition, Sean has continued his work as a litigator, representing a variety of employers and their affiliated entities or sponsors in disputes across the country relating to employment contracts, class actions, ERISA, and wage-related claims. No matter what the challenge, Sean is committed to implementing approaches that provide effective outcomes for his clients.

Experience Highlights

  • (Multiple jurisdictions) — Obtained successful outcomes in pursuing and defending matters relating to alleged employee non-competition, non-solicitation and unfair competition

  • (S.D. Tex.); (5th Cir.) — Obtained summary judgment and Fifth Circuit affirmation of summary judgment on behalf of an international oil company in consolidated ERISA benefits litigation brought by former executive employees

  • Denbury Resources in its $1.7 billion acquisition of Penn Virginia (pending)

  • Oncor Electric Delivery Company in its $2.2 billion acquisition of InfraREIT

  • (Iowa Dist.) — First chair of Iowa state court trial in which the application of employer’s drug testing policy was challenged, and employee’s requests for reinstatement and damages following positive tests were denied. Obtained affirmation of decision in case of first impression argued before the Iowa Supreme Court

  • Obtained directed verdict on a former chief executive’s wrongful termination claim and a successful resolution of breach of contract claim after three-day arbitration

  • Riverstone Holdings in the $9.5 billion formation of Talen Energy Corporation, one of the largest independent power producers in the U.S., through a Reverse Morris Trust spin-off of PPL Corporation’s merchant power generation business and the concurrent combination thereof with Riverstone’s merchant power generation business and associated debt financings

  • Deep Gulf Energy Companies, a deepwater oil and gas exploration and development business operating in the Gulf of Mexico and a portfolio company of First Reserve, in its $1.225 billion sale to Kosmos Energy

  • Energy Transfer Partners in the $60 billion merger with Energy Transfer Equity in a unit-for-unit exchange

  • TPG Growth in the $1.2 billion sale of Discovery Midstream to KKR and Williams

  • Omega Protein in its $500 million sale to Cooke, a global seafood company based in Canada

  • Select Energy Services, an affiliate of Crestview Partners, in its $1.3 billion merger with Rockwater Energy Solutions

  • Maxar Technologies in its $3.6 billion merger with DigitalGlobe, creating a leading provider of satellites, earth imagery, geospatial data solutions and analytics

  • Sunoco Logistics Partners LP in its $20 billion merger with Energy Transfer Partners in a unit-for-unit transaction

  • Riverstone Holdings in the $3.75 billion acquisition by its portfolio company, Fieldwood Energy LLC, of Apache Corp.’s assets in the Outer Continental Shelf of the Gulf of Mexico

  • C&J Energy Services in its $2.86 billion merger with Nabors’ completion and production business to create a leading diversified completion and production services provider

  • TPG Capital in its $1.8 billion acquisition of natural gas properties in Wyoming’s Jonah field from Encana Corporation

  • Eagle Rock Energy Partners in the $1.325 billion contribution of its midstream business to Regency Energy Partners

  • Huntsman Corporation in its $1.1 billion acquisition of the performance additives and titanium dioxide businesses of Rockwood Holdings

  • St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System in its $1 billion transfer to the Catholic Health Initiatives

  • Riverstone Holdings in its $400 million acquisition of three coal-fired generating plants located in Maryland from a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation

  • The Carlyle Group in the acquisition of the North American power generation assets of Cogentrix Energy, including five coal and solar power projects and a development pipeline of gas and renewable projects, from The Goldman Sachs Group

  • (Tex. Dist.) — Defeated application for temporary restraining order against our clients, an executive and the start-up company with which he was affiliated, and obtained the prompt dismissal of the underlying breach of contract lawsuit after successfully challenging the enforceability of the non-competition clauses at issue

  • (S.D. Tex.); (5th Cir.)  — Obtained dismissal and Fifth Circuit affirmation of putative class action ERISA claim on grounds of Railway Labor Act preemption

  • (N.J. Super.) — Obtained summary judgment in case of first impression in New Jersey state court litigation that addressed the interpretation and reach of a state “mini-WARN” law

  • (S.D. Tex.) — Obtained summary judgment on all aspects of Americans with Disabilities Act discrimination, retaliation, and harassment claim brought by a staffing services employee against a national manufacturer

  • (S.D. Tex); (E.D. Tex.); (Cal. Super.) — Represented a national company in its successful defenses of putative class action or collective action wage and hour claims

  • Obtained summary judgment on all aspects of age discrimination, promissory estoppel, and misrepresentation claims in arbitration brought by a former employee of an international well services company

  • Negotiated clients’ collective bargaining agreements with employee unions

  • Successfully defended a large hospital system against allegations of unfair labor practices investigated by NLRB

  • Advised a client with regard to legal issues related to the successful defense of representation petition

Credentials

  • Harvard Law School, J.D. cum laude, 1998
  • Harvard College, B.A., Government magna cum laude, 1994
  • Chambers USA, Labor and Employment (Texas), 2016-2020
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (BL Rankings, LLC), Litigation – Labor and Employment, 2017-2021
  • Euromoney’s Benchmark Litigation, Labor & Employment, South Stars, 2018
  • Selected to the Texas Super Lawyers list, Super Lawyers(Thomson Reuters), 2012–2019
  • Board Certified: labor and employment law, Texas Board of Legal Specialization
  • Member: American Employment Law Council
  • Member: Employment Rights and Responsibilities and Equal Employment Opportunity committees, Labor and Employment Section, American Bar Association; Pro Bono College, State Bar of Texas; Labor and Employment Section, Houston Bar Association
  • Planning Committees, University of Texas Annual Labor and Employment Law Conferences, 2010–2019
  • Massachusetts
  • Texas
  • United States Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern, Southern, and Western Districts of Texas
  • U.S. District of Court for the District of Massachusetts
  • “Anti-SLAPP for Employment Lawyers,” UT Law’s 25th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference, May 10, 2018 (speaker)
  • “Conducting Internal Investigations and Avoiding Retaliation Claims,” V&E Houston Office, June 22, 2017 (speaker)
  • “Balancing Non-Compete and Antitrust Considerations in an Era of Increased Scrutiny,” V&E Houston Office, March 23, 2017 (speaker)
  • “Time to Revisit Employer Confidentiality and Release Agreements,” V&E Employment, Labor and OSHA Update E-communication, October 12, 2016 (co-author)
  • “Consideration in Structuring and Enforcing Forfeiture Clauses, Clawbacks and Other ‘Bad Boy’ Deterrents to Post-Employment Competition,” presented at American Employment Law Council Annual Conference, October 2014, (author)
  • “Expert Q&A: Drennen and Other Notable 2014 Developments in Restrictive Covenants Laws,” Practical Law, September 23, 2014 (author)
  • “The Texas Supreme Court Upholds Forfeiture-for-Competition Clauses After Deferring to Parties’ Choice of New York Law,” V&E Employment, Labor and OSHA Update E-communication, September 2, 2014 (author)
  • “What Investors Should Know About Restrictive Covenants,” Oil & Gas Financial Journal, June 9, 2014
  • “Don’t Waive Your Restrictive Covenants Goodbye: A Texas Appeals Court Reminds Employers That Non-Compete and Non-Solicit Agreements Should Be Enforced Consistently,” V&E Employment, Labor and OSHA Update E-communication, February 5, 2014 (author)
  • “Ask Questions First, Sue Later: Considering Rule 202 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure,” University of Texas Labor and Employment Law Conference, May 2012
  • “A New Day for Texas Non-Competes: Texas Supreme Court Decision Fundamentally Changes Texas Non-Compete Principles,” V&E Labor and Employment Updates E-communication, June 28, 2011
  • “Emerging Issues Involving Independent Contractors,” University of Texas Labor and Employment Law Conference, May 2011
  • “The Texas Supreme Court Goes Goodwill Hunting: Will It Become Easier to Create Enforceable Non competes in Texas?” Bloomberg Law Reports, March 2011
  • “Trends and Developments in Labor Law,” University of Texas Labor and Employment Law Conference, May 2010
  • “Developments Under the Americans With Disabilities Amendments Act,” Houston Bar Association, April 2010
  • “Labor Issues When Businesses Fail,” Texas Bar Advanced Business Bankruptcy Course, October 2009 (co-author)
  • “The Attorney’s Role When a Client Is Considering a Reduction in Force,” Aspatore’s Inside the Minds: Dealing with Reductions in Force, August 2009
  • “Internal Investigations: Best Practices and Recent Developments,” University of Texas Labor and Employment Law Conference, May 2009
  • “Legal Considerations and Best Practices for Addressing Union Issues in the Direct Care Environment,” Care for Elders 2009 Leadership Conference, May 2009
  • “Preparing for the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act,” Vinson & Elkins seminars, December 2008–January 2009
  • “Choice of Law: Which Law Governs When?” University of Texas 15th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference, May 2008
  • “Understanding Electronic Document Retention and Production Obligations Under the New Federal Rules,” HR Houston 2008 Gulf Coast Symposium
  • “Preparing for Guard Publishing: Will the NLRB Make Cyberspace a Workplace?”American Health Lawyers Association Labor & Employment Practice Group newsletter, November 2007
  •  “Employers’ Record Retention and Document Production Obligations in the Age of Electronic Discovery,” Texas Employment Law Council Educational Conference and Summer Meeting, 2007 (presenter)
  • “Employee Retaliation Claims in the Wake of Burlington Northern: Some Early Returns,” Vinson & Elkins Litigation News, Spring 2007
  • “What Law Firms Need to Know About Employment Law,” Vinson & Elkins seminar, 2007 (presenter)
  • “Reconciling Technology Practices with Employees’ Privacy Rights,” HR Houston Gulf Coast Symposium, 2006
  • Developing Labor Law, Cumulative Supplement, 2000 and 2001 (contributing editor)
  • Various Continuing Legal Education Presentations