Ellen James

Hon. Ellen Sickles James (Ret.)

JAMS Mediator, Arbitrator and Referee/Special Master

Case Manager
Morgan Borg
T: 415-774-2657
F: 415-928-5287
2 Embarcadero Center, Suite 1500, San Francisco, CA 94111


Judge James has served as an arbitrator and mediator in many employment disputes involving a wide range of issues. She communicates effectively with all parties and counsel to bring successful resolution to the issues presented. Judge James has settled thousands of civil court cases and over 1,000 mediations ranging from discrimination to labor code violations.

Judge James’ employment expertise encompasses a vast array of legal issues such as wrongful termination, lay-offs and reductions in force, wrongful demotion, disparate treatment/impact, vacation, wage, and commission disputes, labor code violations, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and ERISA. Her extensive experience with resolving discrimination issues includes matters related to national origin, race, ethnicity, disability, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, and pregnancy.

Representative Matters

  • Arbitrated to award a dispute between a brokerage firm and a group of its former employees who allegedly used trade secrets and confidential commercial information
  • Arbitrated to award a hostile work environment case wherein a female employee of a dentist alleged that a co-worker was wrongfully promoted due to a personal relationship with the dentist
  • Successfully mediated a case involving allegations of trade secret theft by former employees. Case involved allegations that the defendants developed a scheme to use their former employer’s trade secrets to start companies and lure away their former employer’s customers in order to expand into the market of offering training classes in avionics, aviation, electronics, telecommunications and computers
  • Mediated and resolved a number of issues arising out of class actions in which exotic dancers sued various nightclubs for wage discrimination largely due to employee versus independent contractor status
  • Mediated and resolved a number of sexual harassment cases involving law firm employees and attorneys in various law firms
  • Mediated and resolved many cases in which men and/or women reported gender discrimination for sexual harassment in the workplace
  • Mediated and resolved numerous hospital, healthcare provider, and healthcare employee sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, wrongful termination, disability discrimination, and unwelcome conduct in the workplace matters
  • Mediated and settled a matter concerning two deputy sheriffs who claimed sexual discrimination in the workplace by their county employer
  • Mediated and settled multi-party sexual harassment/discrimination issues concerning pregnancy leave issues
  • Mediated and settled several cases involving plaintiffs suing nursing homes for unpaid wages, racial discrimination, and wrongful termination
  • Mediated to resolution many claims of sexual harassment in the work place against gay men or women
  • Successfully mediated a dispute between a county and a public employee over alleged wrongful termination
  • Successfully mediated a dispute between a female doctor and the provider group that she was a part of due to withheld wages and alleged wrongful termination
  • Successfully resolved a sexual harassment dispute between an employee who alleged sexual harassment by an employer of a major frozen food company
  • Successfully resolved a wrongful discharge and racial discrimination case involving a refinery employee and his employer
  • Successfully resolved an issue between female county dispatchers alleging sexual harassment and emotional distress by sheriff’s department employer
  • Successfully resolved claims arising from wage and hour class actions
  • Successfully settled an alleged wrongful termination claim of an accountant who held that s/he was dismissed for reporting illegal accounting practices
  • Successfully settled cases involving multi-party race discrimination
Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS.

  • Recognized as a "Top Neutral," Daily Journal Top California Neutrals List, 2013
  • Member, Gender Task Force, JAMS, 2008-present
  • Distinguished Mediator of the Year Award, San Francisco Trial Lawyers' Association, 2008
  • Member, Committee on Mediator Ethical Guidance, American Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section, 2006-present
  • Adjunct Professor at Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California 2002 and 2003
  • Lecturer for The American Bar Association, CEB, The Rutter Group, and numerous local Bar Associations and community groups
  • Above and Beyond Award, Alameda County Trial Lawyers Association, 1998
  • Served on the Judicial Council Complex Litigation Task Force, 1997-1999 and the Judicial Council Task Force on the Quality of Justice, 1997-1999
  • Chairperson, Contra Costa Superior Court Trials Committee and Civil Bench Bar Committee, 1991-1997
  • Organized Contra Costa Judicial Council Trials Management Program, 1991
  • Trial Judge of the Year, Alameda-Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association, 1987
  • Member, Judicial Council Blue Ribbon Panel of Experts on Arbitrator Ethics
ADR Profiles
  • Presiding Judge, Civil Division, Contra Costa County Superior Court, 1991-1997
  • Superior Court Judge Liaison to First District Court of Appeal, 1990-1997
  • Presiding Judge, Superior Court Appellate Division, 1986
  • Associate Justice, (pro tem), First District Court of Appeal, 1985
  • Judge, Mt. Diablo Judicial District Municipal Court, 1976-1982; (elected Presiding Judge, 1978)
  • J.D., University of California, Berkeley School of Law (formerly Boalt Hall School of Law), 1969
  • B.A., Sarah Lawrence College, 1965

Counsel Comments

    • "The mediator [Judge James] was terrific...Settling at this stage made sense. We couldn't possibly have settled (we tried) on our own"

      -Partner at Seattle Law Firm 
    • “Judge James’ reputation as a miracle worker is WELL deserved and hard-earned… She is just outstanding, and incredibly insightful.” 

      - Well recognized litigator
    • “[Judge James’] unique blend of talent, experience, people skills, and perseverance was masterful [and] perhaps more impressive than anything I have experienced was [her] continued involvement with the process long after a ten-hour session of mediation.” 

      - Prominent founding partner of a nationally recognized law firm




This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More