Carolyn L. Gemma

Senior Counsel | Sacramento

Attorney Insights
Tel: 916.329.7433
Fax: 916.329.9050
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Carolyn L. Gemma is senior counsel in Lozano Smith’s Sacramento office. Ms. Gemma advises educational institutions throughout the state on all matters affecting employment, students and board governance.

Ms. Gemma is AWI (Association of Workplace Investigators) trained and has significant experience conducting prompt, thorough and effective workplace and Title IX investigations. In addition, her trauma-informed training offers clients further expertise in investigating allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault and other forms of sexual misconduct. Ms. Gemma conducts respectful interviews of witnesses and understands how trauma has an impact on credibility determinations.

Ms. Gemma is trained and has significant experience conducting prompt, thorough, and effective workplace and Title IX investigations for both K-12 and higher education clients. Ms. Gemma has completed trauma-informed training, further providing her clients with unique expertise. Ms. Gemma’s trauma-informed approach to investigations allows her to conduct respectful interviews of witnesses and understand how trauma impacts credibility determinations.


Ms. Gemma specializes in labor and employment matters, including employee discipline and termination; responding and facilitating resolutions to grievances, unfair labor practice charges and DFEH/EEOC charges; and conducting workplace investigations. She also advises clients regarding compliance with state and federal laws; drafting, negotiating, and revising board policies, administrative regulations, employee handbooks, consent forms and contracts; and student matters such as discipline, search and seizure and free speech.


Ms. Gemma earned a law degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. During law school, Ms. Gemma served as member of the McGeorge Law Review and as a Judicial Extern for the Honorable John A. Mendez of the United States District Court, Eastern District of California. Ms. Gemma earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of San Diego, where she majored in Political Science, minored in Italian Studies, and graduated cum laude. Ms. Gemma has received certification through ATIXA as a participant in Level 1 and Level 3 ATIXA Civil Rights Investigator Trainings.

California Expands Definition Of Domestic Partners To Include Opposite Sex Couples

By: Gabriela FlowersCarolyn Gemma-

October 2019Number 63In California, registered domestic partners have "the same rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under the law" as spouses. (Fam. Code § 297.5, subd. (a).) Existing law limits domestic partnerships, among other requirements, to two groups of individuals: (1) couples of the same sex or (2) couples of the opposite sex, one or both of whom are over the age of 62 and eligible for social security bene...

PERB Admonishes School District for Blanket Prohibitions on Distributing Union Literature

By: Darren KameyaCarolyn Gemma-

December 2018Number 87On October 22, 2018, the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) upheld an administrative law judge (ALJ) decision finding that the Petaluma City Elementary School District/Joint Union High School District ("District") interfered with employee and organizational rights by: (1) directing employees not to distribute literature "of a political or union nature" on District property, including during non-work time and in on-work areas; and (2) directing employees not to dist...

New Law Clarifies Limits on Employer Use of Applicant Salary History

By: Sarah KaatzCarolyn Gemma-

August 2018Number 39A new law clarifies recently enacted rules prohibiting employers from asking job applicants about their salary history. The changes included in Assembly Bill (AB) 2282, which becomes effective on January 1, 2019, eliminate some ambiguity concerning an employer's limitations with regard to requesting an applicant's salary history information.BackgroundIn 2017 lawmakers approved AB 168, which limits what employers, including public entity employers, can request from applican...

Lawmakers Declare April 10 Dolores Huerta Day

By: Sarah KaatzCarolyn Gemma-

August 2018Number 40The Legislature has declared that April 10 is Dolores Huerta Day. Assembly Bill (AB) 2644, which dedicates the day to the activist and labor leader, becomes effective January 1, 2019.The new law encourages public schools and other educational institutions to observe this day by conducting activities that commemorate the life and accomplishments of Dolores Huerta. However, the legislation does not create a new mandatory paid holiday.Huerta is known for working to improve so...

Asking Job Applicants about Criminal Conviction History: What You Need to Know about Assembly Bill 1008

By: Thomas GauthierCarolyn Gemma-

December 2017 Number 80 Effective January 1, 2018, Assembly Bill (AB) 1008 amends the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to restrict an employer's ability to make hiring decisions based on a job applicant's criminal conviction history. Background AB 1008 prohibits an employer from asking about criminal conviction history until the applicant has received a conditional offer of employment. After a conditional offer of employment has been made, an employer may conduct a criminal co...

Legislative Update: Employers Can't Ask, but Applicants Can Tell

By: Darren KameyaCarolyn Gemma-

October 2017 Number 68 Employers, including public agency employers, will be forbidden from asking job applicants for their salary history when Assembly Bill (AB) 168 becomes effective on January 1, 2018. AB 168 explicitly prohibits public agency employers from asking job applicants for salary history information. However, when an applicant voluntarily and without prompting provides salary history information, employers may use the information as a factor in determining salary if the e...