Thomas E. Gauthier

Partner | Sacramento

Attorney Insights
Tel: 916.329.7433
Fax: 916.329.9050
Vcard   | Bio


Tom Gauthier is a partner in Lozano Smith's Sacramento office. With over 20 years of experience representing public agencies and public officials, Tom serves as general counsel to numerous school districts, community college districts, and other local governments. He specializes in labor and employment law, and also has broad expertise in key governance laws such as open meetings rules, public records, ethics, and conflicts of interest. Focusing on prevention of legal disputes and ensuring best practices, Tom provides day-to-day support to public agencies with the goal of creative problem solving. He regularly counsels clients on employee/employer relations and negotiates labor agreements throughout California. Tom has extensive experience in creating crucial governance documents such as employer policies, contracts, and inter-agency agreements.

When conflict arises public agencies turn to Tom for successful representation in employee disciplinary hearings, arbitration hearings, and numerous types of administrative hearings such as Public Employee Public Relations board hearings. A practical and solution-focused approach helps clients resolve conflict in their best interests.

Trainings & Presentations

Tom leads interactive, hands-on seminars on topics such as best personnel practices, open government laws, student-related laws, constitutional law, ethics in public service, and school board governance. He is a frequent presenter to school audiences such as: Association of California School Administrators, California Council of School Attorneys, California School Boards Association, and California Association of School Business Officials.


Tom’s practice focuses on the following areas:
  • General governance
    • Brown Act compliance
    • Effective board governance
    • Conflicts of interest
    • Public records laws
  • Labor & employment Law
    • Employee discipline & dismissal
    • Effective evaluation systems
    • Leaves of absence
    • Employment contracts & recruitment
    • Wage & hour rules
    • Free speech
    • Employment discrimination & harassment
    • Employee complaints & investigations
  • Student discipline & student rights
    • Free speech
    • Equity & access laws
    • Uniform Complaint procedures
    • Constitutional law on campus
  • Technology & innovation
    • Managing data & records lawfully
    • Best practices for public records requests
    • Student supervision & rights
    • Technology contract requirements


Mr. Gauthier received his J.D. from the University of California at Davis School of Law in 1996. He received his B.A. from the University of California at Riverside in Political Science and Administrative Studies, cum laude.

Professional Affiliations

Member, California Council of School Attorneys

#MeToo Movement Leads to Increased Harassment Prevention Training and Related Requirements for California Employers

By: Thomas Gauthier-

December 2018 Number 86 Effective January 1, 2019, California employers, including public agencies, will be required to comply with new requirements aimed at preventing sexual harassment in the workplace as a result of the #MeToo movement that began in 2017. On September 30, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown approved Senate Bill (SB) 1300 and SB 1343, which both make significant changes to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Background Under FEHA, it is unlawful to haras...

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...

California Travel Ban Does Not Apply to Local Agencies

By: Thomas GauthierStephanie White-

July 2017 Number 41 A California law that bars state agencies from funding travel, and from requiring employees to travel, to states that permit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression - and Attorney General Xavier Becerra's recent expansion of the list of states covered by the ban - have raised questions regarding whether the law applies to cities, counties, school districts and community college districts. While there is no definitive l...

Recent Fines for Failure to Disclose Gifts on Form 700 Serve as a Reminder to Public Officials

By: Thomas Gauthier-

November 2014 Number 88 The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is the state agency responsible for administering and enforcing California's Political Reform Act. (Gov. Code § 81000, et seq.) Recently, the FPPC has been active in issuing fines to local government officials for failing to report gifts of meals and ballgame tickets on their Statement of Economic Interests, also known as Form 700. Accordingly, now more than ever is a good time to review the Political Reform Act...

Election Season 2012: Legal Guidelines For Political Activity On Public Property

By: Ruth MendykThomas Gauthier-

August 2012 Number 46 Election season 2012 is in full swing as campaigns gear up for November elections. Campaign activity often raises issues for cities, school districts and other public agencies related to the proper use of public facilities, equipment, and staff time. Several laws prohibit use of public resources to urge the support or defeat of a candidate for elected office or a ballot measure. (Gov. Code § 8314; Ed. Code § 7054.) At the same time, it is important to respe...

Vendors Bearing Gifts: Disclosure Requirements For Public Officials And Employees

By: Thomas Gauthier-

July 2010 Number 26 CLIENT NEWS BRIEF VENDORS BEARING GIFTS: DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS FOR PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES Especially in these troubled economic times, vendors, consultants and others seeking business from public agencies are often going to ever greater lengths to land new clients and drum up new business. These efforts may be coupled with promises of gifts and other free offerings, including meals, wine, tickets to concerts or sporting events, and more. As an important ...