Blackwell N. Shelley, Jr.

Blackwell Shelley has spent the better part of the last thirty years studying the employment relationship. After he graduated from the University of Virginia, Shelley went to work for a Washington, D.C., think tank studying the federal pension system. That bi-partisan group, headed by John Macy and Hastings Keith, had reached the conclusion that the design of the federal retirement systems was dangerously misaligned and would result in inevitable financial collapse. Shelley worked with these two men in an extensive review of the economics, laws, and regulations that controlled government employment and retirement.

He enrolled in law school at Washington & Lee University and continued his study of labor and employment law. As a student, he wrote for the W&L Law Review about the federal appellate review of a case of sexual discrimination and retaliation. In the late 1980s, Shelley returned to Richmond, Virginia, his hometown, and, following a judicial clerkship, began practicing law.

A substantial part of his practice has focused on the employment relationship. Over the years, Shelley has provided counsel, advice, and representation to hundreds of employees in cases involving discrimination and harassment, wrongful termination, defamation, unpaid wages, non-compete agreements, and the like. Shelley has also represented and advised employers that range from small local businesses, to municipalities, to national banks, as well as brokerages and financial institutions, pension funds, several national trucking companies, Fortune 500 companies, broadcasters, and publishers. Much of this work takes place in court, or on the way to court, but Shelley also spends a considerable part of his practice helping clients take preventative measures, by reviewing and writing employment contracts and employment handbooks, non-compete agreements, and severance agreements.

Recent Noteworthy Cases

  • Bowers, et al. v. Wilder, et al., Richmond Circuit Court, Case No. CL07-4658 (July 23, 2009) (unpublished). On the defendant's demurrer and plea in bar, Court found that the actions of the defendant, the former Mayor of the City of Richmond, were absolutely immune from suit and the case was dismissed as to him.
  • Altimari v. Bev. Mktg. USA, Inc., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109984 (E.D. Va. Nov. 21, 2008). The Court found that the employer's termination of a manager who demanded payment of his earned bonus offended Virginia public policy and gave the manager a valid claim for wrongful termination against his former employer.
  • NGM Ins. Co. v. Secured Title & Abstract, Inc., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78204 (E.D. Va. Sept. 11, 2008) On the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, the Court ruled that defendants had breached their fiduciary duties to plaintiff. Plaintiff's attorney's fees and costs awarded in NGM Ins. Co. v. Secured Title & Abstract, Inc., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84193 (E.D. Va. Oct. 17, 2008).
  • Knowles v. New Age Digital, Inc., et al., Chesterfield County Circuit Court, Case No. CL07-2958 (June 24, 2008) (unpublished). On plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment, the Court found that a non-competition agreement was overbroad and unenforceable because it prevented the employee, a former officer and shareholder of the employer, from working in any capacity for a competitor. The Court also ruled that the accompanying non-solicitation agreement was unenforceable because it prevented the employee from soliciting any person or entity that the employer had ever contacted.
  • Pace v. Ret. Plan Admin. Serv., 2007 Va. Cir. LEXIS 203 (Va. Cir. Ct. Sept. 28, 2007). On the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, the Court ruled that the covenants restricting competition in the plaintiff's employment agreement were facially overbroad, rendering the agreement unenforceable.