Services & Industries
J.D., cum laude, Lewis & Clark Law School, 2007
B.A., Commendation for Excellence, Reed College, 2003
Bar & Court Admissions
Oregon State Bar
Washington State Bar Association
U.S. District Court, District of Oregon
U.S. District Court, Western and Eastern Districts of Washington
Blerina is a partner in Tonkon Torp’s Labor & Employment Practice Group. For over a decade, she has represented and defended employers in numerous matters, including discrimination, retaliation, FMLA, OFLA, and ADA, wage and hour, harassment, and employment agreements. Blerina also represents employers in agency investigations of civil rights violations and wage and hour compliance—whether for individual complaints or systemic audits. She advises management on countless employment issues, from risk assessment of terminations and complex medical leave situations, to evaluating employee classifications and drafting employment documents.
Blerina further partners with clients in conducting workplace investigations, whether they relate to wage and hour issues or harassment and safety concerns. Her clients range from nonprofit organizations to national companies in a variety of industries, such as healthcare, military defense, and financial services.
Recent accomplishments include trying to a favorable jury verdict non-competition and fiduciary duty claims, trying to favorable judicial ruling trade secret, breach of employment agreement, and non-competition cases, defending wage and hour class actions, and winning summary judgment on defamation and tortious interference claims involving employees.
The Portland Business Journal named Blerina as one of its 2018 Forty Under 40 award recipients, recognizing influential business and community leaders in the greater Portland area who are under 40 years old.
Blerina is a frequent speaker on labor and employment issues, including HIPAA and employment benefits, dealing with mental disorders in the workplace, social media in employment settings, as well as on privacy and electronic discovery issues.
Blerina previously worked at Tonkon Torp as a summer associate. She was the first Tonkon Torp associate to receive the Moe M. Tonkon and Frederick Torp Scholarship. In her free time, Blerina likes to spend time with her family, cook, dance, and travel.
Blerina was born and raised in Albania. She came to the U.S. to pursue her education, graduated from Reed College and Lewis & Clark Law School, and joined the firm in 2007. While a law student, Blerina was selected by the Dean to receive the Moe M. Tonkon and Frederick Torp Scholarship, which encourages the development of young attorneys who demonstrate exceptional aptitude for the law. Blerina is fluent in Albanian and in her free time likes to keep her Italian alive. When she is not practicing law, Blerina dances salsa and tango, and works on completing her Albanian food cookbook.
Helicopter Transport Services, Inc.
Won partial summary judgment for Helicopter Transport Services, Inc. in a dispute with competitor Erickson Air-Crane Inc., alleging Sherman Act § 2 monopoly leveraging and refusal to deal claims, as well as breach of contract claims.
Software Technology Group, Inc. v. Hobbensiefken
(Oregon State Court) – Obtained a jury verdict in favor of a software engineering company for breach of a non-competition agreement and breaches of fiduciary duties against a former employee and for joint liability against a competitor, following a five-day jury trial.
Confidentiality Agreement Dispute
Represented business owner in confidentiality agreement dispute. Matter was settled to client's satisfaction
Champlin/GEI Management Company, Inc. v. Huseby
Defeated motion for temporary restraining order filed against executive in federal court based on alleged breach of noncompetition and nonsolicitation agreement.
Evergreen Helicopters v. Erickson Air-Crane, Inc.
In a precedent-setting refusal-to-deal case, Tonkon Torp obtained a summary judgment in federal court for client Evergreen Helicopters after alleging competitor Erickson Air-Crane was exerting monopoly control over spare helicopter parts.
Columbia Helicopters v. Boeing
Represented Columbia Helicopters in a dispute over Boeing’s refusal to sell Boeing helicopter parts to Oregon-based Columbia Helicopters, to allow Columbia to fulfill its contracts to repair Boeing-manufactured military CH-47 Chinook helicopters. To resolve threatened antitrust litigation, Boeing ultimately agreed to recognize Columbia Helicopters as an independent service organization provide Columbia with Boeing parts to perform CH-47 repair services.
Community Involvement & Activities
Former Member, Board of Directors
Oregon State Bar Civil Rights Section
Executive Committee Member
Classroom Law Project
Business for Culture and the Arts
Art of Leadership Program 2012
Multnomah Bar Association
National Association of Professional Women
NWEEO/Affirmative Action Association
Oregon Association of Defense Counsel
Oregon Women Lawyers
Portland Human Resource Management Association
Society for Human Resource Management
L&E Update Prepares Employers for 2023 Employment Law Trends and Changes
Attorneys from Tonkon Torp’s Labor & Employment Practice Group hosted their annual “Guide to Employment Best Practices” on December 8. The virtual event featured talks on timely trends and issues facing Oregon employers.
Blerina Kotori and Olivia Hariharan Godt Speak at BOLI Annual Employment Law Conference
Tonkon Torp attorneys Blerina Kotori and Olivia Hariharan Godt presented a November 9 session at BOLI’s Annual Employment Law Conference. The two provided a timely look at applicable laws and legal considerations when tracking employee productivity and availability, as well as moonlighting, in the current remote work environment.
Blerina Kotori Moderates ADA Panel at OSB L&E Annual Conference
Tonkon Torp partner Blerina Kotori moderated a panel at the 2022 OSB Labor & Employment Annual Conference. Her session focused on issues surrounding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and return to work following the pandemic.
Best Lawyers in America® Includes 53 Tonkon Torp Attorneys on 2023 List
Fifty-three Tonkon Torp lawyers representing 37 practice areas have been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2023. Nearly all the attorneys have been previously named to the peer-review list, and most have been listed for more than 10 years.
Blerina Kotori Appointed to OSB Labor & Employment Executive Committee
Tonkon Torp partner Blerina Kotori was appointed as an employer-side representative on the OSB Labor & Employment Executive Committee in June 2022.
Following End of Mask Mandate, OSHA Issues New Guidance for Employers
By Blerina Kotori – After the end of the mask mandate on March 12, many businesses were left wondering whether OSHA’s other requirements for workplaces, such as employee notification, infection protocols, and ventilation systems, remained in effect. OSHA has issued a new advisory memorandum for workplaces to answer these questions.
OSHA Extends Biden Vaccine Mandate Deadline for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors
The deadline for federal contractors and subcontractors to comply with President Biden’s rule regarding vaccines in the workplace has been extended an additional 30 days, to January 4, 2022.
Reopening the Pacific Northwest: A Checklist for Employers
With Governors Brown and Inslee announcing their respective phased approaches to reopening the Oregon and Washington economies, employers need to start planning for how they will resume operations in a safe and legally-compliant manner given the challenges of our new reality. The following checklist provides a framework of issues and tasks that employers should consider implementing or addressing before reopening their doors for business.
New DOL Guidance on Joint Employers, Summer School Closures, and Domestic Workers
The Department of Labor released new Q&A guidance regarding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Among other things, the guidance provides new insight on various coverage issues relating to whether domestic service workers are covered by the new law, how FFCRA interacts with temporary employees of staffing companies who perform services for a covered employer, and what impact school closures during summer months might have on FFCRA leaves.
DOL Issues Corrections to FFCRA Regulations
The Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued corrections to the regulations implementing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. While most of DOL’s corrections are technical, one of them is significant and clarifies whether employers can require employees to use employer-provided leave (such as vacation, paid time off, or paid sick leave) before or concurrently with Emergency Family Medical Leave.
Publications & Presentations
“ADA Trends in a Post=Pandemic Workplace,” Tonkon Torp Guide to Employment Best Practices, December 2022
“Employee Surveillance and Moonlighting Issues in a Remote Work World,” Oregon BOLI Annual Employment Conference, November 2022
Moderator, “Americas with Disabilities Act,” OSB Labor & Employment Annual Conference, October 2022
“Non-Compete Laws: Oregon,” Practical Law Journal, Thomson Reuters, May 2022
“Following End of Mask Mandate, OSHA Issues New Guidance for Employers,” Tonkon Torp Legal Alert, March 2022
“Reopening Strategies & Considerations,” Annual Labor & Employment Law Update, June 2021
“OSHA Extends Biden Vaccine Mandate Deadline for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors,” Tonkon Torp Legal Update, November 2021
“Top Questions for Reopening: Masks, Health Checks, and Contact Tracing,” June 2020
“Reopening the Pacific Northwest: A Checklist for Employers,” Tonon Torp Legal Update, May 2020
“Legal Considerations for Reopening Businesses,” May 2020
“New DOL Guidance on Joint Employers, Summer School Closures, and Domestic Workers,” Tonkon Torp Legal Update, May 2020
“Further DOL Guidance on Interaction Between EPSL, EFMLA, and Employer-Provided Leave,” Tonkon Torp Legal Update, April 2020
“DOL Issues Corrections to FFCRA Regulations,” Tonkon Torp Legal Update, April 2020
Panelist, “FAQs for Employers in the COVID-19 Reality,” April 2020
“DOL Releases Third Round of FFCRA Guidance, Covering Details on Exemptions, Leave Lengths, and More,” Tonkon Torp Legal Update, March 2020
“Second Round of DOL Guidance Clarifies Intermittent Leave, Furloughs, and Other Crucial Questions about FFCRA,” Tonkon Torp Legal Update, March 2020
“Poster, New Effective Date, and Other FFCRA Guidance Released from the Department of Labor,” Tonkon Torp Legal Update, March 2020
“Creating a Racially Inclusive Workplace,” TiE Charter Member Dinner, February 2020
“Meal and Rest Period Compliance,” Annual Labor & Employment Law Update, May 2019
“Ask the Attorney” PubTalk, Oregon Entrepreneurs Network, March 2019
“Employment Law for Startups,” TiE Oregon Bootcamp, October 2018
“Demystifying Leave Laws,” Woodruff Sawyer, June 2018
“The Price of Your Truth: Implicit Bias and Workplace Sexual Harassment in the #metoo Era,” Women’s Center for Leadership, March 2018
“Implicit Bias and Harassment in the Workplace,” Bureau of Labor and Industries Annual Conference, November 2017
“The ‘Bermuda Triangle’ of Leave Laws,” Bureau of Labor and Industries Annual Conference, November 2016
“Legislative Developments in Employment Law,” Expert Guide – Opportunities & Developments – West Coast USA, Corporate LiveWire, April 2016
“Three Invisible Traps of HR and How to Avoid Them,” April 2016
“Employment Law for Startups,” November 2015
“Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation in the Workplace,” The Salvation Army Portland ARC, October 2013
“Protecting Confidential Business Information,” PHRMA News & Views, September 2013
“Politics in the Workplace,” PHRMA News & Views, July 2013
“The Pitfall of the Unpaid Intern,” PHRMA News & Views, June 2013
“Sick Times in Portland: What You Should Know about Portland’s Sick Leave Ordinance,” PHRMA News & Views, March 2013
“Zealous or Excessive – Can a Lawyer’s Good Intentions Go Too Far?,” Oregon Law Institute, October 2012
“Sexual Harassment from a Management Perspective,” Lewis & Clark Law School, October 2012
“Compliance Issues Regarding Use of Social Media,” Greater Portland Compliance Association, July 2012
“HIPAA Privacy Rule Violations,” Multnomah Bar Association, June 2012
“Current HIPAA Requirements,” Lewis & Clark Law School Employment Law Society, November 2011
“E-Discovery,” Multnomah Bar Association, November 2011