Photo of LaToya C. Merritt
  • PRACTICE FOCUS
  • EDUCATION+
    • North Carolina Central University
      J.D., cum laude, 2000; Senior Editor, North Carolina Central Law Journal; Awarded First Place Dean Mary Wright Closing Argument Competition
    • Grambling State University
      B.A., magna cum laude, in Mass Communication: Public Relations, 1997; National Dean’s List; Presidential Merit Scholar
  • ADMISSIONS+
    • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Mississippi
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Mississippi
    • Mississippi
  • CLERKSHIP+
    • Law Clerk to the Hon. William J. Haynes, Jr., U.S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee (retired)

LaToya Merritt, a community leader and experienced litigator, aims to assist her clients in making the best decisions whether that includes taking a case to trial or working to resolve a case through alternative resolutions. She has been recognized by a number of media outlets as an active and engaged member of the Jackson community through devoting her time to volunteer with Mississippi organizations. For nearly 20 years, LaToya has practiced exclusively in the area of labor and employment with a focus on Civil Rights and Title VII, as well as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. She currently serves as the deputy practice coordinator of Phelps Dunbar's Jackson labor and employment group.

MORE

LaToya Merritt, a community leader and experienced litigator, aims to assist her clients make the best decisions whether that includes taking a case to trial or working to resolve a case through alternative resolutions. She has been recognized by a number of media outlets as an active and engaged member of the Jackson community through devoting her time to volunteer with Mississippi organizations. For nearly 20 years, LaToya has practiced exclusively in the area of labor and employment with a focus on Civil Rights and Title VII, as well as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. She currently serves as the deputy practice coordinator of Phelps Dunbar's Jackson labor and employment group.

An important component of LaToya’s practice entails representing educational institutions, particularly colleges and universities, including HBCUs, in suits alleging civil rights and constitutional law violations. She has dedicated a decade of service as General Counsel to The Piney Woods School, the nation’s oldest African-American boarding school (established in 1909).

LaToya’s practice also involves training, planning and employment advice. Specifically, she provides management and/or corporate counsel advice regarding performance evaluation/appraisal systems; development of employment policies and practices; employee handbooks and municipal employment liability. LaToya also provides extensive training to clients regarding managing diverse workforces and handling sexual harassment investigations. She conducts diversity training and educational programs for numerous companies throughout the region and has trained hundreds of executives and managers on employment law issues. LaToya has assisted public and private entities throughout the region in matters involving race, sex, sexual/workplace harassment, discrimination, retaliation claims, reasonable accommodations, leaves of absence and wage and hour.

Experience

  • First Chair litigator in both jury and bench trials.
  • Experience arguing cases before the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and MS appellate courts.
  • Represents private and public employers in all facets of employment-related matters, from counseling and advising to defense of administrative and judicial complaints.
  • Represents governmental entities, including educational institutions, in defense of civil rights suits and constitutional challenges.
  • Serves as counsel to public and private governing boards across the State.
  • Conduct extensive diversity training and awareness programs for employees.
  • Counsel and advise employers on risk management including workplace harassment and supervisory training.
  • Drafting and designing employment policies and procedures covering family and medical leave, workplace harassment, sexual harassment, military leave and employment related agreements.

Insights

Speaking Engagements
  • Speaker, "Presenter, "LoyalToAFault: Understanding HR's Corporate Fiduciary Duties," 2019 National NPELRA 48th Annual Training Conference (April 2019)
  • Presenter, "Human Resources...Getting Back to Basics," 37th Mississippi Association of Personnel Administrators Conference (October 2018)
  • Presenter, "LoyalToAFault: Understanding HR's Corporate Fiduciary Duties," Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi Fall Meeting (October 2018)
  • Presenter, "LoyalToAFault: Understanding HR's Corporate Fiduciary Duties," 41st Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2018)
  • Key Note Speaker, "Women in Business Conference," Guaranty Bank and Trust (April 2018)
  • Presenter, "Toxic Employees: How to Deal with Difficult People on the Job - Working with Narcissists, Borderlines, Sociopaths, Schizoids and Others..." Mississippi Bankers Association Mississippi School of Banking (April 2018)
  • Speaker, "Social Media Training," Mississippi Valley State University (August 2017)
  • Presenter, "Managing through a Crisis: Is Your Organization Prepared to Respond When the Unthinkable Occurs?" 40th Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2017)
  • Speaker, "Always Be Prepared: Surviving an OFCCP Audit," Mississippi Bankers Association, HR Action Meeting (July 2017)
  • Speaker, "You Can't Judge a Book by its Cover: The Changing Rule of Sex and Gender," The University of Mississippi School of Law Center for Continuing Education (June 2017)
  • Speaker, "Your Ace in the Hole: New Guidance on FMLA and ADA Issues," 2017 National NPELRA 46th Annual Training Conference (April 2017)
  • Speaker, "Things that Keep Me Awake at Night: Guiding Principles Every Manager Should Follow," Mississippi Bankers Association 2017 Women in Banking Conference (March 2017)
  • Speaker, "Social Media: A Gift and a Curse - Using an Employee's Social Media Presence When Making HR Decisions," Institutions of Higher Learning Annual Human Resources Conference (November 2016)
  • Speaker, "Things that Keep Me Awake at Night: The Ten Commandments Every Manager Should Follow," BankPlus HR Update Meeting (September 2016)
  • Speaker, "Recent Developments in Employment Law and Human Resources Over the Past Year," Mississippi Center for Legal Services 33rd Annual CLE Seminar (July 2016)
  • Speaker, "Social Media: A Gift and a Curse," Mississippi Volunteers Lawyers Project (October 2015)
  • Speaker, "Essential Tools for Avoiding Managerial Minefields in 2015-2016," Coahoma Opportunities, Inc. Management Training (September 2015)
  • Speaker, "Legal Implications of Child Abuse and Neglect and Other Tidbits for the Coming Year," Hinds County Human Resource Agency (August 2015)
  • Presenter, "Title VII Round-Up: Hey Employer...Kiss My Grits," 38th Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2015)
  • Speaker, "Playground Rules: Responding When Employees Bully, Tattle, and Generally Act Like Children," BankPlus HR Update Meeting (May 2015)
  • Speaker, "Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Training (Managers and Supervisors)," BancorpSouth 2014 EEO Training (September 2014)
  • Presenter, "Age Discrimination 2.0: A New Generation Confronts an Old Problem," 37th Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2014)
  • Presenter, "When HR and Management Collide: Avoiding the Calamities that Lead to Retaliation Claims," 37th Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2014)
  • Speaker, "Title VII: Mississippi Cases of Local Interest," EEOC Jackson Seminar (July 2014)
  • Speaker, "What Managers and Supervisors Need to Know About Retaliation and More," BankPlus HR Update Meeting (April 2014)
  • Presenter, "Only as Good as Her Crew: Training Managers and Supervisors About Retaliation and More," 36th Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2013)
  • Presenter, "'You Can't Judge a Book by its Cover' The Changing Rule of Sex and Gender Discrimination," 35th Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2012)
  • Speaker, "Avoiding Employment Litigation Landmines," Hinds Behavioral Health Services (October 2011)
  • Speaker, "Diversity Training," Systems Automotive Interiors (October 2011)
  • Presenter, "Conducting an Internal EEO Investigation," 34th Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2011)
  • Co-Presenter, "Social Networking Sites and their Impact on Litigation," Magnolia Bar Association (April 2011)
  • Presenter, "Zombie Lawsuits: How the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Can Bring Old Discrimination Lawsuits Back from the Dead," The Texas Municipal Human Resources Association Employment Law Seminar (September 2010)
  • Presenter, "Mythbusters: Is Employee Privacy in the Workplace Truth or Fable?" 33rd Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2010)
  • Speaker, "Avoiding Discrimination Complaints and Lawsuits," Southland Management Corporation (March 2010)
  • Presenter, "Do You Need a Company Policy for Twitter, Facebook and MySpace?" 32nd Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2009)
  • Speaker, "Conducting an Internal EEO Investigation," EEOC Memphis Area Seminar (August 2009)
  • Speaker, "Emerging Issues in Sexual Discrimination," Greater Baton Rouge Chapter Society for Human Resource Management (May 2009)
  • Speaker, "New Developments in Immigration Law," Mississippi Engineering Society Conference (March 2009)
  • Presenter, "Crossing the Line…When Do Jokes and Office Horseplay Become Grounds for a Sexual/Racial Harassment Suit," 20th Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2007)
News

Memberships & Affiliations

  • American Bar Association
  • National Bar Association
  • Magnolia Bar Association
  • The Mississippi Bar - Young Lawyers’ Division; Diversity in the Law Committee (Chair, 2002-2004)
  • The Mississippi Bar - Women in the Profession Committee (2003-2006)
  • Grambling University Foundation, Board of Directors
  • Grambling State University National Alumni Association, Life Member
  • The Piney Woods School, General Counsel (2009-Present)
  • Legal Council on Legal Diversity, Fellow (2016-2017)
  • Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel
  • Magistrate Selection Committee for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi (2009)
  • Leadership Greater Jackson, Trustee (2007-2010)
  • Leadership Jackson, Graduate (Class of 2004)
  • Mississippi Women Lawyers’ Association (President, 2006-2007; Vice President and Secretary/Treasurer, 2004-2006)
  • American Inns of Court, Charles Clark Chapter (Former Barrister)
  • Girl Scouts of Middle Mississippi Strategic Planning Committee, Member (2002-2004)

Recognition

  • Benchmark Litigation, Local Litigation Star, General Commercial and Labor and Employment (2018, 2019)
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (Woodward/White, Inc.), Litigation - Labor and Employment (2019)
  • Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business as Civil Rights Specialist (Employment Litigation), (2017-Present)
  • Selected to the Mississippi Business Journal 2018 Leadership in Law Class
  • 2018 Woman of the Year – Church of Christ (Hol.) U.S.A.
  • 2016 Parent of the Year - Davis Magnet IB World Elementary School (Jackson Public Schools, Jackson, Mississippi)
  • Selected to the Mid-South Super Lawyers Rising Stars list, Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters), (2012-2015)
  • Selected to the Mississippi Business Journal, Mississippi's 50 Leading Business Women (2012)
  • National Bar Association's Nation’s Best Advocates: 40 Lawyers Under 40 Award (2010)
  • Recognized as Specialty Partner in 2005, 2006, and 2009 by Jackson Public Schools for community involvement and continuous efforts to assist the district and its students
  • Commendation from Commissioner Patricia Gatling, Commissioner and Chair of the City of New York Commission on Human Rights for service to those affected by Hurricane Katrina (2005)

Education

  • North Carolina Central University
    J.D., cum laude, 2000; Senior Editor, North Carolina Central Law Journal; Awarded First Place Dean Mary Wright Closing Argument Competition
  • Grambling State University
    B.A., magna cum laude, in Mass Communication: Public Relations, 1997; National Dean’s List; Presidential Merit Scholar

Admissions

  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Mississippi
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Mississippi
  • Mississippi

Clerkships

  • Law Clerk to the Hon. William J. Haynes, Jr., U.S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee (retired)
  • First Chair litigator in both jury and bench trials.
  • Experience arguing cases before the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and MS appellate courts.
  • Represents private and public employers in all facets of employment-related matters, from counseling and advising to defense of administrative and judicial complaints.
  • Represents governmental entities, including educational institutions, in defense of civil rights suits and constitutional challenges.
  • Serves as counsel to public and private governing boards across the State.
  • Conduct extensive diversity training and awareness programs for employees.
  • Counsel and advise employers on risk management including workplace harassment and supervisory training.
  • Drafting and designing employment policies and procedures covering family and medical leave, workplace harassment, sexual harassment, military leave and employment related agreements.
Speaking Engagements
  • Speaker, "Presenter, "LoyalToAFault: Understanding HR's Corporate Fiduciary Duties," 2019 National NPELRA 48th Annual Training Conference (April 2019)
  • Presenter, "Human Resources...Getting Back to Basics," 37th Mississippi Association of Personnel Administrators Conference (October 2018)
  • Presenter, "LoyalToAFault: Understanding HR's Corporate Fiduciary Duties," Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi Fall Meeting (October 2018)
  • Presenter, "LoyalToAFault: Understanding HR's Corporate Fiduciary Duties," 41st Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2018)
  • Key Note Speaker, "Women in Business Conference," Guaranty Bank and Trust (April 2018)
  • Presenter, "Toxic Employees: How to Deal with Difficult People on the Job - Working with Narcissists, Borderlines, Sociopaths, Schizoids and Others..." Mississippi Bankers Association Mississippi School of Banking (April 2018)
  • Speaker, "Social Media Training," Mississippi Valley State University (August 2017)
  • Presenter, "Managing through a Crisis: Is Your Organization Prepared to Respond When the Unthinkable Occurs?" 40th Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2017)
  • Speaker, "Always Be Prepared: Surviving an OFCCP Audit," Mississippi Bankers Association, HR Action Meeting (July 2017)
  • Speaker, "You Can't Judge a Book by its Cover: The Changing Rule of Sex and Gender," The University of Mississippi School of Law Center for Continuing Education (June 2017)
  • Speaker, "Your Ace in the Hole: New Guidance on FMLA and ADA Issues," 2017 National NPELRA 46th Annual Training Conference (April 2017)
  • Speaker, "Things that Keep Me Awake at Night: Guiding Principles Every Manager Should Follow," Mississippi Bankers Association 2017 Women in Banking Conference (March 2017)
  • Speaker, "Social Media: A Gift and a Curse - Using an Employee's Social Media Presence When Making HR Decisions," Institutions of Higher Learning Annual Human Resources Conference (November 2016)
  • Speaker, "Things that Keep Me Awake at Night: The Ten Commandments Every Manager Should Follow," BankPlus HR Update Meeting (September 2016)
  • Speaker, "Recent Developments in Employment Law and Human Resources Over the Past Year," Mississippi Center for Legal Services 33rd Annual CLE Seminar (July 2016)
  • Speaker, "Social Media: A Gift and a Curse," Mississippi Volunteers Lawyers Project (October 2015)
  • Speaker, "Essential Tools for Avoiding Managerial Minefields in 2015-2016," Coahoma Opportunities, Inc. Management Training (September 2015)
  • Speaker, "Legal Implications of Child Abuse and Neglect and Other Tidbits for the Coming Year," Hinds County Human Resource Agency (August 2015)
  • Presenter, "Title VII Round-Up: Hey Employer...Kiss My Grits," 38th Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2015)
  • Speaker, "Playground Rules: Responding When Employees Bully, Tattle, and Generally Act Like Children," BankPlus HR Update Meeting (May 2015)
  • Speaker, "Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Training (Managers and Supervisors)," BancorpSouth 2014 EEO Training (September 2014)
  • Presenter, "Age Discrimination 2.0: A New Generation Confronts an Old Problem," 37th Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2014)
  • Presenter, "When HR and Management Collide: Avoiding the Calamities that Lead to Retaliation Claims," 37th Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2014)
  • Speaker, "Title VII: Mississippi Cases of Local Interest," EEOC Jackson Seminar (July 2014)
  • Speaker, "What Managers and Supervisors Need to Know About Retaliation and More," BankPlus HR Update Meeting (April 2014)
  • Presenter, "Only as Good as Her Crew: Training Managers and Supervisors About Retaliation and More," 36th Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2013)
  • Presenter, "'You Can't Judge a Book by its Cover' The Changing Rule of Sex and Gender Discrimination," 35th Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2012)
  • Speaker, "Avoiding Employment Litigation Landmines," Hinds Behavioral Health Services (October 2011)
  • Speaker, "Diversity Training," Systems Automotive Interiors (October 2011)
  • Presenter, "Conducting an Internal EEO Investigation," 34th Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2011)
  • Co-Presenter, "Social Networking Sites and their Impact on Litigation," Magnolia Bar Association (April 2011)
  • Presenter, "Zombie Lawsuits: How the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Can Bring Old Discrimination Lawsuits Back from the Dead," The Texas Municipal Human Resources Association Employment Law Seminar (September 2010)
  • Presenter, "Mythbusters: Is Employee Privacy in the Workplace Truth or Fable?" 33rd Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2010)
  • Speaker, "Avoiding Discrimination Complaints and Lawsuits," Southland Management Corporation (March 2010)
  • Presenter, "Do You Need a Company Policy for Twitter, Facebook and MySpace?" 32nd Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2009)
  • Speaker, "Conducting an Internal EEO Investigation," EEOC Memphis Area Seminar (August 2009)
  • Speaker, "Emerging Issues in Sexual Discrimination," Greater Baton Rouge Chapter Society for Human Resource Management (May 2009)
  • Speaker, "New Developments in Immigration Law," Mississippi Engineering Society Conference (March 2009)
  • Presenter, "Crossing the Line…When Do Jokes and Office Horseplay Become Grounds for a Sexual/Racial Harassment Suit," 20th Annual Mississippi Employment Law Seminar (August 2007)
News
  • American Bar Association
  • National Bar Association
  • Magnolia Bar Association
  • The Mississippi Bar - Young Lawyers’ Division; Diversity in the Law Committee (Chair, 2002-2004)
  • The Mississippi Bar - Women in the Profession Committee (2003-2006)
  • Grambling University Foundation, Board of Directors
  • Grambling State University National Alumni Association, Life Member
  • The Piney Woods School, General Counsel (2009-Present)
  • Legal Council on Legal Diversity, Fellow (2016-2017)
  • Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel
  • Magistrate Selection Committee for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi (2009)
  • Leadership Greater Jackson, Trustee (2007-2010)
  • Leadership Jackson, Graduate (Class of 2004)
  • Mississippi Women Lawyers’ Association (President, 2006-2007; Vice President and Secretary/Treasurer, 2004-2006)
  • American Inns of Court, Charles Clark Chapter (Former Barrister)
  • Girl Scouts of Middle Mississippi Strategic Planning Committee, Member (2002-2004)
  • Benchmark Litigation, Local Litigation Star, General Commercial and Labor and Employment (2018, 2019)
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (Woodward/White, Inc.), Litigation - Labor and Employment (2019)
  • Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business as Civil Rights Specialist (Employment Litigation), (2017-Present)
  • Selected to the Mississippi Business Journal 2018 Leadership in Law Class
  • 2018 Woman of the Year – Church of Christ (Hol.) U.S.A.
  • 2016 Parent of the Year - Davis Magnet IB World Elementary School (Jackson Public Schools, Jackson, Mississippi)
  • Selected to the Mid-South Super Lawyers Rising Stars list, Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters), (2012-2015)
  • Selected to the Mississippi Business Journal, Mississippi's 50 Leading Business Women (2012)
  • National Bar Association's Nation’s Best Advocates: 40 Lawyers Under 40 Award (2010)
  • Recognized as Specialty Partner in 2005, 2006, and 2009 by Jackson Public Schools for community involvement and continuous efforts to assist the district and its students
  • Commendation from Commissioner Patricia Gatling, Commissioner and Chair of the City of New York Commission on Human Rights for service to those affected by Hurricane Katrina (2005)