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headshot of david burton, williams mullen partner

David C. Burton

Virginia Beach, VA
  • T.
  • 757.473.5354
  • F.
  • 757.473.0395
Norfolk, VA
  • T.
  • 757.622.3366

Large employers, whether on a local or national scale, will face issues that arise from their employees, directors, competitors and labor unions. David Burton is an attorney you want on your side when these matters surface.

Those issues can stem from Title VII, age discrimination, fair labor standards, family and medical leave, the WARN Act, common law wrongful discharge claims, covenants not to compete, employment contracts and handbooks, as well as other state and federal employment issues. David advises employers on remaining union-free and decertifying existing unions in the workforce, and he represents employers in aspects of unfair labor practice proceedings. He also represents management at the bargaining table in labor contract negotiations and arbitrations. David has presented numerous on-site training seminars for supervisors and management personnel on a variety of labor and employment issues.

Starting at the inside of a company, David has extensive experience representing businesses throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. When businesses have to deal with the improper actions of their directors and/or employees, David has represented companies in breach of fiduciary duty, trade secret, tortious interference and business conspiracy cases involving both directors and employees. In addition, David's experience serving as outside general counsel to several clients has provided him with the opportunity to train and counsel both directors and officers on how to comply with their fiduciary duties, conflict of interest and other corporate governance policies.

Whether your company is in the energy (such as mining and natural gas), tobacco, health care, education, transportation or retail industry, David has experience helping businesses just like yours, providing both practical and legal advice on day-to-day labor issues, employment issues and corporate governance issues. Should you find yourself in a dispute, David represents clients in trials, arbitrations and various other fact-finding processes throughout the country.

David's extensive experience, paired with his approachable, accessible demeanor and persuasive, highly-effective legal style make him an attorney you may want to consider for your team.

David has served as the firm's Hampton Roads Managing Partner since 2016, and he has been a member of the firm's board of directors since 2012. David has been named among Virginia's "Legal Elite" by Virginia Business magazine (2003-present); selected to the Virginia Super Lawyers list (2006-present), including their top 100 lawyers in Virginia list (2012-present); recognized as a leading Labor & Employment attorney by Chambers USA (2012-present); and named among the top lawyers in Coastal Virginia by CoVa Biz Magazine (2017-present). He is also listed in The Best Lawyers in America® for Employment Law-Management, Labor Law-Management and Labor & Employment Litigation (2011-present), and Best Lawyers® named him the Norfolk "Lawyer of the Year" for Labor Law-Management in its 2016 and 2019 editions and "Lawyer of the Year" for Labor and Employment Litigation in its 2022 and 2023 editions. David is also named a "Labor and Employment Star" by Benchmark Litigation (2020-2023), named to Inside Business's 65 Power Players list (2022 and 2023) and AV rated by Martindale Hubbell.

In 2017, the Virginia Beach Neptune Festival awarded him the John J. Kruger Award for outstanding service to the Festival and the community. In 2018, David was selected as King Neptune by the Virginia Beach Neptune Festival. Since 2019, he has served as the Chairman of the Board of the Neptune Festival.

David is very involved in regional transportation efforts in Hampton Roads and has served as the outside General Counsel to Hampton Roads Transit since 2010.

David is a member of the executive committee at the Princess Anne Country Club where he serves as the Secretary/General Counsel to the Club. David is active in the Virginia Bar Association, where he has served since 2014 on the VBA's Labor and Employment Council, and where he currently serves as the Vice Chair and will become the Chair in 2024. He has also served as a member the Virginia State Bar's Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Course since 2019.

He earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Richmond School of Law in 1991 and graduated summa cum laude from Elon College in 1988. Prior to joining Williams Mullen, David was a law clerk at the Virginia Supreme Court in the Chief Staff Attorney's Office (1991-1992) and then for Justice Richard Poff (1992-1993).

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  • University of Richmond School of Law (J.D.), 1991
  • Elon University (B.A.), 1988
Professional & Community Affiliations

Community Involvements

  • Leadership Hampton Roads
  • Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Beach Division; Board of Directors
  • Virginia Stage Company, Board of Directors (2005-2011)
Bar & Court Admissions

Bar Admissions

  • Virginia State Bar

Benchmark Litigation - "Labor & Employment Star" (2020-2023)

Virginia Business - "Legal Elite," (2008-present)

Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® - Employment Law - Management, Labor Law - Management, Labor & Employment Litigation (2011-present)

Named the Norfolk "Lawyer of the Year" by The Best Lawyers in America© for Labor Law-Management in Norfolk (2016, 2019, 2021, 2022)

Virginia Super Lawyers - Employment & Labor (2006-present), "Top 100 Lawyer in Virginia" (2012-2019, 2024)

Chambers USA - Labor & Employment (2009-2010, 2012-present)

CoVa Biz Magazine - "Top Lawyers in Coastal Virginia," (2017-present)

2017 John J. Kruger Award - Virginia Beach Neptune Festival

Named to Inside Business 65 Power Players List (2022)

Virginia Lawyers Weekly - "Go To Lawyer" for Employment Law (2021)


  • Significant experience defending employers in the Federal Courts of Virginia and other jurisdictions (including New York, North Carolina, Indiana, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Georgia and California) in cases involving Title VII, disability, Fair Labor Standards Act, Family Medical Leave Act and age discrimination cases.
  • Defended eight collective actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act, including four in the last several years, including cases involving health care employers, construction contractors and transportation agencies.
  • Defended clients in pattern and practice claims brought by the EEOC on numerous occasions, including a case where client was able to recover attorney’s fees from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  • Federal court experience includes three jury trials involving Title VII claims made against employers.
  • Extensive (over 100 cases) experience in the area of labor relations under the National Labor Relations Act, representing employers before the National Labor Relations Board and federal courts throughout the country.
  • Successfully represented a production facility in a union organizing effort by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.  The workforce by a margin of 3 to 1 voted against unionization.
  • Successfully represented a nationwide transportation company in an union organizing effort by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters at one of the Company’s locations.    The Company successfully won the mail-ballot election against the Teamsters.
  • Represented a drone company in a threatened race discrimination and whistleblower lawsuit that was to be brought by a former human resources executive.
  • Successfully defended a medical school in a multiple count discrimination, retaliation, trade secrets claim brought by a tenured professor.  The case was dismissed in part on a motion to dismiss and then the remaining seven counts were dismissed on summary judgment. 
  • Successfully defended a medical school in a failure to accommodate and disabilities discrimination claim filed with the Office of Federal Compliance Programs brought by a doctoral research student.  After a two year investigation the charge was dismissed and the individual never filed a lawsuit.
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Without question, David is one of the preeminent employment and labor attorneys in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Williams Mullen Client Feedback - Chambers USA, 2023