Employment Law

Without question, the area of Employment Law is one of, if not the most dynamic in our nation's legal system.  The explosion of statutes, regulations, and common law theories applicable to an employment setting requires proper development of policies and critical documents, proactive management training, thorough and effective investigations and audits, and, if necessary, litigation waged aggressively from beginning to end.  With four decades of experience, our firm has represented employers nationwide in proceedings involving virtually every issue that can arise in this broad area of legal practice.

 

EMPLOYEE RIGHTS LAW, REGULATION, AND LITIGATION

Law and regulation establishing employee rights in the workplace expand and change, and litigation regarding those laws and regulations, even if met with success, can result in expense and a diversion of time and effort. We assist our clients in taking a preventive approach in the development and implementation of workplace practices.  But when necessary we handle lawsuits in an aggressive, yet cost-effective manner.  In appropriate circumstances, we are able to resolve issues through mediation, arbitration, or litigation with a dispositive pre-trial motion or a settlement favorable to the employer.  But we are experienced too in presenting cases to a judge or jury for resolution.  The following are some of the types of employment law matters our firm handles:

  • Development of EEO policies and practices

  • EEO charge investigations before federal, state and local agencies

  • EEO litigation in federal and state courts

  • Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program Audits and Investigations

  • Federal and state Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) policy development

  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) litigation defense

  • Development of policies for compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) policy development and other federal and state disability statutes

  • Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) litigation defense

  • Compliance issues associated with temporary changes in Federal and State leave statutes due to epidemic or pandemic events such as SARS and COVID-19

  • Development of strategies for compliance with federal and state Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification (WARN) Statutes

  • Defense of actions brought pursuant to Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification (WARN) Statutes

  • Wrongful discharge and employment at-will litigation

  • Retaliatory discharge litigation, including cases involving

 

EMPLOYMENT POLICIES, PRACTICES, AND CONTRACTS

With the erosion of the employment-at-will doctrine, employees are increasingly making claims grounded on alleged “contract” rights or "public policy."  A growing number of plaintiff's lawyers advance these theories not only in termination cases, but also in cases involving lesser forms of discipline.  Our firm has extensive experience with these cases and stays abreast of developments in this rapidly developing area of the law.


Of course, there are circumstances when employers require express contractual relationships with employees, as opposed to employment at-will relationships.  Continued employment of valuable employees, protection of trade secrets and other confidential information, and reasonable limitations on the ability of a former employee to later compete using knowledge and information acquired during employment are just examples of matters that can be addressed in well-drafted employment agreements.


The following are examples of areas in which we can assist in insuring that an employer’s needs and interests are adequately protected:

  • Development of employee handbooks and policy manuals

  • Establishment of ethical business practices guidelines

  • Drafting employment agreements which may include mediation and/or arbitration provisions at the client's option

  • Drafting restrictive covenants such as covenants-not-to-compete, and confidentiality and non-interference with business relationship agreements

  • Litigating breach of employment agreements, non-competition and confidentiality clauses, and disclosures and use of Trade Secrets.

  • Representation in mediation and arbitration proceedings which arise pursuant to employment contract provisions

  • Audits to determine and eliminate vulnerability to employment related claims arising from policies or practices

 

WAGE AND HOUR MATTERS

Compliance with the complex and growing body of federal, state, and local wage and hour laws has become a major task for employers, especially given the explosion in class action litigation in this area in recent years. Our goal is to assist employers in complying with applicable laws and the latest regulations before potential problems arise. Some examples of wage and hour services of our firm are:

  • Auditing a client's compliance with wage and hour laws and regulations

  • Developing policies and procedures for compliance with laws and regulations

  • Representing clients during both federal and state enforcement proceedings

  • Handling pay and benefit issues applicable to Federal government contractors under the Davis Bacon Act, the Walsh-Healy Act, and the Service Contract Act.

 

WORKER’S COMPENSATION, WORKPLACE SAFETY AND HEALTH ISSUES

Our firm assists employers in maintaining a safe work place and in responding to investigations and enforcement proceedings by both federal and state agencies.  Our firm's services in the area of compliance with safety and health laws and regulations include:

  • Developing health and safety policies required for, and otherwise suited to the particular workplace environment

  • Representation during investigations pursuant to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act and similar state statutes

  • Development of substance abuse policies and testing procedures

  • Day-to-day counseling regarding workers' compensation claims

  • Defending workers' compensation claims before state agencies and courts

  • Representation in workers' compensation retaliation lawsuits

  • Coordinating workers' compensation policies and claims with other statutes, including the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

 

EMPLOYMENT BENEFITS LAW

Employers are increasingly confronted by new regulations regarding employee benefits.  The issues and problems confronted by employers when complying with statutes such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and its amendments — especially COBRA — are complex. Our services in the area of benefits law includes:

  • Advice concerning insurance continuation obligations under COBRA

  • Advice concerning various aspects of ERISA

  • Development of early retirement programs in compliance with the Older Worker Benefit Protection Act

  • Litigation of employment and retirement benefit issues

 

SPECIAL AUDITS FOR EMPLOYERS

Preventive legal action, like preventive maintenance, is an effective way to manage costs and reduce the likelihood of troublesome legal issues. Our firm has designed numerous audits which identify actual and potential employee relations problems and vulnerability to legal claims based on statute or regulation.  Some of our audit topics are:

  • Discriminatory employment practices

  • Wage and hour requirements

  • Employee handbook and policies

  • Safety and health procedures

  • Supervisor employment law awareness

  • Affirmative action compliance

MANAGEMENT TRAINING

The value of employment law compliance training can not be overemphasized. To begin with, according to the Unites States Supreme Court and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the pervasion of effective sexual harassment training to managers and supervisors is a necessary precursor to an employer's establishment of an appropriate defense in a sex harassment charge or lawsuit. Further, certain states have statutes that require or at least "encourage" private employer's to provide EEO training. However, apart from providing training for compliance purposes, manager and supervisor training can afford great value in another way.  Simply put, it can prevent problematic conduct or practices from developing in the first place or provide an early warning regarding the possibility that legal issues exist. Thus, for example, managers and supervisors who have been trained in how to properly counsel, discipline, and terminate employees will be far less likely to speak or act in a way that could turn an altogether justified disciplinary action into one that provides the basis for meritorious legal challenge. And, again by way of example, managers and supervisors who have been trained in wage and hour law requirements will know the pitfalls that result in backpay claims.

Given the value of training to employers, our firm stands ready to provide training on such topics as these:

  • Federal and State Equal Employment Opportunity Laws to include the topics of sex and other forms of harassment

  • Proper employee counseling, discipline, and termination procedures

  • Wage and Hour Law requirements

  • How to conduct workplace investigations

  • Building and maintaining a positive workplace environment

  • Ethical business practices

WORKPLACE INVESTIGATIONS

It sometimes occurs that due to special and/or sensitive circumstances, an employer deems it appropriate to use an "outside" law firm to conduct a workplace investigation rather than to have a member of management do so. Examples of circumstances that warrant such an approach range from sexual harassment allegations against mid or senior level managers, prospected theft of items or data, and reports of substance abuse. When conducting investigations of such matters, we are mindful of not only the need to maintain an appropriate level of confidentiality but also the need to be thorough. Such investigations can involve recommended actions should the client request that the investigation report include them.

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