Labor and employment planning is more important than ever given today’s volatile business climate. The L&E attorneys at Christian & Small serve as trusted advisors and advocates to clients seeking guidance and/or representation in matters ranging from statutory and regulatory compliance, risk avoidance, executive compensation, severance agreements, and dispute resolution. We monitor legal and social issues to assess the impact on businesses and anticipate the risks businesses will face in our ever-changing society.
As experienced litigators, we are able to recognize seemingly risk-free decisions that have the potential to lead to significant exposure and defense costs down the road. Even with a human resources department, the majority of employers need assistance navigating the many and ever-increasing federal, state, and local laws and regulations that impact the employer-employee relationship. We provide concise and timely advice to better help our clients understand the risks and avoid costly and protracted litigation brought by dissatisfied current and former employees or as a result of compliance violations.
The L&E attorneys at C&S have extensive experience in protecting and defending clients from liability under the myriad of federal and state employment and civil rights laws, including
- Discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims
- Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and Fair Housing Act,
- Interference and retaliation under The Family Medical Leave Act
- Overtime and minimum wage claims under The Fair Labor Standards Act, individual and collective class actions
- Management rights under the National Labor Relations Act
- Response to employee complaints about working conditions
- Union organizational activity
- Unfair labor practice charges
- Grievance / arbitration proceedings under collective bargaining agreements
- Inspections, investigations and complaints under the Occupational Safety and Health Act
- Lay-offs and plant closings under the Worker Notification and Retraining Act
- Affirmative action/employment standards obligations of federal contractors
- Retaliatory Discharge claims under states workers’ compensation acts
Whether an administrative proceeding or a lawsuit, we immediately devise an aggressive defense strategy specific to the client and the matter at hand. We analyze the issues, available defenses, and potential liability early to enable our clients to make full- informed decisions regarding the best strategy to defend and dispose of the asserted claims. We immediately advise our clients of new developments in a matter and, together with the client, make necessary adjustments to our plan to respond to new developments. With our approach, the plaintiff does not control the course of proceedings or the arguments that may ultimately be presented to a court or jury – we do. We stay in constant communication during the entire course of any administrative hearing or litigation so the client is a full participant and the well-advised decision-maker in the process.
Working closely with the Business Services team, our L&E attorneys render sound advice on requests from clients dealing with contractual issues. We provide counseling on issues presented by mergers, acquisitions, and downsizing. We are frequently asked to negotiate and modify benefit packages and structure transactions, as well as create and review severance packages and non-compete agreements. If a client’s business is forced to downsize, our attorneys are often asked to implement sound plans designed to minimize disruption to the client’s daily business operations while complying with all laws.
The best way for employers to avoid charges, lawsuits, and liabilities is to seek and implement legal advice and management training in advance – before an employment action is taken. Our L&E attorneys regularly conduct in-house training seminars for management and supervisors to educate them about the rights and obligations of employers and employees, the risks that arise from employment decisions, and the strategies that help lessen these risks. At a client’s request, we offer the same seminars to business organizations in which our client is a member.
Our Labor & Employment attorneys further protect our clients’ interests by conducting full audits of a client’s employment policies and procedures. We believe that employment policies should not be “one-size-fits-all,” but instead should be custom-fit to our client’s operations with the goal of allowing our clients to enjoy the protections that some laws and regulations afford to businesses, and to lessen the risk of employment claims. Our audits look at policies and practices related to:
- Hiring at-will or contract
- Equal employment opportunity
- Compensation and benefits
- Leaves of absence
- Workplace harassment / hostile work environment prevention
- Substance use, abuse, and testing
- E-mail, voicemail, internet, and social media usage
- Safe workplace measures, including weapons and protections against violence
- Employee complaint investigations
- Nondisclosure and confidentiality
- Restrictive covenants, such as non-competition and non-solicitation agreements
- Alternative dispute resolution agreements
- Severance documents
The defense of employers in workers’ compensation matters is an essential service Christian & Small provides to clients.
We routinely provide consultation and litigation support on behalf of insurers, self-insurers, corporate clients, and third-party administrators. We manage lump sum settlements as well as fully litigated claims of questionable liability. In addition, we routinely handle claims of retaliatory discharge, bad faith, outrage, and other tort claims stemming from disputed claims for workers’ compensation benefits.