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Labor and Employment

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Overview

In the rapidly changing regulatory environment of today’s workplace, employers need legal protection on multiple fronts. Our Labor and Employment practice provides creative and highly effective management-side representation in all facets and at all stages of employment and labor relations. From preventive measures designed to educate employers and ensure legal and regulatory compliance to the defense against claims of wrongdoing, we form a strategic alliance with clients to safeguard their business interests.

Connell Foley has a strong background advising employers in drafting policies and developing best practices and training programs to minimize a wide array of potential employment claims. When litigation cannot be avoided, our lawyers draw on their extensive knowledge of federal and state laws and local ordinances to offer clients a vigorous defense.

We serve a diverse client base, including public and private corporations, nonprofit organizations, institutions of higher education, municipalities, public agencies, multi-employer trade associations and insurance and financial services firms.

Services include:

  • Proactive compliance counseling
  • Litigation and administrative agency charge defense, arbitration and mediation
  • Employee handbooks
  • Supervisor training programs, including workplace harassment prevention training
  • Immigration and nationality law and compliance
  • Noncompete agreements and trade secrets
  • Internal investigations
  • Labor-management relations

Proactive Compliance Counseling

We emphasize a preventive approach when offering employment law advice and counsel. Our focus is assisting employers in making employment-related decisions that avoid or reduce the risks of litigation, while maintaining a productive and well-managed workforce. Against this backdrop, we offer executives, human resources directors and managers proactive counseling and training in every aspect of the employment relationship. We provide comprehensive advice, assistance, audits and training regarding:

  • Employee screening, hiring and reviews
  • Compliance with wage and hour laws
  • Formulating personnel policies and employee handbooks
  • Strategies to prevent workplace harassment, discrimination and retaliation
  • Employee dishonesty and disloyalty, discipline and terminations
  • Managing employee medical leaves of absence
  • Reasonable accommodations
  • Privacy issues
  • Drug and alcohol testing
  • Reductions-in-force, mass layoffs and plant and business closings
  • Separation agreements and general releases
  • Personnel file management and recordkeeping requirements

Litigation and Agency Charge Defense, Arbitration and Mediation

We advise management at all levels of workplace law and dispute resolution, including in federal and state courts, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other administrative hearings, and mediation and arbitration. Our seasoned litigators vigorously and effectively defend employers, whether they have employment practices litigation insurance, are self-insured or uninsured. We routinely handle the following types of claims raised under federal and state laws and local ordinances:

  • Discrimination and equal opportunity
  • Workplace harassment
  • Employment and termination disputes
  • Breach of contract
  • Restrictive covenants
  • Wage and hour
  • Workforce reductions
  • Work environment and safety
  • Employee benefits
  • Medical leaves of absence
  • Compensation issues
  • Whistleblower
  • Workplace torts

Employee Handbooks

One of the many challenges employers face is the drafting of employee handbooks. Our lawyers prepare practical employee handbooks customized to each employer’s specific business practices and size. We draft each employee handbook to accomplish four primary goals: (1) clear communication with employees; (2) administrative efficiency; (3) best employment practices to avoid or minimize workplace disputes; and (4) proactive measures addressing changes in laws, liability trends and business climate. We also offer a cost-efficient, periodic review and update of existing handbooks to ensure continued compliance with federal, state and local employment laws.

Supervisor Training Programs

Founded on our extensive experience preparing and conducting workplace training programs for employers, we offer one-hour sessions providing practical information and teaching examples. Programs accommodate employers’ budgets, with minimal disruption to workflow. Topics include:

  • Workplace harassment prevention, incorporating numerous examples and case studies:
    • Verbal, nonverbal and physical activities
    • Cutting-edge issues including same-sex harassment and transgender protection
  • Best practices for hiring employees
  • Best practices for evaluating, disciplining and terminating employees
  • Addressing leave of absence requests, availability of income replacement benefits while on leave and precedence of applicable laws
  • Ramifications of social media in the workplace
  • Maintaining current job descriptions and their practical importance relative to disciplinary actions, performance evaluations and requests for workplace accommodations
  • Classification of workers (exempt or non-exempt, employee or independent contractor)
  • Practical considerations for implementing a reduction-in-force or early retirement incentive program, offering severance to a terminated employee and drafting separation/release agreements

Immigration and Nationality Law and Compliance

Our team represents businesses, academic institutions, organizations and individuals across the United States and globally on diverse immigration and compliance issues.

Finding and keeping international talent is an important priority for businesses, research institutes and other organizations. Our lawyers assist by designing appropriate and efficient strategies to hire workers for temporary and long-term assignments. Whether it’s bringing executives and managers to the U.S. from international affiliates, hiring individuals with specialized knowledge to fill temporary needs or sponsoring essential employees for permanent residence, we help employers manage their workforce while navigating the complex visa process.

We also counsel individuals on immigrant visa applications based on extraordinary ability, family-based immigration and naturalization. And, with penalties for violations on the rise, we help clients avoid the regulatory pitfalls of I-9 and E-Verify compliance.

Noncompete Agreements and Trade Secrets

Our lawyers are well-versed in the protection of trade secrets and other proprietary information critical to clients’ competitive advantage. Whether counseling clients on measures to protect this information or filing applications to enforce employment and other nondisclosure covenants, we have the knowledge and experience to secure vital commercial assets. In addition to assisting in developing technology and comprehensive trade secret protection programs, we:

  • Draft noncompete agreements, restrictive covenants, nondisclosure agreements and similar documents
  • Prepare executive and individual employment agreements
  • Audit trade secret protections
  • Consult on electronic information retention and security policies

Internal Investigations

Our internal investigations practice is a multidisciplinary group of lawyers focused on representing corporations and their officers, directors and employees in internal investigations, grand jury investigations and trials, administrative enforcement proceedings (including SEC proceedings) and other types of government investigations. The group also counsels directors regarding corporate governance issues, with particular emphasis on director oversight, fiduciary duty and liability issues.

With the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act’s expanded whistleblower provisions and the resulting surge of governmental investigations and proceedings, our internal investigation work has become increasingly vital to our clients. We advise on a broad range of matters involving securities, banking, antitrust, tax, health care, environmental, political and campaign activities and U.S. and international government procurement.

Labor-Management Relations

Our lawyers bring extensive experience representing employers in both the private and public sectors to their counsel across a broad spectrum of industries. For our unionized and nonunionized clients alike, we offer counsel related to:

  • Negotiating collective bargaining agreements
  • Administering labor contracts
  • Responding to union representation campaigns
  • Defending unfair labor practice charges
  • Providing representation in grievances and labor arbitrations

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