The firm’s Labor, Employment & Immigration Law Practice Group has a long history of successfully representing businesses in labor and employment disputes.
In addition to its strong background in providing labor and employment counseling, the practice group has the depth and breadth of resources to appropriately staff labor and employment litigation matters ranging from grievance-arbitration matters, to multi-party class and collective federal and state court litigation and enforcement of employment and restrictive covenant agreements.
Approach to Labor & Employment Litigation
Regardless of the employment issue involved, the practice group’s focus is on the business objectives of our clients. In defending businesses in labor and employment claims, the practice group, understanding the high cost of litigation, employs practical, business-oriented thinking and techniques to improve the efficiency of litigation and focus on our clients’ objectives. Among those techniques are:
- Early investigation, evaluation and assessment of claims
- Realistic budgeting with periodic review
- Consideration and use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) where appropriate
- Effective use of personnel at appropriate levels to maximize value
- Use of electronic litigation resources where appropriate
- Reporting during and following the completion of matters to discuss what works and where to improve
Labor & Employment Litigation Forums
The practice group has achieved excellent results for the firm’s business clients in a wide variety of labor and employment litigation forums including:
- Federal District Courts and Courts of Appeals
- Wisconsin Circuit Courts, Courts of Appeals and Supreme Court and other states’ courts
- Wisconsin Equal Rights Division and other state agencies’ discrimination hearings
- Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance Division and other state agencies’ unemployment insurance hearings
- United States Department of Labor
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration
- National Labor Relations Board
- Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs
- Grievance-Arbitration proceedings
- Mediation proceedings
Specific Areas of Emphasis
Avoidance and Defense of Wrongful Discharge and Related Employee Claims
The assertion of common law state claims like defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and wrongful discharge claims are among the fastest growing threats to employers. Many of these claims, unlike most governed by civil rights laws, are not subject to limitations on the recovery of compensatory and punitive damages. Claims by non-union employees that their employers have retaliated against them for lawful concerted activity protected under the National Labor Relations Act are also growing in frequency. Our Labor, Employment & Immigration attorneys anticipate these issues and prepare effective defenses against these claims in whatever forum they are asserted.
Civil Rights Claim Defense
When employers find themselves named as respondents or defendants in discrimination or other employment claims, our Labor, Employment & Immigration Law Practice Group promptly offers a full range of litigation counsel and assistance. We have extensive experience representing employer interests before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Equal Rights Division of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, and other federal, state and local agencies. Our practice group has had great success representing employers in both state and federal trial courts, and state and federal courts of appeal on a broad range of claims, including discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the federal and Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Acts (FMLA), and the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA).
Labor Litigation, Mediation and Arbitration
Our practice group has represented employers before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) in unfair labor practice proceedings, election petitions, injunction proceedings, grievance and interest arbitration proceedings, union decertification matters, and appellate work relating to the enforcement of NLRB and WERC decisions. Our practice group has also handled hundreds of disputes concerning the interpretation of collective bargaining agreements. Many differences of opinion can be resolved through negotiation or mediation, while others require resolution before an independent arbitrator. The practice group also handles interest arbitration cases arising in public safety employee contract disputes.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance Claims
Our Labor, Employment & Immigration Law Practice Group regularly provides advice and representation to employers facing uninsured claims under the Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Act. Wisconsin law provides, for example, that employers are solely liable for penalties for unreasonably refusing to rehire an employee who has experienced a work-related injury and for claims that it provided an unsafe working environment. These claims are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance but require close coordination between the employer’s defense team and the workers’ compensation insurer.
Unfair Competition & Trade Secrets
In conjunction with our Non-Competition & Trade Secrets colleagues, we regularly advise clients when they face unfair competition, misappropriation of trade secrets or other forms of potential harm to their business. Our Labor, Employment & Immigration Law Practice Group regularly assists clients in enforcing restrictive covenant agreements, including non-disclosure, non-competition, non-solicitation and employee anti-raiding restrictions. Whether our clients need general advice regarding potential enforcement issues or cease and desist correspondence to a competitor or former employee, our team is ready to assist with these and any related issues in any jurisdiction. With our combined experience in addressing restrictive covenant matters for clients in every industry, we provide our clients the necessary guidance in a cost-effective and efficient manner.