Our Labor, Employment & Immigration Law Practice Group prides itself on working with clients to prevent or minimize the risk of employee claims.
With an increasingly tangled web of civil rights laws, court-created employee protection and employee leave laws, even the most routine employment decision can create employer risks. Working closely with employers, the practice group also helps develop systems to ensure that hiring practices, attendance policies, employee handbooks, drug testing, employee performance reviews and other employer practices and procedures do not become breeding grounds for legal claims. We assist employers in the development of strategies to deal with problem employees and reductions-in-force in a manner that leaves employers in the best position to defend themselves against claims.
Specific Areas of Emphasis
Our Labor, Employment & Immigration Law Practice Group provides support to clients in all aspects of creating, enforcing and drafting employment policies and procedures. The practice group regularly assists clients in drafting policies to comply with state and federal law, including policies addressing leave benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), leave as an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Pregnancy Non-Discrimination Act (PDA), and state and local sick leave laws. In addition, the practice group evaluates and assists with drafting Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) compliant policies and procedures and navigating the sometimes complicated state and local requirements governing background checks and the use of information derived from background checks.
Our practice group customizes its advice based on our clients’ size, industry and general business needs. As appropriate, our attorneys will advise on state and industry-specific drug testing policies and procedures, record retention requirements and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) policies and procedures.
Our guidance is based on established principles and our recognition of the quickly evolving work environment. Our attorneys routinely address workplace issues posed by social media and the prevalence of personal electronic devices. We stay abreast of technological developments that have oftentimes not been addressed by the courts but provide practical guidance on how to utilize (or not utilize) technology to advance clients’ business needs and avoid conflict with employees.
The Labor, Employment & Immigration Law Practice Group provides guidance to clients on all aspects of employment terminations. In advance of termination, our attorneys advise on workplace investigation of potential policy violations, drafting disciplinary warnings and performance plans and creating exit strategies for the termination of key employees. Our attorneys also advise employers on the intricacies of group terminations such as compliance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), the Wisconsin Business Closing and Mass Layoff law (WBCML), the Older Worker Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) and similar state and federal laws.
Workplace Health & Safety
We routinely provide advice on all aspects of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). The services we provide include:
- Advising on internal investigations of workplace accidents
- Handling of OSHA inspections and safety whistleblower complaints
- Negotiating and resolving OSHA citations
- Litigating OSHA citations
- Counseling on technical compliance and best practices
- Reviewing and advising on safety and health programs
We believe this is an area our clients can truly benefit from our experience and proactive practical advice, from the very beginning of the process to the end. To help our clients avoid the potentially costly litigation of OSHA cases, we are adept at effectively handling OSHA inspections and in negotiating favorable informal settlements of OSHA citations. We also counsel clients to help ensure compliance with OSHA standards, provide advice based on our experience and best practices to formulate or enhance safety and health programs. We have worked extensively with employers in the general manufacturing industry and special industry sectors.
Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation
Our Labor, Employment & Immigration Law Practice Group understands that employment relationships necessarily include employee benefit and tax issues. All members of the practice group work closely with members of our Tax Practice Group and Employee Benefits Practice Group to advise clients on innovative and traditional employee retirement, and health and welfare benefit programs.
We routinely work with public and private companies, management, and boards of directors to address all legal issues related to the compensation, benefits, and severance of directors, executive officers, and other senior managers and employees at the time of hire, during employment, and at termination. We also address employee and director compensation matters, such as impacts on equity compensation, in conjunction with changes in control and other business transactions.
We understand that employment issues for employers have no borders, whether involving U.S. based companies doing business overseas or multi-national companies with interests in the U.S. Through our membership with the global network of TerraLex, we provide clients with advice and support related to employment and labor issues throughout the world.
Our partnership with TerraLex is just that, a vetted relationship with our global TerraLex labor and employment lawyers who we know and trust to partner with our clients. Together, our advice encompasses not only global employment and labor issues, but also includes counsel on complex cross-borders employment M&A transactional issues, such as redundancy, transition and garden leave, employment contracts and restrictive covenant issues. We often advise on employment and labor issues in Mexico, Canada, the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong SAR, India, the United Kingdom, and numerous EU member countries.
OFCCP Compliance & Affirmative Action Plans
Our Labor, Employment & Immigration Law Practice Group routinely assists government contractors and subcontractors in preparing affirmative action plans that comply with the affirmative action obligations enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) as well as various state and local affirmative action agencies.
The creation of an affirmative action program involves more than the preparation of a plan document. Godfrey & Kahn advises clients on federal and state government contract requirements, including affirmative action obligations, compliance standards, record-keeping requirements and procedures. We monitor the latest guidance and provide practical advice regarding how to incorporate the latest developments into our clients’ practices and procedures.
We support and assist clients who are subject to OFCCP compliance evaluations and we have successfully navigated with clients’ complex and multi-site evaluations with positive outcomes.