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Labor, Employment & Immigration

Labor, Employment & Immigration

Our focus is your business objectives as we counsel on matters from unemployment compensation and grievance-arbitration to defense of complex discrimination claims and multiparty employment litigation. Our practical, business-oriented thinking and techniques improve litigation efficiency.

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Labor, Employment and Immigration

Navigating the Employment Landscape

Our labor and employment attorneys recognize and understand the multifaceted issues encompassing modern workforce management and leverage their collective experience to deliver practical solutions that meet our clients’ business needs effectively and efficiently.

Whether you need assistance navigating the intricate network of workplace laws and regulations, negotiating and litigating in the defense of labor and employment-related claims, or handling complex employment matters in acquisitions and sales of businesses, our unique structure and areas of emphasis that include general labor and employment, as well as specialized corporate M&A, uniquely positions us to provide exceptional support

Practical Solutions for Businesses

With experience working with public and private companies, our team of labor and employment attorneys provides industry-leading support and guidance to clients ranging from the Fortune 500 to those with fewer than 50 employees. We are dedicated to delivering customized and effective guidance that caters to the specific demands of our clients’ business. Our ultimate goal is to propel our clients’ growth and success, all the while mitigating any legal risks.

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HR Counseling, Drafting, Policies & Practices:

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 clients, our labor and employment attorneys help develop systems to ensure that hiring and termination 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 base our guidance on established principles and stay up to date with the constantly changing work environment. This allows our team to offer effective, cutting-edge solutions to workplace challenges such as:

  • Issues brought about by social media and the widespread use of personal electronic devices
  • Legal matters related to compensation, benefits, and severance for senior managers and employees
  • The creation of plans to manage problematic employees and reductions-in-force while protecting against potential claims.
Employment Agreements, Covenants & Plans

Employers should be thoughtful about entering into agreements with employees, whether such agreements relate to guaranteed payments or restrictions on post-employment activities. Our labor and employment attorneys have the experience necessary to advise companies on such agreements and assist with drafting all manner of employment-related agreements, including:

  • employment agreements
  • severance agreements
  • bonus plans
  • commission plans
  • confidentiality agreements
  • restrictive covenants (non-competition, non-solicitation and anti-piracy)
  • separation agreements

Our team leverages its litigation and counseling experience when drafting employment agreements, plans, and covenants to proactively address and anticipate the needs of companies.


We offer a full range of immigration-related services, including H-1Bs, O-1s, TNs, L-1s, Es, and the various steps of the permanent residence process, and naturalization. We routinely work with employers in numerous industries including manufacturing, professional services, insurance, higher education, public school districts, technology companies, retail, and health care.

Our services include counseling and advocacy related to:

  • H-1B cap exemptions
  • Prevailing wage issues
  • PERM filings and audits
  • Post-approval worksite inspections by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Department of Labor (DOL) or other government agencies
  • STEM extension training plans 
  • Visa applications/international travel
Mergers, Acquisitions & Due Diligence

Our labor, employment & immigration practice counsels buyers, sellers, management teams, and private equity regarding the labor and employment law issues arising out of corporate mergers and acquisitions, including advice on workforce restructuring, reductions-in-force, employee transitioning, and associated employment liabilities.

We advise privately and publicly held companies throughout the due diligence process and provide practical advice taking into consideration the structure of the transaction and overall business goals such as leadership team retention, post-acquisition assumption of employment plans and policies, and concerns regarding competition. In addition, we partner with our clients on post-closing matters and transitional issues to place our clients in the strongest position possible to facilitate a successful transition.

Traditional Labor Relations & Collective Bargaining

Our labor, employment & immigration practice counsels public and private sector employers on all labor relations matters, from counseling public administrators on employee rights issues to negotiating collective bargaining agreements and everything in between. Our experienced team works exclusively with employers in collective bargaining and labor contract administration, including grievance arbitration and unfair labor practice complaint proceedings.

In addition to litigating representation issues before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), we often work with clients to develop lawful and effective methods of countering union organizing drives. These strategies may include:

  • Educating employees about their total compensation packages in relation to the current market
  • Distributing literature to counter the union’s talking points
  • Holding captive audience meetings

Our goal is to tailor a strategy that fits our clients’ corporate culture and leads to the desired result.

Wage and Hour Audit & Assessment

While it is important for employers to establish robust policies and training programs that guarantee adherence to relevant wage and hour regulations, navigating wage and hour laws without assistance can be quite challenging as there are numerous potential obstacles to overcome.

Thus, as this area of the law evolves, we strive to keep our clients apprised of all developments and prepared to take the appropriate steps to ensure compliance. We understand that a simple decision, such as misclassification of an employee’s exempt status, can make the difference between compliance and non-compliance with various wage and hour laws. We also understand that minimum wage, overtime, and other wage payment requirements that appear simple to implement, can cause a multitude of compliance challenges for employers, especially with the interplay of the various state and local laws.

Our attorneys advise clients across the country on these complex issues with full knowledge of the Fair Labor Standards Act and other applicable laws, and the goal of minimizing litigation exposure to the employer.

Workplace Training

HR Training

Members of our labor, employment & immigration practice regularly offer practical training for managers, supervisors, and employees on workplace issues and developments in the laws affecting employees. We also offer remedial one-on-one training for those situations that need extra care. Training sessions can be customized for employers, industry groups, or human resource organizations based on business needs and the latest legal developments.

Legal Resource Training©

We offer our Legal Resource Training© program that provides interactive, informative training sessions with the benefit of our legal knowledge in a variety of employment areas including unlawful harassment, family and medical leave, accommodating employees with disabilities, performance reviews, and workplace violence.

To encourage clients to be proactive, we often offer Legal Resource Training© on a flat fee basis. 

Power Up Your Defense: Legal Solutions for Employers in Workplace Disputes and Litigation

Drawing from over 50 professionals within our labor, employment & immigration and litigation practices, we have the depth and breadth of resources to appropriately staff labor and employment litigation matters ranging from straightforward unemployment compensation hearings and grievance-arbitration matters to the defense of complex discrimination claims and multiparty employment litigation.

When it comes to defending businesses against labor and employment claims, we recognize the high cost of litigation. That's why we implement a pragmatic, business-focused approach to improve litigation efficiency and prioritize our clients' goals. Through realistic budgeting, effective use of personnel at appropriate levels to maximize value, use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) where appropriate, and early investigation, evaluation and assessment of claims, we achieve excellent results for clients in a wide variety of labor and employment litigation forums, while keeping costs reasonable. 

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Wage and Hour Litigation

Over the last 15 years, employers throughout Wisconsin (and beyond) have witnessed an explosion of wage and hour litigation. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and similar state laws provide employees powerful tools to challenge a wide variety of wage-related practices.

When your company receives an FLSA claim, you will need the assistance of attorneys who have deep experience in defending against these types of cases. Godfrey & Kahn has a team of litigators who have tackled numerous individual claims, FLSA collective actions, and state wage and hour class action claims for clients ranging from the Fortune 500 to those with fewer than 50 employees.

We have successfully defended hybrid class and collective action claims against our clients brought by individuals who file a case on behalf of all similarly situated employees, upping the stakes dramatically. If that employee wins, whether on behalf of him or herself or a larger group, the employer is liable not only for back pay and liquidated damages, but also the other side's attorney fees.

Wage and hour cases require a comprehensive analysis of the merits of your defenses, as well as a strategy for defeating the plaintiff's effort to proceed on behalf of a broader collection of employees. Godfrey & Kahn attorneys have experience assisting clients in defeating certification and achieving decertification whenever possible. We weigh the benefits of an early settlement versus protracted litigation. With over 60 years of collective experience defending these claims, Godfrey & Kahn can help you develop the right approach for your particular case.

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 practice promptly offers a full range of litigation counsel and assistance. We have extensive experience representing employer interests before governmental bodies such as: 

  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
  • The Equal Rights Division of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development 
  • Other federal, state, and local agencies

We have had great success representing employers in both state and federal trial courts, as well as 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
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Federal and Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Acts (FMLA)
  • Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA)
Labor Litigation, Mediation, and Arbitration

Our labor and employment attorneys have 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 team has 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. Our team also handles interest arbitration cases arising in public safety employee contract disputes.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Our primary goal is to help our clients avoid costly OSHA penalties and litigation by offering proactive and practical advice regarding occupational safety and health issues to ensure compliance with OSHA standards. We rely on our experience and best practices to formulate and enhance safety and health programs.

When OSHA shows up at our clients’ doorsteps, we are adept at effectively handling OSHA inspections and negotiating favorable informal settlements of OSHA citations. If informal settlements do not produce our clients’ desired results, we stand ready to defend our clients in formal proceedings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and beyond.

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"They are extremely responsive to the diverse needs of their clients. They have strong legal and business acumen which aids them in the phenomenal work they do for our company."

Labor & Employment Client Comment
-- Chambers USA

"All of the presenters were excellent both with the laws and providing practical application and examples."

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-- Labor & Employment Seminar

"They seek to understand the client's business so you don't receive anything generic in return; instead you get something very thoughtful."

Labor & Employment Client Comment
-- Chambers USA

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We are honored by awards that reflect our vision for our work. Work-product awards like Best Law Firms and top tier rankings by Chambers USA and Benchmark Litigation help us attract and keep quality talent who are often recognized as Best Lawyers. Our people help us attract clients and build a team-oriented culture that's led to Top Workplace awards year after year.

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