Labor, Employment and Immigration
Our Labor and Employment Group provides comprehensive legal services throughout the country in a variety of matters, including:
- Negotiation and administration of labor agreements
- Prevention of union organization
- Labor relations litigation
- Wrongful discharge litigation
- Civil rights litigation
- Civil rights administrative proceedings
- Affirmative action and equal employment opportunity compliance
- Safety and health administrative proceedings
- Employee benefits
- Unemployment claims and wage claims
- Workers' disability compensation claims
- Labor and employment law compliance audits
- Plant closings
- Employment arbitration matters before the NASD and AAA
- Sending U.S. workers abroad
- Employment-based immigrant and nonimmigrant petitions; naturalization and family-based applications
- Policy development and administration
Labor and Employment Practice Philosophy
Howard & Howard provides top-quality labor and employment law services to employers ranging in size from family-owned businesses to Fortune 500 corporations. Our team of peer-recognized employment attorneys brings years of related experience to the process of problem resolution. For many of our clients, we take a proactive approach to litigation avoidance by becoming an active part of the human resource team.
Our attorneys routinely provide advice and counsel regarding all aspects of the employment relationship. We draft custom job applications and carefully craft offer letters. We provide advice on prehire criminal background investigations and credit checks as well as post-offer prehire medical inquiries and examinations. We guide clients through employee requests for reasonable accommodations. We prepare employment contracts and confidentiality agreements. We assist in policy development and benefit administration. We conduct internal investigations of embezzlement and other illegal activities, and work with prosecutors and bond companies to minimize client losses. We also negotiate severance agreements and develop early retirement incentive programs. Significantly, our Labor and Employment attorneys help make problem employees productive – or help make them former employees.
While our first goal is to help keep our clients out of court, when litigation arises, our team aggressively advocates in order to obtain the most advantageous outcome at the earliest opportunity. We focus on winning, without losing sight of the hard and soft costs of employment dispute resolution. Since employers do not receive a "jury of their peers," we posture our cases in a way that we win a majority of lawsuits without the necessity of trial.
Our philosophy is simple: Get the file in the hands of the best-qualified attorney at the lowest hourly rate to analyze your problem and develop a strategic plan consistent with your legal and business needs. We do not focus on obstacles; rather, through the prism of our years of experience, exclusively representing management clients, we focus on the various solutions that best allow you to effectively exercise your business judgment.
Labor And Employment Services
Employee and Management Training
Howard & Howard provides in-house training tailored to every level of an organization from the front-line supervisor to the boardroom. At a price often significantly less than nonattorney HR consultants, we educate your staff on the myriad of employment laws and best employment practices to enhance the growth and development of your team and to diminish the likelihood of liability for employment claims. Our attorneys do not take a pedantic approach to HR training. Rather, we bring the breadth of experience from our former lives as in-house counsel and human resource managers to deliver a practical, real life educational program.
Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity Compliance
Howard & Howard offers extensive experience assisting clients in preparing and implementing affirmative action plans. Our labor and employment attorneys represent our clients in response to desk and on-site audits performed by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. We also advise our clients on the requirements of various laws that assure equal employment opportunities for all protected classes.
Howard & Howard provides clients with the capability of designing and implementing pension, profit sharing, and other employee benefit plans. We also assist our clients in establishing executive compensation plans and incentive compensation plans, which often provide much- needed safeguards in the event of a change in corporate ownership or control. We assist our clients in updating and maintaining state-of-the-art benefit plans in accordance with this constantly changing area of the law.
Wrongful Discharge Litigation
Howard & Howard's employment litigation team enjoys a proud tradition of successfully defending our clients in wrongful discharge actions based on breach of implied employment contracts, retaliatory discharge in violation of public policy, and other court created exceptions to the at-will employment doctrine. Oftentimes, our strategy involves taking the offensive by filing counterclaims for fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, civil conspiracy and corporate disparagement. In all cases, however, we develop a litigation approach designed to achieve a result that minimizes expense, inconvenience, and negative publicity, and maximizes the likelihood of an expeditious favorable outcome for the client.
Wage and Hour Litigation
Howard & Howard is the firm of choice to defend Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage payment claims. Wage and hour litigation has dramatically increased in the new millennium. Of all employment claims, multi-plaintiff and collective actions present the greatest potential liability for employers today. Our attorneys remain at the cutting edge of this rapidly evolving practice area. From failing to pay bonuses and vacation pay to misclassification of employees as exempt or independent contractors, we can obtain a successful resolution through creative settlement or aggressive litigation.
Civil Rights Administrative Proceedings
Howard & Howard's labor and employment attorneys represent numerous clients before federal and state agencies charged with the responsibility of enforcing the civil rights laws. These agencies include the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as state and local civil rights agencies across the nation.
Civil Rights Litigation
Howard & Howard's employment litigators defend a wide variety of businesses in civil rights lawsuits filed in state and federal courts throughout the country. Howard & Howard defends its clients in response to claims of discrimination, retaliation, and harrassment filed under every civil rights law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, the Equal Pay Act, as well as other federal and state statutes that govern and control the employer's relationship with its employees. We have successfully defended our clients on such claims from the administrative investigation stage all the way to the United States Supreme Court.
Howard & Howard boasts a substantial immigration practice providing a host of services to large, medium, and small employers on a national and international basis. Howard & Howard attorneys assist employers in obtaining approval for foreign personnel to work in the U.S. and for U.S. personnel to travel and work abroad by providing services that include obtaining temporary business visitor visas, NAFTA visas, nonimmigrant visas for intracompany transferees, treaty trader and investor visas, temporary skilled worker visas, as well as providing permanent residency and naturalization services. Howard & Howard attorneys represent employers before the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service on a variety of issues including compliance, inspections, investigations and penalties.
Howard & Howard prides itself on keeping its clients advised as to the new developments in labor and employment law. We monitor such areas as workplace violence, benefits for same sex partners, victims' rights and communicable diseases. By providing information relating to these and other rapidly developing areas in labor and employment law, Howard & Howard assists our clients in implementing measures at the workplace that will reduce or even prevent costly and time-consuming controversies.
Prevention of Union Organization
Howard & Howard routinely assists clients in avoiding unionization and fending off union organizational attempts intended to impose a union contract on an unwilling employer. We have developed specialized programs designed to give management the necessary tools to defeat these unionization efforts. Our clients enjoy a remarkable success rate in representation and decertification elections.
Howard & Howard's seasoned labor lawyers routinely negotiate and assist in the administration of collective bargaining agreements for both public sector and private sector employers. We enjoy a reputation for hard bargaining and obtaining necessary concessions for the clients we serve. Our team also arbitrates labor disputes and tenaciously litigates unfair labor practice charges before the National Labor Relations Board, as well as state labor relations boards across the country.
Representative Labor and Employment Services
- Conduct internal investigations of workplace misconduct including claims of harassment, discrimination, defalcation, and other unlawful conduct.
- Draft employee handbooks and perform in-house training to minimize claims under state and federal employment laws.
- Develop performance evaluation protocols, job descriptions, incentive compensation plans, and HR compliance forms to maximize employer rights while protecting the rights of employees.
- Counsel clients on avoiding employee leave abuse through creative policy implementation consistent with the Family and Medical Leave Act and state and federal disability discrimination laws.
- Conduct labor and employment due diligence for clients contemplating acquisitions and divestitures to ensure compliance with laws governing employee benefits and fair employment practices.
- Assist clients in all aspects of benefit plan design, implementation, and administration to ensure compliance with ERISA, the federal tax code, COBRA and related laws.
- Defend clients before the DOL and the IRS in resolving plan defects and in connection with prohibited transaction and fiduciary liability claims.
- Litigate claims of discrimination, retaliation, harassment, and wrongful discharge in state and federal courts and before all administrative agencies.