Labor and Employment

The single largest investment a business makes is in its personnel. To compete in a global marketplace, businesses must be able to attract and retain the best and the brightest people. An organization’s policies on recruiting, hiring, training, compensating, developing, retaining, and even separating of personnel must forward the goals of the business. Each year new laws, regulations, and judicial decisions present increasingly complex issues in managing the employment relationship in all its varied aspects.

The attorneys in our Labor and Employment Law practice area advise our management clients on ways to meet their business needs in connection with all aspects of labor and employment law matters. We assist employers in analyzing the soundness and comprehensiveness of their existing employment practices and policies, and provide suggestions and advice on establishing new guidelines to meet ever-changing business requirements. Our objective is to enable our clients to achieve their desired results while controlling and minimizing risks. One of our primary goals is to work with our clients to prevent claims.

Despite best efforts, however, disputes and litigation sometimes arise. In those cases, the firm’s premier group of labor and employment attorneys can assist in providing management with the knowledge and resources necessary to limit clients’ exposure and expenses, and to resolve the matter. We have successfully represented employers in connection with all types of state and federal employment claims, including disputes related to employment contracts, wage-hour claims, unfair labor practice charges, union contract grievances, whistleblower claims, enforcement of non-competition agreements, as well as defense of claims of sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation, defamation, wrongful discharge, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and related employment tort issues.

When matters impact our management clients’ relationship with employees, the lawyers in our Labor and Employment practice area have the experience and knowledge to help achieve an outcome that will accomplish our clients’ overall business goals. Our lawyers are instantly accessible by telephone and electronic mail, and are committed to providing immediate responses to our clients’ needs.

We represent all types of employers in nearly every industry sector. Our clients range from private employers with employees in a traditional manufacturing environment, to municipalities and school districts with employees spread out in numerous locations, to public employers with thousands of traditional and “virtual” employees located across the U.S. 

Our experience is exceptionally broad and varied. If a matter involves the employer-employee relationship, we generally have multiple practitioners with the experience and expertise necessary to address the issue. We provide advice and counsel in connection with:     

Workplace Training
For decades, we have been sharing practical solutions and insights with human resources professionals, managers, supervisors, C-suite executives, leaders, and employees through in-house training programs. Our training programs are presented by attorneys with years of experience from the boardroom to the courtroom. They provide best practices and practical advice using real-world examples, case studies, interactive techniques, and more to engage participants.

Our informative presentations cover a wide range of topics, such as background checks and criminal convictions analysis, drafting employment-related agreements, federal and state wage and hour laws, including classification issues, harassment and discrimination prevention, hiring and recruiting, investigations—conducting internal and responding to governmental, among others. We can tailor training programs for your organization and develop each one to address your specific goals, issues, and scheduling needs.

Labor Relations
Our clients regularly seek our advice and recommendations on positive changes to policies, practices, and communications programs as necessary to remain union-free. We conduct thorough training of supervisors and management to assist with not only legal compliance but also to enhance employee relations and address employee concerns.

For unionized employers, our attorneys are experienced in handling proceedings in the private sector under the National Labor Relations Act and Railway Labor Act, and in the public sector before the New York Public Employment Relations Board. We provide legal advice and assistance during union organizing, picketing, decertification, and other circumstances affecting management’s interaction with organized labor.

We assist in all aspects of collective bargaining and formulation of strategy; provide advice and counsel in all stages of the grievance and arbitration processes; advise in contract administration issues; and counsel as to strikes and work stoppages.

Labor and Employment Law Compliance
Our attorneys provide our clients with the day-to-day advice that they need to comply with the increasingly complex system of laws that regulate the employment relationship in both the private and public sectors. As an example, clients regularly seek our assistance with managing employee disability issues under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and state disability and workers’ compensation laws.

In the private sector, we provide advice on employment law issues affecting minimum wage, overtime, and other employee compensation matters; employee recruiting and background checks; disability accommodation and employee work restrictions; employee leaves of absence and return-to-work issues; business sales, acquisitions, and relocations; mass layoffs, plant closings, and other reductions in force; OSHA compliance and workplace safety; EEO-1, VETS-100, LM-10, and other employer reporting obligations; and a variety of other employment law matters.

For our public sector clients, we also provide advice on Civil Service Law compliance; tenure and employee discipline issues; compensatory time and other public sector wage and hour matters;  PESH-related matters; and various municipal law issues related to employment in the public sector.

Employment Policies and Practices
Practice attorneys review management policies and communications for compliance with anti-discrimination and other laws affecting the employment relationship. We regularly prepare and review employment applications, employee handbooks, and affirmative action plans and procedures.

We conduct training programs for management and supervisors and prepare policies on such issues as sexual harassment and discrimination prevention, substance abuse, Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, and handling of employee discipline and discharge.

We also help employers deal with other policy issues such as reference checks, workplace violence, employment agreements, confidentiality and non-compete agreements, vacation and leave benefits, family and medical leaves of absence, dispute resolution, and hazard communications. We work closely with our Employee Benefits and Immigration Practice Areas where necessary to ensure that all aspects of a particular matter are addressed.

Employment Disputes and Litigation
Discrimination Actions. Our Labor and Employment practice area has a proven track record of effective and efficient defense of small, midsize, and large international employers, as well as public employers, in all types of discrimination actions.  The types of cases we have taken to a successful conclusion on behalf our employer clients include claims alleging a violation of:

  • Title VII (including claims based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin)
  • Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
  • New York State Human Rights Law
  • Sexual harassment claims
  • ERISA and other employee benefit claims
  • 42 U.S.C. Section 1981
  • 42 U.S.C. Section 1983
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)  
  • Equal Pay Act   
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act

Class/Multiple Action Suits
We have handled complex matters involving multiple plaintiffs with multiple claims in both state and federal courts.  In particular, our attorneys have extensive recent experience with respect to wage and hour class/collective actions, which are becoming increasingly commonplace.  

Union Labor Matters
We represent management in both the public and private sector in defense of actions brought by labor unions in matters relating to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and other statute and state law claims. These actions have involved enforcement actions, stays, injunctions, and appeals.

Defense in Other Employment Lawsuits
Our litigation services cover the entire spectrum of dispute resolution, including defense of claims involving harassment and civil rights. We also defend against claims that management violated employment contracts (wrongful discharge, non-competition, and related torts); state labor laws (wages and wage supplements); the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA); executive employment and compensation contracts; and cases involving ERISA and employee benefit plans.

Our Clients

  • Private Companies
  • Public Companies
  • Not-for-Profit Organizations
  • Municipalities
  • Academic Institutions
  • Health Systems and Hospitals

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Disclaimer

This website presents only general information not intended as legal advice. Although we encourage calls, letters and emails from prospective clients, please keep in mind that merely contacting Harter Secrest & Emery LLP (HSE) does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. Confidential information should not be sent to HSE until you have been notified in writing by HSE that a formal attorney-client relationship has been established. Information sent to us before then may not be treated as confidential by HSE or the court.

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