James P. Thomas is a partner with Pepper Hamilton LLP, resident in the Pittsburgh office. He concentrates his practice on labor and employment law.
Mr. Thomas represents employers in traditional labor and employment-related litigation, jury and non jury, in federal and state courts and in proceedings before various administrative agencies, including the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. He has successfully defended employers in all types of discrimination and harassment claims, as well as wage and hour claims, claims under the National Labor Relations Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, and wrongful discharge and common law claims.
Mr. Thomas also counsels clients in all aspects of labor and employment law. His labor practice includes serving as employer spokesperson in collective bargaining, advising employers in connection with efforts to maintain a union-free environment, advising companies in their collective bargaining strategies and tactics, and the administration of their collective bargaining agreements, including employee discipline and termination issues. He has been the employer’s advocate in multiple labor-arbitration cases, and he also counsels clients in all aspects of the employment process, including wage and hour issues, employee communications, independent contractor compliance, employment contracts and handbooks, non-compete issues, personnel policies, drug and alcohol policies, terminations and severance agreements.
Mr. Thomas’ practice includes advising and defending employers on OSHA matters. His OSHA practice includes counseling management on safety and health issues; representing employers in negotiations with OSHA over citations and penalties; litigating OSHA complaints before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission; and investigating, defending and litigating employee claims of retaliation under OSHA.
Some of Mr. Thomas’ representative engagements include:
- obtaining summary dismissal in an action brought by a retired employee seeking lifetime medical benefits under a collective bargaining agreement
- successfully representing an employer in an action to enforce a former employee’s non-compete agreement. The litigation was settled after approximately one month, with both the former employee and the new employer agreeing to honor the terms of the non-compete agreement.
- obtaining a “no probable cause” finding in an EEOC investigation after the matter was initially identified by the EEOC as a “priority” matter based on evidence presented by the charging party
- obtaining summary dismissal of an unfair labor practice charge against a large automotive glass manufacturer wherein the union alleged that the employer unlawfully refused to recognize the union
- successfully defending an employer in the railroad locomotive industry against several unfair labor practice charges brought by a former employee who claimed that his employment was terminated in retaliation for union organizing efforts
- successfully defending a major supplier of coal and concrete in Western Pennsylvania in a Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division investigation wherein it was claimed that the employer had illegally failed to pay its truck drivers and mechanics overtime wages
- successfully defending a national safety consulting firm that was, itself, the subject of an OSHA investigation after a fatal accident in one of the projects on which it was providing safety services
- counseling a manufacturing client in a United Steelworkers election in which the employees voted down the union after an intense campaign
- successfully defending a large grocery wholesaler in an investigation brought by the State Department of Labor and Industry in which it was alleged that the employer illegally failed to pay prevailing wages on a construction project
- successfully defending a steel manufacturer in an OSHA investigation wherein a former employee claimed that he was terminated in retaliation for complaining about safety conditions at the facility
- successfully defending a steel manufacturer in an EEOC investigation wherein the charging party claimed that she was terminated in retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment and other forms of sex discrimination in the workplace.
Mr. Thomas is a volunteer firefighter with the Bethel Park, PA Volunteer Fire Company and active with the Make-a-Wish Foundation.