Labor & Employment
Practice Leader: Matthew V. DelDuca
ERISA and Employment Litigation Practice
Employee Benefits Practice
Employee Free Choice Act
Pepper Hamilton LLP has a long tradition of providing services in labor and employment law. The Labor and Employment Group is one of the firm’s major and growing practices, helping clients solve all types of employment-based problems, ranging from collective bargaining disputes to wrongful termination litigation and complex employment issues rising from takeovers and corporate reorganizations.
While we aim to help clients minimize risk and avoid liability, our lawyers are experienced in handling all aspects of employment litigation. We value long-term relationships with clients and we strive to find creative ways to deal with problems, including the use of alternative dispute resolution techniques. To keep clients informed of new developments, we produce a periodic newsletter and white papers, and present occasional seminars.
BASIC AREAS OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT PRACTICE
Our labor lawyers work closely with the firm’s corporate and business lawyers in major corporate changes such as acquisitions, mergers, consolidations and reductions in force. We are experienced in the labor and employment law issues involved in these strategic decisions. We advise on ways to restructure operations and limit exposure for individual and class actions. The firm also advises clients on important human resources issues such as diversity, glass ceiling issues, corporate-wide audits by government agencies and the basic direction of human resources policy. Representative engagements include:
- assisting a major foreign-based corporation in an asset purchase of a facility in the United States, enabling it to restructure its labor relations to eliminate continuing bargaining obligations, contributing to profitable operations
- structuring labor-management committees to improve quality, productivity and communication in the workplace
- developing a strategic plan for integration of bargaining units in a large-scale merger of operations where the collective bargaining structure in the two merging entities was completely different. We helped our client implement the strategic plan in a way that avoided protracted litigation before the National Labor Relations Board.
Employee Practices Counseling
We counsel clients on basic employee policies and practices, such as developing employee handbooks and guidelines. These services cover issues such as drug and alcohol testing, harassment in the workplace, internal complaint procedures, compliance with the Family and Medical Leave Act, employee privacy issues and policies to protect against liability for violence in the workplace. We consult with clients on difficult issues such as promotions, demotions, discipline and terminations. Our lawyers seek innovative solutions to issues and counsel clients on developing alternative dispute resolution procedures. Representative engagements include:
Management and Union Labor Relations and Law
- counseling on and implementing a written “wrap-around” severance plan to comply with ERISA obligations and to permit the employer to obtain waivers and releases in the event of employee terminations anticipated due to strategic restructuring
- developing policies and programs on FMLA regulations and the interplay between FMLA and other employer obligations such as ADA and workers’ compensation
- revamping all existing employment policies for an employer after a merger. The policies anticipated changes in the law and provide greater protection for the employer in the event of employee disputes.
Pepper represents management in all aspects of its relationship with unions. We help develop employment policies and practices that may remove the perceived need for union representation. We help run campaigns for management in union organizing drives and deal with the related representation proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board. Our lawyers are skilled in negotiating collective bargaining agreements and protecting clients during strikes and primary and secondary picketing. We are experienced in defending clients in unfair labor practice proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board and in the filing of charges against unions for illegal conduct on picket lines and in bargaining. Pepper helps clients deal with all aspects of labor relations under existing collective bargaining agreements, including the handling of grievances and arbitration. Representative engagements include:
Employment Discrimination and Wrongful Discharge Litigation
- successfully representing an employer in a major organizing effort by a national labor union after developing and implementing policies and practices designed to provide employees with a sense of involvement in company operations and a direct interest in the company’s affairs
- successfully defending an employer, after a long and bitter strike, from bad faith and surface bargaining charges after approximately 12 months of unfair labor practice proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board
- developing a strategy to refuse to recognize groups of employees with supervisory responsibilities, notwithstanding decades of bargaining history to the contrary, and successfully defending employer’s position in unfair labor practice proceedings
- representing numerous clients in collective bargaining, labor arbitration and contract administration issues, including successfully defending clients on subcontracting of union work
- handling strike litigation for multi-site manufacturing and transportation businesses
- conducting landmark litigation to preserve merit shop construction, including successful treble damages, antitrust and secondary pressure suit against conspiracy to monopolize area construction work.
We handle all aspects of employment discrimination and wrongful discharge litigation. This is a growing area of the practice. Our lawyers have trial experience under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination Employment Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, OSHA, WARN and similar state laws. We help clients respond to the government agencies that investigate complaints and charges of discrimination. We are experienced in defending clients in discrimination cases and in related tort claims such as wrongful discharge, defamation, intentional interference with contractual relations and intentional infliction of emotional distress. We emphasize the importance of seeking early resolution where possible and using alternative dispute resolution techniques, including mediation. Our experience includes handling individual plaintiff cases, multiple plaintiff cases, and representative and class actions. We are also experienced in handling arbitrations in the non union employee setting where companies have arbitration agreements with their employees or where a senior executive’s employment agreement has an arbitration provision. Representative engagements include:
Safety and Health and Workers’ Compensation
- successfully defending an employer in multiple-plaintiff age discrimination litigation involving three separate suits in different courts, as well as concurrent administrative agency proceedings, covering more than 300 complaints of discrimination
- successfully representing a client in a high-profile AIDS discrimination case resulting in the granting of summary judgment under the doctrine of judicial estoppel
- successfully arguing to dismiss a case on the basis that the EEOC regulations permitting early right to sue letters were invalid under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
We represent employers in all matters of safety and health in the workplace. We advise clients on OSHA compliance issues and represent clients in the event of OSHA inspections and citations. We also assist clients in handling workers’ compensation claims. LEADERSHIP IN THE PROFESSION
Pepper lawyers play major roles in the American Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Section and are active on its NLRA practice, Equal Employment Opportunity, Employment at Will, Employee Rights and Responsibilities, and International Labor Law Committees and on their state and local counterparts. Three partners are Fellows in The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. Pepper lawyers contribute to the development of the law by lecturing at law schools and professional seminars, and by writing books and articles on topics such as employment-at-will, work stoppages, sexual harassment, labor law in the construction industry, substance abuse, AIDS in the workplace and international labor law issues.