Employment & Labor
TLP’s employment and labor defense division which exclusively represents employers. Labor and employment laws have been a cornerstone of the practice since the firm’s inception. Employment law is a broad area encompassing all areas of the employer/employee relationship. Employment law consists of Federal and state statutes, administrative regulations, and court decisions. Some labor laws (e.g., minimum wage regulations) were enacted as protective legislation, but others take the form of public insurance, such as unemployment compensation. Experienced labor lawyers are critical to protecting the rights of employers in this area of law. Our lawyers are experienced, aggressive, and knowledgeable in all areas of labor and employment law. We have extensive experience in serving the legal needs of small and large employers alike. We take a preventive approach, assisting our clients in minimizing their exposure to litigation through the creation of comprehensive personnel policies and procedures.
We provide legal services in the following areas:
- Litigation, defending employers in state and federal courts in all types of employment matters, including wrongful termination, sexual harassment and employment discrimination
- Wage and Hour and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) compliance
- Investigations of harassment claims
- Employee policy manuals
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Trade secrets protection/Non-competes
- Class action defense
- Employment discrimination, civil rights, sexual harassment claims
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cases
- Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) cases
- Unemployment compensation
- Employment and non-compete agreements for employees
- Collective bargaining and union prevention
- EEOC (federal Equal Employment Commission) investigations
- FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act)
Based upon years of experience handling labor and employment matters we have developed a practice that leads to efficient, cost-effective defense of employers. Our Litigation Practice includes:
- Budget and monthly updates
- Litigation risk analysis
- Action plans that outlines how the case will be defended
- Cost-effective discovery
- Creative use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR)
We can respond quickly and effectively to virtually any labor problem and craft state-of-the-art answers to complex issues. We design our strategies to meet the distinct needs of our clients, never losing sight of their business goals, philosophies and best interests.
As part of our preventive practice, we help employers to comply with equal employment opportunity laws and take precautionary measures to deter litigation.
- assist employers in developing legally compliant policies,
- counsel employers on employment-related decisions,
- review employment policies,
- provide audit services to employers to proactively assess and correct problematic practices, and
- perform disparate impact analyses to ensure that employment decisions do not adversely affect a protected group.
Because litigation is something clients want to avoid, we strive to create appropriate personnel procedures and provide training in hiring, promotion, discrimination sensitivity, progressive discipline, termination, documentation, and exit interviewing. This can help a company prevent costly and disruptive employment labor claims later.
TLP employment and labor law division, is well-versed in the more traditional employment issues such as breach of contract, trade secrets, antitrust, unfair competition, non-compete agreements, wage and hour litigation, and tortious or intentional interference with business relations.
We represent a variety of clients on matters relating to qualified and non-qualified deferred compensation plans, including: Defined benefit plans, including cash balance plans;
- 401(k) plans;
- Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs);
- Profit-sharing plans, including cross-tested and age-weighted plans;
- Section 125 cafeteria plans, including medical reimbursement and dependent care assistance reimbursement plans;
- Self-insured medical and other welfare benefit plans, and the vehicles used for funding such obligations such as 401(h) retiree medical accounts in defined benefit plans and voluntary employees’ beneficiary associations (VEBAs);
- Employee stock purchase plans (ESPPs).
In the executive compensation arena, we advise and prepare: Employment agreements; Equity-based incentive plans including non-qualified stock options (NQSOs), incentive stock option plans (ISOs), stock appreciation rights (SARs), phantom stock, and restricted stock plans; Performance-based incentive plans including annual bonus, performance unit, and performance share plans; Benefit-related plans including non-qualified deferred compensation plans, excess benefit plans, supplemental executive retirement plans (SERPs), 457(f) plans, and executive split dollar and other carve out arrangements; and funding arrangements such as rabbi trusts, corporate-owned life insurance (COLI), and other security arrangements.
Wage and Hour
Wage and hour disputes have become the most common source of liability facing employers. All aspects of employee compensation have become the target of class and individual actions in both state and federal courts. Ongoing changes in federal regulations and expanding state regulations add to the compliance challenges facing employers in California. Only well-represented employers can effectively meet what are otherwise burdensome disruptions in time, budgets and labor relations arising from wage and hour litigation and compliance issues. We have meaningful experience in defending every type of wage and hour claim, before the labor department or State and Federal courts, ranging from unpaid overtime, off-the-clock work, employee misclassification, and missed meal and rest period issues, to improper deductions from paychecks and pay stub issues. We assist employers to recognize and address potential violations that could result in penalties or litigation. We provide employers with the assistance needed to ensure compliance before litigation commences. We offer employers proactive advice needed to comply with wage and hour laws.
Wage and Hour Audits
Our attorneys represent clients in investigations and audits conducted by the United States Department of Labor and state labor departments. Due to our substantial experience working with both federal and state labor officials, we are well positioned to counsel clients on what to expect during an audit. We are able to identify wage and hour compliance issues to help minimize our clients’ exposure to liability and penalties. We defend clients in audits conducted by DOL in every industry, including manufacturing, construction, energy, financial services, hospitality, health care, insurance, restaurant, retail, transportation, technology, and telecommunications.
The most challenging aspect of any audit defense is not identifying legal issues; it is identifying practical and legal solutions. We have substantial experience in fashioning creative, cost-efficient, and practical remedies to legal and personnel issues uncovered during an audit by DOL.
Wage and Hour Litigation
TLP, provides aggressive representation in wage and hour disputes and counsels employers on reducing future litigation risks. We have vast experience in defending Fair Labor Standards Act collective actions and state-law-based wage and hour class actions. We have successfully defended employers in court and before DOL in the full range of wage and hour disputes, including claims for alleged misclassification of exempt employees, meal and rest period violations, off-the-clock work, vacation plan violations, and travel and commuting time violations. We defend employers before the EEOC and other EEO agencies. We understand the agency’s perspective during an initial investigation of an EEO charge. We monitor EEOC, court filings and court opinions to best advise our clients of recent EEOC developments.
Discrimination and Harassment
We counsel employers on complying with equal employment opportunity laws. We also defend employers in discrimination, harassment and retaliation lawsuits in state and federal courts. We represent clients on federal and state equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws and the nuanced issues that arise under them.
We assist clients with winning NLRB elections or in averting union elections altogether. We also assist clients in conducting successful union negotiations. Using remedies available through the NLRB and the courts, we prepare clients for strikes, picketing and boycotting activity. We assist our clients in responding to grievances and handling grievances in arbitration. Collective bargaining agreements establish wages, hours, promotions, benefits, and other employment terms, as well as procedures for handling disputes arising under the negotiated employment terms and conditions. As employers face economic challenges, negotiating wage and benefits issues with unions can sometimes become difficult. The tools to a successful negotiation are developing bargaining goals and preparing bargaining proposals, developing and implementing bargaining strategies.
Successful class action strategies must aim at success. The pivotal stage in most cases is class certification, where plaintiffs must prove that their allegations apply to an entire class. Plaintiffs generally rely on statistics and surveys, frequently provided through expert testimony, to make their case. Our primary goal is to demonstrate that the plaintiffs’ claims are actually disparate and should not proceed as a class action. We confront plaintiffs’ expert and statistical evidence and develop affirmative evidence addressing Rule 23 or 216(b) certification.
We work with our employers to manage any labor issue. From hiring to termination, employers are at risk for any missteps that could lead to litigation or other labor or criminal charges. When employers do need to hire additional workers, they have decisions to make about whom and how they want to hire. We work with employers to draft and review appropriate applications and offer opinion letters. We work with employers to train managers and others who will be conducting interviews to ensure that all questions asked are lawful and elicit the information needed to place the right person in the right position. We also work with human resources and provide assistance. We help employers protect themselves by developing and reviewing employment applications and background check procedures and training people to use proper interview and hiring techniques. Many companies perform evaluations of their employees. Issues can often arise when employers provide incomplete or inaccurate reviews of an employee’s performance. We work with employers to train supervisors on how to conduct evaluations fairly, consistently, lawfully, and in a timely manner. Performance evaluations need to be documented, as do incidents of employee misbehavior and concerns. If an employee’s performance is lacking or demonstrates inappropriate behavior in the workplace, employers need to document the incident to prevent later denial of the event, create a record of the problem, use the documentation to record patterns of unacceptable behavior and minimize misunderstandings in the future. We offer training to help employers determine how to document effectively gives them the tools they need to keep accurate records as a potential affirmative defense. Eventually, an employee may need to be terminated because of performance problems or other legitimate business justifications. Prior to the termination, there are steps employers should take to protect themselves from potential claims of wrongful termination. An employee’s performance evaluations and documentation should be reviewed, as well as any compliance issues the employee may have had with company policies. Employers may desire to offer verbal counseling, training, and verbal and written warnings where appropriate prior to the termination. We work with employers to guide them through the termination process. This includes drafting severance agreements and releases of claims and working with employers to ensure they are prepared for any questions or problems that may arise during the termination process as well as ensuring compliance with post-termination legal obligations.