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Employment, Labor and Human Resources

The intersection of business, employment matters and the law is complex and often difficult to navigate. We approach this challenge with an effort to gain a thorough understanding of your culture and objectives. We bring a deep understanding of the law and a wealth of experience regarding its real-world application. We pride ourselves on being a vital and trusted adviser for our clients, offering responsiveness, keen insights, good judgment and a practical, solution-oriented perspective. Our employment, labor and human resources lawyers have received significant client, peer and business community recognition in such prestigious publications and ranking lists as Chambers USA: America's Leading Business Lawyers, The Best Lawyers in America®, U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” and Martindale-Hubbell®.

Our experience with a wide range of employment, labor and human resources issues enables us to work with our clients to assist them in building and maintaining an employer-of-choice reputation. We do this while minimizing the burden of regulatory requirements and the distractions of regulatory investigations and audits, employee disputes and union organizing. In addition to compliance and risk-management counseling, we develop and conduct training programs for human resources professionals and line managers, offering a range of complementary compliance-support services. We also host an annual client conference that attracts more than 300 attendees each year.

When employers encounter litigation relating to employment discrimination, wrongful discharge or other employment-related issues, and when complaint investigations and compliance audits arise, we represent them with early risk assessment, dispute resolution services and trial advocacy.

Our clients include a wide range of regional, national and multi-national corporations, emerging businesses and regulated industries. We handle employment matters nationwide for many global and publicly-traded companies based in North Carolina and have frequently served as the lead employment counsel on some of their most complex, high-level transactions.

We operate as an employment and labor law boutique within a robust, full-service law firm. This affords us ready access to colleagues who focus their practice in such related areas as Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation; Environmental and OSHA; Government Contracts; Data Use, Privacy & Security; Tax; Corporate Governance; Non-Compete and Trade Secrets; and Intellectual Property.

  • Wage and hour compliance
  • Internal investigations
  • Protecting employers: relationships and confidential information (non-competition agreements, trade secret protection)
  • Employment-related litigation
  • Government investigations, audits and administrative proceedings
  • FMLA/ADA/Fitness-for-duty/drug-testing/absence-management program administration
  • Workforce restructuring, downsizing, plant closings, merger and acquisition integration
  • Executive employment and severance agreements
  • Workplace harassment, training and investigations
  • Human resources audits and risk management
  • Affirmative action plans and OFCCP audits/corporate diversity
  • Recruiting, hiring and employee selection
  • Human resources policies and employee handbooks
  • Workplace violence
  • Union avoidance
  • Temporary employees, agency staffing, independent contractors and telework programs
  • Human Resources and manager training

Wage and Hour Compliance

  • Enterprise-wide audits of exempt employee and independent contractor classifications for retail, hospitality, pharmaceutical, technology, distribution and other industry employers and development of strategies for reclassifying misclassified employees in ways to maximize compliance and minimize liability exposure
  • Audits of time recording practices relating to donning/doffing, automatic clocking/deductions, and use of remote devices for work and development of practical solutions to maximize compliance and minimize liability exposure
  • Enterprise-wide internal compensation analyses, development of processes for enhancing attorney-client privilege protection of analyses and risk management of such analyses
  • Successful defense of wage and hour audits and complaint investigations conducted by the federal and state departments of labor involving donning/doffing/overtime, exempt employee classification issues and child labor issues
  • Assistance with Service Contract Act issues in unionized and non-unionized settings

Internal Investigations

  • Retained as special counsel by hospitals, banks, manufacturers, defense contractors and employers in a variety of industries to conduct internal corporate investigations into allegations of:
    • harassment, discrimination and employee misconduct, including allegations of pattern and practice sexual harassment and racial discrimination
    • employee embezzlement
    • kick-backs and favoritism in award of vendor contracts
    • procurement fraud in government contract bid by former employee whistleblower and assistance with self-reporting to government
    • Retained in connection with allegations against high-ranking corporate officers and to identify root causes of management failures

Protecting Employers: Relationships and Confidential Information

  • Drafted confidentiality, non-solicitation and non-competition agreements for global and national employers
  • Developed Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies and employee social media policies
  • Designed exit procedures to maximize protection of company information upon employee departure

Government Investigations, Audits and Administrative Proceedings

  • Successfully represented leading employers before the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and state and local fair employment practices commissions across the country in connection with investigations of single claimant and class allegations
  • These investigations have involved EEOC national priority issues, including challenges to enterprise-wide leave policies, criminal records criteria and testing, and have involved non-employee class representatives from advocacy groups
  • Retained by employers after conclusion of cause findings for representation during the conciliation process and risk management of potential liability exposure
  • Successfully represented federal contractors, including Department of Defense contractors, in connection with Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program (OFCCP) pre- and post-award compliance audits (including corporate management reviews) and complaint investigations. The compliance audits have included inquiries into test validation, staffing agency employees and online recruiting processes and, in some cases, have begun with asserted desk audit liability nearing $1 million which were subsequently closed without any payment by contractor
  • Successfully represented manufacturing, restaurant and hospitality, and retail employers in wage and hour audits and complaint investigations conducted by the federal and state departments of labor throughout the country involving donning/doffing in manufacturing plants, overtime, exempt employee classification and child labor issues, and some involving potential class exposure exceeding $1 million

FMLA/ADA/Fitness for Duty/Drug-Testing/Absence Management Program Administration

  • Led interdisciplinary publicly-traded Fortune 500 corporate ADA task force charged with identifying Title I and Title III compliance issues; reviewing and modifying corporate policies, procedures and practices including medical testing, qualification standards and test administration accommodation
  • Developed and integrated corporate policies for hospitals, banks and pharmaceutical, manufacturing and technology companies regarding FMLA/STD/ADA reasonable accommodation leave/workers’ compensation leave and absence management
  • Developed fitness for duty programs including functional capacity testing for manufacturing, healthcare and distribution worksites
  • Developed and conducted manager/supervisor ADA/FMLA/absence management training programs
  • Reviewed and developed voluntary and mandatory pre-employment, reasonable suspicion and random drug and alcohol testing programs for multi-state employers

Workforce Restructuring, Downsizing, Plant Closings, Merger and Acquisition Integration

  • Retained by global and publicly-traded leading employers to design employee selection and staffing processes, voluntary separation programs, early retirement incentive programs and group termination programs and advise internal corporate task forces charged with such responsibilities
  • Developed OWBPA-compliant releases and demographic disclosures, including those involved in complex multi-site rollouts over time
  • Assisted numerous companies with determining Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notice requirements and developing WARN notifications
  • Conducted internal adverse impact and EEO risk analyses for pre-rollout adjustments, assisted clients in assessing risk and identifying strategies to minimize the risk associated with the proposed actions
  • Advised internal corporate teams charged with developing internal and external communications on reorganization activities
  • Developed internal processes for enhancing attorney-client privilege protection of reorganization-related corporate documents
  • Labor and employment merger and acquisition due diligence

Executive Employment and Severance Agreements

  • Negotiated, reviewed and drafted executive employment, non-compete, change in control and severance agreements on behalf of executives and companies

Workplace Harassment, Training and Investigations

  • Retained to revise harassment policies and investigation procedures to remedy compliance deficiencies and risk management failures resulting from commonly flawed off-the-shelf policies
  • Retained to develop and conduct numerous employee awareness and manager/supervisor training programs or, in some cases, to assist in the evaluation and selection of vendor training programs
  • Directed crisis management teams charged with diffusing threats of criminal arrest/prosecution and media disclosure
  • Retained as special counsel to conduct internal corporate investigations into allegations of harassment, discrimination and employee misconduct, including allegations of pattern and practice sexual harassment and racial discrimination and allegations against high-ranking corporate officers

Human Resources Audits and Risk Management

  • Developed internal process and templates for human resources compliance audits of policies, procedures, practices and records along with processes for enhancing attorney-client privilege protection of audit findings
  • Provided advice on options and strategies for handling particular hiring, termination, promotion, reassignment and performance management scenarios, particularly with regard to underperforming employees, employees with health issues and whistleblowers
  • Conducted internal adverse impact and EEO risk analyses for pre-reorganization rollout adjustments and internal compensation equity
  • Developed and conducted numerous training programs for supervisors on documentation, performance management, discipline and discharge
  • Drafted and negotiated numerous severance agreements

Affirmative Action Plans and OFCCP Audits/Corporate Diversity

  • Reviewed, developed and updated numerous Executive Order 11246, VEVRAA and Rehab Act affirmative action plans and advised companies on all aspects of affirmative action, including appropriate statistical analysis for adverse impact calculations
  • Successfully represented federal contractors in connection with Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program (OFCCP) pre- and post-award compliance audits (including corporate management reviews) and complaint investigations brought pursuant to Executive Order 11246, Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974
  • Successfully defended challenges to test and other selection criteria validation
  • Successfully defended class complaints, including those involving non-employee class representatives from advocacy groups
  • Provided legal support and general business advice to manufacturers, retail business and pharmaceutical companies on establishing workplace diversity programs

Recruiting, Hiring and Employee Selection

  • Advised employers on background and reference checking requirements and procedures, including Fair Credit Reporting Act authorization and disclosure requirements and e-Verify
  • Advised employers on validation requirements and procedures for employment tests, physical fitness requirements and other selection criteria
  • Assisted employers in virtually every industry with developing recruiting and employee selection processes and documentation procedures
  • Developed and presented numerous training programs for supervisors on interviewing and employee selection

Human Resources Policies and Employee Handbooks

  • Authored leading North Carolina policy and form book
  • Reviewed and developed hundreds of employee handbooks, Human Resources policies and procedures manuals and corporate codes of conduct – many for clients with workforces in multiple states
  • Developed Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and employee social media policies
  • Developed harassment/investigation and religious accommodations procedures
  • Developed and integrated corporate policies regarding FMLA/STD/ADA reasonable accommodation leave/workers’ compensation, leave fitness for duty and absence management, and developed corporate leave donation and sharing programs
  • Led interdisciplinary corporate ADA task force charged with identifying Title I and Title III compliance issues; reviewing and modifying corporate policies, procedures and practices including medical testing, qualification standards, and test administration accommodation; and developing and conducting corporate manager/supervisor compliance training
  • Assisted publicly-traded companies in financial, healthcare, consulting and manufacturing with developing and implementing corporate record retention and destruction policies
  • Advised numerous companies on the legal and practical aspects of transitioning to paperless Human Resources policies

Workplace Violence

  • Advised numerous companies on handling specific threats of workplace violence
  • Developed and reviewed workplace violence prevention programs and conducted related workplace training
  • Served as counsel to employers’ multi-disciplinary threat assessment teams

Union Avoidance

  • Advised manufacturing and retail companies on handling of specific threats of union organization
  • Developed union avoidance programs for global companies and conducted related training

Temps, Agency Staffing, Independent Contractors, Telework Programs

  • Advised companies on the legal and practical issues of implementing a telecommuting workforce and individual telecommuting arrangements
  • Advised companies on the legal and practical issues of creating an internal temporary workforce

Human Resources and Manager Training

  • Developed a comprehensive training institute offering more than 50 programs to human resources professionals, business managers and line supervisors. Topics include ADA, affirmative action, EEO, employee relations, FMLA, harassment, hiring, investigations, policies, union avoidance, workplace violence, supervisor/manager responsibilities.
  • Developed highly participatory and mock trial training exercise for Human Resources professionals and investigators for large global pharmaceutical company in which they experienced first-hand how their decisions and actions play out in front of a jury. The program was customized to the client’s policies and workforce.
  • Developed highly participatory and mock trial training exercise for supervisors in which they experience first-hand how their decisions and actions play out in front of a jury. The program is customized to client’s policy and workforce and has been delivered to employers in a wide range of industries across the country.

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