Employment Law

Our employment law and civil rights practice provides legal services for both employees and employers.   Our experience in serving both groups allows us to provide better advice as to potential claims and strategies.

Examples of how we help employees:

  • Employment discrimination – the law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, pregnancy, age, or disability. Discrimination can come in various forms, including harassment, termination, demotion, hostile work environment, refusal to accommodate, refusal to hire, failure to promote, unequal pay, or retaliation for speaking up about discrimination.  We have successfully litigated employment discrimination claims against public officials and against both large and small employers.
  • Wrongful termination and other retaliation – laws protect workers in some circumstances from being fired or otherwise retaliated against – such as for using military leave, accessing workers’ compensation, using FMLA leave, or complaining about legal or ethical violations (“whistleblowing”).
  • Wage and hour violations – laws require that employees be paid a minimum wage, that certain employees be paid overtime, that certain employees be paid for all “time worked,” and that minimum rest breaks be provided. Employers also sometimes misclassify workers as “independent contractors” when they really are employees, or as “exempt” employees when they are actually entitled to overtime pay.  For example, we have successfully litigated class actions on behalf of restaurant employees whose tip credits were not properly applied, causing them to be paid a lower rate than allowed by law.
  • Employment agreements – we frequently assist employees in negotiating employment or non-compete agreements, and in resolving issues that arise under those agreements.
  • Violations of National Labor Relations Act – Under the NLRA, an employer cannot forbid or retaliate against an employee for discussing work conditions (including the amount of compensation) on non-work time, and cannot retaliate against employees for participating in organization activities.
  • WARN Act Violations – the federal WARN Act requires some employers to give at least 60 days’ notice before laying off workers or closing a facility, in certain circumstances. If you have been laid off without sufficient notice, we can evaluate whether you could be entitled to damages and help you enforce your rights under this statute.

Examples of how we protect civil rights:

  • Fair housing – Similar to employment discrimination, it violates federal law to deny a person housing because of color, disability, familial status, national origin, race, religion, or sex. For example, we have filed actions to hold landlords accountable for refusing to accommodate renters with disabilities.
  • Public accommodation – Public accommodations (such as airlines, restaurants, or stores that are generally open to the public) cannot deny service based on a protected category or refuse to offer a reasonable accommodation to a person with a disability.

Examples of how we help employers:

In addition to our general business practice (contractual disputes, business formation, etc.), we help employers with issues relating to their employees, such as:

  • Discrimination defense – We have successfully defended several employment discrimination claims brought against our clients, from the complaint filed at the EEOC all the way through the court of appeals, if necessary.
  • Employment policy review – Laws and workplace customs are continually evolving. One of the best ways to reduce employment issues is to have clear policies that are responsive to the latest legal changes.  We can review existing policies and manuals, or to assist in drafting new ones.
  • Non-compete and employment agreements – we are experienced in drafting, defending, and enforcing employment and non-compete agreements.
  • Investigations – When an employee alleges harassment or hostile work environment, many employers choose to have an investigation conducted by a neutral, outside observer who can advise as to the credibility of the allegations and the best course moving forward. We have experience in conducting this type of investigation, and can tailor an investigation to fit the scope of the allegations and your budget.
  • Employee classification issues – using independent contractors can be beneficial in many situations, but misclassifying a worker as an independent contractor can be a very costly mistake. We can help you evaluate whether your worker is truly an “independent contractor” or an “employee.”
  • Unemployment claims – we provide advice and assistance in responding to unemployment claims, including an overview of the process, an honest assessment of whether the claim should be challenged, and assistance with appealing a negative determination.