Practice/Industry Group Overview
Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP is a full-service law firm with more than 550 attorneys. Since the founding of our predecessor firms in the late 1800s, the Firm has steadily evolved into a major regional law firm with offices in Boston, Massachusetts; New York City; Washington, D.C.; Stamford and Hartford, Connecticut; Short Hills, New Jersey; Providence and Newport, Rhode Island; Wilmington, Delaware; and West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The Labor & Employment Group is dedicated to effectively representing our management clients in all aspects of their labor and employment law needs. We pride ourselves on working closely with our clients, so that we understand both the legal and business issues at hand. The Group is comprised of highly experienced labor and employment law advisers, as well as trial lawyers who appear regularly before federal and state courts and administrative agencies throughout the United States. The Group consists of more than 40 lawyers in our ten offices who represent clients not only in the northeast and along the Atlantic coast, but also nationwide.
Lawyers in our Group give our clients practical and sound advice on a broad range of labor and employment law issues faced by employers daily, helping to prevent employment-related disputes from arising. When disputes cannot be avoided, we defend employers who are sued by their employees before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. Our litigators are well seasoned advocates who act aggressively to achieve the best possible results for our clients. At the same time, we are efficient and cost-conscious, recognizing that our clients are and should be sensitive to the expense of litigation.
The Labor & Employment Group utilizes the expertise and training of specialists within the Firm from other Practice Groups when appropriate. This multi-disciplined approach enables us to bring the proper expertise to each case, while ensuring that one attorney handles each matter from beginning to end. Our experience and commitment to the field of labor and employment law provides our clients with unparalleled service in the following areas:
- Counseling and compliance. Workplace legal issues often arise suddenly and call for an immediate response. When clients seek our advice on employee terminations, workplace threats and other urgent matters, our attorneys are accessible and responsive. We also provide counseling on such issues as hiring practices, drug testing, reasonable accommodation for a disability, interpretation of the leave statutes, and approaches to employee discipline. The Group's attorneys have vast experience handling diverse claims including sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, discrimination under the various federal and state anti-discrimination statutes, fraud, whistle-blowing, unfair competition, protection of confidential information and defamation. We also provide due diligence on employment issues pertaining to mergers and acquisitions. We actively provide advice to clients to avoid the costs and burdens of litigation.
- Employment policies. We draft, review, and help our clients implement hiring procedures, personnel policies and employee handbooks.
- Agreements. We draft and review employment, independent contractor, non-competition, non-solicitation, confidentiality, non-disclosure, severance and separation agreements.
- Reductions in force. We analyze workforce data and help our clients comply with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act and the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act as they design and implement downsizing programs.
- Internal investigations. Our lawyers routinely conduct, or offer guidance on, internal investigations of allegations of sexual harassment, fraud, or other employee wrongdoing or compliance infractions. We have supervised and conducted numerous high-level investigations of senior executives, including for boards of directors or their special committees. This work is often at the most sophisticated and challenging levels, and may affect or induce serious company decisions, risk assessments and decisions.
- Training. We devote considerable effort to management education and preventative programs. The range of topics includes discrimination, diversity, reasonable accommodation, how to conduct effective internal investigations and how to avoid employment claims before they mature into litigation. Attorneys within the Group also provide training of both supervisory and non-supervisory personnel in all areas of compliance, including prevention of unlawful harassment and equal employment opportunity claims.
- Wage and hour. We counsel employers on the proper classification of employees as exempt or non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act and corresponding state wage and hour laws. We defend our clients in claims for back pay and overtime, including collective actions.
- Administrative proceedings. Our attorneys represent employers in a wide spectrum of matters before the various administrative agencies that regulate employment, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, United States Department of Labor, National Labor Relations Board, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and various state administrative agencies such as unemployment and workers compensation.
- Litigation. While we try to keep our clients out of litigation, we are fully prepared to defend them when they are sued. In handling such cases, we work closely with our clients early on in the process to develop a cost-effective, results-oriented defense strategy. We pride ourselves in creating a "team approach" with our clients, actively consulting with them on all important strategy decisions throughout the litigation process. Whether the goal is expeditious settlement or complete victory, we bring a practical perspective to every case. Specifically, we help our clients investigate and defend ADEA, Title VII, ADA, FMLA and other claims of employment discrimination, wrongful discharge, breach of contract and employment tort claims in state and federal courts.
- Non-competition, non-solicitation and restrictive covenant issues. We routinely advise our clients on the enforceability of non-competition, non-solicitation and restrictive covenant agreements. We have obtained injunctions on behalf of employers to enforce such agreements against former employees. Conversely, we have represented former employees and/or their new employers in defeating requests for injunctive relief brought by former employers with respect to such agreements.
- Labor law capabilities. To help employers stay union-free, we regularly advise our clients regarding proactive union avoidance strategies. In the event of an organizing drive, we counsel our clients through the union election campaign. We help our clients whose employees are represented by a union to negotiate their initial and successor labor agreements, we advise our clients regarding labor contract administration and grievances, and we represent employers in arbitrations, and unfair labor practice charges before the National Labor Relations Board. We also counsel employers to manage their organized workforce to avoid unnecessary disruption, and on how to respond to a strike or other concerted activity.
- Affirmative action. We assist our government contractor clients in preparing affirmative action plans and represent them in audits before the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).
- Workplace safety. Our employment lawyers assist clients in defusing potentially violent workplace situations. We also provide guidance on the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the workers' compensation laws.
- Executive compensation and employee benefits. Our employee benefits and executive compensation practice covers all aspects of current and deferred compensation and benefits for employees of for-profit, not-for-profit, and government employers. The Group includes specialists familiar with employee benefit plans and related benefits issues that implicate ERISA.
- ERISA litigation and regulatory proceedings. We proactively advise and defend our clients in various ERISA litigations, including claims for disability benefits, breach of fiduciary duties, retaliation, as well as regulatory investigations and corrective procedures. We counsel clients on legal developments, as well as the current audit focus of the regulatory agencies, to further minimize potential benefit concerns. Our goal is to resolve benefit issues through non-judicial methods, including claims procedures and available regulatory opportunities whenever practicable.
- Alternative Dispute Resolution. We have a wealth of experience in the many forms of alternative dispute resolution, such as arbitration and mediation, including the structuring of these systems on a company wide basis.
Our Group Newsletter
The Group publishes a quarterly newsletter that highlights issues, legal and business, of interest to employers, and we distribute special advisories regarding major statutory and regulatory developments. We believe these value-added services are not only of great benefit to our clients, but they also ensure that our lawyers stay current and are fully cognizant of the dynamics affecting the evolution of labor and employment law.
We represent private employers in virtually every industry, including telecommunications, banking, financial services, insurance, information technology, software, life sciences, education, construction, manufacturing, entertainment, health care, pharmaceuticals, real estate, retail and publishing. We also represent public sector employers such as municipalities, public agencies and schools. We pride ourselves on gaining a full understanding of our diverse clientele's particular needs and business cultures.
International Labor and Employment Law
We are one of the founding members of the Employment Law Alliance (ELA), a powerful legal resource consisting of 2,000 of the finest employment and labor lawyers from more than 50 nations dedicated to assisting employers. With a presence in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and more than 300 cities around the globe, the ELA is an alliance of creative and innovative lawyers, backed by the strength and resources of some of the world's finest and most established law firms.
We also participate in the World Law Group, an affiliation of nearly 50 large law firms in 37 countries, and our lawyers chair or co-chair relevant committees that have international labor and employment implications, such as its well recognized Privacy Matters Group. As a result, we have access to specialized labor, employment and privacy counsel on a global basis, in many countries within a phone call's reach. We have handled or assisted on numerous cross-border employment matters, contracts and disputes throughout the world, including matters involving foreign executives or employees coming to the U.S. for our clients.