Labor & Employment
At Friday, Eldredge & Clark, we focus our capabilities on the labor and employment issues that we believe are the greatest potential concerns for your company—compliance with the full range of federal and state laws and defense in litigation. We provide proactive counseling to help you identify problems that can become employment disputes and work effectively to prevent or resolve them. In the tough economic climate we now face, if reductions in force are necessary at your company, we will make sure you comply with all notification requirements and handle severance and related issues to help prevent discrimination claims.
Our advice is based not only on the years of experience we have in representing clients, but also on our thorough understanding of the business landscape. We stay abreast of local, state, and national developments in order to advise you on labor and employment issues in a holistic context, rather than a strictly legal one. We are active in community organizations such as chambers of commerce, local, statewide and national human resources associations, and diversity commissions, again, to help us help you. We also have long-standing excellent relationships with the EEOC at all levels, in mediation and investigations. At a recent EEOC conference on all aspects of employment law, we were one of only two speakers from outside the EEOC, and were the only non-EEOC speakers from Arkansas.
Senior members of our team have been called “reliable and responsive” and “a leading figure” by Chambers USA, and our recognition in The Best Lawyers in America is extensive. With experience doing everything from working as a field attorney for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to serving on clients’ labor negotiating teams, we know the practical problems your company faces and work with you to develop the best solutions to them.
Any protected class of employees – by age, race, gender, disability, or religion – could bring suit under the discrimination statutes, and we have successfully litigated and resolved all types of discrimination matters. We believe our employment litigators have tried more cases than any other firm in the state. Our strong regional practice, class action experience, experience in every federal district court, in most of the state circuit courts, and experience representing clients in several others states, add additional value for our clients. Beyond state and federal courts we have extensive experience in FINRA arbitrations, employee arbitrations, and administrative proceedings before state and federal agencies and commissions.
The best way to handle any claim is to prevent it from being filed, which is why we give your supervisors and human resources personnel effective guidance right from the start to handle complaints properly and keep them from becoming lawsuits. On a case-by-case basis, we can also conduct internal investigation of harassment or discrimination claims at their early stages to recommend the best litigation-avoidance approach. Furthermore, our record of resolving claims at the EEOC level is impressive and cost effective.
If litigation is necessary, we’ll assemble the right team, if a team approach is appropriate, to defend you in state and federal trial court and appeals, the Arkansas Supreme Court and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. We have a depth of experience under:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
- The Americans with Disabilities Act
- The Family Medical Leave Act
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act
- The Family and Medical Leave Act
- The Arkansas Civil Rights Act
- The Occupational Safety and Health Act
- The National Labor Relations Act
If you are faced with an employee lawsuit claiming back pay and damages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), we mount a vigorous defense, seeking to deny class certification and work to secure an efficient and effective settlement that dismisses unfounded claims and protects your interests. We’ll also help you review the language of written employment policies to make sure they conform to FLSA requirements for exempt and non-exempt employees.
Wage and Hour
We can help you audit your pay practices to make sure that you have properly classified employees as exempt or non-exempt for minimum wage and overtime issues and help you ensure that employees are not working “off the clock.” We will assist you in an investigation conducted by the Department of Labor and defend FLSA actions brought by the department or individuals.
Our lawyers have extensive experience in handling wage hour investigations with the United States Department of Labor and litigating wage hour claims in Federal Court. Our firm has an unparalleled record in negotiating favorable settlements or withdrawals of DOL investigations. We also obtained one of the few recorded awards of attorney’s fees against the U.S. Department of Labor on behalf of one of our clients.
Our employment lawyers will work closely with your managers and human resources professionals, as well as with senior executives and in-house counsel, to develop a particular understanding of your employment issues and policies. The best approach to employment law problems is to keep them from occurring. Our lawyers will help you develop and implement a sound strategy for administering your personnel relationships in a way that identifies potential problems before they become concerns for your company. We will ask the right questions about your current compliance policies in order to find areas that may be out of date or need improvement. We will strategize with you, collaborating to make sure that your challenges are addressed in ways that make business sense as well as legal sense. The goal is to help you eliminate problems and avoid risk by developing personnel policies that meet all legal requirements and minimize your likelihood of employment-related claims and lawsuits.
Our advice goes well beyond a review and revision of your existing policies and procedures or the creation of a new employee handbook for your company from scratch. We will help you comply with DOL, EEOC, and NLRB requirements, and we work with you to help you draft and revise policies that not only fit legal requirements but also adhere to sound business principles. And, we make sure that your policies fit your culture and objectives. We do not offer a cookie-cutter approach; we offer collaborative guidance specifically for your company.
We help your managers effectively implement the policies, making sure they become part of everyday business practices. We also keep you current with evolving employment laws – for example, one of our lawyers is contributing editor to The HR Specialist online resource, and we are frequently called on to offer private and public training and education not only to our clients but also to our peers.
We will craft customized solutions that help you achieve your business goals while also complying with national and state labor laws, minimizing disputes with employees, and maximizing strategic advantage if litigation is necessary. We are adept at resolving issues at the EEOC level, and at obtaining summary judgments, but if a trial is necessary, we are prepared.
Our clients benefit from our strong and lengthy relationships with the legislature, the governor’s office, the attorney general’s office, and boards, chambers, and commissions—including diversity commissions—throughout the state. We have deep experience in multiple industries and have strong capabilities to advise employers in such business sectors as health care, transportation, telecommunications, retailing, and manufacturing.
Labor Relations and Management Representation
Whether your company currently deals with third-party representation or seeks to maintain a workplace free of such involvement, our highly effective labor relations counsel can be crucial to helping you maintain a competitive workplace while minimizing conflicts and maximizing your management flexibility. We make sure you comply with National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election procedures, and counter aggressive unionizing efforts without creating a “union-busting” controversy. If you face a union organizing drive, we’ll help you maintain a positive working environment, communicate fully with all employees, and comply with NLRB requirements while aggressively defending your rights. We have also proactively assisted management through extensive union avoidance training.
For employers with bargaining units, we provide advice and representation in collective bargaining, arbitration, and other labor-management matters. Our labor lawyers have represented management in responses to unfair labor practice charges, representation disputes, and labor arbitration grievance hearings.
Covenants Not To Compete
Disputes over covenants not to compete often pit businesses or individuals against each other. We have handled many of these cases in courts, and are skilled at securing and resisting TROs and permanent injunctions to protect employer interests in any type of case. We regularly litigate non-compete claims based on unfair competition and common law misappropriation of trade secrets. We regularly obtain injunctive relief enforcing employers’ rights, and frequently litigate contractual disputes relating to alleged breaches of employment agreements, commission agreements, and non-solicitation clauses. Our counsel is often proactive, as we help you craft effective covenants and educate your employees about the importance of complying with them.
In addition to our labor and employment group, our firm offers ERISA and benefits counseling and advice and representation in administrative proceedings such as workers’ compensation actions and unemployment arbitrations before FINRA. We are experienced at helping clients achieve women-owned and minority-owned business certification.