Employment Law

We represent executives, and businesses in all types of employment law matters, including: Employment discrimination claims; Executive compensation and benefits; Confidentiality agreements; Non-compete agreements and non-solicitation agreements; Separation agreements and severance packages; Wage and overtime claims; Whistleblower claims; Wrongful discharge claims; and Internal corporate investigations involving fraud, embezzlement, ethics, policy violations, or discrimination.
We also represent individuals treated adversely in the workplace because of age, disability, gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation, or because they reported a concern about such treatment. We can also help to ensure that your employer is paying you what you are owed, including overtime wages.

Employment Discrimination

The term “employment discrimination” refers to a wide range of conduct, including:

  • Taking an “adverse employment action” (e.g., demotion, termination, or failure to hire or promote) because of a protected characteristic (e.g., age, disability; ethnicity, gender, national origin, race, religion)
  • Creating or allowing a hostile work environment
  • Retaliating against an employee for opposing unlawful employment practices or participating in proceedings relating to unlawful discriminatory practices.

We provide representation in the following areas:

  • Age discrimination
  • Disability discrimination
  • Family Medical Leave Act
  • Gender/sex discrimination
  • Hostile work environment claims
  • National origin discrimination
  • Pregnancy discrimination
  • Race discrimination
  • Religious discrimination
  • Retaliation
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual orientation discrimination
  • Whistleblower protection

Retaliation

Various federal, state, and local laws protect individuals against retaliation – that is, taking an adverse action against an employee – for engaging in “protected activity” as defined by law. For example, Title VII provides, in part, that it is an “unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against any of his employees or applicants for employment …, because he has opposed any practice made an unlawful employment practice by this subchapter, or because he has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this subchapter.”

“Protected activity” can include:

  • Making complaints to management
  • Protesting against discrimination by industry or society in general
  • Supporting a co-worker who has filed formal charges of discrimination

A party alleging retaliation need not prove that discrimination actually occurred, but need only show that they had a reasonable, good-faith belief that the complained of practice violates discrimination law. The law prohibits retaliation with respect to a wide range of job activities, such as hiring, firing, compensation, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

Sexual Harassment

Unwelcome sexual advances, comments, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature violates the law and is prohibited sexual harassment if:

  • Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of your employment
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct is a reason basis for employment decisions affecting you
  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with your work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment

Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of situations, so long as the harasser’s conduct is unwelcome by you. Also, you are protected by law against sexual harassment in the workplace whether:

  • You are a woman or a man
  • The harasser is of the same or opposite sex
  • The harasser is your supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee
  • You are the target of the harassment or a bystander affected by the offensive conduct

Severance Negotiations

We provide advice and representation in connection with the review and negotiation of employee severance agreements. If your employer offers you a severance agreement, it is critical that you understand what is being offered. More importantly, before signing the severance agreement, you must understand what you are giving up in exchange for the severance payment.

Severance agreements typically include a “Release” provision, which as its name suggests, excuses the employer from liability for legal claims, such as those under the anti-discrimination laws. If there are facts suggesting that you may have one or more legal claims, we can evaluate those potential claims and attempt to negotiate a more favorable offer.

The agreement may also contain other provisions and restrictions, such as those regarding your future employment (e.g., non-competition and/or non-solicitation clauses), confidentiality, and non-disparagement. We can help you understand the terms of a severance agreement and, in appropriate cases, try to negotiate a more favorable severance package.

Wage Claims

Various state and federal laws require employers to pay their workers a minimum wage and overtime. Typical violations can include any of the following:

  • Failure to pay overtime
  • Failure to pay minimum wage
  • Failure to properly compensate “tipped” employees
  • Failure to pay wages
  • Failure to pay bonuses and commissions
  • Misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor
  • Unlawful wage deductions

A violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act or similar state law may entitle the affected employee to recover back pay, costs, attorney’s fees, injunctive relief, and other financial compensation. The law also prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who has exercised his/her rights under the wage and hour laws.