Rufino Gaytán III


Associate

 

Overview

Rufino Gaytán counsels employers in every aspect of labor and employment law. Rufino has extensive experience advising clients on workplace health and safety issues, and he has represented clients before the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Rufino has advised and represented clients during OSHA’s initial onsite inspections, negotiated the reduction or elimination of alleged violations and penalties and defended clients before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Rufino has also developed considerable experience representing clients in labor disputes, including collective bargaining negotiations, unfair labor practice charges, union election petitions and most other aspects of a collective bargaining relationship. Rufino regularly defends clients before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and has represented clients in labor arbitration proceedings.

In addition to providing day-to-day counseling on general human resource issues, Rufino also defends employers facing discrimination charges, wage and hour claims and other employment-related litigation before federal and state agencies and courts. To help reduce the threat of employment-related litigation and potential liability, he also assists employers with drafting internal employment policies, provides training related to workplace issues (including unlawful harassment) and assists with investigations of potential or alleged employee misconduct. Rufino also assists employers in drafting and enforcing employment agreements, severance agreements and restrictive covenant agreements.

Rufino is well versed in the numerous issues stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak, such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), stay-at-home and related orders, and all of their impacts on employers, employees and independent contractors, including critical infrastructure and essential services determinations, paid and unpaid leave, layoffs, pay reductions, reduced hours, furloughs, downsizings, expanded unemployment, and their interaction with numerous local, state and federal laws and regulations. Many of these issues have significant interactions with employee benefits, tax, Small Business Administration, and other issues, where we collaborate closely with our colleagues experienced in those practice areas.

Representative Experience

OSHA & Employee Health and Safety Experience

  • Represented a chemical and colorant manufacturer and distributor before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission with regard to alleged willful violations of lockout/tagout, confined space entry and fall hazard regulations and negotiated significant reductions in the proposed penalties and the elimination of the majority of the alleged violations
  • Represented a biomedical device manufacturer before OSHA regarding alleged fall hazard violations and negotiated the elimination of all citation items and penalties
  • Represented a foundry before OSHA regarding alleged violations of lockout/tagout standard based on an employee’s electrocution and negotiated the elimination of all “Serious” citation items and a significant reduction in penalties
  • Represented a golf course before OSHA regarding alleged violations of training and personal protective equipment standards based on an employee’s leg laceration with chainsaw and negotiated significant reductions of penalties
  • Advised numerous clients regarding development of Employee Health and Safety (EHS) Committees and safety manuals, including development of fall hazard programs, lockout/tagout procedures, industrial truck training and certification programs, and personal protective equipment requirements

Union and Labor Experience

  • Represented and advised a craft coffee roasting company with regard to a union election petition that resulted in a vote against unionization
  • Represented and advised a grocery cooperative with regard to a union election petition that resulted in a vote against unionization
  • Represented a specialty tea and coffee manufacturer and distributor before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regarding an unfair labor practice charge implicating joint employer issues and successfully negotiated dismissal of the charge
  • Represented a defense contractor and shipbuilder in numerous proceedings before the NLRB, including unfair labor practice charges claiming retaliation and failure to respond to information requests by union
  • Represented an employer in prosecuting an unfair labor practice charge against union representatives for making threats against senior management employees and obtained injunctive relief against union and union representatives
  • First chair representation of a hospital system in an arbitration related to scheduling of emergency medical technicians and ambulance drivers
  • Negotiated collective bargaining agreement for grocery retailer that resulted in significant savings from prior agreements

Title VII/ADA/ADEA/Discrimination Defense

  • Defended numerous clients before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and similar state agencies against claims of discrimination and/or retaliation
  • Represented Indian tribe and related development corporation in approximately 15 employment disputes, including claims under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, before the EEOC, in federal district court and before the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and obtained dismissals of all related actions without the need for settlement and without any monetary payments
  • Regularly advise clients regarding development of proper policies and procedures to prevent and respond to claims of discrimination or harassment
  • Investigated numerous claims of discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation and advised clients on resolving and closing out investigations to minimize legal claims and to prevent similar claims in the future

Wage and Hour Experience

  • Represented an alloy component manufacturer in a donning/doffing class/collective action lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor and negotiated a settlement representing a nearly 60% reduction to DOL’s initial demand
  • Obtained dismissal of wage and hour class/collective action without need to file any responsive pleading
  • Obtained dismissal of a wage and hour claim filed against a tribal enterprise on a motion to dismiss based on sovereign immunity
  • Regularly advise clients regarding proper pay, timekeeping and employee classification practices under the FLSA and similar state laws

Non-Compete Agreement Litigation Experience

  • Obtained summary judgment against former employee who began working for a competitor within a restricted geographic area
  • Obtained summary judgment against former owner/employee for violating confidentiality obligations to client and misappropriating confidential information and trade secrets
  • Regularly advise clients regarding proper pay, timekeeping and employee classification practices under the FLSA and similar state laws

Transactional Experience

  • Advised numerous clients regarding labor issues raised by corporate transactions, including possible assumption of existing collective bargaining agreements, successorship issues and potential withdrawal liability issues related to multi-employer pension plans
  • Negotiated exceptions and individualized withdrawal liability calculation for client as part of a purchase of assets that triggered a withdrawal liability assessment
  • Advised numerous clients during due diligence process in corporate transactions related to workplace health and safety issues and potential notice requirements under the Worker Adjustment and Retaining Notification (WARN) Act
  • Advised a manufacturer of lawn and snow equipment with regard to the closing of various facilities throughout the United States to ensure compliance with the WARN Act and similar state laws and prepared all related notices and severance agreements for hundreds of employees
  • Advised a manufacturer of specialty felting needles and needle equipment with regard to the closing of its operations to ensure compliance with the WARN Act and similar state laws and prepared all related notices and severance agreements for nearly 100 employees

Professional History

  • Attorney, Godfrey & Kahn, S.C., Milwaukee, Wisc., (2009-2019)
  • Sergeant, U.S. Army Reserve | Bravo Company, 980th Engineer Combat Battalion
    • Petroleum Supply Specialist | San Antonio, Texas (2000-2006)
    • Asst. Squad Leader | Ft. Hood, Texas & Al Taji, Iraq (2003-2005)

Professional Affiliations and Recognitions

  • Named, Texas Rising Star by Super Lawyers (2020)
  • Named, 2019 Wisconsin Rising Star by Super Lawyers (2019)
  • Named, Top Latino Lawyer, Latino Leaders Magazine, November/December 2018 Vol. 19 No. 6 (2018)
  • Wisconsin Pro Bono Honor Society, Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission & State Bar of Wisconsin (2015)

Community Leadership

  • Vice President, Milwaukee County Personnel Review Board (2016-2019)
  • Board Chairman, Casa Romero Renewal Center (2017-2019)