Overview

Ranked as a National Tier 1 law firm for Employment Law by U.S. News/Best Lawyers®, Locke Lord's skilled team of labor and employment lawyers has the experience to handle any labor and employment issue on a national or local basis from defending against wage and hour and discrimination class action claims to counteracting union organizing efforts. Over the years, we have defended our clients in jury and non-jury trials and administrative hearings, as well as provided daily advice and counseling services to prevent, resolve and avoid labor and employment issues without litigation.

Employment law disputes often pit individual concerns against company viability. Locke Lord's employment lawyers know how to resolve employment disputes, minimize the risk of litigation and defend cases at trial. While our longstanding philosophy is to help our clients avoid lawsuits, we stand ready to litigate issues when necessary.

Our team understands the complexities of labor and employment law. We counsel employers daily on issues involving hiring, disciplining and terminating employees, managing layoffs, conducting investigations, and drafting and implementing workplace policies and procedures for the modern workforce.

Our lawyers ensure compliance with evolving labor and employment laws, and our client-customized approach seeks the best possible resolution for each client's unique set of circumstances. Our ongoing training and consulting programs help ensure clients meet the provisions of a host of regulatory requirements, allowing clients to focus on running their businesses - not on costly government investigations. We have extensive experience with U.S. laws and regulations including:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • National Labor Relations Act
  • Labor Management Relations Act
  • Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act
  • Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act
  • Older Workers Benefit Protection Act
  • Executive Order 11246 and other laws requiring affirmative action
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other whistleblower laws
  • Local employment laws in all 50 states

Locke Lord's labor and employment lawyers have served as regional and national employment counsel to Fortune 100 and other companies across a broad range of industries, including information technology, software, life sciences, education, telecommunications, construction, manufacturing, entertainment, health care, insurance, finance, pharmaceuticals, real estate and publishing. We also represent public sector employers such as municipalities, public agencies, schools and housing authorities.

Many of our employment lawyers draw on years of experience encompassing virtually every labor law scenario imaginable. Our lawyers have a host of professional accolades, including selection as Fellows in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, Chambers USA, and the American College of Trial Lawyers as well as selection by their peers as Super Lawyers and Leading Lawyers in labor and employment law. The group is recognized in several U.S. News – Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms" national and metropolitan rankings, including Employment Law – Management; Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law; Litigation – ERISA; Litigation - Labor & Employment and Labor Law – Management. Locke Lord is also a member of the Employment Law Alliance, which provides us with access to the finest labor and employment lawyers in all 50 states and more than 100 countries around the world.

Firm lawyers have chaired multiple state and local bar association labor and employment committees, as well as the American Bar Association Regional Committee on Practice and Procedure before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). One of our lawyers is the immediate past president of the American Bar Association, and our lawyers also serve in leadership positions on the ABA's TIPS Employer/Employee Relations Committee. We have experience as corporate counsel, NLRB counsel, panel counsel and adjunct law professors. Our lawyers regularly publish and present on labor and employment law issues at the local and national levels.

Discipline/Termination/Counseling/Training
Locke Lord lawyers frequently counsel executives, corporate counsel and human resources professionals on legal compliance matters. We are equipped to provide immediate and practical advice to assist clients in effectively resolving workplace issues while complying with all of their legal obligations.

When implementing preventative programs, our lawyers provide national, regional and local employers with effective, targeted training. Our training programs include comprehensive lessons on discrimination avoidance, diversity and teamwork essentials, sexual harassment prevention and mitigation, hiring/firing processes, discipline implementation, and wage and hour and union matters. Locke Lord lawyers regularly advise clients on matters involving drug testing, workplace violence, reasonable accommodation for disabilities, interpretation of leave statutes and fraud. We help clients implement hiring procedures, personnel policies and employee handbooks, including codes of conduct and required Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower mechanisms in the United States and abroad.

Employment Agreements/Severance Agreements/Lay-Offs
Locke Lord lawyers possess extensive experience in negotiating and drafting employment and severance agreements for employees at all levels, including senior executives. In addition, our lawyers routinely assist companies in addressing the legal aspects of reductions in force, including performing impact analyses and ensuring compliance with federal and state layoff notice requirements (WARN), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA).

We counsel clients on all aspects of current and deferred compensation and benefits for employees of for-profit, not-for-profit and government employers. Our team includes lawyers who have experience concerning employee benefit plans and related benefits issues that implicate ERISA. Should ERISA claims arise, we advise and defend the entire range of possible issues, including claims for disability benefits, breach of fiduciary duties and retaliation, as well as regulatory investigations and corrective procedures.

Independent Contractor Misclassification and Compliance
Locke Lord lawyers help companies avoid, minimize, or defeat legal challenges to the valid use of independent contractors and other types of contingent workers. Members of our practice team in our labor and employment practice have been active in this area for over 10 years, dedicated to advising businesses on how to enhance compliance with federal and state independent contractor laws and defending companies caught in the misclassification crackdown.

In the area of independent contractor compliance, our approach to provide a customized and sustainable solution for each client with the objective of helping organizations in their efforts to lawfully use independent contractors consistent with applicable laws and to minimize the likelihood of future legal challenges.

Many of our team members are labor and employment litigators who have experience in defending organizations, both large and small, that are facing misclassification claims brought in judicial or administrative proceedings and audits by governmental agencies and private class action lawyers throughout the United States.

Litigation/Administrative Investigations
Locke Lord lawyers regularly represent clients in employment litigation before federal and state courts and regulatory agencies. We litigate cases before judges and juries in all areas of labor and employment law, including those involving allegations of discrimination, retaliation, harassment, wrongful termination, wage and hour, breach of contract, state and federal employment torts and SOX whistleblower retaliation.

In addition to our litigation experience, we have significant experience with alternative dispute resolution processes and have arbitrated numerous cases for a broad range of companies under their collective bargaining agreements and individual employment contracts. We have extensive experience in arbitration and mediation, including numerous lawyers who themselves have served as arbitrators and mediators.

Locke Lord has an excellent track record representing clients before government agencies, including the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, National Labor Relations Board, Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, as well as numerous state and local workforce, human rights, labor, employment and fair housing agencies.

NLRB
Companies facing high-stakes union organizing campaigns or strikes turn to Locke Lord's experienced labor lawyers. We represent companies in all types of industries on matters arising under the National Labor Relations Act, including NLRB elections, union avoidance campaigns, initial and successive labor agreements, grievances, strikes and picketing.

Our labor lawyers have represented many clients confronted with strike management and related unfair labor practice concerns as well as picketing injunction litigation. Our lawyers have also served as lead management-side counsel in numerous union contract negotiations and have handled hundreds of arbitrations pursuant to collective bargaining agreements.

Locke Lord's labor experience includes handling issues arising under the Railway Labor Act, which governs labor relations in the railroad and airline industries. We also have extensive experience with labor issues facing companies in the health care and construction sectors – industries known for unique challenges with respect to union matters.

OSHA
Government safety inspections demand experienced, practical advice – and Locke Lord's labor and employment lawyers respond promptly and appropriately to employee health and safety issues. We help clients address inspections quickly – before their businesses are jeopardized. Our skilled team prepares clients for OSHA investigations as well as defends citations for violations resulting from such investigations.

Our years of experience in workplace safety law allow us to help companies develop practical policies and procedures to comply with health and safety regulations. Locke Lord's labor and employment lawyers work on OSHA matters for clients in all types of industries, including manufacturing, health care, construction, waste disposal and recycling, home building and contract assembly. We have handled some of the leading cases establishing OSHA law, as well as defended all varieties of OSHA claims, including cases involving multiple fatalities.

Unfair Competition/Trade Secrets/Non-Compete Agreements
Established companies face tremendous pressure in today's competitive marketplace with ever-increasing demands for market penetration and share. As competitors actively seek to lure away key employees, a company's hard-earned business can easily be diverted and proprietary or confidential information misappropriated.

When faced with competitive threats, clients turn to Locke Lord. Our lawyers regularly draft non-compete, non-solicitation and non-disclosure agreements enforceable to the full extent of the law. In the event of breach, we respond by obtaining restraining orders and other injunctive relief to protect our clients' most valuable assets. Timing is often critical in these contexts, and our lawyers are always prepared to respond rapidly to urgencies.

Our practice includes litigation to prevent the misappropriation and use of confidential information and trade secrets, enforcement of non-competition agreements and other restrictive covenants, as well as federal and state litigation involving claims of unfair competition, anti-competitive practices and employee raiding. Conversely, we frequently defeat applications for injunctive relief brought by former employees and their new employers against our clients, as well as claims asserted against new employees of clients asserted by their former employers.