Practices/Industries

Labor & Employment

Labor and Employment is an inherently preventive practice. Sutherland helps clients avoid problems, and to prevail when inevitable disputes do arise.

Sutherland partners with clients, providing cost-effective and results-oriented advice to defend clients’ interests and proactively prevent problems.

For more than 50 years, Sutherland’s labor and employment practice has advised clients across industries, from Fortune 500 to start-up companies and everything in between. Excellent client service starts with our investment in the attorney-client relationship. We learn our clients’ businesses, partner with them, and coordinate with industry experts across Sutherland’s practices, to keep our clients' businesses running at optimum efficiency, and to provide the best end result while being sensitive to cost.

Employment issues strike at the heart of business operations and we have the experience to help. We counsel employers on all aspects of human resource and organizational planning, development, management, and compliance. Our experience covers the entire range of employment issues including hiring; counseling, discipline and termination; anti-harassment and discrimination; whistleblower policies and prevention; FCRA compliance; workforce reduction, including WARN compliance; ADA and reasonable accommodations; FMLA and state leave counterparts; and worker classification, including wage and hour assessments. We also provide clients with tools to establish, monitor, and change their employment processes and policies — from handbook and policy development, to employment contracts, non-compete agreements and enforcement.

Members of our team have experience with traditional labor matters and union avoidance, including collective bargaining and arbitration; union organizing and election contests; and representation before the NLRB.

We guide clients through immigration policies and planning; HIPAA, COBRA and OSHA compliance and reviews; affirmative action, pay equity and diversity plans and policies; e-discovery planning and compliance; and legislative and regulatory assistance. We also stay abreast of rapidly evolving social media issues, laws and policies.

When employee relations sour, our seasoned attorneys mount a comprehensive, cost-effective defense. We successfully defend class actions, including wage and hour and discrimination claims; litigate non-compete disputes, whistleblower claims, and other traditional employment claims; and defend employers in EEOC or DOL agency actions or state agency matters. Our lawyers litigate across the country, and know how federal and state agencies work. Equally important, we understand how plaintiffs’ attorneys and disgruntled workers think. With offices across the country, our clients know that whenever and wherever they need labor and employment counsel, Sutherland’s team is there.

Why Sutherland

Your problem is not our opportunity. We stay rigorously aligned with our client in finding the least expensive and quickest route to a successful resolution of the case. Many cases can be resolved without costly discovery, if the lawyers stay focused on problem solving.

Define objectives at the outset, but expect to re-evaluate. We urge clients to define, at the outset of the case, what a “win” would be, with attention to litigation’s collateral consequences. Because new facts often emerge during litigation, we encourage clients to regularly reassess objectives and case valuations.

Give clients what they want. We believe that listening is especially important when it comes to delivering what the client needs. Most often the client is seeking well-founded advice and analysis, concisely and efficiently delivered and tailored to the circumstances. We discuss the range of options and costs before significant projects begin.

Preventive counseling. The adversary process often sheds light on structural or business practice risks. An important element of our service is to point out ways to lower the risks of future litigation.

Teamwork and cooperation. Cooperation and teamwork are imperative for success and cost-effectiveness whether handling one dimensional cases or national, multidefendant litigation. Outside counsel need to check their competitive egos at the door and always work cooperatively with clients. We do this, and our culture and approach make the difference for our clients.

Nuts and Bolts

Sutherland’s labor and employment (L&E) team is well-versed in:

  • Federal and state discrimination laws
  • No harassment compliance
  • Federal and state wage and hour issues
  • Investigations
  • Dodd-Frank
  • Whistleblower regulations
  • Trade secrets
  • Non-compete agreements
  • Employment due diligence and compliance
  • Social media

We offer services that cover the entire life-cycle of an employee's time with our clients.

  • Recruitment and hiring issues
    • Affirmative action plans
    • Drug testing programs
    • FLSA classifications
    • Reasonable accommodations
  • Compensation and benefits
    • Employee communications
    • Vendor negotiations
    • Regulatory filings with the IRS, DOL and SEC
    • Internal auditing
    • Fiduciary duties
    • Plan administration
  • Executive Compensation
    • Corporate governance and securities laws
    • Incentive programs and plans
    • Deferred compensation arrangements
    • Stock options, SARs and other equity-based compensation
  • Immigration policy and planning
    • Immigration planning for U.S. citizens and foreign national employees
    • Department of Homeland Security compliance
  • Employment practices
    • Personnel handbooks and manuals
    • Codes of conduct
    • Affirmative action plan audits
    • Diversity and nondiscrimination training
    • FMLA, HIPAA and COBRA compliance
  • Termination
    • Plant closings
    • Workforce reductions
    • WARN Act compliance
    • Severance arrangements
    • Sensitive terminations
    • COBRA issues

Our L&E team works prospectively to:

  • Reduce legal exposure by developing pragmatic employment policies and practices
  • Reduce the likelihood that claims will occur when employee conflicts arise
  • Train to reduce corporate costs and litigation risks

Our L&E team has corporate governance expertise that enables us to:

  • Advise clients on a variety of corporate governance matters, including best practices and the impact of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act
  • Satisfy securities law requirements applicable to employee benefit matters, including registration, reporting and shareholder approval requirements for public companies, the exemption requirements for non-public companies and the trading restrictions and disclosure requirements applicable to any employer who provides equity compensation

Our L&E team excels at change integration, especially:

  • Handling sensitive employee relations issues in acquisitions and dispositions
  • Counseling buyers and sellers of all sizes on liability management through well-targeted diligence and strategic deal negotiations
  • Developing transition strategies that foster employee goodwill, provide appropriate incentives for key executives, and minimize the disruption of key administrative functions

Our L&E team works to avoid conflicts, wherever possible and desirable, but we are experienced litigators who:

  • Successfully represent employers nationwide—from Fortune 100 companies to mid-sized businesses—in every type of case
  • Handle bet-the-company or significant exposure cases like class actions, collective actions or high profile litigation
  • Represent clients in governmental agency audits and negotiate favorable results

And we are highly competent in matters of corporate information and reputation such as:

  • Protecting trade secrets, client lists and other proprietary information through confidentiality agreements and covenants not to compete or solicit
  • Managing public relations issues arising from employee misconduct or acrimonious terminations
  • Conducting internal investigations of sensitive topics

Take Action

Sutherland is dedicated to delivering to its clients the best legal advice on managing one of the most important assets in any business—the people who make it all work.

    Our Story

    Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP is an international law firm helping the Fortune 100, industry leaders, sector innovators and business entrepreneurs solve their biggest challenges and reach their business goals. Dedicated to unfaltering excellence in client service, we are known for our business savvy and industry intelligence, providing creative and custom solutions for each of our clients. Industry and business experience makes the difference for our clients.

    click to watch Videocast: Sutherland SALT Scoreboard – 2nd Quarter Highlights
    Videocast: Sutherland SALT Scoreboard – 2nd Quarter Highlights
    Washington, DC
    Elizabeth S. Cha, Associate
    Washington, DC
    © 2016 Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP / Sutherland (Europe) LLP
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