If you have a problem or question involving any of the following, we can help you find solutions and answers:
- Affirmative Action Plans;
- Business and Tort Litigation;
- COBRA and HIPAA;
- Department of Homeland Security Compliance;
- Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation;
- Drug Testing Programs;
- Early Retirement Windows;
- Employee Benefit Plans;
- Employment Agreements;
- Executive Compensation;
- Family and Medical Leave Act;
- Fiduciary Duties;
- Hiring, Promotion, Testing and Discipline;
- Investigations of Employee Misconduct;
- Long- and Short-Term Immigration Planning for U.S. Citizens and Foreign National Employees;
- Mergers and Acquisitions;
- Personnel Policies and Handbooks;
- Reasonable Accommodations;
- Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance and Whistleblower Suits;
- Securities Laws;
- Seniority Systems;
- Severance Arrangements, including Tax Implications;
- Stock Options, SARs and Other Equity-Based Compensation;
- Trade Secrets and Confidential Business Information;
- Traditional Labor and Union Issues;
- Wage and Hour Issues; and
- Workforce Reductions, Plant Closings and Terminations.
MANAGING YOUR MOST VALUABLE ASSET
We manage employment issues with a practical, results-oriented approach tailored to your objectives.
The lawyers in our Human Capital Practice have the knowledge and experience to assist you in dealing with virtually all of the legal and business challenges involving your workforce. We partner with our clients and offer counseling on all aspects of the employment relationship—from establishing personnel policies and employee benefit programs to complying with the complex rules that govern ongoing employment relationships.
Our first goal is to help you reduce costs and increase efficiency by avoiding problems before they arise. If disputes or litigation cannot be avoided, we can help you to enforce your rights and resolve conflicts favorably. We are able to assist you with all of your legal and employment needs.
PLANNING AND COMPLIANCE
Our experience encompasses issues that arise at all stages of the “life-cycle” of an employee—from the time before he or she is hired to the time after he or she terminates employment.
Recruitment and Hiring – Hiring the most talented workforce possible minimizes legal exposure down the line. We can help you manage your workforce proactively by counseling on recruitment, testing, accommodations, affirmative action plans, FLSA classifications and similar issues.
Compensation and Benefits – No one works for free, and your compensation package is probably your most important recruiting tool. Our lawyers will work with you to design effective compensation arrangements and employee benefit plans. We also assist in implementing these arrangements—including employee communications, vendor negotiations and regulatory filings with the IRS, DOL and SEC.
Employment Agreements – Employment agreements with executives and management personnel should give incentives to increase the company’s profitability and provide protection for both parties upon termination of employment—including the means for resolving disputes. Employment agreements also raise important tax issues. We have negotiated employment agreements for many Fortune 500 companies and have the experience to design employment agreements that meet your needs and improve your bottom line.
Executive Compensation – Motivating management is critical to your success. We have a national reputation for designing creative incentive programs (stock options, SARs, bonuses) and deferred compensation arrangements that achieve our clients’ objectives and accommodate changes to those objectives over time. We work with both publicly traded and privately held companies and are experienced with applicable securities laws and corporate governance considerations.
HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
Human capital issues do not go away—in fact, most of them just begin—when an employee is hired. From that point forward, myriad legal and practical issues can arise. We have extensive experience counseling employers in the development and administration of employment practices, compensation and benefit programs and immigration policies.
Employment Practices – Pragmatic employment policies and practices can reduce legal exposure and increase profits. We can assist you with personnel handbooks and manuals, codes of conduct, investigations of claims of misconduct (including whistleblower, SOX, harassment and discrimination claims), affirmative action plans and audits (both internal and external), diversity and nondiscrimination training and FMLA, HIPAA and COBRA compliance.
Compensation and Benefits Administration – Administering benefit plans is becoming increasingly complex. The IRS enforces technical rules governing the operation of benefit plans, and the DOL imposes strict requirements on fiduciary conduct—currently the subject of many significant lawsuits. We can help minimize the risk of costly administrative mistakes by keeping you informed about changes in the law and implementing internal auditing mechanisms. If you have a compliance problem, we can work with you to correct it.
Immigration Policies and Planning – With increasing frequency, employers are finding that the best person to do a job does not currently live in the country in which the work is to be performed. A well-designed immigration policy and a comprehensive under-standing of the intricate legal rules governing the employment of foreign workers are essential to your ability to attract, promote and retain employees for overseas assignments. We have extensive experience in long- and short-term planning for employees working outside their home countries—both foreign nationals working in the United States and U.S. citizens working abroad—addressing issues that range from Department of Homeland Security matters to family matters.
Termination – When it is time for the employment relationship to end, timely legal advice is often the key to avoiding litigation. We can help you effectively handle plant closings, WARN Act compliance, sensitive terminations and COBRA issues.
Employees are, after all, “only human.” Mistakes will be made and conflicts will arise. Our extensive litigation experience allows us to assist you in reducing the likelihood that claims will occur, control the claims if they arise and, if necessary, defend yourself against the claims. If you are audited by a governmental agency, we can work with you through that process to negotiate favorable results. We can also help you enforce your rights regarding any claim you may need to initiate.
Training to Reduce Corporate Costs and Litigation Risks – Personnel problems often can be avoided or reduced when managers and supervisors are properly trained in the legal aspects of employment. We can conduct training and awareness programs at your facilities or off-site. In addition, we offer group seminars and send periodic “alerts” to help keep you up to date on developments in the law that affect human capital issues.
Litigation: If All Else Fails – Despite everyone’s best efforts, conflicts may arise that cannot be resolved without litigation. We have a nationwide litigation practice and have successfully represented clients—from Fortune 100 companies to mid-sized businesses—in every type of case faced by employers. We have represented employers (both as defendants and as plaintiffs) in every forum and type of proceeding throughout the United States. Our experience encompasses class-action and other litigation, agency hearings, arbitrations, mediations and other alternative dispute resolution proceedings.
HUMAN CAPITAL AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE
Employment and employee benefits matters present complex corporate governance challenges. We regularly advise clients on a variety of corporate governance matters, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and best practices. We also routinely assist clients in satisfying 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.
In addition to assisting you with day-to-day human capital matters, we can help you handle the sensitive employee relations issues that will arise if you are involved in an acquisition or disposition. We routinely counsel buyers and sellers of all sizes on how best to manage their liability through well-targeted diligence and strategic deal negotiations. In addition, we are involved at all levels in working with our clients to plan and execute transition strategies that foster employee goodwill, provide appropriate incentives for key executives and minimize the disruption of key administrative functions in order to maximize the likelihood that the transaction will be a successful one.
PROTECTING COMPANY INFORMATION AND REPUTATION
Among the assets most critical to a company’s success are its reputation and its information concerning business processes. These assets can also be made vulnerable by actions taken by employees and former employees. We regularly assist clients in preserving the confidentiality of trade secrets, client lists and other proprietary information through confidentiality agreements and covenants not to compete or solicit. In addition, we advise clients on managing public relations issues arising from employee misconduct or acrimonious terminations.
Lawyers in our Human Capital group include the authors of:
- "Model Employee Policies for Georgia Employers, with Legal Commentary" (Georgia Chamber of Commerce)
- "Florida Model Employee Policies and Forms" (HR Compliance Library)
- "Covenants Not to Compete, Non-Disclosure Covenants and Other Restrictive Covenants Under Georgia Law" (appearing in Georgia Law on Non-compete, Non-solicit and Other Restrictive Covenants in 2006)
- "Analysis of New Rules for Nonqualified Deferred Compensation" (Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits Provisions)
- "New COBRA Notice and Disclosure Regulations" (Management Portfolio)
- "HIPAA Privacy Rules: A Review for Employer Health Plans" (Management Portfolio)
- "ERISA Class Actions" (American Bar Association's — The Brief)
© 2013 Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP