Eckert Seamans’ Labor and Employment Group provides full-service representation of private and public sector employers in all aspects of labor and employment law. We work closely with our clients’ labor relations and human resources professionals to solve problems and to design and implement the best labor relations and human resources policies and procedures possible for each client.
The Group’s experienced attorneys provide services in employment litigation, union/management relations and litigation-preventive counseling. Eckert Seamans’ attorneys are accessible and available at all times for immediate advice on the multitude of time-sensitive issues which confront management on a daily basis.
Our labor and employment attorneys will aggressively defend management’s decisions and prerogatives in the courtroom. Eckert Seamans has assembled a team of employment litigators which has substantial jury trial experience and a track record of successful outcomes in courtrooms throughout the United States. We have, for example, defended individual and class action lawsuits involving claims under federal and state race, sex, age, national origin, religion and disability discrimination laws; the Family and Medical Leave Act; Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA); and the Fair Labor Standards Act. We have litigated numerous employment contract, trade secrets and covenant not to compete cases.
Our seasoned traditional labor lawyers have extensive experience in representing management regarding labor relations and union issues. We have negotiated collective bargaining agreements with nearly every major union in America and covering manufacturing companies, warehousing and distribution, transportation, service-sector, retail and health care as well as non-profit and educational institutions. We regularly counsel and advise our clients on grievance resolution and labor contract administration issues. We have developed and implemented union-avoidance strategies for our clients and offer union-avoidance training for managers and supervisors. We have a wide-range of experience representing clients in union-election campaigns and unfair labor practice proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board.
We likewise have extensive experience in representing employers in labor arbitration matters. We have handled hundreds of labor arbitrations with a high success rate involving, for example, employee discharges for just cause, contract interpretation issues, safety concerns, subcontracting, plant relocations and seniority rights. We pay careful attention to the selection of labor arbitrators and we have an internal data base regarding arbitrators with our own rankings. We have developed various strategies for preparing the case and presenting evidence, witnesses and arguments to the arbitrator.
Our lawyers provide counseling and dispute-prevention assistance by reviewing and drafting personnel policies, handbooks, and other employment documentation. We regularly plan and guide employers through reductions in force, exit incentive or early retirement programs, individual termination or disciplinary actions and the administration and implementation of policies to comply with such federal and state laws as the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), OSHA, ERISA, Uniformed Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), Executive Order 11246, and its affirmative action, record keeping, posting and reporting obligations. Group lawyers often conduct or assist clients with sexual harassment and other employment-related investigations, and have developed and presented supervisor training programs. Further, because of our ongoing representation of clients with job sites throughout the United States, the Group has developed the resources to review and evaluate proposed employment actions against the specific and individualized legal requirements of the various states.
Eckert Seamans' labor and employment attorneys also work closely with our corporate attorneys in connection with planning and implementing the sale or acquisition of facilities and businesses to address potential employment or union problems.
Other areas of service include defending workers’ and unemployment compensation claims and advice and representation in matters involving the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and its requirements regarding the use of background checks in the hiring and selection process.
Recent Labor and Employment Results
Federal Court Refuses to Certify Class Action. A federal district court ruled that a Fair Labor Standards Act overtime pay case would not proceed as a collective action because of differences among claims of the 3000 plaintiffs who had opted in to the case, granting the firm’s motion to decertify. As a result, the claims of all but 4 plaintiffs were dismissed.
Third Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment For Employer In Sex, Age And Race Discrimination Case. In a case under Title VII, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed a decision of a federal district court in Pennsylvania granting summary judgment in favor of our client. The case was brought by an employee alleging that he was discriminatorily denied certain promotional opportunities.
Federal District Court Enters Summary Judgment For Our Client. In a case involving claims under the National Labor Relations Act where an employee alleged breach of a collective bargaining agreement against our client and a breach of the duty of fair representation against the employee’s union, the federal district court dismissed all claims against our client.
United Steelworkers Defeated In Union Decertification Election. On behalf of a manufacturing client, we successfully represented the client in a decertification election against the United Steelworkers. By a substantial margin, the employees voted that they no longer wished to be represented for collective bargaining purposes by the United Steelworkers.
Group Attorneys Assist Client In OSHA Matter Involving Fatalities. Upon short notice, Group attorneys assisted our client’s rapid response team in dealing with a major fatality crisis at its facility. We conducted interviews, preserved evidence, secured experts and represented our client in the OSHA proceedings where all citations against our client were dismissed.
Second Circuit Affirms ERISA Judgment. In a case brought under ERISA, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a decision of a federal district court in New York in favor of our client and against Eastman Kodak Company and a former senior executive of that Company, where the executive was seeking to recover a very substantial lifetime pension benefit under a "top-hat" pension plan provided for the benefit of executives by a former Kodak subsidiary that was purchased by our client.
Third Circuit Provides Guidelines in Sexual Harassment Cases. Affirming a judgment in favor of our client, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, addressing an issue of first impression, has announced guidelines on how high up a manager must be in order for that manager's knowledge of sexual harassment of an employee to be imputed to the Company, such that the Company would be liable for failure to take action to prevent and correct the harassment.
ERISA Win in Connecticut. Our attorneys won a hard fought and drawn out ERISA disability lawsuit filed in federal court in Connecticut by an employee who had retired from military service before accepting employment with our client. The plaintiff contended that our client's disability plan should provide benefits for his lifetime despite the fact that the injuries (non-combat) which led to his eventual inability to work were sustained during his military service. The case presented important issues of benefit plan interpretation.
Philadelphia Jury Doesn't Buy Plaintiff's Retaliation Claims. Our lawyers won a defense verdict after a six-day jury trial of an Americans with Disabilities Act case in the federal district court in Philadelphia. The plaintiff claimed that he was discharged from his job of 26 years because he sought a temporary disability leave. The jury found that the plaintiff was discharged for legitimate reasons, rejecting his claim for millions of dollars in back and front pay and punitive damages.
Jury rejects race discrimination and retaliation claims. A human resources manager who was discharged for poor performance sued and alleged that she was paid less than Caucasian employees because of her race, and that she was discharged shortly after making a complaint about her pay, in retaliation for that complaint. A federal court jury rejected the plaintiff’s claims, finding in favor of our client on all counts.
Defense verdict on disability and retaliation claims. The plaintiff alleged that he was discharged from his professional position because he was disabled and in retaliation for his having filed a workers’ compensation claim. After a trial in Marshall County, West Virginia, the jury returned a verdict in favor of our client, rejecting all of the plaintiff’s claims.
Major arbitration case won. A client recently sold a manufacturing facility to a buyer who refused to assume the collective bargaining agreement. The Union demanded almost two million dollars in severance payments. The Arbitrator fully sustained our client’s position and awarded no severance payments.
Settlement of Federal Discrimination Case with No Contribution by Clients. Our lawyers defended two individual school board members in a highly public, multi-party civil rights claim brought by the former superintendent of schools claiming that he was owed due process prior to his termination. Eckert’s clients were released from the lawsuit without the payment of any money following a successful Motion to Dismiss.
Privatization of Government Functions. Eckert Seamans has represented several municipal entities in the sale or spin-out of former government functions such as nursing homes and shelter functions. In one case, our lawyers successfully sold a County’s nursing home for $ 14 million dollars while retaining workers’ jobs and avoid any lawsuits.
High Risk Terminations. Our lawyers have counseled numerous employers in the separation of long-tenured employees accused of wrongdoing. In its capacity as General Counsel to one employer, Eckert Seamans handled a criminal investigation into a senior employee who was also President of the local union, after a carefully documented investigation led by Eckert Seamans, the employee voluntarily resigned and agreed to reimburse the employer for monies owed.