For federal contractors and subcontractors covered by Executive Order 11246, developing, maintaining, and applying an affirmative action plan is a critical element of equal employment opportunity (“EEO”) law compliance. We provide services in connection with affirmative action plans, including preparing and reviewing such plans and responding to OFCCP compliance activities.
Many state and federal agencies play a role in enforcing labor and employment laws. We regularly assist clients in responding to agency investigations conducted by these agencies, represent clients in agency hearings, and provide assistance and advice concerning compliance with laws administered by the EEOC, OFCCP, NLRB, OSHA, and other labor and employment law agencies.
For many years, we have represented employers in grievance arbitration under collective bargaining agreements, bringing to the table knowledge and experience with area arbitrators to assist in arbitrator selection; trial skills and experience to successfully present important issues at arbitration hearings; knowledge of the unique body of law applicable to arbitration; and research and writing capabilities to present the strongest case possible in arbitration briefs. Additionally, we can assist clients in the growing and difficult area of applying binding arbitration agreements to employment disputes outside the collective bargaining context.
In human resource management, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Legal advice on labor and employment law issues should be an integral part of human resource decision making. We spend considerable time practicing preventive law. We routinely provide employment law advice to assist our clients in making difficult employment decisions in ways that manage legal risk while achieving business objectives. We believe such counseling and advice is often the most important and valuable work we do. We give it the priority it deserves, understanding that employment situations often require prompt and well-informed response, analysis, advice, and action.
We have many years of experience in all aspects of the collective bargaining process, and we have been involved in bargaining with numerous unions in a wide variety of industries. We frequently assist clients in preparing and planning for bargaining and possible union action. We also directly represent clients at bargaining sessions, and if necessary help them respond to union action.
Most employees today do not have a collective bargaining agreement or other written employment contract, but employers may benefit from written employment agreements with certain employees. We have extensive experience preparing a variety of employment agreements, such as executive employment and compensation, sales compensation, confidentiality, consulting, and independent contractor agreements. Having ready access to many previous employment agreements, we do not start from scratch each time. We also often review contract drafts initially presented by another party, and suggest and negotiate improvements in such employment agreements.
Proper HR training can help avoid legal claims. The fact that an employer has provided such training can also form an important part of an employer’s defense in harassment and discrimination lawsuits. We regularly work with clients to develop and present appropriate management and employee training, scaled and tailored to the audience and the client’s needs and budget. Additionally, we are happy to assist clients in evaluating commercially prepared training materials, such as videos or interactive computer training programs, to assess their suitability.
An important step for employers to take in managing employment law risk is to develop, implement, and maintain appropriate human resource policies and procedures. Often many of these are embodied in an employee handbook. We work with clients to develop employee manuals and other HR policies. We also often review existing handbooks and policies for legal compliance, make required updates, and provide practical suggestions based on the client’s needs and our experience with the application and enforcement of HR policies. Our HR policy and employee manual work benefits from years of knowledge and experience, not only with employment law and litigation, but also with issues and problems that often creep up in the workplace.
We have a strong commitment to thorough, efficient, and up-to-date legal research, and to outstanding legal writing. In labor and employment law, a superior, up-to-date command of the law often provides the decisive edge. The quality of written work is also a vital factor in success. Our research and writing work is performed by experienced attorneys, not junior associates. We have specialized resources that can provide an edge in producing quality and cost-effective legal research and writing. We also offer our research and writing services to other attorneys in private practice and corporate legal departments.
Litigation is a major part of the practice of labor and employment law. We are experienced litigators and trial lawyers, handling employment lawsuits in federal and state courts in both Missouri and Illinois. We also often work with local counsel on litigation in other jurisdictions, as well as serving as local counsel for other firms that have no St. Louis office. We offer employers a full range of labor and employment litigation services, from preparation of initial pleadings through discovery, trial, and appeal.
A fast-growing form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), mediation involves the use of a neutral third-party mediator to assist the parties in settling a dispute. We represent employers in employment mediation and also serve as mediators. We have successfully represented many clients in mediation, obtaining favorable settlements and enabling our clients to avoid substantial trial costs and the risks of an adverse judgment.
Generally, situations that may lead to employee discipline or discharge call for some degree of investigation, unless the employee confesses or is caught red-handed. We are experienced in assisting employers with employee investigations. We know what facts to investigate, how to most effectively conduct workplace investigations, and the potential legal pitfalls of inadequate employment investigation. We frequently provide guidance to employers conducting their own employment investigations. We also are available to directly conduct such investigations where other counsel is likely to be relied upon for defense of any related claims.