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Labor & Employment

We offer advice and practical solutions to clients facing issues affecting staff and key employees.

Our clients look to us for advice and counsel as they face an increasingly complex workplace environment. Along with defending against claims and potential litigation, they look to us to be proactive in suggesting policies and procedures that promote productive employee relations and avoid potential disputes. We get involved and stay involved, understanding your particular business needs and the challenges you face. Our employment litigation practice includes trial and appellate work before state and federal courts and agencies in addition to informal dispute resolution, mediation and arbitration. Our broad experience includes the following:

  • Litigating individual and class action employment actions under all federal, state and local employment laws
  • Negotiating agreements affecting key employees, including executive employment agreements, non-compete and non-disclosure agreements, and separation agreements
  • Advising on compliance with myriad employment laws, such as Title VII, FMLA, ADA, ADEA, WARN, FLSA, FFCRA and NLRA, as well as state and local equivalents
  • Auditing compliance with industry-specific wage and hour requirements with respect to wages, tips/gratuities, overtime, exemption classifications, commissions, bonuses, and other compensation arrangements
  • Advising on issues involving due diligence and employment liability for employers in transition, including acquisitions, sales, and bankruptcies
  • Working with and defending against various federal and state agencies, including the U.S. and New York Departments of Labor, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, New York State Division of Human Rights, New York City Commission on Human Rights, National Labor Relations Board and Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • Preparing employee handbooks and other workplace policies and compliance forms
  • Training employers on discrimination and harassment avoidance as well as progressive discipline, unconscious bias and investigation skills and techniques.

Employment Litigation and Class Actions

We understand the intricacies of employment litigation, as we both defend employers and executives against claims and represent key employees in pursuing them.  We defend employers and executives facing a range of claims, including harassment, equal pay, overtime and off-the-clock work, tip pooling, meal/rest periods, employee misclassification, employment discrimination, harassment claims, leave interference, benefits, as well as restrictive covenants, faithless servancy and breaches of contract.

Each litigation and class action brings its own challenges and unique facts, but the basic defense strategies are the same: defeat class certification (both procedurally and substantively), and obtain summary judgment or resolve the case (including through alternative dispute resolution methods) whenever appropriate. In addition to avoiding or minimizing liabilities, our goals include avoidance of adverse publicity, eliminating business interruption, minimizing damage to morale and employee relations, and reducing costs and attorneys’ fees in the process. We prioritize understanding every client’s unique goals and perspectives, which require individualized legal strategies to achieve them.

We also represent executives and employees with strong cases of employment discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation.  We handle such cases confidentially and behind the scenes, or publicly in court cases, as fits our clients’ objectives and is appropriate given the situation.  We have achieved significant recoveries for our clients using both strategies, enabling them to pursue their career goals without compromising their integrity.

Preventative Guidance and Advice

New legislation coupled with a constant stream of decisions by state and federal courts ensure that labor and employment is an area of the law that continues to evolve. Accordingly, we monitor the outcomes of state and federal court decisions and follow the issuance of new regulations to enable us to advise our clients on their implications. Our approach is to be proactive in identifying trends and anticipating potential issues before they become distractions for our clients. We “go the extra mile” to learn our clients’ businesses, and strive to provide them with cutting edge tools, tailored to their needs. Our clients appreciate our passion and our dedication to finding practical solutions. This extends from our preparation of employee handbooks and leave policies, to executive agreements and non-competition agreements, to auditing wage and hour compliance, employee & management training, and more. Together with our clients, we develop comprehensive compliance strategies that are workable and best suited to the needs of their businesses.

 

Administrative Agency Defense

We have extensive experience representing clients facing claims from various federal and state agencies arising from a range of employment issues. Whether facing a charge of discrimination from the EEOC, a misclassification audit from the NYDOL, an industrial hygiene OSHA investigation, or any number of other threats from government agencies, we are here to help.

Corporate and Bankruptcy Advice

Companies and executives in transition face unique legal challenges regarding employment matters, and we address them as part of purchase and sale processes and corporate M&A deals, or independently.  We design and review executive compensation agreements, including those involving stock options, profits interests, stock appreciation rights, and other equity-based arrangements.  This often involves collaborating on a multi-disciplinary level with our corporate, tax, intellectual property and other practice groups to achieve an optimum solution. If terminations are involved, we assist our clients in compliance with both the federal WARN Act and its state equivalents. Moreover, bankruptcy and non-bankruptcy related restructurings face their own challenges, carrying both legal and practical concerns.

Preventative Training Programs

In this era, harassment and discrimination prevention training continues to be a high priority for organizations of all sizes.  This extends beyond routine conduct training and includes addressing other diversity and inclusions issues, such as unconscious bias. Moreover, in many jurisdictions training is (or will become) legally mandated. We can prepare a prevention program that is appropriately tailored to unique legal and practical concerns for each industry and size of employer. Moreover, our approach to training goes beyond legal compliance and focuses on best practices. We offer guidance to senior management and human resources personnel on properly conducting investigations and instructing operations personnel on proper progressive discipline. This enables management to operate without distractions, improve morale for everyone, while bolstering legal compliance.

Case Study

Non-Compete & Trade Secrets

Non-Compete Claims

As part of its strategy to enter a new geographical market, our client, one of the world’s largest insurance brokers, hired a group of employees in that market from another of the world’s largest insurance brokers.

The Situation

As part of its strategy to enter a new geographical market, our client, one of the world’s largest insurance brokers, hired a group of employees in that market from another of the world’s largest insurance brokers.  One of the new hires became the President of our client’s affiliate in that market.  Shortly thereafter, the former employer initiated an action in Michigan state court against our brokerage client and its affiliate’s President, whom we also represented.  Plaintiff alleged that the new President misappropriated confidential information and was soliciting plaintiff’s clients and employees in breach of her employment agreement’s restrictive covenants, allegedly with her new employer’s encouragement and assistance.

Months later, during the course of discovery, two of plaintiff’s corporate clients transferred their health and benefits insurance business from plaintiff to our brokerage client.  Plaintiff filed an emergency motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction.  In its motion, plaintiff sought to enjoin our clients not only from soliciting, accepting, and servicing business from plaintiff’s current or prospective clients, but also from servicing the two clients that had already moved their business.

The Solution

In the span of a little more than a week, the GEABP team drafted a 20-page opposition brief and secured three supporting affidavits, two of which were provided by the non-parties who had transferred their business from plaintiff to our brokerage client.  When plaintiff submitted an untimely and improper reply brief less than 48 hours before the hearing, we – less than 24 hours later – submitted opposition in response to that brief as well.

The Result

The preliminary injunction hearing was held remotely via Zoom.  After hearing oral argument, the judge gave his ruling from the bench, adopting all of our key arguments and denying plaintiff’s motion for injunctive relief in its entirety.  The case settled shortly thereafter.