The most important resource in your organization is people, but in an increasingly complex world, employees and prospective employees are also a source of significant risk. From pre-employment screenings to effective and lawful termination procedures and everything in between, you need the most up-to-date guidance to navigate the growing web of state and federal labor and employment regulations and defend against legal actions that may arise.
The environment facing HR departments and employers generally is like nothing that’s come before. Complaints to regulators can trigger investigations from the outside, and internal procedures can mandate reviews as well. Litigation on labor matters can be extraordinarily complex and swamp your existing legal department. Alston & Bird’s labor and employment litigators can help. Our team handles matters in state and federal courts, as well as in alternative dispute resolution pathways like negotiation, mediation, and arbitration.
Our focus is on your need for cost-efficient legal expertise to not only protect you in court, but help you develop procedures in-house that can head off litigation. Our lawyers collaborate with your team to understand your business and produce creative solutions that protect you and your employees. When litigation becomes an issue, we bring an exceptional level of insight and experience to bear, with backgrounds in individual suits, class actions, and whistleblower matters. We defend against a full spectrum of complaints, including Title VII discrimination claims, claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and Equal Pay Act (EPA). Our lawyers also prosecute claims of unfair competition, misappropriation of trade secrets, and similar issues that can damage your company’s competitiveness.
Businesses in every industry and of every size face significant challenges when it comes to labor and employment matters. Alston & Bird addresses these issues comprehensively, giving you the flexibility to focus on your business with confidence.
- Brooks et al. v. AT&T Corp. and BellSouth Corp., USDC, N.D. GA: Our attorneys successfully defeated the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification in an FLSA collective action encompassing call centers in multiple states and a potential class of 20,000 claimants.
- Hohider et al. v. United Parcel Service, Inc.: Our attorneys recently represented UPS in what was widely reported to be the largest class action ever certified under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Our representation began after the district court erroneously certified a class of 36,000 – 50,000 current and former UPS employees who claimed that UPS failed to accommodate their alleged disabilities. We settled the case on very favorable terms after the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s class certification order.
- U.S. Secretary of Labor v. Imperial Sugar: Following Imperial Sugar Company’s tragic explosion at its Port Wentworth, Georgia, sugar refinery in February 2008 (resulting in 14 fatalities), our attorneys represented Imperial through lengthy investigations by ATF, OSHA and U.S. Chemical Safety Board. We were proud to help the client reach a favorable and collaborative agreement with OSHA.
- Nichols, et al. v. SMART Document Solutions LLC (n/k/a/ HealthPort Technologies, LLC): We defended the company against a putative wage and hour class action brought under California law on behalf of current and former employees alleging, among other things, failure to pay wages and overtime pay and failure to provide the required meal periods and rest breaks. The plaintiffs estimated approximately $30 million in damages in their preliminary filings. The case was originally filed in the Superior Court of California, and removed to the Central District of California. The company settled with the class on a favorable basis.
Additional Class and Large Case Litigation Matters
- Pamela Anderson, et al., v. Celite Corporation: Obtained a favorable confidential settlement in a high-profile multiplaintiff gender and harassment lawsuit after over two years of massive discovery and motion practice. Settlement was made possible by an aggressive motion for summary judgment filed in state court in Santa Maria, California.
- Proudfoot Consulting Company: We represent Proudfoot, an international management consulting firm, in a series of cases filed against former employees and a competitor called Highland Consulting Group. The cases were filed after Highland hired a number of our client’s key personnel in violation of noncompetition agreements. The cases are pending in the state and federal courts of Palm Beach County, Florida.
- Prescott et al. v. Prudential Ins.: We represent the defendant in this conditionally certified collective action pending in Maine and brought under the FLSA for alleged failure to pay overtime wages to disability claims analysts.
- West v. PDS Technical, Inc., et al.: We defended the company in a series of cases brought by groups of former customer service representatives who claimed that they were owed overtime payment under the FLSA. The company defeated class certification, which led to a series of other cases where the plaintiffs unsuccessfully sought to compel arbitration of their claims.
- Gee et al. v. SunTrust Mortgage Inc.: Our attorneys are currently defending SunTrust Mortgage in a nationwide FLSA collective action and Rule 23 class action brought by mortgage underwriters claiming misclassification under federal and state wage and hour laws.
- EEOC v. Allied Systems: The EEOC brought a putative ADA class action against the country’s largest car hauler in federal court in New York, challenging the company’s policy refusing to permit injured/ill employees on leave to return to work without a complete medical release. The EEOC’s effort to expand the scope of the action to approximately 100 facilities was defeated and the company was subsequently awarded summary judgment on all claims on the merits.
Workforce Management and Regulatory Compliance Matters
- We developed wage and hour compliance audits for several leading national employers to help them comply with the Department of Labor’s overtime regulations.
- We developed and implemented a web-based interactive training program and claims processing protocol for ADA and FMLA issues for a client with over 350,000 employees.
- We represented one of the nation’s largest insurance companies in its purchase of another large insurer, successfully completing the resolution of all contract issues and the integration of two large nationwide workforces and a significant reduction in force, with no resulting litigation.
- We provided comprehensive equal employment and antiharassment training to all of the human resources managers and supervisors nationwide for one of the country’s largest data processing companies.
- We drafted drug and alcohol testing programs, safety programs and numerous other types of policies, programs and manuals for businesses of all sizes in an exceptionally broad array of industries.
- We planned and implemented all aspects of the workforce transition in connection with the outsourcing of all information technology functions at a large national employer.
Traditional Labor Matters
- We have obtained victories in anti-union campaigns against the Teamsters, PACE International, Steelworkers, Sheet Metal Workers, United Mine Workers and Iron Workers in Texas, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Illinois and Georgia.
- Obtained a reversal on appeal to the NLRB of the trial court’s ruling on an unfair labor practice case filed by six discharged employees alleging discriminatory and retaliatory discharge.
- Provided strategy, planning and filled the role of chief spokesperson in negotiating complete overhaul of collective bargaining agreements to regain previously surrendered rights and return a major company to profitability in California, Washington and New Mexico.
Other Class and Large Case Litigation Matters
- Obtained a reversal on appeal of a class certification order in a multimillion-dollar vacation pay case.
- Obtained a favorable settlement in one of the largest discrimination class actions ever brought against a domestic financial institution.
- Obtained summary judgment on the central issue in a company-wide FLSA collective action brought by the Department of Labor.
- Successful in forcing the OFCCP to drop all damages claims in affected class litigation in which the initial demand was $9 million.
- In an OFCCP affected class case seeking nearly $2 million in damages, obtained a settlement of less than $30,000.
- Handled and litigated on a nationwide basis over 100 matters under OSHA, various state OSHA plans and MSHA.
- Obtained complete summary judgments in three pattern and practice cases filed by a leading plaintiffs’ class action firm against a Fortune 500 company.
- Obtained a complete summary judgment in favor of the company and four individual defendants on a plaintiff’s Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblower claims, Title VII retaliation claims and various state law tort claims.
- Represented several executives and their new employer in an action alleging trade secret misappropriation and breach of fiduciary duty. We defeated the plaintiff’s request for an injunction and the case ultimately resolved on the basis of a favorable settlement.
- Obtained defense verdicts in employment cases for our clients in numerous jury trials in the U.S. District Courts for the Northern District of Alabama, the Middle District of Florida, the Middle District of Georgia, the Northern District of Georgia and the District of South Carolina.
- Obtained hundreds of summary judgment rulings in our clients’ favor in single-plaintiff discrimination and retaliation cases asserted in state and federal courts throughout the country.
Other Workforce Management and Regulatory Compliance Matters
- Provided comprehensive equal employment and antiharassment training to all of the human resources managers and supervisors nationwide for one of the country’s largest data processing companies.
- Drafted drug and alcohol testing programs, safety programs and numerous other types of policies, programs and manuals for businesses of all sizes in an exceptionally broad array of industries.
- Provided all labor and employment advice and oversight for two successive reorganizations of one of the largest retail chains in the United States.
- Planned and implemented all aspects of the workforce transition in connection with the outsourcing of all information technology functions at a large national employer.