The employment relationship has undergone intense scrutiny in the last few years. Privacy rights, technology, new workplace trends and evolving regulations mean businesses have to pay more attention than ever to labor and employment laws.
These frequent changes mean increased liability and compliance pressure. Staying current and familiar with vital legal issues and preventing potential problems has become a business necessity. Whether you need to manage a dispute with employees, update your policies and procedures manuals or receive counseling on the latest ADA compliance laws, you need a strategic partner who can advise you on reducing your risk of employment litigation.
Christian & Small’s labor and employment lawyers represent employers and management in litigation and administrative proceedings, preventive counseling, compliance services, employment policy, practice audits and training, contract drafting, review and implementation and alternative dispute resolution. We’re dedicated to helping clients control labor and employment issues and understand the risks that all employers face in their business.
As experienced litigators, we are able to recognize seemingly risk-free decisions that have the potential to lead to significant exposure and defense costs down the road. Even though most businesses have a human resources department, the majority of employers need assistance navigating the many federal, state and local laws that impact the employer-employee relationship. We provide concise and timely advice to help our clients better understand the risks and avoid costly and protracted litigation brought by dissatisfied current and former employees and by compliance violations.
Our practice focuses on all STAges of labor and employment law proceedings, including:
- Federal and State Administrative Proceedings
- Litigation, Federal and Statute and Common Law Employment Torts
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Preventive Counseling
- Regulatory Compliance
- Management and Supervisory Training
- Policy Preparation and Implementation
Our attorneys represent a number of public and private companies and municipal entities in the defense of claims arising under:
- Title VII/Section 1981
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) / Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- ERISA / COBRA
- Family Medical Leave Act
- USERRA (military service)
- OSHA and OFCCP Administrative Charges
- Section 1983 Statutory and Constitutional Violation Claims
Labor-Management Relations Act and National Labor Relations Act
Our labor and employment attorneys advise and represent employers regarding their rights and obligations under the Labor-Management Relations Act and National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), including:
- Response to employee complaints
- Union organizational activity
- Unfair labor practices charges
- Grievance/arbitration proceedings under collective bargaining agreements
- Section 301 breach of collective bargaining contract litigation
Our practice group also has experience advising federal contractors of affirmative action obligations and representing federal contractors in audits and proceedings initiated by the OFCCP.
Policy Preparation and Implementation
Christian & Small further protects our clients’ interests by drafting current policies and procedures manuals. These include employee handbooks that outline sexual harassment, drugs and alcohol and e-mail, voice mail and social media policies. We prepare and review policies and procedures, employment applications, employment contracts, nondisclosure agreements and severance documents to reduce risk and ensure compliance with federal and state laws.
Our management training seminars equip supervisors to handle tough workplace issues. Our training is focused on areas such as sensitizing employees to issues dealing with hiring and firing, sexual harassment and responding promptly and appropriately to the daily issues affecting the workforce.
Preventive and Compliance Counseling
As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We believe that the best way to avoid charges, lawsuits and liability is for employers to seek legal advice and management training in advance before an employment action is taken. We conduct comprehensive employment audits to expose problem areas before they become legal nightmares.
We are actively involved in providing employers with prompt advice and guidance on an array of issues including wage and hour compliance under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), drug and alcohol testing, leave-of-absence issues under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employee benefit programs, employee/workplace investigations and employee discipline and discharge.
Litigation and Administrative Hearings
Our lawyers have extensive experience in protecting and defending clients in federal and state courtrooms or in administrative hearings. Should litigation become necessary, we immediately devise an aggressive defense strategy that is specific to the client and the matter at hand. We analyze the issues, available defenses and potential liability to enable our clients to make fully informed decisions regarding the best strategy to address the charge. Our team then designs an approach that focuses the case on the best defenses available.
We constantly adjust our plan to respond to new developments. With our approach, the plaintiff does not control the course of proceedings or the arguments that may ultimately be presented to a court or jury – we do. We stay in constant communication during the entire course of any administrative hearing or litigious matter so you are a full participant in the process.
The defense of employers in workers’ compensation matters is an essential service Christian & Small provides to clients. Our practice was developed in direct response to client demand and to meet the need for quality representation in the area. With our experience and skill in all areas of employment law, providing this service to our clients was a natural and logical fit for the firm.
The firm’s workers’ compensation attorneys provide consultation and litigation support to self-insured and insured employers throughout Alabama, as well as to clients in other southeastern states. We advise clients in claims handling, procedural matters and injury and occupational disease claims which can often be complicated by employment law concerns such as the ADA and FMLA. Our workers’ compensation attorneys have a strong working knowledge of all related employment, safety and health laws.
Oftentimes, we find that claims can be handled in-house or in cooperation with the client’s third party administrator without making a formal appearance. This keeps expenses to a minimum for the client. Our attorneys work to resolve claims quickly to avoid major and costly legal problems such as retaliatory discharge or charges of disability discrimination. When a client is faced with a difficult workers’ compensation matter involving a catastrophic injury and an inability, or refusal, to return to work, the firm’s attorneys work closely with the client and medical providers to develop the best return-to-work plan to minimize costs and liabilities.
Corporate and Transactional Services
With support from Christian & Small’s well-respected corporate and transactional practice, our Labor and employment attorneys are able to render sound advice on all requests from clients dealing with contractual issues. We provide counseling on the many issues presented by mergers, acquisitions and downsizing. Our firm’s attorneys are frequently asked to negotiate and modify benefit packages and structure transactions as well as create and review severance packages and non-compete agreements. If a client’s business is forced to downsize, our attorneys are often asked to implement sound plans designed to minimize disruption to the client’s daily business operations and to comply with all laws.
- Represented a variety of businesses in well over 100 matters involving charges and claims of unlawful discrimination, retaliation and interference with protected rights.
- Managed representation of five employers in separate FLSA collective actions with potential class size ranging from 100 to 600 members. Through the firm’s efforts, one case receiving initial certification and involving 60 opt-ins was pared down to fewer than 25 members. The case then settled for $10,000, as a whole, with most of the last-standing claimants receiving $50. In the remaining matters, the firm’s efforts convinced the plaintiff’s counsel not to seek certification, and each was settled for under $10,000 .
- Served as Alabama counsel for a national trucking company fighting a nationwide Teamsters strike.
- Successfully advised manufacturers in defeating organizational efforts by the Steelworkers and defeating unfair labor practices arising from the organizational campaigns.
- Represented a general contractor managing construction of an electrical power steam plant to a specially-negotiated collective bargaining agreement with 13 trade unions. This representation included enjoining of wildcat strikes, defending unfair labor practice charges arising from union jurisdictional disputes, and defending grievances and arbitrations.