Labor and Employment Law
We counsel our clients in all phases of labor and employment relations. Our attorneys handle a broad range of traditional labor and employment matters including employment contracts, non-competition and confidentiality agreements, wage and hour issues, employment counseling for start-ups, employee policies and handbooks, unfair labor practices charges, workplace investigations, and employment litigation. In addition, our attorneys assist clients with workforce planning, recruitment, hiring and termination processes. We also advise clients on start-up and executive compensation matters that include benefits such as restricted stock or stock options and incentives or bonuses based upon objectives set for operating performance and vesting.
We represent employers, start-ups, and management-level employees. We counsel our clients on all aspects of the employment relationship, from workforce planning, recruitment and hiring to compensation, performance management, leaves of absence and other accommodations, assist with the investigation and resolution of workforce complaints, and advise on the various mechanisms for employment separation. We draft agreements and review and develop employment policies and processes that relate to the size, industry and unique aspects of our clients’ business operations and workforce.
In our roles as litigators and counselors, we focus on providing both our employer, start-up, and employee clients with solutions that resolve their workplace issues, advance their business goals and reduce the risk of traditional litigation. We initiate litigation or defend employers and employees in state and federal court, in arbitration, and before local, state and federal administrative agencies. We carefully evaluate the costs and risks of litigation and weigh resolution options at the earliest possible phase of litigation. We also regularly utilize negotiation and mediation to reach early resolution of disputes. Through pro-active employment counseling and collaborative planning and problem-solving, we empower our clients to build and maintain respectful and productive employment relationships and foster positive and legally compliant work environments.
We are experienced employment litigators. Although we strive to reduce the risk of litigation through strategic and pro-active counseling, management training, and pre-litigation dispute resolution, we recognize that sometimes employers find themselves facing litigation for a variety of reasons, some of which are beyond their control. State and federal employment laws and regulations are continually changing and are increasingly complex. Some employees file lawsuits when they feel they have been unfairly treated, particularly when there is an emphasis on employee accountability, an economic downturn within a company, or a merger or acquisition that results in job loss or reduced duties, wages, or benefits.
Our attorneys have experience in multiple jurisdictions and have handled state and federal claims that include wage and hour matters, leave and other benefit disputes, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, restrictive covenants, wrongful discharge, unemployment benefit claims and severance package disputes. Our attorneys are also experienced in complex multi-plaintiff and class action litigation.
We have successfully handled litigation such as:
- Represented large coffee retailer in a California class action lawsuit filed by its current and former store managers for alleged wage and hour violations.
- Defended of construction company in lawsuit by brought by corporate officers and shareholders for violation of non-compete contracts.
- Defended entertainment company in suit by ex-employee who stole company’s largest customers.
- Defended national transmission wholesaler accused of luring away a competitor’s salespersons.
- Defended large construction company in lawsuit brought by terminated employee for alleged sexual discrimination, retaliation and wrongful discharge.
- Represented female employee against former boss (who physically attacked her and later committed suicide) and employer for quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment.
- Defended equipment manufacturer against claims of religious and disability discrimination.
- Defended hospital in wrongful discharge case based on breach of implied contract in employee handbook.
- Defended hospital against claim for allegedly unpaid overtime.
- Defended property management company in a lawsuit for claims of wrongful discharge and violation of state leave laws.
- Defended a church accused of negligent supervision and negligent retention of minister.
- Defended a technology company in a lawsuit for wrongful discharge and national origin discrimination.
- Defended tool manufacturer against claims of disability discrimination.
- Defended Educational Service District in a suit for discrimination, retaliation, and deprivation of due process claims.
- Defended vessel captain against sexual harassment claim.
- Successfully represented plaintiff in reversing military discharge that had been based solely on the fact that she was a lesbian. The District Court found the Air Force failed to prove any basis for belief that plaintiff’s sexual orientation would interfere in any way with the performance of the military mission.
We also have in-depth experience with employment law appeals. Our appellate advocacy group has more than seventy-five years of combined experience arguing appeals in the state and federal appeals courts. They have won ground-breaking victories in the Washington Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. They are familiar with the judges, the internal procedures, and the personalities of these courts. They have applied this in-depth experience earned in the Pacific Northwest to win victories for clients in state and federal courts from Alaska to Florida, and from California to New York. Matters for appeals have included wage and hour claims, wrongful discharge, retaliation for whistleblowing, race discrimination, employment contract disputes, disability discrimination, sexual harassment, pension death benefits, willful violation of Fair Labor Standards Act, denial of L&I benefits and non-compete employment agreements.