Effective Federal and State Practice
Employers of all sizes and in many business sectors in both regional and national markets rely on Richards Layton for proactive employment law advice and defense in employment law disputes. We are experienced at keeping our clients in compliance with federal and state employment and labor law, and defending them in court when controversies arise under those laws.
Our clients often are Delaware corporations with operations in the state, but we also represent Delaware business entities with facilities elsewhere. We have solid relationships with state employment law administrative agencies such as the Delaware Department of Labor (DDOL), as well as with federal regulators such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regional office in Philadelphia. That familiarity often makes the difference in resolving problems successfully in Delaware and in other states.
We have the broad employment law knowledge to handle the wide variety of issues that arise in workplace relationships. That gives us the ability to act quickly and provide customized solutions. Our lawyers are available to employment law clients whenever and wherever necessary. The potential cost and distraction of employment problems like sexual harassment allegations or noncompete disputes demand immediate attention, and we provide it.
Employment Advice for Transactions
We keep issues of employment law compliance from becoming major concerns when assets, businesses or companies are bought or sold—particularly in transactions involving Delaware entities or those governed by Delaware law. Our lawyers can identify potential issues, then structure and document transactions in a way that protects clients while ensuring completion of the deal. We ask the right questions about compliance policies, compensation arrangements, employee benefits and employment contracts in order to eliminate problems and avoid risk from employment law violations or litigation after the deal closes.
Our lawyers are fully prepared to defend employers in claims made under federal and state employment statutes. We represent employer clients in complaint investigations and administrative proceedings by federal and state agencies, and have successfully litigated and resolved matters in federal district courts, bankruptcy court and state courts involving allegations and claims of:
We have particular strength in handling business and employee related restrictive covenant, contract and wage claims in the Delaware Superior Court and Delaware Court of Chancery. Whether the issue involves noncompete agreements, nonpayment of severance, breach of employment contract or similar controversies, our lawyers can effectively advocate on a client’s behalf.
Disputes over noncompete agreements are the kind of time-sensitive controversies at which we excel. We’ve handled litigation representing employers and individual employees, and are skilled at securing restraining orders and permanent injunctions or resisting invalid ones as needed to protect our clients, especially in cases governed by Delaware law or tried in the Delaware courts.
Contract Negotiation and Drafting
The insights we gain in resolving noncompete and nondisclosure disputes enable our lawyers to draft effective restrictive covenants that, as needed, can help to prevent the disclosure of customer lists, trade secrets and other sensitive or proprietary information. For example, our lawyers negotiate and draft employment contracts as well as effective severance agreements for use in the termination of management or executive employees, ensuring that the employer’s rights to confidential or sensitive information are fully protected and that the employer meets all the procedural requirements of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act.
Labor Law and Union Relations
Whether clients currently have a unionized workforce or seek to maintain a workplace free of such involvement, our low-profile but highly effective labor relations counsel can help maintain a competitive workplace while minimizing conflicts and maximizing management flexibility.
In unionized workplaces, we work alongside human and labor relations personnel to engage in collective bargaining (including multi-location talks), respond to grievance and arbitration actions, manage reductions in force, and handle such sensitive issues as drug testing, discipline proceedings and strikes. Our lawyers can also effectively represent employers in labor law disputes before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Clients that face union organizing drives rely on us to counter aggressive unionizing efforts and communicate fully with all employees while remaining in full compliance with NLRB election law.
Problem Prevention and Training
Our lawyers help clients develop and implement a sound and consistent approach to effectively avoiding workplace controversies and resolving employee concerns without resorting to litigation.
Policies and Procedures
We draft workplace policies and procedures that can prevent potential problems and disputes with employees. Our compliance advice is founded on asking the right questions about current employment compliance policies in order to find areas that may be out of date or need improvement. The goal is to help eliminate problems and avoid risk, and the key to that is developing personnel policies tailored to the individual employer that meet all legal requirements and minimize the likelihood of employment-related claims and lawsuits.
We help train managers and HR staff, and even employees when needed, on federal and state employment laws. To make the new policies we’ve helped establish become part of everyday business practices, we conduct on-site programs customized to each client’s concerns. We also provide practical tips for general compliance with new and existing laws and regulations. Richards Layton employment lawyers share their insights with employers by speaking to business and professional groups at meetings and conferences statewide and throughout the region as well as through CLE seminars and in-house networking/training lunches. Because of our contacts with so many employers, we know what works and we can implement it cost-efficiently for our clients.
We can conduct internal investigation of harassment, discrimination or retaliation claims at their early stages, to recommend the best litigation-avoidance approach as well as to help prevent future workplace issues. We also offer guidance on sensitive issues such as alcohol and drug testing and background checks in hiring. We have the experience to minimize workplace problems while respecting the employees’ privacy and avoiding employee claims of retaliation.
We help clients comply with the federal WARN Act requiring advance notice of covered plant closings and mass layoffs. Because such notices must be provided not just to employees and their representatives, but also to the appropriate units of state and local government, effective planning for WARN notification is a must. Richards Layton has advised on numerous notification and possible exemption issues.