Labor & Employment

Getting results from dedicated labor lawyers

Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell is a firm with a true labor practice – not just litigators who try employment cases. On a comparative basis for a firm our size, we have one of the largest employment and labor groups in California. Each of our lawyers works closely and personally with employer clients to develop proactive compliance and dispute resolution strategies. We believe this one-on-one counseling is far more efficient than an unwieldy team. We work with clients to help them avoid workplace problems, but where controversy is unavoidable, we have handled literally hundreds of jury trials, administrative trials and appeals before courts and administrative agencies nationwide.

Because labor and employment problems often involve high stakes and intense time pressure, our lawyers are committed to giving employers the most immediate service possible. We respond promptly and without fail, with straightforward advice from an experienced lawyer who won’t pass your problem off to someone else. Issues like sexual harassment and workplace violence demand immediate attention– and we provide it.

Employers in the middle of a dispute over an organizing drive or an unfair labor practice complaint rely on our aggressive and prompt action. Accountability and accessibility are our watchwords, and you get direct access to the person who can solve your problem or answer your question. JMBM is a 2014 Go-To Law Firm® for the top 500 companies in the United States in the areas of labor litigation and labor & employment law, as determined by American Lawyer Media’s (ALM) annual survey of in-house counsel at FORTUNE 500® companies.

Understanding employers' needs

One of the strengths of our labor and employment group is the diversity of the employers we represent. Public and private companies in business sectors ranging from basic manufacturing to technology, apparel to aerospace and from health care to financial services all rely on JMBM labor lawyers, regardless of the issue. Many clients have been with us 10 to 20 years—in many cases working with the same experienced lawyer who intimately understands their business.

Our industry-specific prevention and preparedness strategies can avoid or minimize costly claims. We work closely with senior executives and in-house counsel to craft customized, effective employment policies – complete with an emphasis on properly training managers and HR staff on legal rights and obligations. Our solutions work to ensure compliance with national and state labor laws, minimize disputes with employees, and maximize strategic advantage if litigation is necessary. We stress creative planning and aggressive advocacy for every client.

There are business sectors where we have special skill in handling employment matters. Many law firms rely on us for counsel on issues involving staff and lawyers, and we often advise broker-dealers on non-compete and disciplinary controversies. Our lawyers also effectively represent many healthcare and hospitality industry clients in collective bargaining and other labor and employment concerns.

Employment litigation

Any protected class of employees—by age, race, gender, disability, religion—could bring suit against an employer under the discrimination statues. We have successfully litigated and resolved all types of discrimination matters brought under such employment laws as the:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Family Medical Leave Act
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  • Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Family and Medical Leave Act

The best way to handle any claim is to prevent it from being filed, and we give clients effective guidance right from the start to handle complaints properly and keep them from becoming lawsuits. If litigation is necessary, our lawyers investigate thoroughly and prepare a strong position that can negate plaintiff claims.

We provide strong defense in state and federal court, in administrative actions before the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and before all the California state agencies – the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and the Employment Development Department.

Often overlapping with discrimination issues are claims for wrongful termination, retaliatory treatment and whistle blowing. We understand the necessity in such cases to demonstrate that an employer’s actions were proper, and despite the notoriety that is sometimes involved, we have had considerable success at showing that employer conduct was legitimate and handled properly.

Labor relations

Whether your business currently has third party representation or seeks to maintain a workplace free of such involvement, our highly effective labor relations counsel can be crucial to helping maintain a competitive workplace while minimizing conflicts and maximizing management flexibility. Employers that face union organizing drives count on our help to:

  • Maintain a positive working environment with open communication with all employees
  • Comply with NLRB election laws
  • Counter aggressive unionizing efforts without creating a “union-busting” controversy

In unionized workplaces, our firm is a highly skilled and responsive partner that works alongside company human resources and labor relations personnel to:

  • Engage in collective bargaining – including multi-union, multi-location talks
  • Respond to grievance and arbitration actions
  • Manage reductions in force, drug testing, discipline proceedings and strikes
  • Provide representation in NLRB proceedings

Responsiveness, determination and focus are what set our labor relations counsel apart from that of other law firms. We offer immediate response, round-the-clock availability in crisis situations and aggressive defense of all employers’ rights.

Wage and hour disputes

We defend many employers against class action lawsuits in which employees sue for back overtime pay—and millions of dollars in damages—claiming that under company policies the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime pay exemption no longer applies to them.

JMBM labor lawyers can help employers avoid classification problems that lead to lawsuits by:

  • Auditing existing salary policy and pay practices
  • Reviewing the language of written employment policies to make sure they conform to FLSA requirements for exempt and non-exempt employees
  • Making sure all exempt employee job descriptions involve management and supervision

If you as an employer are faced with a wage and hour lawsuit, whether under federal law or California wage and hour statutes, we mount a vigorous and effective defense. Your JMBM lawyer will seek to deny class certification and work to secure an efficient and effective settlement that dismisses unfounded claims and protects your interests.

Trade Secrets and non-competition agreements

Disputes over non-compete agreements involving trade secrets often pit employers against each other – particularly in California, where the state’s Unfair Competition Law (Section 17200) makes it especially difficult to enforce non-compete terms. We’ve handled litigation representing both employees’ former and current employers, and are skilled at securing and resisting TROs and permanent injunctions to protect employer interests in either type of case.

In just one example, a JMBM lawyer successfully argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm a preliminary injunction enforcing a covenant not to compete. We bring the same skills to drafting these agreements – employers can get our help to either prevent the disclosure of sensitive information, or to secure the information they’re entitled to from new employees.

Successes

  • Getting Results - Affirming a hospitality industry employer's rights Our client The Hotel Group (THG) wished to hire the workforce of their choice following the renovation of their recently purchased Connecticut property, rather than rehire the unionized workers who worked at the property prior to its purchase and renovation. The union filed a complaint with the NLRB, charging our client with unfair labor practices. […]
  • Getting Results - A rare employer victory before the NLRB When the collective bargaining agreement between our Los Angeles client Good Samaritan Hospital and more than 450 unionized healthcare workers came up for renewal, a group of hospital employees petitioned the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for an election to decertify the union. In a subsequent secret-ballot election, the union held on to its representation […]