Labor, Employment & Employee Benefits
Devine Millimet has one of the largest and most robust Labor, Employment & Employee Benefits Practice Groups in Northern New England. Our team is comprised of attorneys and industry specialists with various legal backgrounds, including litigation, corporate, finance and government. Unlike other firms that focus on specific areas of employment law, Devine Millimet has built an integrated team to cover the entire spectrum of employment-related issues. Our practice model enables us to provide responsive, effective, and practical advice so that our clients may enhance employee relations, reduce risk exposures, and increase the ability to prevail in arbitration and litigation in a cost-effective manner.
Our clients range in size from entrepreneurial start-up businesses to large Fortune 500 companies. We serve a variety of industries and sectors including automotive, banking & finance, biotechnology, construction and engineering, education, energy, government and municipalities, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, medical devices, real estate, retail, software, telecommunications and IT.
We view ourselves as an extension of your management team. Our attorneys regularly partner with executives and human resource professionals to work through all aspects of the employment relationship including hiring, contracts, policies & procedures, compensation, benefits, leaves of absence, health & safety, internal investigations, discipline & documentation, and severance packages & termination.
We are your advocates. Our litigation team regularly defends employers in discrimination, wrongful termination, compensation and benefits matters, and other workplace-related claims pending at the state and federal levels. We work with our clients to resolve issues in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Our attorneys provide on-site training programs for managers and supervisors dealing with handling harassment issues, EEO/diversity issues, ADA/FMLA compliance, workers compensation matters, employee evaluations, documentation, discipline and discharge, workplace investigations, remedial programs and workplace mediation.
We represent a wide variety of public and private companies in all phases of collective bargaining and union relations. Our team works with your team to strategize and prepare responses to organized campaigns, mediation and fact-finding, grievance processing, and arbitration.
We make sure clients are in regulatory compliance with new and updated state and federal employment laws regarding wage and hour and payroll matters, drug testing, whistleblowers, OSHA, employment discrimination, affirmative action plans, equal pay disputes, posting and record-keeping requirements, and more.
Our executive compensation & benefits attorneys have a wide range of experience and expertise. We work with clients to design compensation plans, “golden parachute” provisions, bonus agreements, stock-based compensation arrangements such as ESOPs, restricted stock, and stock options. We also provide guidance on tax-sheltered annuity programs, health insurance, medical reimbursement plans, “cafeteria” plans, and dependent care assistance programs. Our ERISA practice is not only focused on working with clients to develop and manage pension, profit sharing and 401(k) plans, but also, retroactively address issues that arise over time creating a liability for the employer.
We work closely with the firm's Workers' Compensation Practice Group on questions regarding the reinstatement of rights and benefits available to employees with work-related injuries.
As a value add, we regularly host client seminars to address the latest regulations or issues affecting the workplace. Our Labor, Employment & Employee Benefits team also distributes weekly e-Alerts to provide our viewpoint on the latest hot topics affecting employers.
MANAGING WORKPLACE ISSUES
- Counseling employers on all aspects of hiring, including applications for employment, interviewing, conditional offer letters, independent contractor vs. employee issues, non-competes, confidentiality agreements, criminal background checks and drug screening; wage and hour issues, including compliance with state wage and hour and federal Fair labor Standards Act (FLSA) laws and regulations, and related child labor laws; performance evaluation plans, including development of the plans and related documentation; workplace discrimination and harassment, including prevention as well as complaint handling and investigation; workplace safety and violence, including OSHA complaints and workplace restraining orders; requests for accommodations for individuals with disabilities, including requests under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the pertinent state law against discrimination and related medical certification issues; leaves of absence, including leaves under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), ADA, maternity laws, and other mandatory and discretionary leave laws and policies; discipline and termination, including documentation, investigation, separation letters and releases, severance packages, COBRA and related discharge problems;
- Drafting, reviewing and updating employee handbooks, policies and procedures to ensure compliance with state and federal laws and regulations;
- Assistance with lay offs and reductions-in-force (RIF), including voluntary and mandatory retirement programs, mandatory furloughs, state and federal WARN Act requirements, and related employment alternatives to lay offs and RIFs;
- Review and analysis of pension and profit sharing plans, compensation plans, and other employee benefit packages;
DEFENDING YOUR COMPANY IN LITIGATION
- Defending employers against employment discrimination and harassment claims at the pre-complaint stage, as well as in the Human Rights Commission (HRC) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and in the state and federal courts;
- Defending employers against wrongful discharge and constructive discharge cases in the state and federal courts;
- Defending employers against retaliation claims (which is the fastest growing employment litigation claim in the Country);
- Defending employers against wage and hour complaints in the U.S. and N.H. Departments of Labor, as well as the state and federal courts;
- Defending public employers against Right to Know Law violations, as well as discipline and discharge hearings before the applicable governing body (e.g., Selectmen, Town Council, or County Personnel Committee);
- Defending employers against all other work-place related matters, including unfair competition, privacy, and shareholder disputes.
TRAINING YOUR MANAGERS AND STAFF
Training program topics include the following list below. Programs vary in length from 1-2 hours and may be tailored to the particular workplace issues and concerns. All programs include written materials.
Preventing Workplace Harassment
- Defining workplace harassment
- Designing policies to address harassment
- Preventing liability for workplace harassment
- Understanding the manager's responsibility to prevent and respond to harassment
- Investigation of harassment complaints
Wage and Hour Update
- Overview of basic state and federal wage and hour laws
- Review of most common mistakes employers make that lead to penalties, fines and complaints before the Department of Labor
- Advanced federal wage and hour concepts
Documentation, Discipline and Discharge
- General principles of performance and incident documentation (including sample forms)
- Seven steps for deciding whether disciplinary action is warranted
- Manager's predismissal checklist
- Managing the termination process
Hiring and the Law, including pre- and post-offer drug and alcohol testing
- Preserving employment at-will status
- Review of discrimination laws and their impact on hiring process
- Checklist of questions managers should and should not ask applicants
- Implementing lawful drug testing programs and policies
Leave Law Basics and other employee time-off issues
- Review of stat and federal mandatory leave laws
- Development and application of mandatory and discretionary leave policies
Considerations for Employers in a Down Economy
- The do's and dont's of modifications of payroll and leave policies
- Considerations for workforce reductions
- WARN Act requirements (including new state warn act)
- Voluntary separation agreements and other separation options
Annual Legal Updates
- Review of recent changes to federal and state employment laws and regulations
- Discussion of employment-related court decisions and their impact on the workplace
- Update on trends in workplace audits and investigations by federal and state enforcement agencies
HELPING YOUR COMPANY AVOID AND/OR MANAGE UNIONS IN THE WORKPLACE
- Representing management in all aspects of traditional labor law, including union election campaigns, collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance processing for both public and private sector clients, and the representation of clients in mediation, fact-finding, in labor arbitration hearings and in proceedings before the Public Employee Labor Relations Board (PERLB) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB);
- Counseling management on strategies for staying "union-free";
- Stephen Jakubowski, our non-attorney Labor Relations Specialist, has over fifteen (15) years of public and private sector experience in collective bargaining, contract administration, grievance processing, and all other aspects of union relations.
ASSISTING YOUR COMPANY ACHIEVE REGULATORY COMPLIANCE
- Counseling employers on how to achieve compliance with new and updated state and federal employment laws regarding, among other things, wage and hour and payroll matters, drug testing, whistleblowers, OSHA and employment discrimination;
- Assisting employers with government audits and investigations, posting and record keeping requirements, drafting of affirmative action plans, responses to requests from government agencies and more.
REVIEWING AND IMPLEMENTING EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS PROGRAMS FOR YOUR COMPANY
- Assisting employers with: compensation plans, "golden parachute" provisions, bonus agreements, sock based compensation agreements such as ESOPs, restricted stock, and stock options.
- Providing guidance to employers on tax-sheltered annuity programs, health insurance, medical reimbursement plans, "cafeteria" plans, and dependant care assistance programs.
- Creating and managing ERISA plans, and profit sharing and 401(k) plans.
- New Hampshire Business Review's 2011 Best of Business Awards, Best Law Firm - Employment