Rick L. Etter

Pittsburgh
T 412.513.4332
F 412.513.4299
501 Grant Street
Union Trust Building, Suite 800
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219

Rick is an experienced litigator and counselor whose practice is focused on representing employers in all areas of labor and employment law. He works extensively with employers on preventive planning to identify and correct possible problem areas and avoid litigation. Rick has advised and defended a wide range of corporate clients in single plaintiff and putative class and/or collective action matters, including employers in the energy, financial services, health care, oil and gas, retail and technology industries. Rick also represents colleges and universities on employment and labor matters, as well as on Title IX and Clery Act issues.

His primary focus is defending employers in complex wage and hour class and collective actions arising under federal and state laws. Rick also devotes a significant portion of his practice to advising and representing clients in all aspects of restrictive covenant and trade secret matters, and has extensive experience litigating non-compete, trade secret, and unfair competition cases, including in the contexts of temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions.

In addition, he regularly represents employers in all manner of labor and employment disputes, including defending employers in class actions and individual cases brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), the Equal Pay Act (EPA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), and the Dodd-Frank Act.

In his traditional labor work, Rick's experience includes representation of management in labor arbitrations, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) unfair labor practice proceedings, collective bargaining negotiations, and defending union organizing campaigns.

Rick also regularly counsels and advises employers on a broad range of employment issues, including wage and hour compliance, leave and accommodations, discipline and discharge, enforcement of restrictive covenants, discrimination, harassment and retaliation, reductions in force, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) compliance, employment and separation agreements, and implementation of personnel policies and procedures. He has lectured and provided training on these issues to thousands of employees from non-supervisory, hourly workers to officers and board members of major corporations.

Representative Matters

Representative Class and Collective Action Matters

  • Represented a Fortune 200 financial services company in two consolidated collective and class actions alleging mortgage loan officers were required to work off the clock, not paid pursuant to the terms of their employment agreements, and were subject to unlawful deductions from their commissions in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law, and the state wage and hour laws of 11 other states. The case involved over 3,000 putative nationwide Rule 23 class members and over 1,100 opt-in plaintiffs. At the final pre-trial conference, obtained settlement on very favorable terms (less than 10% of the damages calculated by plaintiff’s expert). (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania)
  • Represented a financial services company in a collective and class action alleging mortgage loan officers were required to work off the clock and were subject to unlawful deductions from their commissions in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law, and the state wage and hour laws of 9 other states. The case involved over 1,000 putative Rule 23 class members and over 300 opt-in plaintiffs. The case is still pending. (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania)    
  • Represented a financial services company in a collective and class action alleging failure to include incentives and bonuses when calculating the regular rate for non-exempt employees in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law. Obtained a favorable settlement of all claims, and successfully limited the scope of settlement to the named plaintiff and two opt-in plaintiffs. (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania)
  • Represented an oil and gas services company in a U.S. Department of Labor enforcement action alleging that landmen were misclassified as independent contractors, paid a day rate, and not paid for off the clock work in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Secretary brought claims on behalf of more than 850 contractors. The case is still pending. (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania)  
  • Represented an oil and gas company in a nationwide collective and class action alleging misclassification of field technicians and failure to include bonuses when calculating the regular rate in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law. Obtained a favorable settlement of all claims. (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania)
  • Represented a mud logging company in a nationwide collective and class action alleging that non-exempt field supervisors were improperly paid a day rate in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law. Obtained a favorable settlement of all claims, and successfully limited the scope of settlement to the named plaintiffs. (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania)
  • Represented an oil and energy company in a nationwide collective and class action alleging misclassification of field supervisors and failure to include incentives and bonuses when calculating their regular rate in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law. Obtained a favorable settlement of all claims. (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania)
  • Represented a national health insurance company in a collective and class action alleging call center customer service supervisors were misclassified as exempt and denied overtime pay in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law. Obtained a favorable settlement of all claims, and successfully limited the scope of settlement to the named plaintiff. (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania)
  • Represented a Fortune 20 information technology company in a collective and class action alleging that service technicians were required to work off the clock in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law. After the District Court granted motion to dismiss limiting the case to the facility where named plaintiff worked, successfully convinced plaintiff's counsel to voluntarily dismiss the case with prejudice. (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania)   
  • Represented a semi-pro sports team in a collective and class action alleging interns were denied minimum wage and overtime pay in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law. Obtained a favorable settlement of all claims, and successfully limited the scope of settlement to the named plaintiff. (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania)
  • Represented a financial institution in a nationwide putative class action alleging violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Following the filing of a motion to dismiss, obtained nuisance value settlements limited to the two named plaintiffs. (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania)   
  • Represented a financial institution in a threatened putative class action alleging violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Successfully convinced plaintiff's counsel not to file the case.   

Representative Unfair Competition and Injunction Matters

  • Represented a breast surgeon and health care provider against a former employer who alleged that the client breached the restrictive covenants contained in her employment agreement. Defeated plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction and obtained dismissal of the case following a two-day hearing. (Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County)
  • Represented a global mechanical and industrial engineering company in an injunction matter brought against a former salesperson for breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secret information. Obtained a favorable consent decree after deposition and forensic examination revealed that the former employee had retained the company’s information and then wiped his computer in an effort to conceal his misappropriation. (Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County)
  • Represented an international machining and manufacturing company in an injunction matter brought against a former salesperson and his companies for breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secret information. Obtained a favorable judgment requiring the former employee to return all company information. (Private arbitration)

Representative Single Plaintiff Employment Matters

  • Represented a global mechanical and industrial engineering company against a former employee who alleged breach of contract and wrongful termination stemming from the employee’s termination while on international assignment in Singapore. Plaintiff sought over $1.3 million in damages. Obtained a favorable verdict on all counts following a five-day jury trial. (Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County)
  • Represented a retail manufacturer against a former employee who alleged disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, FMLA retaliation, and COBRA violations. The District Court’s decision granting summary judgment was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. (Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission/U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania/U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit)
  • Represented an industrial manufacturer against a former manager who alleged he was terminated because of age discrimination. The District Court’s decision granting summary judgment was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission/U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania/U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit)
  • Represented an automotive dealership against a former employee who alleged failure to accommodate and that his employment was terminated because of race and disability discrimination. The District Court’s decision granting summary judgment was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission/U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania/U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit)
  • Represented a construction company against a former employee who alleged that she was sexually harassed and then constructively discharged for reporting the alleged harassment. The District Court’s decision granting summary judgment was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. (Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission/U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania/U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit) 
  • Represented a construction company against a former manager who alleged that he was discharged in retaliation for supporting a female subordinate's claim of sexual harassment. The District Court’s decision granting summary judgment was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. (Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission/U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania/U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit) 
  • Represented a social services corporation against a former employee who alleged breach of contract, violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and violation of the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law. The District Court granted summary judgment. (U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania)   
  • Represented a Fortune 100 medical technology company against a former employee who alleged that her employment was terminated because of age discrimination. The District Court granted summary judgment. (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania)  
  • Represented a social services agency against a former employee who alleged his employment was terminated because of ethnicity discrimination and harassment. The District Court granted summary judgment. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission/U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania)    
  • Represented a state agency against a former employee who alleged her employment was terminated because of race discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. The District Court granted summary judgment. (Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission/U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania)    
  • Represented a social services corporation against a former employee who alleged her employment was terminated because of race, sex, and age discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. The District Court granted summary judgment. (Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission/U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania) 
  • Represented a Fortune 50 medical devices manufacturing company against a former employee who filed a 14-count complaint alleging that her employment was terminated because of age, sex and disability discrimination, harassment, failure to accommodate, and retaliation. The District Court granted summary judgment on 12 of the 14 counts, and the remaining claims were settled on favorable terms. (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania)   
  • Represented a Fortune 20 information technology company against a former employee who alleged that she was suspended and constructively discharged because of race discrimination. The District Court granted summary judgment in part, denied in part, and the remaining claims were settled on favorable terms. (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania)   
  • Represented a health care services corporation against a former employee who alleged that she was harassed, retaliated against for taking FMLA leave, and terminated because of race, sex, age, and disability discrimination and retaliation. The District Court granted motion to dismiss. (Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission/U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania)
  • Represented a financial services company against a former employee who alleged breach of contract, wrongful discharge and various other common law claims. The District Court granted motion to dismiss. (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania)  
  • Represented an officer of a Fortune 20 multinational conglomerate corporation against a former employee who alleged his employment was terminated because of race discrimination. The District Court granted motion to dismiss. (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania)
  • Represented a financial services corporation against a former employee who alleged breach of contract and ERISA violations. District Court granted motion to dismiss. (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York)
  • Represented a Fortune 50 retailer against a customer who alleged race discrimination under Section 1985. The District Court granted summary judgment. (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania)   
  • Represented a community action program against a former employee who alleged age discrimination and harassment and violation of the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law. Obtained voluntary withdraw of the complaint following plaintiff’s deposition. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission/U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania)           
  • Represented a worldwide industrial company against a former employee who alleged his employment was terminated because of race, national origin, and disability discrimination, FMLA retaliation, and wrongful discharge. Obtained a nuisance value settlement following plaintiff’s deposition. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission/U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado)
  • Represented a Fortune 50 financial institution against a former employee who alleged his employment was terminated because of age, sex, and disability discrimination and retaliation. Obtained a nuisance value settlement following plaintiff’s deposition. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission/U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado) 
  • Represented a worldwide industrial company against a former employee who alleged his employment was terminated because of race and retaliation. Obtained a nuisance value settlement following plaintiff’s deposition. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission/U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky)
  • Represented a Fortune 50 financial institution against a former employee who alleged her employment was terminated because of sex discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Obtained a nuisance value settlement following plaintiff’s deposition.  (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission/U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri) 
  • Represented a mortgage company against a former employee who alleged retaliation, wrongful discharge, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage payment laws. The matter is still pending. (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio)
  • Represented a worldwide industrial company against a former employee who alleged his employment was terminated because of race discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.  Obtained an early nuisance value settlement. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission/U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee)
  • Represented a financial services corporation against a former employee who alleged his employment was terminated because of disability discrimination, FMLA interference and retaliation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Obtained an early nuisance value settlement. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission/U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee)
  • Represented a medical device manufacturer against a former employee who alleged his employment was terminated because of race discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Obtained an early nuisance value settlement. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission/U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania)     
  • Represented a senior living facility against a former employee who alleged her employment was terminated because of age discrimination and FMLA retaliation. Obtained an early nuisance value settlement. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission/U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania)

Representative Single Plaintiff Higher Education Matters

  • Represented an institution of higher education against a current graduate student who alleged that she was removed from a Ph.D. program because of her sex, race, national origin, and retaliation in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. Plaintiff also brought claims for breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and filed a motion for preliminary injunction seeking to be placed back in the Ph.D. program. Successfully defeated plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction, and obtained a favorable verdict on all counts following a three-day jury trial. (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania)  
  • Represented an educational institution against a former professor who alleged age discrimination, retaliation, tortious interference, and civil conspiracy stemming from the termination of his employment as part of a reduction in force. Obtained dismissal of federal court complaint and enforcement of mandatory arbitration policy, then obtained judgment in client’s favor following two-day private arbitration. (U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado/Private Arbitration)   
  • Represented an institution of higher education against a former professor who alleged that she was denied promotion and tenure because of her age, sex, and religion and in retaliation for filing charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Plaintiff also alleged breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The District Court granted summary judgment in part, and the remaining claims were settled on favorable terms. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission/U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania)    
  • Represented an institution of higher education against a former public safety employee who alleged that her employment was terminated because of sex discrimination. The court granted summary judgment. (Court of Common Pleas of Mercer County) 
  • Represented an institution of higher education against a former professor who alleged her employment was terminated because of age and disability discrimination. Obtained an early nuisance value settlement. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission/U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania)
  • Represented an institution of higher education against a current student who alleged sex discrimination and harassment. Obtained an early nuisance value settlement. (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania)
  • Represented an institution of higher education against a former professor who alleged disability discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Obtained an early nuisance value settlement. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission/U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania) 

Representative Pro Bono Litigation Matters

  • Represented an indigent pro bono client in an Eighth Amendment cruel and unusual punishment prisoner right’s matter. Obtained a significant financial settlement and the client’s release to general population after more than 21 consecutive years in solitary confinement. (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania)    

Highlights & Recognitions

  • Named as one of 32 "2017 Lawyers on the Fast Track" by The Legal Intelligencer
  • Selected for inclusion in Pennsylvania Super Lawyers® Rising Stars, Labor and Employment, 2011-2017

Memberships & Affiliations

  • American Bar Association, Member of Labor and Employment Law and Litigation Sections, and Young Lawyer Division: Labor & Employment Law Committee
  • Federal Bar Association, Member of Labor and Employment Law and Federal Litigation Sections
  • Allegheny County Bar Association, Member of Labor and Employment Law and Civil Litigation Sections
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association, Member of Labor and Employment Law and Civil Litigation Sections
  • Society for Human Resource Management
  • National Association of College and University Attorneys

Civic & Charitable Organizations

  • Humane Society of Harrisburg Area, President of the Board of Directors, 2012, Member of Board of Directors, 2010-2012
  • Fredricksen Library, Member Board of Directors, 2012
  • United Way of Capital Region, Member of Bridges Society, 2012
  • United Way of Allegheny County, Member of Bridges Society, 2016-2017

Non-FBT Publications and Events

  • “FLSA Compliance and Enforcement: Emerging Issues,” PBI’s Employment Law Institute West, November 17, 2016
  • “FLSA: Wage and Hour Update,” Pittsburgh Human Resource Association, September 15, 2015
  • “Cutting-Edge Issues in Wage and Hour Law,” Pittsburgh Human Resource Association, February 25, 2015
  • “10 Practical Ways for Employers to Avoid Risk in Handling FMLA Leave,” PBI’s Employment Law Institute West, November 12, 2014
  • “FLSA: Cutting Edge Issues in Wage and Hour Law,” Reed Smith Employment Law Boot Camp, April 30, 2013
  • “Dealing With the Problem Employee,” Pennsylvania Bar Institute, August 21, 2009

Other Contact Info

Assistant

Sarah Curley
Email
T 412.513.4259
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