Labor and Employment

The Labor and Employment Group at Frost Brown Todd is the preeminent collection of attorneys counseling some of the nation’s leading companies with employee and union matters throughout the country.  Our strengths have been recognized by U.S. News and World Report, Best Lawyers®, and Super Lawyers®Chambers USA ranked Frost Brown Todd’s Labor and Employment Group a top-tier ranking and stated:

“This large and impressive team has the knowledge and experience to advise on a wide range of complex issues ranging from discrimination to class action litigation. Recently it has been counseling on reductions of force and has seen an increase in union-related matters. A strong position in the distribution market, representing clients such as Amazon.com, results in a steady stream of traditional labor and employment work. Sources say, ‘A strong group that provides an extremely high standard of service.’”

FBT's Labor and Employment Group employs approximately 45 lawyers across seven states, as well as paralegals and support staff.  We regularly handle a wide variety of employment relations matters that arise in the workplace, offering guided counsel and aggressive litigation if needed.  Above all, our attorneys place client service as a priority; we are committed to collaborating with our clients in finding practical solutions to their employee matters.

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Employment Litigation

FBT's Labor and Employment Group has a proven litigation track record, having handled thousands of cases over the past decades. Our team has developed a reputation of integrity and competency with our clients as well as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and various state civil rights agencies. 

Our group has litigated on behalf of employers in nearly every state in the country.  We have tried dozens of jury trials, bench trials, arbitrations, administrative hearings and preliminary injunctions.  Some examples include the following:

  • Obtaining a jury trial verdict on behalf of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in multi-million dollar case filed by a critical care physician against the Hospital.
  • Obtaining jury trial verdict on behalf of Shelter Concepts in a sexual harassment and retaliation case filed by two former managers seeking more than $4 million in damages.
  • Obtained a $4.4 million jury verdict against the Steelworkers for lockout-related damage.

While providing our clients with unparalleled service, it is our objective to avoid litigation.  Should our clients require proceeding through the litigation process, however, our attorneys are prepared to represent our clients through trial and appeal.  

We are experienced with Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) and committed to providing excellent service to our clients who have decided to insure the risk of employee lawsuits. 

Lastly, we have handled numerous class actions, collective actions, and litigations filed by the EEOC.  These cases generally require different tactics and resources that Frost Brown Todd is prepared and staffed to meet.

Employment Counseling and Training

The best way to decrease legal costs is to reduce legal disputes.  We work every day with a variety of employers to help them with their “problem employees.”  Our attorneys design unique programs for clients on such subjects as absenteeism, sexual harassment, effective discipline, and personnel file documentation. Amongst our programs, we have numerous speakers and publishers who address topical labor and employment law matters.  Our Labor and Employment attorneys publish Legal Updates to inform clients of recent developments in the area of labor and employment law.  We regularly host seminars and webinars for the benefit of our clients to keep them informed and up-to-date with the latest issues and trends.

Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court has specifically identified training as an effective means to avoid liability in the EEO area. Employers can limit their potential exposure to workplace harassment claims by developing an appropriate policies and conducting training.  Our attorneys are nationally known for training employees, supervisors and management in this area. We regularly help our clients create progressive policies to help minimize or avoid liability. 

Staying Union-Free

As the number of unionized companies in America continues to shrink, labor unions are becoming more aggressive in their unionizing campaigns.  Employers and industries that were once considered “safe” from unions are facing increasing pressure from unions determined to bring back the heyday of organized labor. 

Frost Brown Todd’s Labor and Employment Group helps our non-unionized clients stay union-free in three critical ways.

The Labor and Employment group offers comprehensive training and advice designed to ensure your company is an unattractive target for a union.  Our attorneys will work with you to develop policies and procedures that fit the realities of your business, while also dampening your employees’ drive to unionize.  Further, our group will work with you to implement policies and practices that make it easier to fight a union campaign.  Often, by being proactive, employers can avoid a union election petition entirely.

Second, should a union file an election petition, our attorneys have a proven record of designing and implementing union-education campaigns that empower employees to vote “NO.”  From top management to supervisors, we will train your first line of defense to blunt union propaganda. It is important to work with our clients to pinpoint critical issues, prepare targeted campaign materials, and deliver a consistent message to your employees.  This includes training your management personnel in the proper use of campaign materials so they are effective and act with confidence as the company’s representatives and avoid the hidden pitfalls built into the nation’s labor laws.   

Lastly, many of our attorneys previously worked for the National Labor Relations Board. We are experienced with the nuances of working with the NLRB and the National Mediation Board to resolve unfair labor practice charges, make and defend against election objections, negotiate settlements, and defend our client’s interests during an administrative or judicial review. 

Labor Management Relations

For employers with organized employees, we have served as legal counsel and as spokespersons, when requested, in hundreds of collective bargaining negotiations. Members of the group have served as counsel in negotiating national contracts covering more than 100,000 employees. Our attorneys have experience in dealing with airline pilot and mechanic negotiations under the Railway Labor Act and considerable experience in negotiating public sector labor contracts, particularly in the fields of education and public safety.

We represent and advise clients on a daily basis regarding grievances under collective bargaining agreements and claims arbitrated under non-union employment agreements. Our Labor & Employment attorneys handle more than 200 arbitration cases per year.

Additionally, our labor attorneys are experienced litigators who have represented clients before the NLRB and the NMB and have litigated labor relations cases in federal and state courts, including claims under Sections 301 and 303 of the Labor Management Relations Act, appeals from arbitration awards, injunction actions related to strikes and picketing, and appeals from NLRB decisions.

Workers’ Compensation

Frost Brown Todd counsels and assists employers with a full range of issues and challenges arising in the employee-employer and independent contractor context. We assist employers with self-insurance, state workers’ compensation insurance, and private insurance needs. Our group counsels employers on management of premiums and ratings and interfaces with bureaucratic agencies on their behalf. Our skilled litigators defend employers at all levels of judicial proceedings, before administrative agencies, as well as trial and appellate courts. We work strategically with employers to decrease workers’ compensation costs through a variety of means, which range from defending claims to investigating suspected fraud and abuse to returning employees to transitional and full duty work to in-house training. Working collaboratively with employers, we develop pragmatic defensive strategies to reduce workplace injuries and claims, increase workplace safety, and reduce workers’ compensation costs.

Workplace Safety and OSHA

We regularly help employers dealing with the intricacies of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).  From compliance training to effective advice on how to act during an unannounced OSHA inspection, we will work with you to establish procedures that employers can rely upon when issues arise.   

Specifically, our experience includes:

  • Assisting clients through all stages of OSHA inspections, from the initial conference through the closing conference.
  • Developing and revising general industry compliance programs.
  • Reviewing OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements.
  • Reviewing OSHA recordkeeping and reporting requirements.
  • Training employees and management on OSHA regulations and their requirements.
  • Developing proper abatement methods for addressing OSHA citations.
  • Handling Section 11(c) whistleblower complaints.
  • Litigating OSHA enforcement actions from initial stages, in discovery, through the trial, and upon appeal.

Preparation is often the key to successful resolution of a workplace safety issue. Frost Brown Todd is prepared to advise and represent you in all your workplace safety issues and will work with you so you are prepared to be an effective advocate for yourself and your company. 

Wage and Hour Law

Our attorneys are equipped to handle issues that may arise under the Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage and hour statutes and regulations. Additionally, the Labor and Employment practice of Frost Brown Todd assists clients regarding prevailing wage issues that arise on federal and state construction projects.

Wage and hour law is one of the fastest growing sources of employment litigation in America.  The number of multi-plaintiff wage and hour claims that are filed each year has grown exponentially in the last decade and continues to outpace other employment claims.  Wage and hour claims, whether pursued under state law or the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, also represent one of the costliest types of litigation for employers because the claims are most often pursued as class or collective actions. 

Frost Brown Todd has the depth and breadth of knowledge amongst a wide-variety of experience to simultaneously defend a nationwide, multi-facility collective action under the Fair Labor Standards and assist a small, family-owned business with developing its payroll policies and practices that may eliminate or lessen the risk of exposure to wage and hour claims.  Our skilled lawyers have litigated complex class actions, collective actions, and “hybrid” class and collective actions in state and federal courts across the country and defended investigations by state and federal agencies for clients ranging from locally owned businesses to national, Fortune 500 companies.  We have successfully defended the gamut of wage and hour claims, including:

  • Misclassification of employees as independent contractors or as exempt from overtime or minimum wage requirements;
  • Improper deductions from exempt employees’ salaries;
  • “Off-the-clock” work, donning and doffing protective gear, and other types of pre- and post-shift work activities;
  • Break or meal periods that should have been paid;
  • Tip-pooling by employees in the restaurant industry; and
  • Prevailing wage claims by state agencies and interested parties.

In addition to defending wage and hour litigation, our lawyers can help employers avoid future litigation by developing proactive litigation avoidance initiatives.

Non-Competes and Trade Secrets

Frost Brown Todd has a subgroup, made up of lawyers from the Labor and Employment, Litigation, and Intellectual Property Groups, that focuses on unfair competition counseling and litigation. These attorneys are regularly involved in counseling and litigation regarding non-compete agreements and trade secrets.

Our attorneys have litigated dozens of injunction hearings to enforce and defeat non-compete agreements.  We are the lawyers who helped establish the contours of a “trade secret” after the Uniform Trade Secrets Act was adopted.  In addition, much of our practice is devoted to helping employers avoid litigation through drafting non-compete agreements and advising companies about how to protect their trade secrets.

Affirmative Action and Government Contractor Compliance

Frost Brown Todd has extensive experience assisting clients that have government contracts comply with the laws and regulations enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. Our lawyers help clients determine whether an affirmative action program is required; assist in gathering and analyzing the necessary information and draft or review affirmative action programs. We have the resources and the experience to perform statistical analysis of hiring and compensation practices, and we can help an employer be proactive by auditing current policies and procedures. Our lawyers also have experience guiding employers through OFCCP compliance audits, from compliance checks to on-site visits.

Employee Benefits

Throughout periods of economic and labor market fluctuation, competition among employers to attract the best and the brightest talent remains a constant.  Employees now place a premium on retirement, health and other benefits, and those packages are one of the most heavily regulated aspects of the employment relationship.  In this competitive climate, employers need counsel with the background, resources, skills and savvy to develop successful benefit plans and to have answers when questions arise.

Frost Brown Todd lawyers maintain attractive, effective benefit and compensation plans for clients of every size and industry.  Instead of placing clients in “one-size-fits-all” plans, we look at the needs of a particular business situation and then recommend and design plans accordingly.  The result is a benefit or compensation plan that keeps talented employees and executives in place and promotes a more productive workplace.

ERISA litigation is a unique area that requires an in-depth knowledge of ERISA law and the particular nuances to ERISA litigation that separates it from normal trial court practice.  Working with our transactional employee benefits team, our ERISA litigators have extensive experience in assisting clients facing benefits litigation, including ERISA class actions.  We defend ERISA cases for Fortune 500 insurers, health care providers, self-insured employers and third-party claims administrators.

For more details on our Employee Benefits practice, see these service areas:

  • Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)
  • ERISA and Employee Benefits Litigation
  • Executive Compensation
  • Fiduciary Responsibility
  • Health and Welfare Benefit Plans
  • Retirement Plan Design and Compliance

Government Services

While many government entities’ needs may be addressed by non-public sector attorneys, public sector employers face a range of issues that should be handled by seasoned public sector/governmental attorneys. 

Immigration

Frost Brown Todd assists employers from around the country in securing employment-based temporary visas and permanent resident status for their foreign national employees. We also work with Multilaw, a global network of law firms, to assist with outbound visas and work permits for employees being transferred abroad.  Our attorneys provide our clients with guidance and training on employer compliance and workforce enforcement issues.  We have also defended employers in I-9 audits.  We leverage the latest technologies and interactive tools to assist clients in managing their immigration programs.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

We have been a leader in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution for decades.  We advise our clients on methods of effective negotiation, early case assessment, mediation, mini-trials, and advisory and binding arbitration.  We also draft dispute resolution systems as a matter of forward-looking corporate policy and for commercial and employment agreements.  Our attorneys have lectured extensively on navigating through complex disputes by the use of ADR and have published case studies for the Harvard Program on Negotiation and articles for The Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution, including Mediation Advocacy:  Partnering with the Mediator and Collaborative Lawyering:  A New Development in Conflict Resolution

We view ADR (whether the process is the result of an internal plan design or is offered as an as-needed case-specific option) as a valuable tool for resolving employment disputes prior to and during litigation.

Recent Presentations
  • Catherine Burgett is a presenter on Labor & Employment Law, The Abridged Version for LogisticsConnect (4/25/17)
  • Matthew Wagner presented on immigration Law 101 / Immigration actions of the new administration to HR Partners International (3/2/17)
  • Noel Shepard presented on Investigating Workers’ Compensation Claims for the Employers Resource Association Training (3/2/17)
  • Catherine Burgett presented on The FLSA: You can’t get there from here for the Employers Resource Association Training (3/2/17)
  • Matthew Wagner presented on Transgender Issues in the Workplace at FBT L&E Seminar (2/23/17)
  • Matthew Wagner presented an Employment Law 101 presentation to Miami University MBA class (2/21/17)
  • Matthew Wagner presented on business immigration updates under the new administration to Cincinnati Bar Association Immigration Section (2/16/17)

  • Matthew Wagner presented on Legal Issues for Entrepreneurs/Startups to Artworks CO.STARTERS class (business training program for creative entrepreneurs) (2/15/17)
  • Matthew Wagner presented on Weapons in the Workplace for private company training day (2/3/17)

In the News

Press Releases

Publications

Events

Upcoming

Past

Legal Spotlight

D. Patton Pelfrey will be a featured speaker regarding Ethical Issues for the Employment Lawyer on Friday, June 10, 2016 during the upcoming 15th Biennial UK/CLE Employment Law Institute to be held at the Campbell House Hotel, Lexington, Kentucky.

David Skidmore recently testified before the Ohio Senate Civil Justice Committee regarding the proposed Employment Law Uniformity Act.  The proposed revisions to the law would eliminate some of the differences between Ohio discrimination law and federal discrimination law.  Skidmore testified about the practical problems for Ohio employers caused by these disparities in the law. 

FBT recently prevailed on a motion to dismiss on behalf of its client Western & Southern Financial Group.  Plaintiff alleged that she had been denied employment in retaliation for her previous “protected activity” under the Fair Housing Act and Ohio Civil Rights Act.  The Court for the Southern District of Ohio dismissed her claims holding that “it is permissible for a company to employ persons who are suited for their job and to reject those whose past conduct has rendered them ineffective.”  The Court agreed with W&SFG that Plaintiff’s reading of the Fair Housing Act  and OCRA attempted to stretch the law too far. 

Amy Wilson, member in the Indianapolis office, served as editor and one of the authors of "The Practitioner's Guide to Defense of EPL Claims," recently published by the American Bar Association.  Catherine Lacho (Columbus office) is also an author of the book. For more information, click here.  

David Skidmore and Jay Schoeny recently obtained a complete dismissal of a case in Ohio state court.  In the case, a physician sued a local hospital for breach of an employment agreement.  The physician was seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The Court dismissed the case a few days before a jury trial was scheduled to begin. 

Richard Moore and Matt Wagner recently obtained summary judgment for in an Ohio employer intentional tort case where an employee was seriously injured in an accident at a construction worksite. The employee claimed his employer had deliberately injured him, and was expected to seek damages of well over a million dollars had the case proceeded to trial. There was significant risk of jury sympathy had summary judgment been denied.

Practice Highlights

The Labor and Employment Practice Group is Distinguished as a National Band 1 Firm in Kentucky and Indiana.  Click here to see what others are saying about Frost Brown Todd.

“This large and impressive [Frost Brown Todd Labor & Employment] team has the knowledge and experience to advise on a wide range of complex issues ranging from discrimination to class action litigation. Recently it has been counseling on reductions of force and has seen an increase in union-related matters. A strong position in the distribution market, representing clients such as Amazon.com, results in a steady stream of traditional labor and employment work. Sources say, ‘A strong group that provides an extremely high standard of service.’”

-Chambers and Partners 

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