Human Resources and Employment
Gould & Ratner’s Human Resources and Employment Law Practice advises company management on a broad array of employment matters and state and federal labor laws. We focus our practice on three core disciplines:
- Employment and benefits counseling
- Employee training
- Employment litigation
Our lawyers firmly believe that an “ounce of prevention” is worth far more than the proverbial “pound of cure.” Nearly every issue arising in the human resources arena is best addressed proactively, long before anyone can even contemplate filing a lawsuit or administrative charge.
To that end, our lawyers are not just hired guns representing employers in court, but are a valued and necessary part of the entire human resources life-cycle from:
- Packaging benefits
- Separating from employment
In addition, our lawyers regularly provide advice in areas including, but not limited to:
- Planned discharge decisions, including assessing risk and compliance with EEO law
- Impact of labor and employment law issues on mergers and acquisitions
- Legal compliance audits of human resources practices
- Layoffs and reductions in force
- Leave issues under the Family and Medical Leave Act, workers’ compensation law and the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Requests for reasonable accommodation
- Drafting and enforcing non-compete, non-solicitation and non-disclosure agreements
- Investigating harassment complaints
- Revising and updating employee handbooks
- Securing I-9 compliance through internal audits
- Strategies to ensure exemptions from the requirement of paying overtime
The Human Resources and Employment Law Practice's lawyers have a long history of working closely with their clients’ general counsel and/or human resources professionals to proactively consult on the myriad of employment-related issues presented to companies across the country.
Our team has all the resources needed to help build a “best practices” human resources department and to minimize the risks of facing costly litigation:
- Consulting on the latest human resources topics
- Elevating human resources to the “C” suite
- Drafting executive compensation agreements
- Designing and drafting employee benefit plans
In line with our goal of focusing on preventative measures that assist employers in reducing exposure to costly employment-related lawsuits, we have developed training and educational programs that can yield significant and measurable savings over costly employment actions and claims.
Our lawyers personally conceive, design and present all of the firm’s employment law training seminars. We believe that, as lawyers, we bring a unique perspective to employment-related training.
We have significant experience in court defending employers against discrimination lawsuits filed by current and former employees, so we have witnessed the successes and the failures employers face in court. The use of practicing lawyers as trainers brings both a real-world understanding and years of practical experience to each and every seminar.
Representative Training Programs
- Harassment Prevention for Managers and Supervisors
- Overtime Run Amok? The Basics of Wage and Hour Law
- Risk Management
- Supervisory Skills Training 101
- Diversity and Sensitivity in a Multi-Cultural Workforce
Our attorneys represent employers in employment-based lawsuits in state and federal courts across the country and before various federal, state and local governmental agencies. We have litigated a wide variety of employment-related disputes, including:
- Employment discrimination (national origin, age, disability, etc.)
- Sexual harassment
- Workers’ compensation retaliation
- Enforcement of restrictive covenants
- Breaches of fiduciary duty
- Breaches of contract
- Unfair labor practice charges
- EEOC charges
- Wage and hour
As part of our lawyers' commitment to stay on top of ever-changing laws and regulations pertaining to human resource and employment, we regularly post updates on hot topics in employment law on our HR Blog. To view and subscribe to it, click here.
- Sanctions Won: Our lawyers represented a coal mining company in a case in which the plaintiff, a current employee, alleged that she was being unlawfully harassed because of her age and disability and that the company was failing to accommodate her disability. Due to ongoing discovery disputes, the firm filed a motion to compel, which the court granted and in which the court ordered sanctions against the plaintiff’s counsel in an amount equal to the company’s costs in preparing that motion. The case settled shortly thereafter for a release of the company’s right to collect the sanctions.
- Making Law in the Circuit: We represented a large international employer in a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by a current employee. The employee alleged that the company failed to accommodate her medical condition which required, among other things, frequent bathroom breaks. The firm was able to secure admissions at the plaintiff’s deposition that she believed her performance was far superior to the generally positive ratings she had received from her supervisors. On summary judgment, the employer successfully convinced the court that since self-assessed performance was so overwhelmingly above expectations that she was not entitled to a reasonable accommodation as a matter of law.
- Moonlighting Proven: Our lawyers represented a coal mining company in a disability discrimination case filed by a current employee. After securing evidence that the employee had been moonlighting while on a claimed medical leave of absence, David Michael was successful in having the case dismissed and in defeating the employee’s request for review (appeal).
- Falsifying Medical Records: We represented an aggregate and stone mining company in a retaliatory discharge case. David Michael successfully argued to the appellate court that the plaintiff falsified medical records and failed to establish the company terminated him for any other reason than his failure to return to work after he had recovered from a workers’ compensation injury.
- Admitting Speculation: Our lawyers represented a truck trailer manufacturer in a retaliatory discharge case brought by a former employee who suffered numerous work-related injuries. At the plaintiff’s deposition, David Michael was able to secure an admission that the plaintiff was simply speculating that the company terminated her employment in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Accordingly, the court granted the company’s summary judgment motion.
- Statute of Frauds: The firm represented a graduate school in child development in a wrongful discharge case. The plaintiff argued that he had been granted a two-year employment contract and was wrongfully terminated only 11 months after it began. The court granted the firm’s motion to dismiss, finding that the alleged employment contract was not in writing and, therefore, was unenforceable under the Statute of Frauds.
- Defamation: In a departure from its normal position as defense counsel, our lawyers successfully represented a long-time friend of the firm in an arbitration case alleging defamation against his prior employer associated with its filing of a false Form U-5. After winning $333,000 in the arbitration, David Michael successfully defended that judgment from attack at the trial court, before the appellate court and in front of the Supreme Court.
- DOL Action: The firm represented a “turn-around” specialist after several high-ranking former employees sued for compensation and benefits under their employment agreements. David Michael successfully convinced the Department of Labor to dismiss the case.
- Discrimination: We represented an airline in a race discrimination, workers’ compensation and retaliatory discharge case involving
an employee who was terminated for excessive absenteeism. In this case, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the airline.
We represented a tool manufacturer in an age discrimination/discharge case. The court granted summary judgment in favor of the company, finding that the plaintiff was unable to produce evidence that the discharge was based upon his age.
- Misappropriation of Trade Secrets: Paul Carroll and David Michael represented a recruiting company in an action against a former employee for misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of his employment agreement and breach of his fiduciary duty of loyalty. The matter was resolved upon entry of a permanent injunction barring the former employee from utilizing any confidential or trade secret information from his former employer.
- Wage and Hour Class Claims: David Michael and Ellen Chapelle represented an employer in Indiana in a class action brought pursuant to the Indiana Wage Payment law. Using a procedural device under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the firm was able to resolve the case prior to the certification of class.
Retaliatory and Wrongful Discharge
- New Form I-9 Now Required, HumanResourcesLawBlog.com, January 23, 2017
- Happy New (Employment-Laws) Year!, Employment e-lert, December 29, 2016
- Overtime Changes Temporarily Stayed, HR & Employment e-lert, November 23, 2016
- The Federal Gates Are Open: Defense of Trade Secrets Act 2016, GR Client Alert, May 2016
- Franchisor Is Not "Lovin' It", April 30, 2016
- Would Your Company's Non-Compete Survive a Challenge in Court?, Employment e-lert, March 2016
- Conditional Job Offers and Medical Examinations: An ADA Landmine?, Employment e-lert, June 2013
- New FMLA Rule Takes Effect, Illinois Banker, March 2013
- DNM - Spouse of Undocumented Alien Fails to State Discrimination Claim, American Bar Association, Litigation Section News & Developments, January 2013
- Recent Developments in the Enforcement of Restrictive Covenants, Illinois Banker, April 2012
- The GINA Regulations Are Here!, Illinois Banker, February 2011
- DNM - Illinois Enacts New Employee Credit Check Law, Employment e-lert, January 2011
- Praying for Relief: Accommodating Employee Religious Practices , Illinois Banker, April 2010
- New Tax Rules for Deferred Compensation, GR Review, July 2009
- Employers Beware: Disability Law Amendments Effective in 2009, Employment e-lert, November 2008
- New Law to Prohibit Discrimination Based Upon Genetic Information, GR Review, October 2008
- The New and Improved (?) FMLA, Employment e-lert, March 2008
- New I-9 Form Adopted, Employment e-lert, January 2008
- No Relief Behind the Counter: Does Federal Law Protect a Pharmacist Who Refuses to Fill Birth Control Prescriptions?, Employment e-lert, August 2007
- New Ruling Requires Harassment To Be "Targeted", Employment e-lert, May 2007