The attorneys in the Gibbons Employment & Labor Law Group are commended by clients and peers alike for the strategic business solutions and responsive, hands-on services they provide, which include a variety of litigation and compliance counseling matters. We also conduct comprehensive workplace investigations, wide-ranging training sessions, handbook and policy audits, and privileged and non-privileged cultural assessments.
The Group represents clients in many fields, including retail, research and development, advanced technology, pharmaceuticals, insurance, financial services, banking and finance, telecommunications, media, healthcare, manufacturing, construction, education, consumer products, publishing, service-oriented businesses, transportation, and nonprofit agencies. We also represent numerous public sector clients and government entities. Many Gibbons clients are national and international in scope, with employees in numerous cities, states, and countries. Employment & Labor Law Group attorneys handle matters for these clients in both federal and state courts in jurisdictions all across the country and before various administrative agencies, and they provide employment counseling that addresses the specific laws and regulations of numerous states. Group attorneys are admitted throughout the region and appear pro hac vice in those states where they are not admitted.
Practice and Service Distinctions: Numerous Group attorneys are listed in the most recent editions of Woodward/White Best Lawyers®, Thomson Reuters Super Lawyers, and Super Lawyers Rising Stars for New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, as well as the Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, which also ranked the Group as a whole. New Jersey Super Lawyers has also included the Group’s chair in its rankings of the Top 100 Lawyers and Top 50 Female Lawyers in the state. Additionally, in 2023, the Group was selected as New Jersey Law Journal’s “Labor and Employment Litigation Department of the Year,” an honor bestowed on “those lawyers who left an indelible mark on the legal community in New Jersey and beyond through their unwavering dedication to the profession.”
These client- and colleague-driven rankings acknowledge the Group’s experience, proficiency, insight, and commitment, which are also evident through the firm’s Gibbons Law Alert blog, a wide-ranging online platform for analysis and practical perspectives on developing legal and business news covering the employment and labor law and human resources landscapes.
Areas of Focus
Gibbons represents employers with respect to the various federal antidiscrimination laws, including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as similar state and local laws. The Group has extensive experience in federal and state court litigation and administrative proceedings involving claims of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, ranging from defense of individual claims of discrimination to matters involving multiple plaintiffs and classes, including one of the largest collective actions filed under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. We also regularly defend whistle-blower claims.
Court decisions impacting the employer/employee relationship, altering the traditional employment-at-will principle, have created new rights and causes of action for employees in contract and tort law and have significantly increased employers’ potential exposure. Gibbons represents employers in litigation involving a variety of contract and tort causes of action.
Employment Contracts, Restrictive Covenants, and Trade Secrets
Attorneys in the Gibbons Employment & Labor Law Group represent employers and individuals in various claims involving restrictive covenants and trade secrets. With regard to trade secrets, we also advise major companies and executive-level employees on employment, non-disclosure, and confidentiality agreements, as well as employee policies and procedures designed to help protect these kinds of assets and intellectual property. Our team negotiates employment and separation agreements that address such terms as compensation, equity awards, and restrictive covenants and advises clients on non-competition, anti-raiding, and confidentiality provisions, waivers of employment-based claims, and the full range of compensation issues.
Wage and Hour/Employee Compensation Issues
Gibbons represents, in a comprehensive manner, the interests of employers regarding overtime and off-the-clock work, employee classification, independent contractor, and other wage and hour issues under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state laws, defending employers in administrative proceedings and in response to wage and hour actions filed in federal and state courts by or on behalf of classes, groups, and individuals. We handle matters involving: exempt/non-exempt status; overtime compensation; failure to pay wages; wage deduction; severance pay; employee vs. independent contractor status; and executive compensation. In addition, we advise and train employers on wage and hour policies and practices, including conducting self-audits when advisable and addressing such issues as off-the-clock, fluctuating-workweek, misclassification (under the white collar, information technology, and outside sales exemptions), and virtually all other aspects of wage and hour law; for example, we have spearheaded nationwide self-audits for two of the Big Four accounting firms, a large investment bank, and multiple business services companies.
Gibbons employment lawyers frequently litigate disputes in federal and state courts involving employee retirement, deferred compensation, and welfare benefit plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), either separately or as one of a number of claims asserted in other litigation.
Labor Relations and Union Avoidance
Gibbons attorneys render assistance to employers facing union organizational drives, election campaigns, and related union activities. We conduct periodic labor audits and counsel employers on labor-related issues, including preventive labor relations. The firm also regularly assists unionized clients with labor contract negotiations and administration, grievances, and labor arbitrations. We assist employers in defending against unfair labor practice charges where necessary. We provide counseling on such diverse issues as plant relocations and closings, successorship and double-breasting issues, and withdrawal liability. We have been involved in decertification proceedings, jurisdictional disputes, labor strikes, and other disputes and grievances that result in administrative and legal proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board and the federal and state courts. Gibbons attorneys also litigate labor matters that arise in bankruptcy proceedings, and we regularly assist clients on labor matters that arise in the course of mergers, acquisitions, and other business transactions.
Employment Law Compliance Counseling and Training
The Employment & Labor Law Group partners with clients to prevent or resolve employment disputes, whenever feasible, through employment-related compliance counseling and training. Every year, more and more laws are passed that affect employers and protect employees, creating an endless stream of requirements for employers, as well as employment-related claims and litigation. The Gibbons attorneys who counsel and train clients on employment and labor law compliance are not only knowledgeable about the full range of state and federal laws and regulations, but they have actual experience litigating cases that interpret these laws, which results in advice that is both relevant and practical.
Gibbons frequently represents major companies and executive-level employees in the negotiation of employment and separation agreements. Our clients range from C-suite professionals to private equity firm partners to Fortune 500 companies. We handle matters involving non-competition, anti-raiding, and confidentiality provisions; waivers of discrimination and other employment-based claims; golden parachute provisions; gross-up provisions for the payment of the excise tax on golden parachute payments; contest provisions dealing with the assessment of the excise tax by the IRS; and change of control provisions dealing with severance payments and accelerated vesting and funding of nonqualified deferred compensation plans and equity-based compensation plans. We regularly advise clients on matters of leave administration, disability accommodation, employee separations, workforce reductions, performance management, workplace regulation, record-keeping, postings, and day-to-day employment counseling issues.
The firm also designs and drafts a wide array of equity-based compensation plans – such as nonqualified stock options, incentive stock options, phantom stock plans, restricted stock plans, and stock appreciation rights – and nonqualified deferred compensation plans; such defined contribution plans with employer contributions and employee salary deferrals; defined contribution salary reduction plans paired with qualified 401(K) plans; and defined benefit offset plans. In addition, Gibbons attorneys have designed, drafted, and installed employee stock purchase plans for publicly-held companies under Section 423 of the Internal Revenue Code. Finally, since the firm has an extensive practice representing tax-exempt organizations, attorneys often draft nonqualified Section 457(f) plans for executives of tax-exempt organizations, such as hospitals and universities.
Transactional Employment Matters
Gibbons attorneys regularly work on mergers and acquisitions to advise on strategy and prepare documents used in transactional matters. We focus on the employment-related aspects of transactions included in purchase and sale agreements, employment agreements, restrictive covenant agreements, equity and stock agreements, and related compensation plans. We also advise regarding retention plans and post-acquisition matters, such as employee integration and benefits coordination.