In a business climate marked by ever-increasing regulation and an uptick in retaliation, discrimination, and other employment claims, personnel management has never been more complicated nor has the risk for a poorly made employment decision been so high. Both employers and their liability insurers depend on Thompson Coe to navigate the employment law maze, and help reduce potential litigation and threats to the employer’s bottom line.
Our approach is to serve as a strategic partner and to be proactive in considering our clients' business objectives. Whether providing counsel or defending an employer in litigation, arbitration, or an administrative action, we bring that business-judgment perspective to every matter.
In addition to Texas, California, Louisiana, and Minnesota, where the firm’s offices are located, we represent employers throughout the U.S. and have represented clients in matters pending in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, and Washington, D.C.
Thompson Coe represents employers before many federal, state and local administrative agencies, including the EEOC, the National Labor Relations Board, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Labor, the Texas Workforce Commission, and various local fair employment practices agencies. We represent both private and public sector management in connection with all employment-related matters, including compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act, Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, the National Labor Relations Act, OSHA, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and other federal, state and local laws regulating employment.
When litigation is necessary, our lawyers thoroughly investigate and aggressively defend the litigation while at the same time understanding the importance and cost-effectiveness of early case analysis and risk assessment in order to quickly identify those cases which should be settled versus those which have little merit or damage exposure.
- Discrimination/Harassment Litigation
Based on the increased stakes in defense of discrimination-related claims, employers must be more vigilant and proactive than ever when it comes to their employment decisions. Thompson Coe’s Labor & Employment Group has significant experience in assisting employers in their compliance activities as well as representing employers in handling individual and class-type investigations and related lawsuits involving all types of discrimination cases, including age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and national origin, along with issues involving disability and reasonable accommodations, equal pay, harassment and retaliation.
- Wage and Hour Litigation
Thompson Coe attorneys have a deep understanding of the wage and hour landscape, from unpaid overtime and off-the-clock work, to employee misclassification and improper paycheck deductions, we understand compliance can be confusing and complex. Our attorneys help your business balance the demands of being competitive in your marketplace, while staying compliant and managing risk.
These lawsuits run the gamut and include claims of failure to correctly determine an employee’s eligibility for FMLA, failure to properly designate and approve leave, and failure to reinstate the employee following leave.
- Contracts, Non-Compete/Non-Solicit Covenants
Litigation surrounding non-competition, non-solicitation, and other employment agreements requires quick action, well-drafted documents, and an intricate knowledge of this area of the law. Thompson Coe both assists with drafting enforceable employment agreements and with enforcing them at the courthouse when required.
- Workers’ Compensation Retaliation
We represent a wide range of clients from large, publicly traded corporations to “mom and pop” local businesses, from colleges and school districts to cities, police and fire departments, municipal utility districts and other public entities. We routinely advise employers in workers’ compensation settlements, a process that involves complying with state workers’ compensation requirements, Medicare reporting and set-aside regulations. We also guide employers through the process of obtaining enforceable releases and waivers of non-workers’ compensation claims.
From Sarbanes-Oxley to Dodd Frank, lawmakers are making it easier for employees to make claims against their employers, causing the number of whistleblower suits to soar. To help companies respond to the challenges they face in this new climate, Thompson Coe attorneys assist employers at every stage – developing effective compliance and reporting programs to reduce the risk of claims, assisting in sensitive investigations, dealing with whistleblowers in the workplace to avoid retaliation claims, and defending employers if a retaliation claim ensues.
- Employment-Related Tort Claims
Employment lawsuits can include claims such as assault, defamation, invasion of privacy, and fraud, either against the employer or against management or Human Resources.
Human Resources Compliance and Support
Thompson Coe counsels clients through a broad range of issues in their day-to-day operations. We work as an extension of your organization to develop the necessary strategies to manage employee relations issues in real time. We also regularly counsel management concerning their personnel policies, practices and procedures and impending personnel decisions and also provide free, value-added services to our clients in order to minimize potential exposure before litigation ever arises, including:
- HR Audits
Audits are an important tool to evaluate legal compliance, create proactive protections and provide people and HR development. Many employers are not in compliance with a variety of laws but most potential violations can be easily detected and remedied. Audits provide a deterrent to litigation and can serve as a cornerstone of a company’s “good faith defense” in future litigation. Auditing the effectiveness of the human resources technical system can include reviewing records and technology systems, document retention, immigration and EEO tracking and technology, and salary and benefits tracking.
On a daily basis, Thompson Coe employment lawyers counsel clients on everything from the pre-employment process to post-termination compliance with non-competition and other agreements. Among other things, this counseling includes giving advice on the timing of background checks, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, negotiation of employment contracts, effective handling of performance and attendance issues, evaluating accommodation requests, determining eligibility for and designating FMLA leave, internal complaints and investigations, terminations, reductions in force, and potential litigation against an employee who is violating an employment agreement or who has retained confidential employer information.
Thompson Coe offers employment training courses for employees, supervisors, and managers on a wide range of critical topics. These sessions answer tough legal and compliance questions, offer practical guidance, and explore proactive approaches to maintaining a positive work environment while minimizing risk or the threat of a lawsuit. We can present on any labor and employment law topic that would benefit your organization, and we are happy to develop custom programs to address specific concerns you may have.
- Handbooks and Personnel Policies
A company’s policies and procedures are essential to its operations and to defining the working relationship with its employees. Thompson Coe helps employers ensure that their policies and procedures are consistent with the organization’s goals and corporate culture, as well as in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. We work with companies at every stage, assessing their corporate policies, helping them implement procedures, and providing comprehensive audit services to assess and promote ongoing compliance.
- Agency Investigations
Various state and federal agencies, including the Department of Labor, Immigrations & Customs Enforcement, and the EEOC and TWC, have the ability to investigate employers. Such investigations can include issuance of a subpoena, requests for employee interviews, or unannounced visits to one’s office and requests for access to the facility and its employees and documents. Thompson Coe advises on the legality and scope of these investigations and how to properly navigate this process.
- Affirmative Action Plans/OFCCP Compliance
In recent years, the OFCCP has intensified its enforcement of laws requiring federal contractors to show that they are not discriminating against employees or job applicants and are engaging in good-faith efforts to ensure equal employment opportunities for women, minorities, individuals with disabilities and veterans. We assist companies of all sizes in complying with detailed recordkeeping requirements, conducting sophisticated data analyses and keeping up with changing regulatory requirements.
Insurance Defense Representation
We are approved panel counsel for a number of insurance carriers that issue employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) to protect employers against liability and defense costs in discrimination or other employment lawsuits. We have defended all manner of employment litigation brought against individuals, companies, and governmental entities insured by, e.g., AIG, Zurich, CNA, Firemen’s Fund, Lexington, Berkley Select, St. Paul-Travelers, Chubb, Arch, Starr Companies, Houston Casualty, Allied World, RSUI, Hanover, Freedom Specialty/Nationwide, Liberty, Philadelphia, Hiscox, Cincinnati, AmTrust, Allianz, Markel, USLI, etc.
Immigration, Visas and Green Cards
In the global economy, businesses face critical needs for personnel transfers across the globe in a timely and efficient manner to maintain a competitive advantage. Our lawyers have the experience to guide employers through a complex maze of immigration enforcement regulations to maximize their business operations. We assist these employers in managing Form I-9 employee verification audits, H1-B Visa applications, Social Security mismatch letters, E-Verify requirements and state and federal investigations.