Labor & Employment

Success Stories

Negotiating Early Contract Extension for Major Defense Contractor

We successfully represented a major defense contractor in early contract extension negotiations tied to a major effort to win additional work for the employer’s unionized facility in Wisconsin. We developed a strategy to persuade the union to come to the table three years prior to contract expiration, and to consider significant concessions in return for a commitment to perform the work at that location. The union was naturally reluctant to commit to a long extension, and we assisted the client in exploring other incentives to create a true win-win opportunity for both sides. This involved not simply pitting a union location against a non-union location, but demonstrating that the concessions sought by the company were supported by comparables in the market. The client ultimately achieved a five-year contract extension, assuring it eight years of labor peace and a labor cost and benefit structure that would enable it to submit a competitive bid to the government.

Negotiating Changes to Local UAW Labor Agreement

We assisted a major Milwaukee-area manufacturer in negotiating significant changes to its labor agreement with the United Automobile Workers. These involved streamlining leave procedures, reducing overtime costs, and eliminating retiree insurance benefits, among others. Our work focused on developing the bargaining strategy, representing the company at the table, developing employee communications, and demonstrating through appropriate benchmarking that the changes sought by the company were consistent with prevailing wages and benefits in the market. We also developed and successfully negotiated new contract language to address and anticipate changes resulting from the Affordable Care Act. We ultimately succeeded in obtaining a five-year contract without a work stoppage, which has already paid dividends in the form of bringing additional work, which had been performed off shore, back to the Milwaukee area.

Fair Labor Standards Act Collective Action

This was a collective action brought by a former server who worked at a large restaurant. She brought minimum wage and overtime claims against the restaurant and its owners based on allegations that servers were not paid overtime for hours worked over 40, the restaurant was improperly taking the “tip credit” against the required minimum wage when it was not entitled to do so, and the restaurant was making improper deductions from wages. Through proactive advice to change and retroactively remedy certain practices for all current employees, the opt-in plaintiffs were limited to eight former employees. We were able to negotiate a settlement of their claims on very favorable terms.

Defending Against Wage and Overtime Claims

Quarles & Brady has been defending a class and collective action brought by and on behalf of hundreds of day laborers, many of whom were undocumented, who alleged minimum wage and overtime violations, as well as retaliation claims against our client. Our team obtained a very favorable settlement that was approved by the court.

Guidance During OFCCP Audits

A Quarles & Brady client unwittingly became a federal contractor and was audited by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). The client had not complied with the OFCCP’s record-keeping and job posting obligations or engaged in any outreach to women, minorities, covered veterans, or individuals with disabilities. The OFCCP gathered the needed information from the client and then issued a Notice of Violation and draft conciliation agreement. The proposed conciliation agreement outlined 10 pages of obligations and required reporting to the OFCCP for two years. The client then sought advice from us regarding the audit. We objected to the OFCCP’s proposed conciliation agreement and talked to the agency about our objections to the agreement and the OFCCP’s approach. Based on our advice, the client declined to sign any conciliation agreement with the OFCCP. Less than two weeks later in 2011, the OFCCP administratively closed the audit without a conciliation agreement or reporting obligations to the OFCCP.

Saving Clients Time, Money, and Effort

A health care client had combined several hospital and clinic facilities owned by multiple, but related, legal entities into one affirmative action program (AAP). The client submitted the entire AAP to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) after the OFCCP issued a scheduling letter to only one of the client’s clinics. The OFCCP announced that it found a significant shortfall in minority and female hires in various job groups and was on the road to requiring the hiring of numerous rejected applicants along with payment of multiple years of back pay for each applicant.

The client called us. We convinced the OFCCP to halt its investigation and obtained administrative closure of the review. The alleged problem areas related to facilities and/or legal entities other than the one that the OFCCP scheduled for audit. We convinced the OFCCP that it did not have jurisdiction over these other facilities and entities. We provided the OFCCP with a revised AAP covering just the facility that originally had been scheduled for the audit and showed that no discrimination had occurred at that facility. We saved our client significant time, effort, and money, being that it did not have to try to defend its allegedly discriminatory hiring practices at other facilities and by other legal entities.

Defense Against Notice of Violation

One of our manufacturing clients received a notice of violation from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) alleging that over 50 minority applicants had been discriminatorily rejected, and seeking back pay for all of them. Through a proper statistical and comparator analysis, along with detailed explanations of the company’s hiring practices, we were able to convince the OFCCP to completely drop the allegations of discrimination and close out the audit, saving our client hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Arguing Against OFCCP Allegations

A manufacturing client was faced with findings by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) of alleged discrimination in compensation for female mid-level managers and professionals. The firm analyzed its compensation practices and convinced OFCCP to withdraw the allegations and close out the audit based on our statistical analysis, and analysis of individual male and female comparators, which considered job history, department, function, and market data.

Competent Defense When You Need It

A client called us when it learned its sales manager received an audit letter from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) 11 months earlier but never informed anyone else at the company. The OFCCP called and threatened to issue a show cause notice based on the company’s lack of response. We became involved in the audit and told the OFCCP that we would provide a plan to the OFCCP in 30 days. We quickly and efficiently prepared the plan for the client, and the OFCCP administratively closed the audit without any violations a few months later.

11th Circuit

Obtaining summary judgment and successfully arguing on appeal the first disability discrimination case in the 11th Circuit involving an HIV-positive health care worker—establishing a pro-employer test for future cases. The plaintiff was backed by a well-funded special interest group that fought the case aggressively from the administrative agency to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Emergency Injunction

Quarles & Brady obtained an emergency injunction restricting a former sales manager of a major international consumer products company from using or disclosing confidential information and trade secrets, and compelling production of all computer and electronic storage equipment, including that issued by the new employer. Following the employee's resignation to join a competitor, forensic examination of a company-issued laptop revealed that hours before, the employee had copied thousands of files to an external hard drive. When confronted, the employee turned over the hard drive and gave assurance that no further copies had been made. Forensic examination revealed additional downloading. Quarles & Brady sought and obtained an emergency injunction and recovered all intellectual property.

Arbitration and Summary Dismissal

Compelling arbitration and obtaining the summary dismissal, later upheld on appeal, of wrongful discharge claims by a former manager at a national insurance company who was terminated after what he contended was a shoddy investigation into workplace harassment allegations by a subordinate, with whom he had an extramarital affair, and her friends.

Preventing Imposition

Quarles & Brady prevented the imposition of injunctive relief in a case brought by two terminated engineers who claimed that their former employer, an experimental biotechnology company, had falsified data and submissions to regulatory authorities in connection with their principal medical device, an ultrasonic heart catheter. The plaintiffs sought a restraining order four days before the commencement of human trials, the conduct of which were tied to important funding milestones. The case was briefed and successfully argued without delaying the clinical trials.

Dismissal of Wrongful Discharge

Quarles & Brady obtained dismissal of wrongful discharge claims brought against a national nursing home operator by a nurse who claimed that she was terminated after threatening to inform authorities of what she believed to have been the physical abuse of a resident.