Labor & Employment



Carlton Fields represents employers of all sizes in all types of employment disputes, including state and federal court actions, administrative charges and hearings, arbitrations, class and collective actions, and informal mediations. Our clients in this area operate in a wide range of industries, such as health care, financial services, hospitality, construction, not-for-profit and academic institutions, and in the public sector.

  • Litigation and Dispute Resolution

    We regularly represent and defend employers and management in litigation involving a variety of claims, including employment discrimination of all kinds, sexual and other types of harassment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, whistleblower, wage and hour disputes, family and medical leave, breach of contract, emotional distress, and negligence. Our lawyers have appeared before state and federal courts, state human rights agencies, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, OSHA, arbitration panels, and various administrative tribunals. With a niche in class action defense, we offer clients the resources to defend employment class actions and other complex litigation matters.

    Learn more about our Discrimination practice Learn more about our Wage & Hour practice
  • Counseling, Training, and Risk Avoidance

    Our lawyers also counsel and train employers on the most effective litigation avoidance practices. We keep our clients informed of the latest developments in labor and employment law, which is constantly changing and varies by locale. For example, our attorneys counsel employers on use of biometric technologies and data, analytics and robotic technologies for recruitment and hiring, privacy and security. By working as a team with our clients, we help ensure compliance. Our efforts enable them to limit, and sometimes completely avoid, exposure to liability in costly lawsuits and government audits.

    With this goal in mind, our employment lawyers are dedicated to reviewing and advising clients on their employment and pay policies and practices. Our efforts include, for example, assistance with drafting and implementing employment policies and procedures; preparing employment agreements; training supervisors, managers, and human resource professionals on employment law compliance; and conducting audits of overtime and other pay practices. We tailor our services to the individual needs of each client.

  • Immigration

    We provide comprehensive immigration services for employers in the pharmaceutical, manufacturing, technology, retail, and communications industries. We help employees process and prepare nonimmigrant work visas, such as H-1Bs, L-1 intracompany transferee visas, and E-2 visas for investors. Additionally, we help process immigrant permanent residence applications via employment-based visa petitions/labor certification (PERM). We also counsel employers on immigration policies and help them develop programs. In addition, we conduct I-9 audits and training, draft I-9 and corporate compliance policies; and defend I-9 audits and ICE investigations. Our immigration clients include artists, athletes, and entertainers; and EB-5 investors, regional centers, and developers. Learn more about our Immigration Planning and Compliance practice.

  • Internal Investigations and Employee Relations

    Our lawyers' accessibility, guidance, and advice enables our clients to take maximum advantage of the brief window of opportunity that exists to address workplace problems, which are, in some cases, unavoidable despite training and counseling. The speed with which an employer responds to workplace problems, and how effectively it remedies them, frequently determines whether a lawsuit is filed. Prompt, effective solutions can avoid exposure to liability altogether, while a slow, ineffectual response can sometimes result in an award of punitive damages.


    We help clients with ERISA Plan design, administration, and interpretation; and with regulatory compliance, monitoring and advocacy. Our representation includes profit sharing, 401(k), money purchase, and defined benefit pension plans. We draft, amend, and terminate ERISA plans to maximize benefits and minimize costs. And we prepare alternative plans that give our clients options that can boost benefits. We also assist with deferred compensation plans, including incentive stock options, nonqualified stock options, and cafeteria plans.

    The firm's ERISA litigators regularly defend clients in complex arbitration, litigation, and mediation. We also help them administer their plans. This work includes representing ERISA plans, which are legal entities subject to suit under ERISA, and the defense of fiduciaries such as employers and plan administrators.

    Our lawyers regularly speak at conferences and seminars and write on the topic of ERISA. Three of our partners co-authored the Handbook on ERISA Litigation, which is frequently cited by courts in ERISA decisions. We have also acted as ERISA counsel to leading trade associations, and prepared amicus briefs on their behalf in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and federal circuit courts of appeal, including Harris Trust, Mertens, and Sereboff. Additionally, we acted as lead counsel before the Supreme Court in Knudson v. Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Co., 534 U.S. 204 (2002), a case clarifying the limited circumstances in which monetary relief is available under ERISA for breach of fiduciary duty claims. 


    Learn more about our Employee Benefits, Compensation and ERISA practice. Learn more about our ERISA Employee Benefit Plan Litigation practice.
  • Trade Secrets/Non-Compete Litigation and Consulting

    We  help clients protect trade secrets, and litigate claims regarding breach of restrictive covenants and fiduciary duties, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and violations of various computer and data security laws. Due to the multifaceted nature of this practice, we rely on our team’s extensive experience in intellectual property, labor and employment, and litigation. Additionally, our lawyers possess deep knowledge and experience regarding e-discovery, and applicable state and federal computer, internet, and privacy statutes. Learn more about our services regarding restrictive covenants and trade secrets.


  • Obtained complete defense verdict after a seven-day federal jury trial in case brought by a former employee against her former employer for violations of the Family Medical Leave Act (retaliation), the Florida Civil Rights Act (handicap, race, age, national origin, and sex discrimination), the Americans with Disabilities Act (handicap discrimination), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (age discrimination), and Title VII (race, national origin, and sex discrimination).
  • Secured the reversal and entry of judgment as a matter of law from the Eleventh Circuit on behalf of an employer whose former employee had obtained a jury verdict of a sexually hostile work environment and retaliatory termination.
  • Procured summary judgment, and decision affirming same on appeal, for medical center accused of discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violations of state statutes, for the medical center’s failure to provide a sign language interpreter to hearing-impaired patient and his hearing-impaired wife.
  • In a case in which a former employee alleged he was discharged because his wife sued his employer for sex discrimination and retaliation, established new law that “marital discrimination” under the Florida Civil Rights Act includes only the state of being or not being married, and does not include the status of being married to a specific individual.
  • Obtained complete defense verdict, after six-day federal jury trial, in Section 1981 race discrimination case brought by a physician who was denied medical staff privileges at hospital.
  • Counseled financial services firms on classification of employees and independent contractors.
  • Defended broker-dealers before state department of labor in a dispute over classification of its financial representatives as independent contractors instead of employees.
  • Obtained dismissal at EEOC and states’ human rights commissions of discrimination claims against numerous clients.
  • Obtained a defense jury verdict of an Americans with Disabilities Act action for a major insurance company.
  • Advised life insurance company on acquisition of agents from competitor.
  • Obtained injunctive relief and money damages for financial company in a case in which departing salesperson stole trade secrets and manipulated or destroyed electronic data.
  • Assisted international manufacturing company with downsizing and closure of U.S. plant.
  • Conducted investigation of copyright piracy and theft of IT software and equipment by corporate employees.
  • Won summary judgment for Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company in breach of employment contract case.
  • Obtained federal district court summary judgment in age discrimination complaint filed by a former senior executive of a major financial company; the decision was affirmed by the circuit court of appeals.
  • Obtained summary judgment on a claim by a former senior executive of a major financial company seeking severance benefits.
  • Investigation of whistleblower complaints.
  • Defense of broker-dealer in FINRA arbitration over claims by former representative of wrongful discharge, defamation, breach of contract, and interference with business expectations.
  • Obtained dismissal of state court action by airline pilot based on ruling that his fraud and intentional infliction claims were preempted by the Railway Labor Act.
  • Obtained L-1 nonimmigrant visa petition approvals in two weeks for Japanese manufacturing company’s engineer, project manager, and product development scientist.
  • In collaboration with attorneys in the Corporate and Tax group who represent a Turkish company with several foreign affiliates, obtained E-2 (employee) visa for Turkish managing director within two weeks of submission from the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul.
  • Conducted internal I-9 audits of construction company’s workforce of more than 500 current employees and 500+ terminated employees.
  • Written I-9 company policy for companies in the construction and real estate development industry.
  • Obtained an O-1 visa (exceptional ability) and O-2 (essential support personnel) for a well-known tennis professional and assistant coach from Chile.
  • Obtained E2 (investor) visa for Brazilian nationals opening numerous franchise locations for the No. 1-ranked hair care franchise in the United States.

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Gary L. Sasso

Gary L. Sasso

President and Chief Executive Officer

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