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Labor & Employment


Overview

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. 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 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.
     
  • ERISA

    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 (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business/Aspen Publishers, 3d ed. 2007), 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 multi-faceted 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.

Experience

  • Obtained complete defense verdict after seven-day federal jury trial in case brought by former employee against her former employer for violations of Family Medical Leave Act (retaliation), Florida Civil Rights Act (handicap, race, age, national origin, and sex discrimination), Americans with Disabilities Act (handicap discrimination), Age Discrimination in Employment Act (age discrimination), and Title VII (race, national origin, and sex discrimination)
  • Secured reversal and entry of judgment as matter of law from the Eleventh Circuit on behalf of employer whose former employee had obtained 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 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 where 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 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 case where 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 2 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 United States Consulate in Istanbul.
  • Conducted Internal I-9 audits of construction company’s work force of over 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 number one ranked hair care franchise in the United States.

All Insights

Policy and Practice Changes Impact the O-1 Visa

Policy and Practice Changes Impact the O-1 Visa

November 7, 2018

During the Trump administration’s 22 months in office, no new laws or regulations have been passed governing the O-1 nonimmigrant visa for foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics.

In California, a New Era in U.S. Privacy

In California, a New Era in U.S. Privacy

October 1, 2018

In June, California passed a sweeping new privacy law that will impact an estimated 500,000 businesses in the United States.

California Rejects Federal Wage and Hour ‘De Minimis’ Doctrine Causing Havoc for Employers

California Rejects Federal Wage and Hour ‘De Minimis’ Doctrine Causing Havoc for Employers

July 27, 2018

The California Supreme Court rejected the federal “de minimis” doctrine for wage and hour regulations. California has now a different standard than federal law for deciding whether small amounts of work “off the clock” must be paid. This decision creates enormous risks for all employers that rely on the de minimis doctrine to determine pay periods for employees.

Fifth Circuit Dashes Delivery Driver’s Bid to Keep Wage Hour Claims Out of Arbitration

Fifth Circuit Dashes Delivery Driver’s Bid to Keep Wage Hour Claims Out of Arbitration

May 8, 2018

In Edwards v. DoorDash, Inc., the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed its position that arbitrability of claims is a threshold question that must be determined by the court prior to deciding certification motions.

More Product Liability and Antitrust Class Actions, Rising Class Action Spending Among Trends in Latest Class Action Survey

More Product Liability and Antitrust Class Actions, Rising Class Action Spending Among Trends in Latest Class Action Survey

April 23, 2018

The seventh annual Carlton Fields Class Action Survey, released April 24, reveals important issues and trends related to class action matters and management based on interviews with general counsel or senior legal officers at 385 companies of all sizes and business types.

Putting the Compensability Brakes on Frequent Employee Breaks

Putting the Compensability Brakes on Frequent Employee Breaks

April 20, 2018

Are frequent and short work breaks necessitated by an employee’s serious health condition considered “compensable” time under the Fair Labor Standards Act?

Navigating The Circuit Split Over Reasonable ADA Leave

Navigating The Circuit Split Over Reasonable ADA Leave

April 12, 2018

Is an employee who is completely unable to work for a finite period of time due to a disability still "qualified" for the position?

Supreme Court Dodges Question of How Much Leave is Reasonable Under the ADA

Supreme Court Dodges Question of How Much Leave is Reasonable Under the ADA

April 5, 2018

SCOTUS will not resolve a circuit split on the length of leave an employer may be required to give to an employee as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Enforcement of DOL’s New Best Interest Contract Exemption’s Anti-Arbitration Condition is Enjoined

Enforcement of DOL’s New Best Interest Contract Exemption’s Anti-Arbitration Condition is Enjoined

March 31, 2018

A number of lawsuits have been brought challenging aspects of the United States Department of Labor’s "fiduciary rule," which expanded the definition of "fiduciary" of an employee benefit plan or individual retirement account as a result of giving investment advice for compensation to retirement investors.

Amending the Florida Constitution: New Ballot Language to be Crafted for 25 Proposals

Amending the Florida Constitution: New Ballot Language to be Crafted for 25 Proposals

March 28, 2018

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) began its own “session” last week, forwarding 25 of 37 proposals to amend the Florida Constitution to the Style and Drafting Committee to craft proposed ballot language.

Calculating Overtime Pay When Paying a Flat Sum Bonus in a Single Pay Period

Calculating Overtime Pay When Paying a Flat Sum Bonus in a Single Pay Period

March 13, 2018

Failing to comply with last week’s California Supreme Court order concerning overtime pay and lump sum bonuses may expose you to costly class actions like so many other California employers.

US Supreme Court  Ruling Tightens the Reins on Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Retaliation Claims

US Supreme Court Ruling Tightens the Reins on Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Retaliation Claims

February 22, 2018

The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow to prospective whistleblowers in Digital Realty Trust Inc. v. Somers (February 21, 2018), making it more difficult to bring a retaliation claim under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

If Your Employment Agreements Use This One Word, Ownership of Your Patents May Be in Jeopardy

If Your Employment Agreements Use This One Word, Ownership of Your Patents May Be in Jeopardy

January 23, 2018

Learn how certain words in an assignment — like “will” or “agrees to” — can inadvertently nullify immediate invention transfers.

The DOL Fiduciary Rule: Charting a Course, Avoiding Collisions & Potential Litigation Q&A #3

The DOL Fiduciary Rule: Charting a Course, Avoiding Collisions & Potential Litigation Q&A #3

October 1, 2017

Potential litigation issues under the "revised temporary" DOL Rule involving the offer and sale of annuities in the IRA market, including class action exposure and ERISA distributions.

The Fiduciary Rule Status Update

The Fiduciary Rule Status Update

September 26, 2017

On April 8, the Department of Labor published the so-called "Fiduciary Rule." It defines who is an employee benefit plan’s "fiduciary" for purposes of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code as a result of giving compensated investment advice regarding assets of a plan or individual retirement account.

Retirement Plan and Leave Donation Programs During States of Emergencies

Retirement Plan and Leave Donation Programs During States of Emergencies

September 13, 2017

This article should interest employers offering retirement plan benefits or leave donation programs to employees affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, in particular, and in various states of emergencies, in general.

DOL Announces New Enforcement Policy on BIC Arbitration Limitation Class Actions

DOL Announces New Enforcement Policy on BIC Arbitration Limitation Class Actions

August 31, 2017

In order for fiduciaries to receive compensation that varies based on their investment advice or from third parties in connection with their advice, they must comply with a prohibited transaction exemption.

Labor Department Extends Applicability Date of BIC Exemption and PTE 84-24 an Additional 18 Months

Labor Department Extends Applicability Date of BIC Exemption and PTE 84-24 an Additional 18 Months

August 30, 2017

The Labor Department has proposed extending the applicability date of the Best Interest Contract Exemption, the Class Exemption for Principal Transactions in Certain Assets Between Investment Advice Fiduciaries, and certain amendments to Prohibited Transaction Exemption 84-24 from January 1, 2018 until July 1, 2019.

The DOL Fiduciary Rule: Charting a Course, Avoiding Collisions & Potential Litigation Q&A #2

The DOL Fiduciary Rule: Charting a Course, Avoiding Collisions & Potential Litigation Q&A #2

August 24, 2017

Last month, we wrote about potential litigation issues under the “revised temporary” DOL Rule involving the offer and sale of annuities in the IRA market. This paper continues that discussion.

The War Between PAGA and Arbitration in California Continues - This Time Employers Win

The War Between PAGA and Arbitration in California Continues - This Time Employers Win

August 4, 2017

This decision reinforces the importance of employers utilizing arbitration agreements coupled with class action waivers in their employment agreements.

California Vacation Vesting Ruling Highlights Importance of Clear Policy Language

California Vacation Vesting Ruling Highlights Importance of Clear Policy Language

August 1, 2017

In Minnick v. Automotive Creations, Inc., the court reaffirmed an employer’s right to have a policy whereby a worker’s entitlement to vacation pay does not vest until after their first anniversary of employment.

Unanimous California Supreme Court Gives Green Light to Plaintiffs to Discover Employee Contact Information

Unanimous California Supreme Court Gives Green Light to Plaintiffs to Discover Employee Contact Information

July 13, 2017

In a big blow to employers, the California Supreme Court unanimously held that plaintiffs and their lawyers must be given access to companywide employee contact information—including addresses and phone numbers—at the onset of a lawsuit and without first establishing a prima facie showing their case has merit.

The DOL Fiduciary Rule: Charting a Course, Avoiding Collisions & Potential Litigation

The DOL Fiduciary Rule: Charting a Course, Avoiding Collisions & Potential Litigation

June 23, 2017

"From a litigation perspective, this change to a fiduciary status for the sales agent is substantial and in many cases will afford litigants unhappy with investment results, or the ultimate characteristics of a particular form of annuity, the opportunity to second-guess the original decision applying a significant range of issues."

IRS Issues Warning on Tax Treatment of Wellness Program Rewards

IRS Issues Warning on Tax Treatment of Wellness Program Rewards

May 29, 2017

Employers offering wellness program rewards should be aware that some medical insurance salespeople are recommending arrangements that fail to comply with applicable law.

Non-Union Employers Beware: Your Employee Handbook May Violate Employees’ Rights

Non-Union Employers Beware: Your Employee Handbook May Violate Employees’ Rights

May 12, 2017

On May 10, 2017, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Robert A. Ringler issued a decision finding that Tucson-based G&E Real Estate Management Services violated the National Labor Relations Act (the Act) by maintaining similar policies, along with 15 other unlawful policies, in its Employee Handbook.

California Supreme Court Puts to Rest Labor Code Interpretation

California Supreme Court Puts to Rest Labor Code Interpretation

May 9, 2017

California employees are guaranteed one day of rest every workweek under a new California Supreme Court decision, which will have broad implications for employers in California, especially those in the retail and food service industries.

7th Circuit Becomes First Appellate Court to Find Title VII Protects Against Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

7th Circuit Becomes First Appellate Court to Find Title VII Protects Against Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

April 4, 2017

On Tuesday, April 4, 2017, an en banc 7th Circuit became the first federal appellate court to find that prohibited sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Are Class Action Waivers Enforceable?

Are Class Action Waivers Enforceable?

February 10, 2017

The Supreme Court granted petitions for certiorari in three lawsuits challenging the legality of arbitration agreements that bar workers from pursuing class actions

Trial Checklist

Trial Checklist

December 15, 2016

This chart provides a quick reference regarding motions and objections that may be made immediately prior to, during, and immediately after trial to preserve issues for appellate review.

Key Contacts

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Gary L. Sasso

Gary L. Sasso

President and Chief Executive Officer

Featured Insights

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The information on this website is presented as a service for our clients and Internet users and is not intended to be legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. Although we welcome your inquiries, please keep in mind that merely contacting us will not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. Consequently, you should not convey any confidential information to us until a formal attorney-client relationship has been established. Please remember that electronic correspondence on the internet is not secure and that you should not include sensitive or confidential information in messages. With that in mind, we look forward to hearing from you.