Sidley has one of the largest Labor, Employment and Immigration practices of any full-service firm in the world. With more than 50 lawyers practicing throughout our offices, our lawyers provide high-quality legal services on a global basis. At the same time, we recognize that it takes more than legal acumen to help solve our clients’ legal problems. We address our clients’ legal issues in the broader context of their business operations and help them achieve solutions that appropriately manage their legal risks. In 2009, the firm was named by Law360 as one of its Employment Law Firms of the Year.
As a result of our approach and our wide range of legal services, our Labor, Employment and Immigration lawyers represent a broad client base, including U.S. and non-U.S. manufacturers; banks and other financial institutions; private equity firms, hedge funds and other investment entities; utilities; railroads; airlines; services firms; healthcare providers; internet and other technology companies; colleges and universities; not-for-profit civic and charitable institutions; and governmental agencies.
Employment and labor litigation has always been a cornerstone of our practice. Our lawyers have decades of experience in litigating before U.S. federal, state, local and international courts and agencies. We handle the most complex class actions, ranging from “pattern and practice” discrimination claims to company-wide wage and hour disputes to WARN Act claims involving mass layoffs and plant closings. We have the experience in working with statistical experts and other professional advisors that are necessary to evaluate and effectively litigate these broad-based claims. At the same time, we are skilled at handling single-plaintiff cases and other smaller cases in a cost-effective manner.
Our lawyers also practice extensively in many niche areas, such as restrictive covenant litigation, labor arbitrations under collectively bargained union contracts; injunctions against union strikes and picketing; immigration proceedings; bankruptcy litigation; issues regarding the Service Contract Act and the Davis Bacon Act; and disputes under the Railway Labor Act and the Occupational and Mine Safety & Health Acts. For cases on appeal, we have lawyers with decades of experience before federal and state appellate courts. No matter what the issue, we recognize that each case is unique, and that there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” strategy for managing and litigating cases.
Counseling and Other Preventative Measures
We appreciate that our clients’ interests often are best served by avoiding litigation in the first place. Accordingly, our lawyers provide sophisticated counseling on a wide range of issues to help them meet that objective, including:
- Advising on compliance with the ever-expanding body of federal, state, local and international laws applicable to employers, including laws concerning discrimination and harassment, employee disabilities and leaves, proper overtime classification of exempt and non-exempt employees under overtime laws, background checks and privacy issues;
- Advising on reductions in force and other employee separations and discipline, including “adverse impact” reviews;
- Conducting and advising on sexual harassment investigations and other internal investigations, including “whistleblower” and white collar matters;
- Drafting and negotiation of employment-related agreements and plans, including executive employment contracts, retention agreements, noncompetition and other restrictive covenants, separation agreements, arbitration agreements and bonus and severance plans;
- Preparation of employment policies, such as employee handbooks, codes of conduct and electronic communications policies;
- Counseling on all aspects of labor-management relations, ranging from negotiation of labor agreements to advising on representation elections to handling of strikes and other disputes;
- Counseling in other niche areas such as compliance with immigration laws, the Railway Labor Act and the Occupational and Mine Safety & Health Acts; and
- Advising on the effective use of, and representation of clients in, arbitration, mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.
Legal Services Involving Business Transactions and Restructurings
We leverage the advantages that only a full-service firm can offer and work with our colleagues in the firm’s Securities, Tax, Employee Benefits, Corporate Reorganization and Bankruptcy, M&A, Executive Compensation and other practice areas to handle the full range of legal issues that arise in domestic and international corporate and other business transactions and restructurings. Examples include negotiating and drafting employment and labor-related covenants, representations and warranties in purchase agreements; conducting due diligence; counseling on WARN Act issues where facility closures or layoffs may occur; advising on union “effects bargaining” and the assumption of bargaining agreements; and drafting key ancillary documents. We also have substantial experience in the employment and labor aspects of corporate bankruptcies and other restructurings. We assist in preparing incentive plans and agreements to help key individuals stay motivated; assist with impact and disparate treatment analyses; advise on legal restrictions on the use of retention and severance provisions in bankruptcies; represent debtors and creditors in contested hearings to approve or reject employment, compensation, union and benefits agreements and plans, and in plan confirmation proceedings; and counsel and represent clients in related union negotiations.
We are skilled and experienced in helping employers navigate the distinct and complex issues that arise under immigration laws to attempt to ensure the seamless hiring of foreign national employees. Our immigration practice advises clients on compliance with Form I-9 and other documentation requirements, applications for H-1B and other visas for non-citizens and issues involving undocumented workers.