General Labor and Employment
The firm’s general labor and employment experience encompasses virtually every aspect of labor and employment law. The most basic representation involves day-to-day advice and counsel to personnel and human resource departments, with respect to the numerous labor and employment matters which arise from daily operations. In many cases, the firm is involved in assisting clients in proactively minimizing discrimination or wrongful termination charges, in addition to offering advice as to decisions affecting personnel policies and collective bargaining agreements.
Our lawyers are often called upon to review employee handbooks and manuals for businesses, from both a legal and human relations standpoint. We work with clients to ensure their HR manual is well-written, clear and concise, and in doing so have it serve as an effective way to minimize the company’s exposure to employee lawsuits. Our team’s advice and counsel incorporates best practices aimed at maximizing the efficiency of operations and promoting a healthy and productive relationship between management and its workforce. Our employment attorneys will also assist clients in staying current with changes in the law and making proactive decisions regarding workplace policy and procedure.
Attorneys within the firm’s Labor and Employment Group spend a significant amount of time in labor and employment litigation, which includes failure to accommodate disabilities; discrimination, including race, gender, sex, national origin and age; unlawful discipline; wrongful discharge; “whistle-blower” actions, workplace defamation; and other tort-based employment claims and individual contract actions, as well as arbitration proceedings, before state and federal courts and administrative agencies.
Our attorneys assist employers in the negotiation of collective bargaining agreements, whether as lead negotiator or in an advisory capacity. Our employment lawyers have obtained injunctions and have instituted suits for damages and other relief for struck employers and have counseled employers faced with boycotts, slowdowns, union organization, and other forms of union activity. Please see below for our separate section regarding our collective bargaining services.
The Department has defended numerous federal and state wage and hour audits and lawsuits and OSHA citations. Department members have appeared before the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and have drafted and defended affirmative action programs on both the federal and state level.
In conjunction with lawyers in the firm’s Tax Group, attorneys in the Labor and Employment Law Group have broad experience in employee benefits matters. The Department has handled ERISA and other benefits-related litigation and has extensive experience in drafting retirement, Section 401(k), cafeteria/flexible benefits and other employee welfare plans. Attorneys in the Department also have handled reductions in force and the individual and group severance plans and agreements.
Archer has been heavily involved in collective bargaining in New Jersey for decades. Archer’s Labor and Employment Department is one of the largest such departments in Southern New Jersey, and its experience includes representing employers in the public and private sector in union organization, picketing, unfair labor practice litigation, grievance arbitrations and collective bargaining. Our attorneys understand the many facets of an employer’s often complicated relationship with the labor unions that represent its employees. We understand the importance of a constructive labor-management relationship, and we have a strong record of successfully navigating these relationships to foster a productive and efficient workforce.
Archer’s collective bargaining experience covers a broad array of industries and fields. However, unlike many firms, Archer attorneys are particularly experienced in public sector collective negotiations, representing many municipalities, school boards, county and state entities with respect to union negotiations. Archer’s bargaining philosophy is to apply its deep background to all negotiations, and to use specific and individual research as to each set of negotiations to determine the bargaining strategy to be used.
Our broad experience in the negotiation process allows employers to get the best possible economic settlement and to creatively negotiate contract language. We are skilled at drafting contract language that will have the results intended by our clients because we understand how language will be interpreted in the real world, and in the world of arbitration. We also understand how contract language might interact with state or federal law affecting the employment relationship. Finally, when unions decide to pursue grievances to arbitration, our experienced attorneys, who collectively have tried hundreds of arbitration cases, get you the best possible result.
We regularly provide resources and representation to our clients on matters such as:
- Advice regarding union organizing and campaigns, “card checks,” and bargaining unit disputes
- Proceedings before PERC and the NLRB
- Negotiating Labor Peace Agreements
- Unfair (labor) practice charges
- Interest arbitrations
- Grievance arbitration
- Structural changes in retirement and health plans
- Responding to work stoppages and strikes, including injunctive relief proceedings
- Labor market “comparability” issues
Archer’s labor and employment attorneys arewell known for their experience in handling employment-based litigation, including failure to accommodate disabilities; discrimination, including race, gender, sex, national origin and age; unlawful discipline; wrongful discharge; “whistle-blower” actions, workplace defamation; and other tort-based employment claims and individual contract actions, as well as arbitration proceedings, before state and federal courts and administrative agencies.
These agencies include, among others, the Public Employment Relations Commission, National Labor Relations Board, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Civil Service Commission, Office on Civil Rights, Office of Administrative Law, and New Jersey Department of Labor.
Our Labor & Employment Department has defended numerous federal and state wage-and-hour audits and lawsuits, as well as OSHA citations. Department members have appeared before the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and have drafted and defended affirmative action programs on both the federal and state levels. Department attorneys have also handled reductions in force and individual and group severance plans and agreements.
Our attorneys have also litigated employee claims regarding the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”), the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), and the New Jersey Family Leave Act.
We also handle grievance proceedings and arbitrations, render advice concerning strike planning, and defend and prosecute unfair labor practice charges. We counsel non-union employers in how to effectively address union boycotts, picketing, organizational campaigns and other union activity. The Department has successfully proceeded in state and federal injunctions and damage actions against union picketing and other courses of activity.
Archer’s decades of litigation experience helps us tailor our approach to cases, in consultation with our clients, to determine the best way to maximize their chances of success, while minimizing the amount of professional time devoted to the case. We know that different clients have different litigation objectives and that this is especially true with respect to our public sector clients. We understand that in some cases an aggressive approach is warranted, while in others, a step-by-step approach is best. In all cases, we consult with our clients to define litigation objectives, carefully plan our approach to their cases, control the costs involved, and achieve their litigation goals.
Civil Rights Law
The attorneys of Archer‘s Civil Rights Practice Group have decades of experience defending civil rights claims against state, county and local law enforcement and corrections agencies, as well as school districts, municipalities, authorities, commissions and other government entities. These attorneys have tried hundreds of cases to successful conclusion, and have won pretrial dismissals or favorable settlements in hundreds more. Our attorneys have saved government agencies and taxpayers millions in damages sought through actions brought under federal constitutional law as well as state laws.
Archer’s civil rights attorneys have successfully defended claims alleging wrongful death, excessive force, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, illegal search and seizure, deliberate indifference, cruel and unusual punishment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, as well as claims stemming from alleged insufficient police staffing and security. These attorneys have also successfully defended numerous Monell claims brought under theories of liability, including negligent hiring, failure to train, failure to discipline and lack of remedial measures.
Employee Benefit Plans
The attorneys in Archer’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group advise and represent employers, including many New Jersey municipalities and governmental organizations, with respect to a comprehensive array of employee benefits and executive compensation issues.
We represent, advise and counsel sponsors of governmental plans, including schools, universities, hospitals and local governments, on special requirements for benefits within government agencies. Our Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group offers fiduciaries full Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) support, including compliance, development of plan investment policies, limiting liability for losses in participant directed accounts (Section 404(c) compliance), and avoiding and correcting prohibited transactions and other fiduciary breaches.
The Group has designed eligible and ineligible Section 457 plans for our many tax-exempt clients. We represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation in connection with all compliance, assessment and termination proceedings. The Group provides advice with respect to all qualified and non-qualified plans to ensure compliance and develop strategies to correct operational errors.
Our attorneys provide tax services regarding design, implementation, administration, regulatory compliance, and termination of qualified and nonqualified retirement plans, including 401(k), profit sharing and cross-tested plans, defined benefit plans, tax sheltered annuities, top hat plans, supplemental employee retirement plans (SERPs), Rabbi Trusts, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), stock bonus plans, stock appreciation rights (SARs) and other equity-based compensation arrangements, as well as multi-employer plans. Our services include creating executive employment agreements and advising clients on deferred compensation issues. We design and implement health, welfare and cafeteria plans and assist clients in ensuring compliance with both the Internal Revenue Code and ERISA.
The Group also participates in business transactions through due diligence oversight, negotiation of withdrawal liability allocation, negotiating and drafting employee benefit provisions and severance and stay arrangements, and providing advice and counsel on post-closing plan issues, including integration, plan mergers and spin-offs, and transition compliance and administration. The Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group works with litigators in the firm’s Labor & Employment Department in representing employers, plans, fiduciaries, and participants.
Members of our Labor & Employment Group are often called upon to train employees and supervisors as part of their employer’s proactive steps to avoid litigation, for example, in the area of discrimination and harassment. Our attorneys speak to business and employer groups frequently on a broad range of labor and employment law topics. These attorneys have extensive experience in employee training for public sector employers with respect to sexual and other forms of harassment, the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and FMLA, discrimination, and employee discipline, evaluation and termination (including workplace violence), among other areas.