Our Employment Law & Labor Relations Group draws upon a diverse team of attorneys representing multiple disciplines to assist management with the most complex labor and employment issues. Group member expertise includes attorneys skilled in employment litigation, alternative dispute resolution, intellectual property, privacy rights, ERISA, federal and state tax law, business counseling, and M&A transactions.
As one of Hawai‘i’s largest full-service law firms, we are also uniquely positioned to tap into the experience of attorneys in other practice areas to serve clients on matters that present more than just employment-related concerns.
What We Do
- Trade Secret Protection/Non-Competition Covenants
- Americans With Disabilities Act and Accommodations
- Discrimination/Harassment/Retaliation/Wrongful Termination
- Employment Benefits/Executive Compensation
- Employment Contracts, Manuals, and Policies
- Union/Employer Relations/Collective Bargaining/Grievances
- Unemployment Insurance/Claims/Appeals
- ERISA and Retirement Plans
- Employee Privacy Issues in the Workplace
- Compliance Counseling/Strategic Planning
- Wage and Hour Compliance/Investigations
- Workplace Safety/Workers Compensation
Trade Secret Protection and Non-Competition Covenants
Our practice area attorneys work with members of our intellectual property practice area to devise a comprehensive strategy to protect employer trade secrets and other intellectual property in the workplace. We are regularly called upon to prepare non-compete agreements, nondisclosure agreements, nondisclosure/anti-piracy agreements, and other restrictive covenants to protect our clients’ valuable proprietary information. Our litigation attorneys also seek to enforce company trade secret protections and non-compete, non-solicitation, and confidentiality covenants in state and federal courts in Hawai‘i.
Discrimination, Harassment, Retaliation, and Wrongful Termination
We have practice area litigation attorneys who regularly defend management against claims of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Hawai‘i’s Fair Employment Practices Act, and other discrimination laws; common law and statutory theories of wrongful termination (e.g., public policy and whistle-blowing protection); and collateral torts (e.g., negligent hiring, supervision, and retention, defamation, infliction of emotional distress, etc.). Our litigation attorneys represent employers and supervisors in court and in proceedings before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Hawai‘i Civil Rights Commission, Department of Labor, and other administrative agencies. Our daily practice also includes advising employers on handling employee complaints and mitigating risks, providing training for supervisors and employees, investigating internal and administrative agency complaints, testing, counseling, and assisting with reasonable accommodation requests, all to ensure compliance with applicable federal and state laws.
Employment Benefits and Executive Compensation
We have practice area attorneys who provide design, drafting, and counseling services to clients over the entire spectrum of retirement and welfare benefit plans, including: (1) advising businesses as to the best types of plans for their particular circumstances; (2) drafting retirement and welfare plans and related documents to meet a particular client’s needs; (3) amending plans to maintain qualification under the changing tax and labor laws; and (4) assisting clients in keeping their plans in compliance with ERISA, including its anti-discrimination, coverage, employee communication, government reporting, and fiduciary rules.
Employment Contracts, Manuals, and Policies
We have practice area attorneys who work with businesses to design employment contracts, employee manuals, employment policies, and benefit packages for key management employees, including establishing option plans, SERPs, nonqualified deferred compensation plans, and change in control agreements. They can also assist with drafting post-retirement, severance pay, and other similar arrangements and assist with COBRA and USERRA compliance with regard to employee benefits.
Union and Employer Relations
We have practice area attorneys skilled at advising and assisting employers in connection with union representation campaigns; representing employers in negotiating and interpreting collective bargaining agreements; defending against unfair labor practice charges; representing employers in grievance and arbitration proceedings; and advising management personnel with respect to employer rights, duties, and obligations in the face of labor disputes (e.g., strikes, lockouts and picketing). They also serve as counsel to contractor associations and advise trustees of multi-employer benefit plans on trust fund matters.
Employee Privacy Issues in the Workplace
We have practice area attorneys skilled at drafting personnel policies and advising employers with respect to legal requirements pertaining to alcohol and drug testing; medical marijuana; e-mail usage and internet access; employee monitoring, searches, and surveillance; job references; and employee background checks.
Compliance Counseling and Strategic Planning
Our practice area attorneys regularly consult with employers, provide timely advice to management, and assist in investigations related to statutory employee rights encompassed in a myriad of federal and state laws (e.g., Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, FLSA, Hawai‘i wage and hour law, Hawai‘i Employment Practices Act, Hawai‘i Prepaid Healthcare Act, etc.). While always ready to assist with immediate legal problem-solving, we believe that strategic planning is often the best weapon in preventing challenges to an employer’s hiring/termination decisions and employment policies. Through a series of supervisor training seminars, internal audits, and other forward-thinking programs, employers are encouraged – with our practice group’s assistance – to prevent employment-related legal problems before they arise.
Workplace Safety and Workers Compensation
Our practice area attorneys have experience assisting employers with audits of their existing programs and verify compliance with federal and state occupational safety and health laws and regulations. We help management develop programs and policies to comply with required standards, and represent clients in the defense of OSHA and HIOSH investigations and enforcement actions. Our practice area attorneys also advise insured employers on workers’ compensation issues and monitor and oversee claims being handled by insurer-retained counsel. We take a proactive approach by providing in-house education to clients and giving advice on claims management and cost containment issues.
Employment Law Issues in Mergers and Acquisitions
Our practice area attorneys work with our business and real estate transaction attorneys to identify and resolve employment-related issues that arise in most M&A transactions, including issues related to employer successor liability, dislocated worker notification statutes, termination and re-employment of employees, effects on bargaining obligations under collective bargaining agreements, and continuation/termination of employee benefit plans.