We have been successfully representing small and large public entities, including municipal and county governments and school boards, for nearly two decades; they, along with their insurance carriers and third-party administrators, have put their faith and trust in us to handle their legal issues. While we are a multi-practice firm, our areas of specialty on behalf of public sector entities and their officials are labor relations, employment counseling and litigation defense, tort claims defense, workers’ compensation defense, and other general litigation defense. We share a keen understanding of a municipality’s needs and the importance of sound legal advice, especially during these uncharted times when our role has never been more critical. We are proud of the successes we have achieved and the close working relationships that we have developed with various administrations over the years.
We recognize that public entities allocate taxpayer funds to pay for legal services and deserve zealous representation. To that end:
- We work closely with the administration to formulate practical and cost-effective solutions to legal issues that arise.
- We are available to address and meet the needs of the administration – no matter how, when or where they arise.
- We promptly respond to all communications.
- We discuss – in advance – what will be done and when it will be done.
- We work with the administration to limit liability and exposure.
Through our representation of municipalities spanning nearly two decades, we have become highly knowledgeable in the operation of local governmental entities. We have established a reputation for our ability to interact professionally and efficiently with elected officials, board members, administration, staff, and union representatives. We also excel at providing our clients with timely and responsive answers to their legal questions. Although we take an aggressive, no nonsense approach in representing the public entity and protecting taxpayer money, we also assist our clients in making well-reasoned decisions that are in the best interest of all parties and the public.
We stand ready to assist you 24/7; our Firm’s motto is “we are always here for you” and we mean it. We are all too familiar with the stereotypical complaints clients have with their lawyers; we strive to be different than other firms by shattering those stereotypes and exceeding our clients’ expectations. For this reason, our Firm and its attorneys’ reputation in the public sector continues to grow stronger daily. We will gladly provide references from other municipalities and their insurance carriers and third-party administrators who can vouch for our character and skills.
As seasoned labor attorneys, we regularly serve as the chief spokesperson in the negotiation of collective bargaining agreements for public sector employers. Recognizing that the terms of a labor contract are unique to each employer, we tailor contracts to meet an employer’s needs. We carefully review and assess the impact of the labor contract and its provisions, as well as any proposed changes to the contract sought by the union, on the employer’s business operations and fiscal state in consultation with management. By engaging in effective negotiations, we ensure that the labor contract is as favorable as possible for the public sector employer.
We understand that labor issues do not end with the ratification of a labor contract. Managers and supervisors often have questions that arise on a daily basis regarding the interpretation of the contract in particular workplace situations and the handling of issues in compliance with the labor contract. We recognize the urgency that exists in addressing management’s questions and always respond promptly. Where necessary we conduct (or assist supervisors with) workplace investigations, counsel employees and, if warranted, assist human resources with the issuance of disciplinary documentation for employees who commit infractions.
When bargaining unit members file grievances, we ensure that the public sector employer is in the best defensible position for any subsequent arbitration proceedings. We have successfully represented municipalities on unfair labor practice claims by individual employees and their unions, binding arbitrations on the interpretation of issues arising under labor agreements, interest arbitrations resulting from an impasse in labor agreement negotiations, and binding arbitrations on civilian employee disciplinary matters. We also regularly handle law enforcement disciplinary appeals.
We have extensive experience providing legal advice on issues that often arise in the workplace such as discrimination, harassment, drug testing, workplace violence, employee privacy issues, Americans with Disabilities Act, Family Medical Leave Act, workers’ compensation, governmental ethics, whistleblower, COVID-19, and other areas of potentially crippling liability. We work with and train employees in human resources in order to fortify the internal staff who are called upon to handle these issues daily; they serve as the front-line defenders on labor issues. Nevertheless, we remain involved in all labor issues, including prosecuting discipline against public sector employees, both sworn and civilian. We also aid management by prosecuting disciplinary hearings and appearing before administrative review boards. With our labor experience, we pride ourselves in providing employers with recommendations that strengthen their operational policies and improve accountability and productivity, as well as their overall performance evaluation systems.
Employment Counseling & Litigation Defense
We are skilled advocates in the courtroom, zealously litigating to restore the rights and protect the interests of municipalities and their officials. We have a proven track record of litigation experience in the state and federal courts. We have earned an outstanding reputation with the judiciary given our polished and detailed written submissions and our courtroom presence.
Our extensive employment law experience has helped to reduce the number of lawsuits filed against the municipalities we represent. For instance, we assist in defending against governmental audits so that our public sector clients are found by agencies to have properly compensated their employees for purposes of wage and hour, unemployment, and workers’ compensation. We advise municipalities on hiring, discipline, and termination decisions to ensure compliance with the law. We counsel on all employment issues such as discrimination, harassment, drug testing, workplace violence, employee privacy issues, Americans with Disabilities Act, Family Medical Leave Act, workers’ compensation, governmental ethics, whistleblower, and COVID-19.
We regularly assist public sector clients in developing policies which suit their needs while at the same time ensuring compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and labor agreements. We also draft and update individual employee and administrator contracts and related agreements, policy and procedure handbooks, and anti-harassment policies in an effort to limit the public sector employer’s liability. We also provide advice on key cost-saving measures including overtime reduction, and conduct employment audits to uncover problem areas and identify solutions.
Tort Claims Defense
We have extensive experience in defending all types of personal injury claims against public entities and public employees, including wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases. To the extent possible, we file dispositive motions at the outset of a case to force our adversaries to seek recovery from other parties. If a complaint is not dismissed in whole or in part, we will then engage in targeted discovery to control defense costs. At the conclusion of discovery, we often file motions for summary judgment on liability and/or damages. Our Firm has close working relationships with defense-minded medical, premises liability, and accident reconstruction experts that are utilized when deemed necessary in a case.
We regularly handle the defense in premises liability, motor vehicle accident, and police misconduct cases. We have experience in matters such as sewer back-up, negligent defamation, and improper police pursuit matters. Our attorneys also have extensive experience in representing law enforcement officers where there are tort claims as well as civil rights claims asserted under state and federal law. We are very knowledgeable of law enforcement internal affairs processes and procedures; the statutory insurance requirements on public vehicles, including uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, as well as the interplay of workers’ compensation where law enforcement officers sue their employers for these types of benefits.
Workers’ Compensation Defense
We help public sector employers minimize their exposure and impact of claims. Our clients know and rely on our team’s collective knowledge and experience to address and defend them against every claim. When employees assert job-related injuries, clients count on our team for practical and cost-effective solutions. Our lawyers help each client understand and assess the value of pending claims, and work closely with them to develop a strategy for resolving each matter in a way that aligns with their business and financial objectives.
The lawyers in our workers’ compensation practice regularly draw upon the full resources of the Firm’s employment team to identify solutions to complex issues that often arise in connection with workers’ compensation claims. These include employee terminations, allegations of Americans with Disabilities Act, Family Medical Leave Act violations, and workplace safety charges. In addition, we work closely with municipalities and their insurance carriers to develop return to work and other programs that limit exposure and costs stemming from employee injuries.