Williams Mullen’s Labor, Employment & Immigration (“LEI”) Section has a nationwide practice that is consistently recognized by Chambers USA. We pride ourselves on offering “can do” business-oriented solutions to clients’ increasingly complex labor, employment, and employment-related immigration issues. Responsiveness, efficiency and client communication are the cornerstones of our practice. Our depth of experience in the labor and employment field enhances our ability to represent clients successfully.

Williams Mullen’s Labor, Employment & Immigration (“LEI”) Section has a nationwide practice that is consistently recognized by Chambers USA. We pride ourselves on offering “can do” business-oriented solutions to clients’ increasingly complex labor, employment, and employment-related immigration issues. Responsiveness, efficiency and client communication are the cornerstones of our practice. Our depth of experience in the labor and employment field enhances our ability to represent clients successfully.

Approach to Staffing and Case Management 

Williams Mullen’s LEI Section approaches staffing matters with two principal objectives: to maximize our client’s chance of obtaining a favorable result; and to minimize the attorneys’ fees and costs that must necessarily be expended in defending any claim. To accomplish these objectives, our attorneys work in close partnership with clients to evaluate cases and develop and execute case-specific litigation strategies. In appropriate cases, we are strong proponents of mediation or other methods of alternative dispute resolution.

We understand the importance of developing and adhering to a realistic budget. In most instances, one experienced partner and one experienced associate will be assigned to every matter, with additional associate or paralegal assistance as needed for complex litigation matters. In addition, we make a conscious effort to handle the more mundane discovery matters with experienced associates, utilizing the skills of our senior attorneys for oversight, the development of defense strategies, key depositions and motions, and trial.

Use of Technology and E-Discovery 

Managing large-scale labor and employment litigation requires an extensive infrastructure where technology, attorneys and staff work in tandem. Williams Mullen leverages leading-edge litigation management tools, including databases, trial presentation software, task-based and electronic invoicing, and extranet access to effectively handle client matters.

LABOR

The LEI Section’s traditional labor law practice includes representation of employers facing threats of unionization, as well as employers dealing with the challenges of organized workforces. We develop strategies to maintain union-free workplaces, provide advice in the course of initial organizing and decertification election campaigns, defend companies charged with committing unfair labor practices, negotiate collective bargaining agreements and arbitrate grievances arising under those agreements.

Representative Proactive Labor Management Experience

  • Protect employers’ interests in connection with injunctions in labor disputes, including recognitional strikes, unfair labor practice strikes, and economic work stoppage 
  • Work to defeat union organizing attempts for clients in major manufacturing sectors, such as steel, paper, health care, printing, construction and mining. Represented clients in decertification of unions
  • Negotiate long-term labor agreements, including work rules and health insurance concessions for Fortune 500 companies 
  • Defend allegations of unfair labor practices before the National Labor Relations Board and representation in appeals of NLRB orders before various U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals 
  • Represent employers in grievance and arbitration matters arising under collective bargaining agreements

EMPLOYMENT

The employment counseling and litigation team of the LEI Section provides advice to public and private employers of all sizes on human resources issues and assists them to minimize liability and comply with applicable laws and regulations. Our attorneys represent management in all areas of employment litigation, including before administrative agencies and arbitrators and in state and federal trial and appellate courts across the U.S.

Representative Employment Litigation and Counseling Experience

Defense of Employment-Related Lawsuits and Claims in All Courts and Administrative Forums

  • Represent employers in state and federal courts across the country in single plaintiff, multi-party, class actions and collective actions against companies and executives accused of discrimination, harassment, wrongful discharge, violations of ERISA and the Equal Pay Act, and in state law breach of contract and employment torts cases
  • Represent employers in state and federal court wage and hour claim litigation by individual employees, groups of employees, the DOL and state compliance agencies 
  • Serve as national coordinating counsel for labor and employment matters for publicly traded corporations 
  • Represent companies in federal, state and administrative appeal proceedings 
  • Defend charges of discrimination before local, state and federal anti-discrimination agencies 
  • Assist in audits of employer’s fair wage payment practices by U.S. Department of Labor and state compliance agencies 
  • Represent employers and their executives in injunctive and other trial proceedings to enforce, or prevent the enforcement of, non-compete and non-solicitation agreements, employment contracts, confidentiality agreements and restrictions on the use of trade secrets
  • Defend employers and their executives in business tort cases, such as business conspiracy, defamation, tortious interference with contracts, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of non-disclosure agreements

Diversity Initiative Management, Affirmative Action Plans, and Defending OFCCP Audits

  • Prepare affirmative action plans for company headquarters and branch offices
  • Advice and training on affirmative action initiatives and diversity and inclusiveness recruiting and retention strategies
  • Defend government contractors in DOL/OFCCP compliance audits 

Human Resources Advice and Training

  • Conduct labor and employment due diligence for clients contemplating acquisitions and divestitures to ensure compliance with state and federal employment laws 
  • Assess vulnerability of multi-establishment employers to class or mass actions regarding pay selection practices 
  • Advise companies regarding the implementation and management of lawful diversity initiatives and recruiting / advancement plans 
  • Train all levels of management in union avoidance, conducting workplace investigations, preventing unlawful harassment and discrimination, implementing successful progressive discipline techniques, using lawful techniques to hire, retain and terminate employees, and performance management 
  • Provide on-going counseling in all areas of human resource management, including, but not limited to, obligations under minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping requirements, restrictive covenants, substance abuse policies, OSHA, whistleblowing claims, severance and release agreements, plant closings, relocations and layoffs 
  • Review personnel policies and draft employment applications and agreements for compliance with federal and state anti-discrimination laws 
  • Advise employers on proposed personnel actions including discipline and discharge and reductions in force

IMMIGRATION

The LEI Section’s Immigration practice group advises companies in the U.S. and abroad on how to structure and streamline their employment of foreign nationals. We also represent clients in worksite enforcement investigations, and Form I-9 and E-Verify compliance and audits. We regularly partner with senior management and human resource professionals to develop solutions for their short-term and long-term immigration matters through such innovations as:

  • Dedicated access to an experienced business immigration attorney who will partner with you to make the crucial decisions regarding the initial hiring of the foreign nationals, and how best to retain their services as they move from a nonimmigrant process to U.S. permanent resident status (i.e., green card) and then naturalization to obtain U.S. citizenship
  • Timely preparation of nonimmigrant petitions and applications for qualified foreign nationals and their family members, including H-1Bs, TNs (for Canadian and Mexican citizens), L-1s, Blanket L-1s, E-1s, E-2s, E-3s (for Australian citizens), O-1s, P-1s, R-1s and others within pre-established deadlines (“deliverables”), with special services for clients with high volumes or fluctuating caseloads
  • Providing guidance and handling all aspects of the lawful permanent residency application process (i.e., green card application) for individuals including Form I-140 (EB-1) petitions including multinational executive and manager and outstanding researcher petitions PERM-based Form I-140 immigration petitions, and Form I-360 petitions for religious workers
  • Providing strategic advice to clients regarding the use of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (“ESTA”) or B-1/B-2 visas for permissible business visits to the United States
  • Experience in handling Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) enforcement on social security no-match issues, security and background checks, Form I-9 and E-Verify compliance and new restrictions on visa issuance and international travel
  • Comprehensive Form I-9 and E-Verify compliance training to keep up with changes in ICE enforcement and state law sanctions
  • Creative solutions to anticipate or minimize the impact of caps, quotas, backlogs and delays, including strategic advice for retaining foreign nationals awaiting issuance of green cards while employed in nonimmigrant status
  • Use of Blanket L-1 visas, E-1 visas, E-2 visas and other transfer visas for employees of foreign subsidiaries, parents and affiliates working temporarily on assignments in the United States
  • In-house training and client alerts so that your company can stay ahead of upcoming changes in the fast-paced and often confusing area of immigration law
  • A web-based case preparation and management system (LawLogix™) that provides foreign nationals with online questionnaires and access to their U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) case status, and provides the employer with access to status reports showing expiration dates and milestones, and
  • Innovative pricing options that include fixed-fees per visa, project pricing, or a blend of fixed and hourly fees that encourages in-house training of staff to handle routine and repetitive matters

Representative Business Immigration Experience

  • Business visitor visas for all foreign countries requiring visas for employers’ key managers, executives or specialists, whether U.S. citizens, permanent residents or foreign nationals
  • Experience in representing Indian and Chinese nationals working in the U.S. who may encounter special issues affecting business travel to Europe and the Americas
  • Foreign consulate visa processing to meet differing document requirements and assistance with urgent matters for foreign travel
  • Work visas abroad for specialists, technicians, managers and craft employees
  • Renewals or extensions of work permits and changes in status from visitor to work classifications, after entry into the foreign country
  • Transfers of managers and executives between a company and its foreign affiliate or subsidiaries
  • Advice on the use of technical advisory or business visitor categories and alerts on changes in standards for security checks and entry clearances
  • Representation in obtaining waivers for past criminal convictions or visa violations
  • Participation in strategic planning regarding evaluation of the cost, time to approval and feasibility of transfers of key production or technical staff between countries
  • Advice on foreign treaties and their application to visas, work permits and green cards, including Treaties of Foreign Commerce and Navigation affecting investment and trade visas; and North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) issues in Canada and Mexico
  • Management of international employment project work and advice on harmonization of international employment contracts with domestic or local legal regulations and requirements

TRADE SECRETS, EMPLOYEE MOBILITY AND RESTRICTIVE COVENANTS

In the current hyper-competitive marketplace, protecting a company’s trade secrets and other proprietary business information is essential. Loss of key confidential data or other assets through employee theft, cyber threats, misappropriation, corporate espionage, or other forms of unfair competition can leave a once stable and thriving company in crisis. As information and employees become increasingly fluid in the modern economy, companies must have a holistic strategy to address these issues.

Williams Mullen’s LEI Section also partners with the Trade Secrets, Employee Mobility and Restrictive Covenants Practice Group and brings together a team of LEI, intellectual property, and litigation attorneys to help clients develop and implement best practices and defend against threats. We routinely advise clients on the protection of their confidential and proprietary information, providing program and policy development to help ensure that their intellectual property and other assets are secure. Our attorneys have extensive experience preparing and enforcing confidentiality, non-disclosure, non-competition, trade secret and other restrictive agreements and policies to mitigate risks associated with employee mobility.

While our goal is to prevent and avoid disputes, if there is a breach, our litigators have counseled clients in pre-litigation negotiations and fought for their rights through trial, pursuing and defending claims for injunctive relief, unfair competition, trade secret misappropriation, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and related state claims, tortious interference with contract or business expectancy, computer fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and breaches of non-compete or other restrictive covenants.

FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT

Williams Mullen’s LEI Section also partners with attorneys in the Corporate, Tax, Intellectual Property and International Sections to assist foreign companies with all the major business and legal issues that must be considered when establishing business operations in the United States.

Conducting Business in the U.S. 

One of the most important considerations for a foreign entity in establishing a business in the United States is the selection of the form of business entity. A variety of considerations must be addressed in making this determination, including the organizational structure of any existing business, tax concerns and the type of activity that the foreign investor intends to pursue in the U.S. Our attorneys in the firm’s Corporate Section work with the client to establish the optimal business structure for its objectives: corporation, limited liability company, partnership, limited partnership or branch office operations. Williams Mullen also regularly helps clients form and capitalize an appropriate business entity for: international mergers and acquisitions; joint ventures, teaming agreements, joint development and marketing partnerships; foreign distribution, reseller, sales representative, agent, “Del Credere” and other marketing agreements. 

Taxes

Upon the organization of a U.S. entity, a company must apply to the Internal Revenue Service for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). In addition, the entity must register with the state department of taxation to comply with tax requirements for the states where it will conduct business. Williams Mullen’s Tax Law Section advises clients on all aspects of federal, state, and local tax matters. 

Intellectual Property

The United States has strong intellectual property laws which grant valuable legal rights to the owners of this property and restrict others from using it. These proprietary rights in technology, inventions, software, business processes, creative materials and other intangible assets can be valuable in operating a business, raising capital, and pursuing exit strategies such as an IPO or acquisition. These laws are highly technical, and special steps must be taken to register or otherwise comply with these laws.

Our Intellectual Property Section attorneys advise on the distinct issues related to: 

  • Trademarks
  • Patents
  • Copyrights
  • Business Process and Business Method Patents
  • Trade Secrets

Immigration

Our Immigration team in the LEI Section advises companies on their temporary and long-term visas and “Green Cards.” A company’s immigration strategy will vary depending on the nature of the project, the purpose of the entry of international employees into the United States, and other factors. Our attorneys are especially skilled at working with foreign companies in obtaining investment (E-2), trade (E-1) and intra-company transfer (L-1) visas for key managers and specialized employees. 

Import-Export Laws 

Williams Mullen’s International team assists clients with U.S. export license applications, re-export license applications, international government contracts, deemed export reviews and commodity classification requests, including requests involving encryption items, as required by the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). 

We also advise clients on all customs matters – from trade facilitation to homeland security – whether it involves a policy, regulatory or litigation issue. Our attorneys have extensive experience dealing with traditional customs issues such as entry requirements, tariff classification, customs valuation, rules of origin and country of origin marking.

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