Employers rely on Doerner lawyers for advice to maximize workplace flexibility, minimize their legal risks and defend them if problems arise. We have a regional and national practice that helps employers of all sizes – from major retailers, paper product makers and electric utilities to small startup businesses – anticipate workplace disputes and resolve them quickly and successfully.
Our level of service is tailored to what each employer needs. For high turnover retail and manufacturing businesses, we ensure that hiring and termination decisions are made in full accord with the law and that contentious issues like drug testing, discipline or family leave are handled properly. Technology companies and small businesses rely on us for responsive, personalized help to create a welcome and accommodating workplace atmosphere.
We are proud to be “take the call lawyers” and assist employers with immediate problems. Workplaces are highly regulated, and the wrong off-the-cuff advice from a lawyer who lacks our in-depth knowledge of employment law can lead to big problems later. We have the ability to offer advice when and how it’s needed, providing better, faster and more cost-effective results for employers of any size. This includes effectively handling the call from a mid-level supervisor faced with an immediate crisis at 4:00 p.m. on Friday.
Employers receive proactive counseling as they need it. In addition to in-facility supervisor instruction on policies and compliance, we offer monthly training and an annual full-day workshop in Tulsa and Oklahoma City on best practices. More than 1,000 subscribers rely on our free monthly e-newsletter, The Employer’s Legal Resource, for advice and insight on pressing and developing workplace issues.
Most importantly, every one of our employment lawyers is a litigator. In the toughest disputes – wage-and-hour conflicts, retaliation claims, disability accommodations, OSHA citations – we make the expense and risks of litigation clear, and provide objective advice on the best way to proceed. It’s a cost-benefit approach that manages typifies the practical help we provide.
Recent Doerner Experience
- Obtained judgment in favor of client in a FLSA collective action in which 78 plaintiffs sought overtime compensation for alleged on-call work.
- Obtained judgment which was affirmed on appeal to the Tenth Circuit in an ADA case in which employee claimed he was not accommodated and he was retaliated against for asserting his rights under the ADA.
- Represented numerous employers in U.S. Department of Labor wage and hour audits involving allegations of misclassification and failure to pay wages, resulting in significant reductions in the calculation of back wages owed.
- Defended a national trucking company against wage and hour and retaliation claims, including allegations of potential class and/or collective action claims, resulting in settlement of litigation with one plaintiff.
- Successfully defended, in a Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service arbitration proceeding, a unionized employer against claims of national origin and race discrimination.
- Successfully vacated an arbitration award made under the Labor Management Relations Act and the Federal Arbitration Act, on the grounds that the arbitrator exceeded her authority under these Acts when interpreting the management rights provision of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement.
- Obtained various dismissals and/or summary judgments for tribally owned and operated business entities, including gaming casinos, on causes of action arising under Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
- Secured permanent injunctive relief on behalf of a franchisee to prevent misappropriation of trade secrets from former employees.
Top Areas of Focus
- Guidance and training to minimize legal exposure when making decisions about employee hiring, testing, discipline and termination.
- Representation of employers in every stage of the workplace dispute resolution process, including before federal and state courts and administrative agencies as well as in arbitration proceedings.
- Advice on structuring and administration of employee benefit plans, and defense of claims in ERISA and related litigation.
- Counseling on compliance with federal and state immigration law.
Case Study: Overturning a Wage-and-Hour Class Certification
- Opportunity: In 2009, the state of Oklahoma adopted a new “Comprehensive Lawsuit Reform Act” that brought limits to the class membership requirements for litigation in the state. But the law was never tested until our client, a national manufacturer of heavy equipment parts, was sued in a wage-and-hour class action claim by a number of employees at one of its Oklahoma plants. Although our questioning of the plaintiffs reduced their original number by almost half, the local trial court approved class certification and we handled the appeal.
- Solution: Before the Oklahoma Court of Appeals, we argued that proving an employee was not properly compensated is a highly individualized inquiry not appropriate for class proceeding under the state’s new law. Our lawyers also demonstrated that erroneous class certification decisions impose large burdens on employers, courts and the economy.
- Result: The Court agreed that the plaintiffs failed to meet the law’s “predominance” requirement that common questions of law and fact predominated over any individualized issues, and reversed the class certification – one of the very first such decisions under Oklahoma’s new law.
Any employer of any size can face legal action from employees or regulators. We approach potential workplace problems by working with our clients as a behind-the-scenes support team to develop a sound strategy for handling employment relationships in ways that eliminate or minimize problems. That maximizes our ability to help employers prevail at trial or in administrative forums if disputes do arise – and we’re always available to help, any time we’re needed.