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Our Labor & Employment Group assists retail industry clients in meeting the challenges of the modern workplace in the United States and in Europe. Our lawyers' experience spans a wide spectrum, from handling complex class and individual employment litigation, to providing daily advice on routine employment law issues, to assisting companies with their labor law problems. 

We counsel and defend companies in connection with large-scale class and collective actions covering the full gamut of state and federal laws relating to payment of wages, proper recording of time, and classification of employees and independent contractors. We focus on defeating class and conditional certification of these actions and posturing the cases for dismissal at summary judgment, favorable settlement, or victory at trial. Our lawyers also advise clients regarding compliance with wage-and-hour laws and perform compliance audits in advance of litigation or governmental investigations, with the goal of helping clients minimize exposure to the court system.

In the labor-management relations context, we have extensive experience handling complex labor disputes for companies, from sophisticated National Labor Relations Act and Railway Labor Act litigation to the full spectrum of labor litigation before the NLRB and in federal and state courts. For clients that desire to remain non-union, we provide tried-and-true guidance regarding the realization and continuation of that objective. We counsel employers from the earliest stages of potential union organization campaigns, through the actual campaigns, elections, and potential challenges. Our lawyers have developed a strong concentration in handling issues faced by clients in the retail industry in relation to union solicitation, leafleting, the wearing of union buttons, and other organizing activities. We also counsel clients regarding crucial issues such as informational picketing regarding area standards, picketing on a store-wide or mall-wide basis, primary and secondary boycotts, and other organizing activities, including protecting our clients’ rights against trespass. 

For our clients with unionized workforces, we represent employers as lead negotiators in collective bargaining negotiations and contract administration, and have extensive experience in grievance arbitration. Our lawyers have assisted major employers in developing and implementing strategies to deal successfully with mergers, acquisitions, and other corporate transactions, as well as strike and boycott situations. Likewise, we have been frequently involved in labor law preemption matters, successfully asserting federal labor law preemption of state actions that interfered with the collective bargaining process. We also help manage post-transaction disputes among the parties to the transaction and litigation with and among senior executives.

Our lawyers also provide advice and litigation representation regarding trade secrets issues, non-competition agreements, executive compensation, privacy violations, family and medical leave, disability accommodation, and benefits issues. Additionally, we assist employers in drafting and implementing personnel policies and procedures that both comply with applicable law and are tailored to our clients' business culture and objectives. We frequently guide our retail clients through the employment-related implications of leasing operational units within a retail establishment, including joint employment issues that may arise unless the proper precautions are taken to preclude operating employment liability. 

All aspects of retail and manufacturing labor and employment representation are addressed, with a focus upon maximizing organizational productivity, state/federal compliance and reducing the overall legal spend.

Representative Engagements

  • Represent a major wireless communications retailer in a nationwide wage-and-hour action asserting various off-the-clock claims involving pre-and-post shift work, working through breaks, responding to emails, texts and calls from customers during non-scheduled hours, and traveling to training and customer locations outside of the stores.
  • Represent a large retail sales and marketing agency in defense of nationwide wage-and-hour class actions involving alleged misclassification of exempt employees, failure to pay for travel time, and off-the-clock work, as well as in defense of governmental agency charges involving wage-and-hour and discrimination complaints.
  • Represented large retail grocery and theatre chains in connection with challenges to the independent contractor status of janitorial workers cleaning their locations.
  • Represented a variety of restaurant and retail clothing chains in state wage-and-hour class actions alleging challenges to the exempt status of certain positions, failure to provide meal and rest breaks, failure to provide and maintain uniforms, and failure to compensate non-exempt employees for off-the-clock work, as well as individual actions alleging wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.
  • Represented a leading nationwide security company in its fight against a corporate campaign instituted by the Service Employees International Union, which unlawfully targeted our client's customers as part of its corporate campaign.
  • Defended a national company in massive litigation before the National Labor Relations Board and in connection with a violent nationwide strike.
  • Represent retailers in collective bargaining, organizing campaigns, arbitrations, as well as the labor and employment aspects of mergers and acquisitions.
  • Represent security providers in all aspects of ongoing labor and employment relations, as a consequence of decertifying labor organizations nationwide and ensuring that an appropriate going-forward culture was and continues to be created.  

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Crowell & Moring LLP is an international law firm with approximately 550 lawyers representing clients in litigation and arbitration, regulatory and policy, and transactional matters. The firm is internationally recognized for its representation of Fortune 500 companies in high-stakes litigation, as well as its ongoing commitment to pro bono service and diversity, equity and inclusion. The firm has offices in Brussels, Doha, London, Los Angeles, New York, Orange County, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Washington, D.C.

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