The firm's labor and employment law practice encompasses a full range of services for the more than two dozen higher education institutions which are our clients. For colleges and universities with unionized workforces, this includes collective bargaining, labor arbitration, and representation before the National Labor Relations Board (or the appropriate Public or State Labor Relations Board) in both unfair labor practice and representation matters. In each of these areas, as well as all others, the level of our services varies in accordance with client needs. For example, for many clients involved in collective bargaining, one of our attorneys is present at the bargaining table and serves as chief spokesperson; for others we are present during negotiations as a resource, but not as a chief negotiator; for still others we counsel behind-the-scenes, draft and cost proposals and work with the management team to formulate a cohesive and effective bargaining strategy.
Similarly, with respect to labor arbitrations, our services complement the institution's resources. For clients with a limited in-house staff, or for more complex problems, this may mean total involvement in the arbitration process, from counseling on the appropriate grievance answer at the initial steps to the preparation of witnesses and presentation of the institution's case before an arbitrator. It may also involve a more limited role, such as counseling in-house personnel on arbitration approaches and strategies and aiding in the preparation of witnesses, while the in-house staff actually presents the institution's case.
For non-unionized institutions, our attorneys provide assistance in the preparation and/or review of faculty and staff handbooks, appointment letters and personnel policies, including counseling on employee screening and testing; supervisory training; and advice in responding to union organizing campaigns involving faculty, graduate students and hourly staff
Our practice not only deals with traditional areas of labor law, but also with the full range of employment law matters. This practice includes state and federal court representation of colleges and universities in breach of contract, employment-at-will, and other employment-related claims. It also includes defending institutions before state and federal administrative agencies (including EEOC and OCR), and in courts, against claims of discrimination (e.g., race, gender, sexual harassment, age, disability, etc.). We also regularly assist colleges and universities in the preparation of affirmative action plans and programs, and provide representation during OFCCP audits and investigations.
Finally, our attorneys are experienced in the full range of other labor problems likely to be encountered by colleges and universities, including faculty tenure and contract disputes, State and Federal wage/hour matters, OSHA investigations and hearings and immigration matters.
Examples of past cases for colleges and universities include:
- Successful representation in numerous internal and judicial review (State and Federal trial and appellate courts) proceedings involving tenure denial, non-renewal, non-promotion and termination.
- Confidential investigations of sensitive charges of wrongdoing by top administrators, faculty and others.
- Representation of institution in landmark NLRB proceeding resulting in assertion of NLRB jurisdiction over private college and university labor and collective bargaining matters, reversing the Board's prior abstention position, and removing institutions from the unpredictable jurisdiction of state agencies.
- Secured summary judgment on behalf of one community college's board of trustees in a federal suit brought by a former dean alleging that his termination violated the ADEA, constituted a deprivation of property without due process, and was in retaliation for protected free speech; and secured summary judgment on behalf of a second community college in a federal action brought by a former president raising various constitutional liberty and due process claims as a result of his non-renewal.
- Represented Ithaca College in the first NLRB decision on managerial status of faculty following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in NLRB v. Yeshiva University. After a 25-day hearing and extensive briefing, the NLRB agreed that faculty effectively determined curriculum, grading system, admission standards, course schedules and calendar, and hiring and tenure decisions and thus were managerial and not eligible for collective bargaining. Have represented other institutions in Yeshiva hearings since then.
- Successfully defended of an institution against compensation and termination discrimination claims brought by a female coach of a women's basketball program under Title IX.