At Meissner Tierney our perspective is that employers are best served by fostering relationships with their employees based on mutual understanding and respect through clear and concise policies and procedures that defining the employment relationship. We regularly work with closely held businesses to develop comprehensive employee handbooks that cover everything from straightforward overtime and vacation policies to cutting edge social media issues.
In addition, employers have a myriad of obligations to their employees under state and federal law. These obligations span a wide-range of topics, such as wage and overtime rules, family and medical leave obligations, and various anti-discrimination laws. Our attorneys regularly advise clients on compliance with all of these and many other employment-related obligations.
Though our main goal is the prevention of disputes between a business and its employees, we understand that even with well-developed policies and procedures in place, conflicts between businesses and their employees will inevitably occur. We routinely handle all potential facets of these sensitive conflicts, including discipline and discharge, discrimination, retaliation and whistleblower claims, sexual harassment, and wrongful termination. We also have significant experience representing both employers and employees before state and federal administrative agencies and courts. This enables us to anticipate the other side’s positions and develop the best legal advice and arguments before ever reaching these adjudicative bodies, in the process achieving a favorable outcome for our clients, regardless of which side they are on.
Employees are protected from many types of employer discrimination under various state and federal laws. Our attorneys routinely represent both employers and employees before state and federal administrative agencies and courts on claims of discrimination under such laws as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and comparable claims under the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act.
Downsizing & Layoffs
Our attorneys are experienced with helping clients minimize the risks and comply with the laws and regulations required for mergers, acquisitions and spin-offs, as well as bankruptcies and plant closings. We have assisted both buyers and sellers during these challenging times. We help our clients comply with the laws while maintaining the integrity of their business operations. We provide our clients with a thorough, efficient and accurate checklist of employment requirements.
Executive compensation plans are often a key part of attracting and retaining top-level talent. Our attorneys are experienced in developing and reviewing executive compensation plans, from simple deferred compensation arrangements to complex phantom stock plans and other non-qualified retirement plans. We work closely with our clients to design plans with well-defined and attainable performance goals that provide executives with the proper incentives to maximize the long-term value of the business.
Qualified Plans and Other Employee Benefits
Employees often value the various employee benefit programs offered by an employer nearly as much as their cash compensation. Our attorneys have substantial experience and expertise in drafting various employee benefit plans, including group health insurance arrangements, cafeteria plans, and medical reimbursement plans, as well as profit-sharing 401(k) and other defined contribution and defined benefit qualified plans. Our focus on fostering intimate relationships with our clients allows us to tailor these various plans to each client’s specific needs. We also regularly counsel employers in their capacity as plan administrators and fiduciaries regarding the many complex compliance and reporting requirements under the ever-changing ERISA and Internal Revenue Code regulations.
Retaliation and Whistleblower Claims
A wide range of laws both at the state and federal level protect employees from retaliation when they raise various workplace issues with their employers and/or governmental agencies. For employees, our attorneys are skilled in determining which state or federal laws are best suited to the client’s situation. We also defend employers against retaliation and whistleblower claims. As always, our policy is to avoid the potential for such claims by advising clients on modifying existing policies and procedures or putting in place new internal control mechanisms designed to reduce potential claims.
Despite an employer’s efforts to provide carefully documented reasons for an employee’s termination, some employees still feel that they were terminated unfairly. Our attorneys are skilled in bringing and defending claims of wrongful termination, whether such claims are based on breach of an employment agreement or a discharge in violation of public policy. We also negotiate and draft severance agreements and releases to preclude litigation before it starts.