Overview

Vorys regularly counsels companies on a full range of employment issues including policy development, strategic advice on initiatives such as management restructuring and change management, union organizing campaigns and negotiation of collective bargaining agreements.

Who We Represent

Our attorneys have extensive practical experience counseling and representing a broad range of clients, from the nation's largest public corporations to private start-up companies in virtually every industry.

In-house employment counsel, management and human resources professionals constitute an employer’s first line of defense against exposure to employment litigation.  Our attorneys provide these individuals with knowledgeable, prompt and effective advice. 

What We Do

Although we take pride in our ability to litigate all types of employment cases, our primary goal is to use our legal knowledge and experience to assist companies and managers in anticipating and preventing employee relations problems through education, training and counseling.

We also assist our clients in preparing and implementing personnel policies designed to minimize potential liability and establish best practices.

We counsel these clients on a diverse array of issues, including:

  • affirmative action programs
  • covenants not to compete and trade secrets
  • drug and alcohol policies and testing
  • employee discipline and termination
  • employment counseling
  • employment policies and manuals
  • equal employment opportunity
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • harassment, including sexual harassment
  • labor relations and union avoidance
  • management training
  • wage and hour/Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
  • whistleblower Protection
  • Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act ("WARN")
  • workplace technology policies

Our lawyers are devoted to understanding our clients’ business objectives, crafting practical solutions, providing technical advice at the highest levels and ensuring immediate service and response. 

Affirmative Action Programs

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is responsible for enforcement of Executive Order 11246 and other laws requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to provide equal employment opportunity regardless of race, gender, color, religion, national origin, disability or Vietnam-era veteran status.

Our lawyers assist both private and public sector clients in establishing and managing affirmative action programs to comply with current legal requirements while serving the client’s organizational goals. 

What We Do

We assist contractors with all aspects of their obligations as an affirmative action employer, including:

  • preparing solid and defensible affirmative action plans by selecting appropriate census codes and developing thoughtful job groups
  • assisting clients in conforming with the distinct recordkeeping and applicant-tracking obligations imposed by the OFCCP and developing creative solutions for clients to continue recruiting in the manner that works best for them
  • assisting clients in responding to information requests initiated by the OFCCP
  • counseling employers on government contractor and subcontractor status
  • training human resources personnel regarding their compliance obligations in advance of an audit
  • negotiating conciliation agreements in the defense of enforcement actions
  • preparing EEO-1 reports

Covenants Not to Compete and Trade Secrets

Company information and customer goodwill can be among the most important assets of a business.  Employers need to protect their confidential information and guard against unfair competition.

Our employment lawyers assist our clients in protecting their trade secrets and other proprietary information through the design, use, and enforcement of non-competition and non-solicitation agreements; intellectual property agreements; and other restrictive covenants.  The scope of our services includes:

  • drafting non-compete, non-solicitation, and non-disclosure agreements and developing strategies for the implementation of those agreements
  • reviewing existing non-compete agreements and restrictive covenants to determine their enforceability
  • litigating misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of non-compete agreements
  • advising clients on the protection of trade secrets and enforcement of restrictive covenants
  • advising clients on the hiring of competitors’ employees
  • developing and implementing new hire protocols and procedures to avoid litigation on covenants not to compete and trade secrets

Drug and Alcohol Policies and Testing

We have extensive experience in consulting with employers regarding drug and alcohol issues in the workplace.  We are especially knowledgeable with regard to:

  • drafting appropriate drug and alcohol policies and counseling employers on enforcing and implementing these policies
  • counseling employers on disability discrimination issues associated with past or present employee drug or alcohol addiction
  • counseling employers on drug and alcohol testing issues
  • avoiding and defending claims of invasion of privacy and other claims relating to drug and alcohol policies

Employee Discipline and Termination

Our attorneys have extensive experience in advising employers regarding employee terminations and discipline including:

  • investigating and advising clients regarding termination decisions and other disciplinary actions
  • advising clients on proper analysis and documentation of disciplinary decisions
  • training supervisors on dealing with termination issues
  • drafting separation agreements and releases and assuring compliance with all applicable laws
  • consulting employers on post-termination issues, such as reference checks

We also represent our clients in all aspects of unemployment compensation law, such as unemployment insurance, taxes, and benefits.  Our attorneys assist our clients in designing their policies and in litigating unemployment claims at all levels.

Employment Counseling

Our attorneys work closely with our clients to creatively address the “day-to-day” human resource issues that all businesses face including:

  • counseling clients regarding the practical impact of government requirements and assisting in the development and implementation of programs to avoid liability 
  • monitoring and analyzing developments in laws and regulations affecting employers and communicating these developments to affected clients 
  • conducting audits of employment policies and practices to ensure compliance and to provide suggestions for minimizing liability 
  • suggesting cost-saving alternative methods of complying with laws and regulations

Employment Policies and Manuals

Our attorneys have broad experience in advising employers regarding employee handbooks and policies including:

  • drafting and reviewing employee handbooks and policies to help employers minimize employment-related claims, such as breach of contract, discrimination or harassment
  • counseling employers on implementing and enforcing handbooks and policies
  • counseling employers on mandatory aspects of certain policies, such as harassment, family and medical leave, pregnancy leave and disability leave policies
  • avoiding and defending workplace-related claims involving employee handbooks and policies

Equal Employment Opportunity

Employers are regularly challenged by newly enacted federal and state laws that broaden the scope of prohibited discrimination by establishing new protected classes of employees. 

We provide practical legal counseling to help employers navigate through the complexities of Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and many other relevant federal and state statutes.  Our attorneys assist our clients with respect to performing harassment and/or discrimination investigations and preparing formal responses to agency charges and requests for information

Because prevention is an integral part of the equal employment opportunity responsibilities of Human Resources professionals and other supervisory personnel, our attorneys also provide assistance with policy formulation and conduct supervisor/manager training.

Title VII, Americans with Disabilities Act and Age Discrimination in Employment Act

Our attorneys routinely advise employers on compliance with Title VII, the ADA and ADEA.  The scope of our services includes: 

  • defending claims before local, state and federal administrative agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission
  • avoiding discrimination claims through investigations of internal complaints
  • advising clients on employment decisions that may avoid discrimination claims
  • auditing and reviewing current pay, promotion, and other employment practices and recommending changes that may avoid future claims
  • conducting statistical analysis of employment practices and implementing corrective action where necessary
  • training supervisors to avoid actions which could result in discrimination claims
  • consulting with employers on handling current employees with pending claims
  • advising clients on termination issues, including avoidance of claims of unlawful discrimination
  • advising clients on reasonable accommodation issues, such as the extent to which an employer should modify the terms and conditions of employment of disabled workers in light of the “reasonable accommodation” requirement of the ADA
  • advising clients on physical or mental conditions that may be considered disabilities
  • advising clients on determining the essential functions of jobs
  • counseling employers on the interaction of the ADA with other state and federal laws, including the Family and Medical Leave Act and states’ workers' compensation laws
  • counseling employers on hiring issues, including pre-employment questioning and compliance with regard to application forms
  • advising clients on how to handle misbehaving employees with drug and alcohol or mental health problems

Family and Medical Leave Act

Most employers with 50 or more employees are subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  Although the basic requirements of the FMLA appear to be straightforward, the application of the statute to the facts of particular employment situations often is complicated.

Our attorneys are well versed in the FMLA and provide our clients with practical advice on how best to comply with the statute.  We assist clients on a variety of FMLA matters, including:

  • consulting on day-to-day compliance issues
  • training supervisors and human resources staff on the intricacies of the FMLA
  • drafting policies and forms to assure compliance and maximize employer flexibility
  • advising employers on how to minimize employee abuse of FMLA rights
  • defending employers in agency actions and litigation involving claims arising under the FMLA

Management Training

Our experience teaches that proper training of employees is the most effective way for employers to manage their legal expenses and avoid future legal problems.  We are committed to helping our clients take a proactive approach to protecting their employees and their bottom lines. 

Vorys regularly consults with our clients in order to design training programs that are uniquely tailored to our clients’ specific needs.  Our attorneys are skilled in providing the following training services:

  • training managers and supervisors on a full range of employment workplace issues to help our clients limit employment liability
  • training in-house attorneys, human resource professionals and managers/supervisors on how to avoid workplace harassment, including sexual harassment, and Equal Employment Opportunity problems and how to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Family and Medical Leave Act
  • training managers on how to maintain a union-free workplace
  • training managers and supervisors on wage-hour issues
  • training managers and supervisors on significant changes in employment law

Wage and Hour/Fair Labor Standards Act

Revisions to the regulations defining who is exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the dramatic growth of class action lawsuits have made wage and hour law an area of increasing concern for employers.  Our attorneys are proficient in helping our clients to master the complex laws governing hours of work and payment of wages. 

Our wage and hour practice services include:

  • counseling employers on how to comply with state and federal wage and hour laws, including overtime, lunch and break periods, vacation pay and sick pay
  • providing insight into compensation issues such as premium pay, piece-work pay and differing shifts during a workweek
  • counseling on when to pay employees, how to pay employees and when deductions from paychecks are allowed
  • advising clients on proper classification of exempt and non-exempt employees and independent contractor status
  • representing employers in U.S. Department of Labor investigations across the country and in a wide range of industries
  • representing employers in defending individual and collective actions rising under federal or state law

Whistleblower Protection

Recent changes to state and federal whistleblower laws provide employees with increasing protection for making claims of fraudulent activity against their employers.  When an employee who has made such a claim is later disciplined or terminated, a whistleblower retaliation claim often is brought against the employer. 

Our attorneys advise businesses on all aspects of whistleblower law.  We consult with our clients on avoiding such claims, and we defend them in court when they are the subject of whistleblower retaliation claims.

Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act ("WARN")

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act is a federal law that requires employers to notify their employees, governmental authorities and others when implementing a mass layoff or plant closing.  Many states impose additional notice obligations in certain circumstances.

Our lawyers have extensive experience in counseling clients on compliance with WARN Act requirements associated with mass layoffs or plant closings.  We assist our clients in identifying when a mass layoff or plant closing exists; in determining who needs to be notified, when they need to be notified, and how they need to be notified; and in drafting any notices mandated by law.

Workplace Harassment, Including Sexual Harassment

Vorys has extensive experience advising clients on all type of harassment matters.  As more companies and individuals face serious claims of workplace harassment, our firm’s depth of experience is increasingly relevant and valuable.  Our client-centered anti-harassment practice focuses on three critical areas:

Prevention
  • crafting policies and practices designed to prevent harassment - whether based on sex, race, religion or any other criteria – and incentivize early reporting
  • creating effective training programs tailored to reflect each client’s specific work environment, culture and challenges
  • training company leaders about the business case for harassment prevention and their own role in critical compliance efforts
Response
  • conducting timely, objective and effective investigations of harassment allegations
  • assisting employers in planning and conducting their own internal investigations
  • working with decision-makers to implement appropriate disciplinary actions
  • coordinating with other business partners, including public relations and media staff, to respond to allegations both internally and externally
  • responding on behalf of employers to harassment charges before state agencies and the EEOC, and defending harassment-related litigation in federal and state courts
Counseling
  • coaching HR and legal departments regarding best practices for handling harassment claims concerning both current and former employees
  • providing candid advice for handling sensitive allegations
  • providing legal analysis as a trusted business partner

Workplace Technology Policies

Technology is now a standard element of every workplace.  A comprehensive set of employment policies therefore will include disclosures informing employees of the employer’s expectations concerning the appropriate and permitted uses of technology in the workplace.

Our attorneys have extensive experience in drafting and implementing workplace technology policies designed to increase workplace efficiencies and to prevent employees from misusing corporate technology, whether it be impermissible use of the e-mail system, surfing the internet and accessing inappropriate websites or making improper personal use of other corporate resources.


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