Employment/Labor

rise to every workplace challenge

empowering employers

Find an Attorney
Lauri E. Cleary
Principal
301-657-0176
Marc R. Engel
Principal
301-657-0184
Nida Kanwal
Associate
301-657-0744
Michael J. Neary
Principal
301-657-0740
Julie A. Reddig
Principal
301-961-6099
Joshua C. Schmand
Associate
301-347-1273
Richard G. Vernon
Principal
301-907-2818

Lerch Early helps employers throughout the Washington, DC metropolitan area and beyond prevent and defend against workplace claims. Working with our attorneys is like extending the human resources department without hiring additional people. Business owners and HR representatives pick up the phone to get our advice on avoiding employment pitfalls that create legal exposure and distract management from running their businesses. When employees allege misconduct, we forcefully defend employers against allegations of discrimination, wage and hour violations, and other employment claims.

Lerch Early represents employers in a range of white and blue collar industries, including construction and related companies, transportation, real estate management, professional services, associations, nonprofits, technology, and health care. Many of our clients are government contractors.

We help management get the most from its workforce, empowering executives and human resources managers to effectively and properly hire, direct, compensate, discipline, and terminate employees in accordance with federal, state, and local laws.  To reduce the risk of litigation, our attorneys provide counseling and training on legal compliance, develop handbook policies, draft hiring documents such as offer letters, employment contracts, background check forms, and restrictive covenant agreements (non-competition, non-solicitation, and non-disclosure agreements), and assist with disciplinary and termination documents including severance agreements. We also help employers navigate laws that provide leave, job protection, and accommodation to ill, injured, or pregnant employees.

When employees file claims, we explore and evaluate alternative dispute resolution (ADR) options, including mediation, and we represent employers before all relevant federal, state, and local administrative agencies, and in federal and state court if disputes proceed to litigation.  We defend against alleged employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including sexual harassment), national origin, age, and disability, as well as other bases protected under state and local laws (including sexual orientation and marital status). Lerch Early attorneys also defend management against claims arising under the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage-hour claims (generally, overtime issues) that develop under the Fair Labor Standards Act and state and local laws, wrongful discharge, and other common law claims.

Lerch Early’s employment attorneys place clients ahead of the curve through training, regular suggestions on best employment practices, and updates on local, state, and national employment law developments and trends. We have a strong commitment to understanding our client’s business and hiring needs and reputation so we can contribute to their success and well-being.

Experience

Discrimination

  • Prevailed before the DC Office of Human Rights which issued a finding of no probable cause regarding allegations of national origin discrimination made by a former employee of the client.  The complicated matter involved marshalling numerous documents (including training materials, regulatory directives, and business and employment policies) and analyzing written communications between personnel to establish that the decision to terminate the employee was justified for legitimate business reasons solely related to quality of care issues, and unrelated to allegations that national origin played a factor in the decision. 
  • Trained managers on understanding and preventing discrimination and retaliation claims.
  • Successfully defended an employer accused of age discrimination in a jury trial in federal court.
  • Defended a federal contractor against a discrimination claim before the U.S. Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).
  • Defended an employer against discrimination and retaliation claims before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Wage-Hour

  • Favorably settled a very challenging, multi-faceted overtime case brought by three disgruntled employees.
  • Reviewed in excess of 80 separate job descriptions for a large tech company in connection with pending amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Involved understanding many highly technical positions and determining whether the positions fell within one or more recognized exemptions to the overtime requirements, including providing the client with a list of suggested talking points for explaining to employees whose status as exempt or non-exempt might be changing, and strategies for properly managing the intertwined business, legal, and morale issues associated with the process.
  • Trained managers on overtime rules, including how to avoid “off-the-clock” claims.
  • Negotiated a settlement between the U.S. Department of Labor and a federal construction contractor working on a DC project whose subs were not complying with the Davis-Bacon Act.

Medical Issues

  • Represent Fortune 100 company employing more than 500 local workers to defend claims of disability and other forms of discrimination before the EEOC and Maryland Commission on Human Rights.
  • Conducted manager training for the Maryland office of a Fortune 500 company on compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Counseled employers in numerous instances involving an employee with a medical issue, among other things, by carefully weaving through the intricacies of, and interrelationships between the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Separation and Termination

  • Regularly advise employers on termination of employees, including performance documentation and communication with the employee before, during, and after the termination.
  • Guided a local university through reductions in force and other terminations to meet strategic goals and respond to economic conditions; also guided executives and other managerial employees through the negotiation of executive separation agreements and new employment agreements. 

Union Issues

  • Helped a property management company transition a formerly unionized workforce to a non-unionized environment at a new property the client was hired to manage. This included developing written communications and talking points about hiring procedures, terms of employment, and benefits.
  • Represented municipality in arbitration disputes with unions involving terminations, failure to promote, and wage disputes.
  • Assist non-union employers with union avoidance strategies.

Other Employment Issues

  • Helped client resolve issues related to internal theft by a long-term employee, including interacting with federal law enforcement.
  • Successfully defended a major healthcare nonprofit in an eight-day jury trial in which a nurse alleged wrongful termination in violation of Maryland’s Healthcare Whistleblower statute. The jury returned a verdict in favor of our client.
  • Successfully prosecuted and defended breaches of non-compete agreements in Maryland, DC, and Virginia federal and state courts.
  • Defended a health care client against a patient complaint to the Maryland medical licensing board, which found the claim to be without merit.
  • Resolved dispute on behalf of a large local professional services firm involving allegations of intentional damage to a business relationship.  Settled prior to trial with financial terms that were significantly more favorable than what the client expected, and in a manner that allowed the various parties to maintain professional relationships.
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