Pittsburgh Business Attorneys

Labor & Employment

Our breadth of experience enables us to better serve our clients in all areas. We understand the interplay of individual employee rights and collective bargaining, the effects that different employment policies may have upon workers' compensation cases, and a variety of other such interrelationships that can make the difference between smooth sailing and rocky seas. We apply an aggressive yet reasoned approach to labor relations, ever mindful of the needs, goals and pocketbooks of our clients. Efficient resolution consistent with our clients' objectives is the hallmark of our representation.

Collective Bargaining Representation:

Today's union-management relations require a defter touch and deeper understanding than those of prior generations. With conditions of economic hardship and fiscal restraint, the challenge to bring home an agreement without breaching labor peace is greater than ever. Add to this a growing list of employee rights and grievances and stepped-up governmental regulation, and the task can seem practically insurmountable.

Our employment lawyers have negotiated scores of agreements for clients in a wide range of businesses. We provide hard bargaining when required along with practiced persuasion and an understanding of our clients' goals. Our lawyers have achieved unprecedented agreements on topics such as compensation concessions, health care benefits and production efficiencies.

We have represented such divergent employers as a county non-profit organization operating on behalf of mentally retarded persons, one of the nation's largest steelmakers, school districts, several local municipalities, a local business college, a printing company, the largest American manufacturer of ferroalloys, a local women's college, and a railroad engine repair business in negotiations with unions such as the United Steelworkers of America, the United Autoworkers, the SEIU, the Teamsters, the PSEA and the IUE.

In our collective bargaining representation we have:

We believe that effective representation at the bargaining table demands a thorough and practical understanding of all areas of labor and employment law. The extensive practice base of our employment lawyers enables them to negotiate knowing all of the effects an agreement may have, as well as a true understanding of the overall employment considerations which are vital to our clients.

Some of the results which we have achieved for our labor clients are described below.

Public Sector Representation:

Our employment lawyers have represented municipalities in varying capacities. Specifically, the Firm's lawyers have negotiated labor agreements involving firefighters, police and municipal workers. Additionally, the Firm's lawyers have represented municipalities in labor grievances, arbitrations, contract mediation and interest arbitration. Representation has included the City of Clairton and the Boroughs of Glassport and Middletown.

Employment Litigation:

Employers today face a growing list of discrimination claims: race, color, age, sex, disability, religion, national origin and veteran status. Recent legislation in this area, including the Civil Rights Act of 1991 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, make it significantly easier for employees or applicants to bring lawsuits alleging that they were victims of unlawful discrimination. The new statutes also make it harder for employers to defend themselves against such claims and increase employers' potential liability.

Recently, sexual harassment cases also have commanded much attention in the media. As a result, employees who believe that they have been subjected to improper conduct of a sexual nature have more readily filed actions against their supervisors and/or employers.

To help our clients beat back this barrage of claims, our lawyers work closely with human resource personnel to ensure that sound anti-discrimination policies are in place, and that supervisors and managers are following and implementing those policies. If a charge is filed, we aggressively defend it from the outset. We have successfully defended over 95% of all discrimination charges in administrative proceedings, before they can go to trial, thereby saving clients the expense of judicial adjudication. Through our vigorous defense of these claims and daily advice on employment matters, our clients have avoided costly litigation. We consistently deliver the winning edge for employers combating the ever-increasing flow of employment related lawsuits.

Employment At Will:

The time-honored rule of employment at will, which permits managerial flexibility in termination decisions, continues to be attacked. Many jurisdictions have carved out such major exceptions to the employment at will doctrine that it essentially no longer exists. In Pennsylvania, although the rule retains its vitality, plaintiffs' attorneys continuously attempt to chip away at it with wrongful discharge actions. The doctrine endures daily assault by lawsuits which portray employment-related actions as violative of public policy, and which demand excessive relief, frequently even punitive damages.

Furthermore, discharged at will employees increasingly sue for any of a host of claims which have recently gained in popularity. From claims for fraudulent misrepresentation, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy, to interference with contractual relations, false imprisonment, and assault and battery lawsuits, former employees are finding more and more ways to extract money from their prior employers.

Our lawyers have successfully obtained dismissal of wrongful discharge actions in the early stages of litigation, thereby saving our clients the costs of discovery and trial. We also have achieved highly favorable settlements in the early stages of wrongful discharge actions, thereby saving our clients the costs of defense and possible adverse verdicts. In addition, we work closely with our clients to develop employee handbooks, discipline policies, efficient screening and recruitment methods, and detailed recordkeeping and documentation procedures so as to minimize the threat of litigation.

Occupational Safety and Health Cases:

Safety concerns often result in some of the most contentious and emotionally charged disputes that exist between management and labor. Physical emergencies require immediate assessment and expert consultation. In addition, employee OSHA safety charges must be handled carefully and conclusively, to avoid precedents that can create future liabilities.

Grievance Arbitrations:

We have represented our clients in literally hundreds of grievance arbitrations, many of which resulted in decisions which saved vital business practices being challenged by the union.

Wage and Hour Cases:

Our lawyers have been involved in many wage and hour investigations on both the state and federal level, including those where issues of compensation for commissioned employees have been at issue. We have also counseled public contractors who are subject to the intricacies of the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act and the Davis-Bacon Act and have guided private employers to ensure compliance with state and federal wage laws. We understand these questions and can help resolve disputes.

Structuring Employee Stock Ownership Plans:

Plan Designs

Our benefits lawyers provide assistance in all facets of benefits plan design. We guide each client through all the necessary steps, then go the extra mile to ensure that their plan meets all of their business needs. Beginning with a careful analysis of a client's objectives, our lawyers develop and refine a plan that is suited for the client's particular circumstances. We finish the job by providing documentation and advice for proper.

Administration, Analysis and Amendment

Our expertise goes on to help our clients well after adoption of a plan. We provide customized advice for plan administration, developing specific strategies to avoid operational deficiencies. We examine and provide counsel on entitlement issues, law and plan interpretation, procedural questions, complex tax issues, distribution rights, prohibited transaction analysis and fiduciary counseling.

Modification of Plans

Our benefits lawyers are prepared to provide the answers to questions about options for freezing, termination, merger or spinoff of plans. We regularly represent clients in these difficult matters, performing comprehensive due diligence analysis, and coordinating with other professionals to provide a complete and accurate assessment.

Multidisciplinary Analysis and Support

The capabilities of our pension and benefits lawyers are greatly enhanced by the support of the Firm's other practice areas. Employee benefits issues do not exist in a vacuum. Rather, they typically are a key piece of a bigger picture--a court case, a merger, a bankruptcy, a tax controversy, a labor case. Our benefits lawyers regularly draw upon the Firm's substantial resources in these areas. For example, the day before the scheduled closing on the sale of one of the nation's largest steelmakers, salaried employees filed suit seeking an injunction to block the sale based upon alleged pension law violations. Our benefits, litigation and corporate lawyers joined forces to defeat the challenge. The result: the court denied the employees' demand for preliminary relief, and within hours the deal was done, effectively terminating the lawsuit. The ability to recognize and act upon such interrelationships enables Keevican Weiss & Bauerle LLC to provide the multidisciplinary approach to our employee benefits practice which is so vital in today's complex business world.

Employee Benefits and Pension Cases: