Our goal is to provide to clients a broad range of preventive labor relations and employment law services at the earliest stage before "molehills" become "mountainous" problems. The retainer arrangement also encourages regular and continued consultation without additional billing so management can reasonably anticipate and budget its costs and not be reluctant to seek preventive advice because of hourly billings.
Under the fixed fee prevention program, an employer's documents and processes are reviewed and updated as necessary, its compliance with wage and hour and other employment laws are reviewed and corrected as needed, its supervisors are trained in the laws, in union avoidance and in basics of motivating, leading and disciplining employees, audits are routinely conducted to determine and fix employee issues, and the employer is provided with unlimited advising and counseling regarding its day to day labor and employment matters. The program is designed to reduce the risk of union organizing and of claims made against an employer by outside attorneys or administrative agencies, to help management avoid making labor relations or employment law mistakes, to maximize the number of satisfied and productive employees, and to formulate polices/procedures that foster and maintain a healthy labor relations environment.
The Nonunion Retainer Program includes the following services as needed:
1. Annual Labor Relations Audit
All supervisors are interviewed confidentially as part of a complete supervisory audit to determine employee complaints and/or personnel problems. The audit serves as a "blue print" for targeting labor relations efforts in the coming year. The results of the audit are submitted to the Company in writing, with recommendations where appropriate in order to "nip problems in the bud." Potential legal issues such as wage and hour, sexual harassment, discrimination or other employment problems, if any, would also be discussed and recommendations to resolve them would be submitted.
2. Supervisory Training
One of the cornerstones of our preventive labor relations philosophy is ongoing supervisory training. Training helps supervisors improve their employee relations and general management skills, thus lessening the risk of unionization. The training also provides our clients with an overview of legal issues so as to minimize costly lawsuits and agency charges. During regular seminars, supervisors would be instructed in topics such as screening/hiring techniques, giving instructions and orders; motivating employees; administering effective discipline; termination of employees; and an overview of laws affecting employees. Supervisory seminars also stress the need to increase employee productivity by treating employees with dignity and respect, identifying and "weeding out" malcontents and marginal employees, carefully screening new applicants, and "selling" the Company positively to employees.
3. Employee Review Committee
Upper level management is led by a member of the Firm in quarterly meetings reviewing employees on an individualized basis. The goal of the sessions is to create individualized employee action plans that promote exceptional employee performance.
4. Union Avoidance Counseling
We work with managers to educate them as to signs and causes of union organizing so they may recognize and eliminate potential recruiting points for unions.
5. Employment Processes Audit
We conduct an audit of processes used in employment such as a new hire checklist, termination procedures, etc. and make recommendations related thereto.
6. Improving Communications With Employees
Improving employer-employee communications is an important step in preventing potential unionization and costly employment disputes. To achieve that goal, we will assist the Company in drafting or reviewing regular communications with employees. Some or all of the following methods could be used:
a. Letters to the home of each employee. These letters can be used to communicate important facts, such as productivity information, operational goals, news about employees who have excelled, etc.
b. A regular series of "speeches" to small groups of employees regarding operations, goals, recent achievements, etc.
c. Helping to establish regular meetings between management and employees and helping to create a "positive spin" for each meeting.
7. Drafting of Employee Handbook
A new employee handbook will be drafted, or an existing handbook reviewed and revised, so that the handbook becomes a sales tool for the Company. The handbook would be drafted to fit into a broader and positive program of preventive labor relations.
8. Reviewing and, if necessary, Revising Employment Applications, Employment Agreements, Personnel Forms, and Hiring Procedures
Employee application forms, performance appraisal forms, employment agreements, restrictive covenant agreements, and other personnel documents would be drafted and/or reviewed and revised to ensure legality and to help promote the employer’s culture.
Recommendations would be made with regard to those areas where improvements should be considered, if economically possible.
9. Strategic Planning Advice and Counsel
We interact with decision makers regarding high level strategic planning on matters involving the workforce including hiring of executives, RIF’s, and acquisition and sale matters
10. Ongoing Legal Advice
Any employment law questions regarding employees will be answered on an ongoing basis. For example, should the Company wish to terminate an employee, we would provide advice regarding the practicalities of how to handle the termination as well as any legal issues. We also will advise and consult as needed with regard to relevant laws and regulations of government agencies involved in labor relations and employment law, such as the National Labor Relations Board, Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and State Department of Human Rights, etc. (The only labor-related areas in which we do not practice are Workers' Compensation and Unemployment Compensation.)
The only areas excluded from our full service Labor and Employment Retainer Agreement are litigation services such as position statements, other documents and fact-finding conferences before administrative agencies, union organizing campaigns, and all aspects of state and federal court lawsuits. Such services are billed at our hourly rates.
A full-service retainer fee, billed monthly, is guaranteed for the length of the retainer. All monthly retainer fees are payable within 14 days.
The only additional billing outside of the unanticipated "litigation" expense described above would be out-of-pocket disbursements incurred on your behalf such as long distance telephone charges, transportation and travel expenses, photocopying, computerized research, messenger and express delivery services, court costs, deposition and transcript costs, etc.
Although the entire Firm would be available to service the Company's needs, one attorney is charged with the responsibility for that Company's matters.
In short, for companies that do not maintain a sophisticated human resource department or function, we dovetail sound legal advice with the practical recommendations that would be made by a Vice President of Human Resources. And, where a Company has a labor relations/human resource executive, we supplement and coordinate our expertise with that in-house person.