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We partner with more than 60 airlines and related companies, including major airlines, national and regional airlines, foreign flag carriers, charter and supplemental airlines, cargo carriers and other employers to minimize legal risks and to maximize efficiency and profitability in the aviation workplace.
Our attorneys have extensive experience in the aviation industry, representing airlines in all aspects of labor and employment law, including mergers and acquisitions, contract negotiations, Railway Labor Act and employment litigation, arbitrations, and representation disputes with all of the airline-related labor organizations, including ALPA, AFA, AMFA, IAM, IBT, and TWU. More than a dozen FordHarrison attorneys devote substantially all of their practice to Railway Labor Act and related airline-industry matters, including the increasing number of disputes involving whistleblower claims brought under AIR21 and other similar statutes. Additionally, we have a group of more than 40 FordHarrison attorneys with significant experience in the airline industry who advise our airline clients in all aspects of employment law.
FordHarrison lawyers are also heavily involved in the airline industry through industry organizations and bar associations. Several lawyers actively participate in the ABA's Railway & Airline Labor Law Committee, ALI-ABA, the Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association, the Regional Airline Association and many others. Our lawyers have spoken at a number of industry events, including AIR Conference, ALI-ABA's national conference, and before the National Academy of Arbitrators.
Our practice includes:
Labor Relations. FordHarrison represents airlines in all areas of traditional labor law, which include:
- Representation matters before the National Mediation Board (NMB);
- Negotiation of collective bargaining agreements, including formulation of bargaining strategy, preparation and presentation of bargaining proposals, and representation during mediation by the NMB;
- Preparation for and representation during strikes or other job actions;
- Litigation arising from labor disputes;
- Formulation and development of employment policies and practices designed to avoid and minimize grievances;
- Grievance mediation, assisting airlines to settle union grievances with the participation of either NMB-appointed or independent mediators;
- Arbitration of grievances (in this area, FordHarrison's access to prior decisions and information relating to arbitrators is enhanced by the firm's extensive internal library of unpublished airline arbitration cases, as well as our tracking and analysis of airline arbitration awards and trends);
- Preparation and implementation of programs and policies involving DOT/FAA mandatory drug and alcohol testing, FAA-required background investigations, FAA civil penalty actions, federal and state Occupational Safety and Health Acts (OSHA), whistleblower actions, and Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA) issues related to obtaining and releasing pilot records; and
- Whistleblower claims under federal and state law, including extensive experience representing airlines in AIR21 actions.
Employment Law. We have a number of FordHarrison attorneys who represent airlines and many other employers in all areas of federal and state employment law, which include:
- Human Resource Services (Preventative Employment Advice and Training): Our firm is nationally known for assisting clients with their human resource function. We provide services such as employee handbook reviews, policy audits and training (e.g., harassment, discrimination, discipline and discharge). We combine the kind of practical guidance one usually associates with experienced human resource consultants with the legal advice so necessary to minimize legal risks in order to give our clients the kind of total service relationship they need in today's litigious climate. Our practical day-to-day advice is geared to assisting our clients in achieving their operational and human resources goals while reducing the chances of costly litigation. We also assist clients in responding to charges of discrimination filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and other state and local agencies. Additionally, we assist clients in the preparation of Affirmative Action Plans.
- Employment Litigation: The proliferation of state and federal laws creating employee rights has caused an increasing number of lawsuits. Our lawyers represent employers at all stages of these employment disputes, including hearings, trials, and appeals. For example, we defend airline clients in federal and state discrimination claims of all types (race, age, sex, religion, national origin, disability, retaliation, etc.); state wrongful discharge lawsuits; whistleblower claims; ERISA disputes relating to pension or welfare benefits plans; and FMLA claims. We also handle suits relating to employment contracts, trade secrets, unfair competition, and covenants not to compete.
- Wage and Hour Compliance: Federal, state, and local wage and hour laws determine when, in what form, and how much an employee must be paid. These statutes and regulations significantly affect every employment relationship and, if not complied with, can result in significant unbudgeted liability for an employer. We help employers comply with all of these many state, local, and federal wage and hours laws. We counsel employers during audits of their wage payment practices by the U.S. Department of Labor and state compliance agencies. In addition, we advise employers on their obligations to employees with respect to prevailing wages, minimum wages, vacation benefits, meal and break periods, compensatory time, and related issues.
ERISA and Employee Benefits. Our Benefits Practice Group advises clients with respect to a variety of benefit plans such as defined benefit pension plans, hybrid pension plans, 401(k), profit sharing plans, and employee stock ownership plans (ESOP). We also assist clients in virtually all phases of plan adoption and administration, including plan design, tax qualifications, plan terminations and mergers, and employee communications. Our lawyers provide advice on the best ways to use self-funded plans and managed-care programs, Section 125 cafeteria plans, flexible spending accounts, as well as how to fund health, disability, severance, vacation, and other benefits through voluntary employee beneficiary associations (VEBAs). Whether dealing with retiree medical benefits, government investigations, plan consolidation, employee stock purchase plans, executive compensation, or supplemental benefits, we partner with our clients to find innovative solutions to difficult issues. Additionally, we advise employers when faced with furloughs to ensure compliance with WARN Act and COBRA.
Immigration. Our Immigration Practice Group is dedicated to assisting clients who are hiring, transferring, or terminating foreign nationals. We assist clients with obtaining temporary work visas and permanent resident status ("Green Card") in the United States for foreign nationals, hiring and transferring of foreign employees, I-9 compliance, and related employer obligations under the extremely complex immigration laws.