Labor and Employment

Essex Richards’ labor and employment attorneys vigorously represent our clients in a wide range of employment-related matters. We have over 30 years of combined experience in litigating and representing both management and employees in their employment disputes before the federal and state courts, arbitrators, and government agencies.

Our broad employment experience includes regularly advising and representing both employer and employee clients on matters involving  employment contracts, severance agreements, deferred compensation arrangements, stock option plans, discrimination issues, wage and hour concerns, and ERISA issues involving retirement, disability, and health benefit claims. Our extensive experience also includes handling disputes involving non-competition agreements, non-solicitation agreements, and the protection of trade secrets. We also regularly handle government investigations addressing discrimination complaints, wage and hour compliance, and OSHA compliance.

We believe in working to prevent lawsuits from occurring when possible, although we understand that a firm litigation position is often necessary. Appreciating that failure to address emerging employment problems can result in wasted resources and costly litigation, we proactively counsel and advise our business clients on their personnel policies and procedures, employee handbooks, employment contracts including non-competition agreements, and employment practices in general. Our focus on educating clients on applicable law, identifying possible areas of liability and evaluating strategies for accomplishing clients’ goals allows us to further a more constructive business and workplace for our clients.

We also have experienced mediators who are certified by the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission, and are regularly asked by other lawyers and judges to mediate employment disputes. We have found that this experience makes us more effective in negotiating and resolving disputes on behalf of our own clients.

How We Helped...

A successful, high-producing sales employee was close to being a new father. When he told his employer that he wanted to spend time with his new family and take a few days off from work under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) after his wife had the baby, the client’s boss repeatedly harassed him, asserting, “This job is your family” and questioning the client on why he felt he needed time off when "All your wife will be doing is breastfeeding."

Only a couple weeks after the client took a few days of leave following the birth of his child and subsequently returned to work, he found himself fired. Notably, the client had received a number of company awards for his performance, received excellent performance reviews, had never been disciplined and was a high-volume producer. We sent correspondence to the company asserting that unless the parties could come to a resolution in the short term, we would file suit for unlawful retaliation under the FMLA. The employer responded, made a number of disparaging remarks about the client and refused to compensate him. Because the dialogue was less than fruitful, we eventually filed suit. Shortly thereafter, the company secured outside counsel, who promptly contacted Essex Richards and requested an early mediation to try and resolve the matter. The mediation was successful and resulted in a settlement without our having to pursue litigation any further.