The single largest investment a business makes is in its personnel. To compete in a global marketplace, businesses must be able to attract and retain the best and the brightest people. An organization’s policies on recruiting, hiring, training, compensating, developing, retaining, and even separating of personnel must forward the goals of the business. Each year new laws, regulations, and judicial decisions present increasingly complex issues in managing the employment relationship in all its varied aspects.

The attorneys in our Labor and Employment Law practice area advise our management clients on ways to meet their business needs in connection with all aspects of labor and employment law matters. We assist employers in analyzing the soundness and comprehensiveness of their existing employment practices and policies, and provide suggestions and advice on establishing new guidelines to meet ever-changing business requirements. Our objective is to enable our clients to achieve their desired results while controlling and minimizing risks. One of our primary goals is to work with our clients to prevent claims.

Despite best efforts, however, disputes and litigation sometimes arise. In those cases, the firm’s premier group of labor and employment attorneys can assist in providing management with the knowledge and resources necessary to limit clients’ exposure and expenses, and to resolve the matter. We have successfully represented employers in connection with all types of state and federal employment claims, including disputes related to employment contracts, wage-hour claims, unfair labor practice charges, union contract grievances, whistleblower claims, enforcement of non-competition agreements, as well as defense of claims of sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation, defamation, wrongful discharge, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and related employment tort issues.

When matters impact our management clients’ relationship with employees, the lawyers in our Labor and Employment Practice Area have the experience and knowledge to help achieve an outcome that will accomplish our clients’ overall business goals. Our lawyers are instantly accessible by telephone and electronic mail, and are committed to providing immediate responses to our clients’ needs.

We represent all types of employers in nearly every industry sector. Our clients range from private employers with employees in a traditional manufacturing environment, to municipalities and school districts with employees spread out in numerous locations, to public employers with thousands of traditional and “virtual” employees located across the U.S. 

Our Clients

  • Private Companies
  • Public Companies
  • Not-for-Profit Organizations
  • Municipalities
  • Academic Institutions
  • Health Systems and Hospitals

Our Experience

  • Labor Relations
  • Labor and Employment Law Compliance
  • Employment Policies and Practices
  • Employment Disputes and Litigation
  • Workplace Training

Our experience is exceptionally broad and varied. If a matter involves the employer-employee relationship, we generally have multiple practitioners with the experience and expertise necessary to address the issue. We provide advice and counsel in connection with:     

NYS Sexual Harassment Prevention

On April 12, 2018, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York State Budget into law.  In response to the increase in sexual harassment claims and the #MeToo movement, the Budget contained new legislative requirements directed at employers intended to address workplace sexual harassment. Proclaimed by Cuomo as “the nation’s most aggressive anti-sexual harassment agenda,” the new legislation makes New York the first state in the nation to require employers (regardless of size) to adopt a written sexual harassment prevention policy and provide annual training to all employees. Although the penalties for non-compliance are unclear, employers will be better able to defend against sexual harassment claims and the potential damages resulting from those claims, by having effective policies and training in place.  Our team can help review your policies and training materials to ensure you meet/exceed the minimum standards, conduct custom training programs,  provide guidance on effective and proper investigation procedures, and defend you in any legal proceedings related to complaints of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation. 

New York Paid Family Leave Benefits Law

January 1, 2018 marked the start of the most generous paid family leave program in the nation. Once fully phased in, the New York Paid Family Leave Benefits Law (PFL) will provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected paid leave for eligible employees to bond with a new child (including adopted or foster children), to care for a family member (including grandparents/grandchildren) with a serious health condition, or to assist with family obligations when a family member is called into active military service. Our labor and employment group is equipped to address issues you may face with this new law. We provide a big picture, holistic view, to minimize risk and manage business decisions. Our attorneys have experience in similar types of leave management and a comprehensive background in the implementation of best practices. Our goal is to put you in the optimal position, in advance of PFL, for legal compliance—with minimal risk and disruption to your business. 

Criminal Conviction Analysis and Fair Credit Reporting Act Compliance

The laws regulating how employers use criminal conviction information are complicated, overlapping and can be confusing. Harter Secrest & Emery LLP Labor and Employment attorneys have extensive experience helping clients establish policies and procedures for considering criminal background information. Our team has developed state and federal law compliant programs designed to complement corporate culture, recruitment goals and standards. We offer clients a variety of packages that leverage our experience to prevent costly employment discrimination errors and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) violations.

Labor Relations. Our clients regularly seek our advice and recommendations on positive changes to policies, practices, and communications programs as necessary to remain union-free. We conduct thorough training of supervisors and management to assist with not only legal compliance but also to enhance employee relations and address employee concerns.

For unionized employers, our attorneys are experienced in handling proceedings in the private sector under the National Labor Relations Act and Railway Labor Act, and in the public sector before the New York Public Employment Relations Board. We provide legal advice and assistance during union organizing, picketing, decertification, and other circumstances affecting management’s interaction with organized labor.

We assist in all aspects of collective bargaining and formulation of strategy; provide advice and counsel in all stages of the grievance and arbitration processes; advise in contract administration issues; and counsel as to strikes and work stoppages.

Labor and Employment Law Compliance. Our attorneys provide our clients with the day-to-day advice that they need to comply with the increasingly complex system of laws that regulate the employment relationship in both the private and public sectors. As an example, clients regularly seek our assistance with managing employee disability issues under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and state disability and workers’ compensation laws.

In the private sector, we provide advice on employment law issues affecting minimum wage, overtime, and other employee compensation matters; employee recruiting and background checks; disability accommodation and employee work restrictions; employee leaves of absence and return-to-work issues; business sales, acquisitions, and relocations; mass layoffs, plant closings, and other reductions in force; OSHA compliance and workplace safety; EEO-1, VETS-100, LM-10, and other employer reporting obligations; and a variety of other employment law matters.

For our public sector clients, we also provide advice on Civil Service Law compliance; tenure and employee discipline issues; compensatory time and other public sector wage and hour matters;  PESH-related matters; and various municipal law issues related to employment in the public sector.

Employment Policies and Practices. Practice attorneys review management policies and communications for compliance with anti-discrimination and other laws affecting the employment relationship. We regularly prepare and review employment applications, employee handbooks, and affirmative action plans and procedures.

We conduct training programs for management and supervisors and prepare policies on such issues as sexual harassment and discrimination prevention, substance abuse, Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, and handling of employee discipline and discharge.

We also help employers deal with other policy issues such as reference checks, workplace violence, employment agreements, confidentiality and non-compete agreements, vacation and leave benefits, family and medical leaves of absence, dispute resolution, and hazard communications. We work closely with our Employee Benefits and Immigration Practice Areas where necessary to ensure that all aspects of a particular matter are addressed.

Employment Disputes and Litigation. Discrimination Actions. Our Labor and Employment practice area has a proven track record of effective and efficient defense of small, midsize, and large international employers, as well as public employers, in all types of discrimination actions.  The types of cases we have taken to a successful conclusion on behalf our employer clients include claims alleging a violation of:

  • Title VII (including claims based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin)
  • Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
  • New York State Human Rights Law
  • Sexual harassment claims
  • ERISA and other employee benefit claims
  • 42 U.S.C. Section 1981
  • 42 U.S.C. Section 1983
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)  
  • Equal Pay Act   
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act

Class/Multiple Action Suits. We have handled complex matters involving multiple plaintiffs with multiple claims in both state and federal courts.  In particular, our attorneys have extensive recent experience with respect to wage and hour class/collective actions, which are becoming increasingly commonplace.  

Union Labor Matters. We represent management in both the public and private sector in defense of actions brought by labor unions in matters relating to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and other statute and state law claims. These actions have involved enforcement actions, stays, injunctions, and appeals.

Defense in Other Employment Lawsuits. Our litigation services cover the entire spectrum of dispute resolution, including defense of claims involving harassment and civil rights. We also defend against claims that management violated employment contracts (wrongful discharge, non-competition, and related torts); state labor laws (wages and wage supplements); the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA); executive employment and compensation contracts; and cases involving ERISA and employee benefit plans.


This website presents only general information not intended as legal advice. Although we encourage calls, letters and emails from prospective clients, please keep in mind that merely contacting Harter Secrest & Emery LLP (HSE) does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. Confidential information should not be sent to HSE until you have been notified in writing by HSE that a formal attorney-client relationship has been established. Information sent to us before then may not be treated as confidential by HSE or the court.

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