An indispensable part of running a business is managing its human resources, i.e., the employees and independent contractors who do the work and make the business run. This part of a business is heavily regulated by federal, state and local government, and the rights of employees have steadily expanded over the last 70 years. There are issues all along the way, from recruitment and selection to retention and separation. These issues involve: contracts; policy manuals; the protection of confidential business information; the possibility of future unfair competition by the employee; minimum wage and overtime; alleged discrimination based on age, race, sex, national origin, religion, or other protected classifications; sexual or other illegal harassment, taxes, accommodation of disabilities, benefit and incentive plans, and more. The government agencies and statutes involved are a veritable alphabet soup: EEOC, OCRC, OSHA, COBRA, NLRB, DOL, FLSA, FMLA, ADA, ADEA, OWBPA, CRA, OFFCP, ERISA, and others.

At Santen & Hughes we have the expertise to guide our clients through all of the decisions involved in managing employees. Our philosophy in advising our clients on these matters has been shaped and proven effective over several decades. Before problems arise, our advice is designed to give management the maximum scope of discretion in making its decisions, so that they can make the right choices to protect and grow the business. As issues arise, our advice is tailored to resolving problems economically and efficiently, consistent with the needs of the business. Thus, we advise our clients in a manner that minimizes the chances of expensive litigation, and gives our clients the strongest possible position if litigation does occur. Finally, if specific problems result in litigation, we pursue that litigation aggressively, utilizing our extensive courtroom experience to obtain the best outcome for our clients.

We also represent employees (who are obviously not employed by our other clients). These employees are often executives who are in the process of being terminated, and who need our help with assessing severance agreements and other issues. Often they are people who are, or may be, victims of discrimination or other illegal action. Sometimes they are groups of employees who have common or similar claims against their employer. Sometimes they are employees who have issues with a noncompetition agreement or the like. Sometimes they are victims of sexual or other illegal harassment.

We believe that our representation of both employers and employees makes us better able to serve the needs of both groups. Consideration of matters from the different perspectives of employers and employees broadens our understanding, and makes our advice wiser and more insightful.

Labor Law
A significant percentage of the workforce is unionized, and unions are making serious efforts to expand their membership. We have extensive experience representing management in dealing with unions. This includes assisting employers with union avoidance, handling NLRB representation proceedings, and other issues related to unionization. For companies with unions, we represent management in collective bargaining, union grievances and arbitrations, and NLRB unfair labor practice proceedings.

Our approach in dealing with unions is to work hard to build a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship. We have found that unions can be convinced that it is in their interest, and the interest of the employees, to have terms and conditions of employment that allow the employer to be an effective competitor in the marketplace. This requires building trust. It requires understanding and tolerance. It depends upon open and honest communication. It is difficult, but it is possible. And the result can be a more productive workforce, where disruptive problems are resolved before they fester.