Discrimination & Harassment



Workforce management in a stagnant economy has been particularly challenging for employers as they try to manage their expenses and their bottom line. Business decisions, such as conducting layoffs and reductions in force, have contributed to an increase in discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims by former employees following the loss of their jobs. While employers often implement explicit codes of conduct for their workplace, discrimination and harassment behaviors can sometimes still linger. We are also seeing more and more class actions and collective claims filed by plaintiffs’ attorneys whose aggressive tactics have made the defense of these cases significantly more expensive. In this landscape, where emotions often run high and the potential financial exposure to companies is great, employers turn to Nixon Peabody Labor & Employment Litigation attorneys for a comprehensive, cost-effective winning strategy.

Discrimination and harassment litigation

Members of Nixon Peabody’s Labor & Employment Litigation practice are talented, skilled attorneys who have decades of experience defending complex and sometime-hostile discrimination and harassment litigation matters. From the outset, the team leverages their trial and investigative skills to win cases early by assessing their client’s risk and then developing a calculated litigation strategy geared toward saving our client from years of discovery and hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees, often avoiding a costly trial. Whether defending against hundreds of claimants or a single plaintiff case, our team has a proven track record of achieving the results our clients are seeking while containing litigation costs. Our attorneys also excel at blocking or containing class certification and executing offensive strategies, such as counterclaims and early dispositive motions.

We have represented clients in federal trial and appellate courts; state courts; the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC); and related federal, state, and local governmental agencies. These cases involve disparate treatment and impact claims and span the full range of protected categories, including race, sex, age, disability, veteran status, national origin, and religion, as well as issues arising from statutes such as the Family Medical Leave Act and Americans with Disabilities Act. Our experience before the EEOC includes individual discrimination charges and class claims, as well as related investigations of compensation discrimination, failure to hire or promote, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, retaliation, and disability discrimination.

Prevention

Although an employer cannot insulate itself entirely from litigation, it can take steps to decrease its chances of being sued and maximize its ability to obtain a quick resolution at a relatively small cost. Our philosophy is to minimize the risk of workplace discrimination claims through proactive planning. We work collaboratively with our clients to conduct audits that include detailed compensation and data analyses to identify hidden statistical vulnerabilities, interviews of company personnel to gauge employee morale and satisfaction with diversity efforts, and recommendations to address areas of vulnerability.

We routinely assist our clients in identifying potential issues and minimizing the possibilities for liability by:

  • Reviewing policies and procedures and identifying issues that might support a disparate impact or “pattern and practice” claim of discrimination;
  • Revising and/or creating alternative policies and procedures, pay practices, or hiring/promotion/firing practices to minimize the risk of any discrimination claims;
  • Advising on diversity “best practices” and conducting diversity training; and
  • Providing harassment and discrimination prevention training.
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