Devine Millimet's Labor, Employment, and Employee Benefits team provides clients with in-depth employment counsel in all areas, including litigation, corporate, finance, and government. Unlike other firms that focus on specific areas of NH labor law, Devine Millimet has built an integrated team to cover the entire spectrum of employment-related issues from advising on collective bargaining, to understanding affirmative action and ERISA standards, and establishing termination policies. Our practice model enables us to provide responsive, effective, and practical advice so that our clients may enhance employee relations, reduce risk exposures, and increase the ability to prevail in arbitration and litigation in a cost-effective manner.
Our clients range in size from entrepreneurial start-up businesses to large Fortune 500 companies. We serve a variety of industries and sectors including automotive, banking and finance, biotechnology, construction and engineering, education, energy, government and municipalities, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, medical devices, real estate, retail, software, telecommunications, and IT.
We view ourselves as an extension of our clients' management team. Our attorneys regularly partner with executives and human resource professionals to work through all aspects of the employment relationship including hiring, contracts, policies and procedures, compensation, benefits, leaves of absence, health and safety, internal investigations, discipline and documentation, severance packages, and termination.
Our litigation team regularly defends employers in discrimination, wrongful termination, compensation and benefits matters, and other workplace-related claims pending at the state and federal levels.
Our attorneys provide on-site NH labor law training programs for managers and supervisors dealing with handling harassment issues; EEO/diversity issues; ADA/FMLA compliance; workers' compensation matters; employee evaluations; documentation, discipline, and discharge; workplace investigations; remedial programs; and workplace mediation.
We also make sure clients are in regulatory compliance with new and updated state and federal employment laws regarding wage and hour and payroll matters, drug testing, whistleblowers, OSHA, employment discrimination, affirmative action plans, equal pay disputes, and posting and record-keeping requirements.
Our executive compensation & benefits attorneys work with clients to design compensation plans, “golden parachute” provisions, bonus agreements, and stock-based compensation arrangements such as ESOPs, restricted stock, and stock options. We also provide guidance on tax-sheltered annuity programs, health insurance, medical reimbursement plans, “cafeteria” plans, and dependent care assistance programs. Our ERISA practice is not only focused on working with clients to develop and manage pension, profit sharing and 401(k) plans, but also, retroactively address issues that arise over time creating a liability for the employer.
We work closely with the firm's Workers' Compensation Practice Group on questions regarding the reinstatement of rights and benefits available to employees with work-related injuries.
Compensation and Benefits
We assist small to mid-size businesses and not-for-profit entities across a range of industries, including healthcare and educational institutions and governmental agencies, in establishing and administering the complex array of pension and profit-sharing plans such as 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) plans, and conducting due diligence on those benefit programs as a business is sold or expands. We also represent businesses before the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service in audit and correction procedures with respect to those plans.
We assist businesses in establishing and administering health and welfare plans and in interpreting COBRA eligibility and notice guidelines, with a respectful awareness of the ongoing revisions in the many federal laws that regulate this area of employment-based law, such as ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code. For example, we counsel employers on the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, as portions of this law continue to be re-interpreted, revised, postponed and sometimes even revoked.
We work with clients to design and manage Section 409A-compliant nonqualified deferred compensation plans for executives and highly compensated employees including bonus agreements, stock-based compensation arrangements, restricted stock and stock option plans. We provide guidance on tax-favored programs, such as medical reimbursement plans, “cafeteria” plans, and dependent care assistance programs. We advise entrepreneurs on their single member defined benefit and defined contribution plans.
Counseling, Training and Investigations
We advise employers on compliance with employment-related statutes and regulations on the federal, state and local levels. Our goal is to work proactively to help our clients minimize conflicts in the workplace that may lead to costly litigation. We work on a regular basis with small and mid-size businesses and nonprofits in the following areas:
- preparation of employee handbooks and personnel policies
- drafting of employment offer letters and agreements
- managing leaves of absence and other time away from work under the FMLA, Maternity law, and related leave laws and policies
- compliance with wage and hour laws and regulations including the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the state minimum wage and protective legislation at New Hampshire RSA 275
- addressing accommodation requests under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- implementation of discipline and discharge procedures
- drafting of severance policies and separation agreements
We also work closely with our corporate attorneys in addressing employment and labor issues that may impact transactional matters, such as mergers and acquisitions.
We provide training seminars for our clients in all areas of employment law for supervisory and nonsupervisory employees. Employee training is often the key to helping employers avoid mistakes that could result in employment law liability. Our training includes programs on harassment and discrimination laws, proper hiring practices, minimizing liability during discipline and discharge, managing leaves of absence and attendance, and wage and hour compliance.
We conduct and counsel employers on workplace investigations, including allegations of employee misconduct. Some areas that result in investigation include:
- allegations of harassment or discrimination
- compliance with corporate ethics and whistleblower policies
- workplace violence
- employee theft
Devine Millimet’s employment litigation team prides itself on providing high quality representation of employers in a vast array of employment-related disputes. Our litigation services include regularly defending employers against employment discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims at the pre-complaint stage, as well as in the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission (HRC) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and in the state and federal courts. We also represent employers against wage and hour complaint at in the U.S. and New Hampshire Departments of Labor and the state and federal courts. We also defend employers against numerous other work-related matters, including wrongful termination and constructive discharge claims and unfair competition, privacy, and shareholder disputes. The team also has significant experience representing public employers against Right to Know Law violations and in discipline and discharge hearings before public bodies such as Boards of Selectmen, Town Councils, and County Personnel Committees.
The labor aspect of our litigation practice focuses on traditional labor law and includes experience with collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance processing for both public and private sector clients, and the representation of clients in mediation, fact-finding, in labor arbitration hearings and in proceedings before the Public Employee Labor Relations Board and National Labor Relations Board, as well as appeals to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
Traditionally “labor laws” were thought to only apply to employers with a unionized workforce, while “employment” laws applied to all workplaces. However, the National Labor Relations Act, administered by the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”), applies to almost all private sector employers and employees. In recent years, private non-unionized workforces have been the focus of the NLRB’s enforcement efforts. In addition to giving private employees the right to unionize this law gives both union and non-union employees a very broad protected right to give “mutual aid” to each other regarding their employment. During the past few years the NLRB has ruled in a number of actions that “mutual aid” protects most employee social media postings about their employment and gives employees the right to share their employment information with each other, including their wages, benefits and other compensation information. The members of our labor law team will work with you to make sure your company’s policies and practices are in compliance with this law as well as assist you in resolving any labor law issue that arises in your workplace.
Our Labor Law team also has expertise advising and representing a wide variety of public sector employers governed by state labor laws and state labor boards and private employers governed by the NLRB in all phases and aspects of collective bargaining, union relations, and grievance, arbitration, and unfair labor practice proceedings.