Discrimination Claims

The best way to defend against a discrimination claim is to avoid it in the first place.

No employer is immune from claims of discrimination, harassment or retaliation.  The risks continue to grow, as enforcement agencies become more aggressive and as legislation and courts expand the scope of the law.

HRW’s attorneys have decades of experience helping clients avoid, resolve, and defend against all types of employment-related claims. It begins with proactive counseling and training.  Having the right policies in place, implemented and enforced by educated leaders, goes a long way towards ensuring a productive and harmonious workplace.  When a complaint does arise, HRW’s lawyers help guide human resources staff through the investigation and resolution process.

In the unfortunate event that an employee brings a claim, HRW is prepared to vigorously defend the client.  HRW’s lawyers are tireless advocates who work collaboratively with clients to achieve the best possible results, effectively and efficiently.  HRW enjoys a stellar record of success in both state and federal court, and before governmental agencies like the MCAD and EEOC.

Employer Counseling

There’s no substitute for good advice.

Clients want sound advice from their attorneys, but when it comes to finding workplace solutions not all law firms are created equal. Clients need advisors who not only know the law but who also understand their industry and their corporate culture.  A business needs a real answer, not “it depends.”

Every day, HRW helps clients find practical solutions to their most difficult workplace problems.  Whether it’s complying with wage and hour law, disciplining and discharging employees, managing leaves of absence, or ensuring workplace safety, HRW can help.

HRW’s attorneys combine legal knowledge with decades of practical experience. HRW will help you remain in legal compliance, find practical solutions, and get back to business.

Higher Education

We defend educational institutions. And we help educate them, too.

HRW has extensive experience defending and counseling colleges and universities, with a team of lawyers who have been recognized locally and nationally for their skills and expertise.

HRW’s attorneys understand that each college and university is distinct, ensuring that the representation is tailored to an institution’s unique values and mission.  Whether a matter involves a jury trial or the preparation of a faculty handbook, HRW’s lawyers work collaboratively with their institutional clients – refusing to take a “one size fits all” approach.

In lawsuits and administrative actions, HRW represents only institutional clients, never students or faculty.  HRW’s Higher Education team has successfully defended colleges and universities in cases involving high-profile allegations of sexual misconduct under Title IX, claims of discrimination (including claims based on age, gender, race, national origin, and disability), disputes about tenure and promotion, and claims by students challenging the results of internal disciplinary proceedings.  HRW also defends colleges and universities in investigations and audits by the Office of Civil Rights and the Department of Education.  HRW lawyers are frequently retained by United Educators to serve the interests of its institutional members.

HRW helps colleges and universities keep their campuses safe.  HRW Higher Education team members are frequent speakers at educational conferences on compliance with the Clery Campus Safety Act, the Violence against Women Act, and Title IX, including conferences sponsored by the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) and the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Massachusetts (AICUM).   HRW also provides on-campus training regarding effective methods of preventing and investigating claims of sexual misconduct, and acts as independent fact-finders, preparing comprehensive reports on which institutions can rely. HRW assists its institutional clients in conducting safety reviews and preparing their Annual Security Reports.

HRW develops policies, handbooks, and codes of conduct that fit institutional needs, always with the understanding that colleges and universities have multiple constituencies – from students to administrators – and always considering their varying perspectives in crafting policies that are not only legally compliant, but that work in practice.

Click here to learn more about HRW’s Higher Education Practice and successes.

Representative Litigation for Colleges and Universities

  • Defended private liberal arts college in a “reverse” Title IX lawsuit in federal court; defeated motion by accused student seeking to prevent sexual misconduct hearing from proceeding
  • Won jury verdict in favor of university on claim of retaliation by tenured professor
  • Won jury verdict in favor of university on claim of gender discrimination by terminated coach
  • After administrative hearing, won ruling in favor of university on claim of race discrimination by tenured professor based upon alleged pay disparity
  • After administrative hearing, won  ruling in favor of university on claims by former employee alleging failure to accommodate psychiatric disability
  • Successfully defended university against claims of defamation and interference with contract filed by lecturer who was discharged following sexual harassment investigation
  • Successfully defended college against defamation claims by lecturer fired for making offensive and derogatory comments about victims of Virginia Tech massacre
  • Successfully defended university against claims filed by student who challenged her suspension for hacking into another student’s computer
  • Successfully defended university against claims by former student arising out of his removal from EMT-training class
  • Successfully defended securities fraud claims against the president, vice president of finance, and board of trustees of a bankrupt college arising out of an $18 million bond offering
  • Successfully defended university against negligence claims by student who suffered serious injuries during “rush” event; obtained summary judgment in favor of all defendants
  • Conducted Title IX Sexual Assault investigation at dental school of private liberal arts university

Investigations

  • Conducted multiple investigations of allegations of sexual misconduct by students
  • Conducted multiple investigations of allegations of failure to provide appropriate accommodations to students with disabilities
  • Trained in-house investigators on appropriate methodology for conducting investigations and reviewed reports by internal investigators
  • Conducted multiple investigations of allegations of misconduct by campus security and police officers, including claims of bias, harassment, excessive force, violations of weapons policies, and failure to discharge command-level duties

Compliance 

  • Conducted multiple internal reviews regarding compliance with the Clery Act and Title IX, and advised on audits by the Department of Education
  • Handled investigations and complaints regarding alleged Title IX violations instituted by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR)
  • Prepared numerous Annual Security Reports for institutions nationwide
  • Advised schools on sexual assault and harassment cases involving minors
  • Advised schools on compliance with the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) and accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

Selected Training and Educational Workshops

  • Confronting Campus Sexual Assault: An Examination of Higher Education Claims, webinar for United Educators (2015)
  • Are We There Yet? – Achieving Clery Compliance, webinar for NACUA (2015)
  • Consent, Credibility, and Confidentiality: Tackling Challenging Issues in Title IX Investigations, 2014, NACUA Annual Conference, AICUM Annual Conference, and various colleges
  • An Insider’s Guide to the Violence Against Women Act Negotiated Rulemaking:  Implementing Changes to the Clery Act, 2014, NACUA Annual Conference
  • Compliance Obligations: FERPA and Clery, 2014, NACUA Annual Conference
  • The Fundamentals of Clery Act Compliance for Campus Counsel and Administrators, seven week on-line course for NACUA (2013, 2014, and 2015)
  • Don’t Leave Me Now: Integrated Leave Management under the ADA, FMLA, and Worker’s Compensation Laws, 2013, NACUA Annual Conference
  • Clery Act Compliance in 2013:  Traps for the Unwary in Department of Education Clery Act Audits, 2012, NASPA Annual Conference
  • Dealing with Sexual Assault Allegations under Title IX, various colleges and webinar for Inside Higher Ed (2012)
  • The 75-Minute Employment Lawyer: A Primer for Higher Education Lawyers, 2012, NACUA Annual Conference
  • Surviving a DOE Clery Audit:  Advice From Those Who Have Been There, 2012, NACUA Annual Conference
  • Transgender Equal Rights and Gender Identity Issues: What Colleges and Universities Need to Know, 2012, Boston Bar Association College & University Section
  • The New Face – and Facebook – of Labor on Campus, AICUM, 2011
  • Becoming Fearless about FERPA, various colleges
  • Exercises in Student Accommodations, various colleges

Information & Data Security

We help our clients find security in today’s world of data insecurity.

Each week brings a new report of a data security breach.  Identity theft has become an international epidemic.  Businesses struggle to maintain the security of their data in the face of sophisticated attacks from hackers around the globe.  State and federal legislatures have enacted laws to compel businesses and institutions to do their part to fight identity theft, requiring that they take action to protect personal information and make prompt notifications in the event of a breach.  Failure to follow these strict laws can have drastic consequences from the perspectives of both legal liability and public relations.

HRW’s Data Security Team assists businesses and non-profits in addressing the complex requirements of the data security laws through a compliance program that is thorough and meticulous, yet efficient and cost-effective.  The Data Security Team also regularly assists clients with high-stakes data security breaches.  The Data Security Team has taken a leadership role in the legal community on the issue of data security, speaking on pertinent issues and training other lawyers on the new laws.

Investigations

We find out who did what, and we do it fast.

Allegations of wrongdoing in the workplace or educational institutions can generate an internal crisis or a high-profile scandal.  HRW’s skilled and experienced investigators get to the bottom of what happened promptly and effectively, and they help develop strategies to calm troubled waters, restore morale, and stave off lawsuits.

The facts and dynamics of each investigation are unique, and HRW’s team can quickly assess the best way to find out what happened in any case.  Working with the client, HRW develops a tailored investigative plan, determines what laws or policies are at stake, identifies key witnesses and documents, and conducts thorough and efficient interviews.  After thorough evaluation of the relevant evidence and separating fact from fiction, HRW prepares an investigative report on which the client can rely with confidence and use as the foundation for corrective action.

HRW’s attorneys also provide trainings on investigative techniques for clients seeking to better equip their managers in getting to the bottom of day-to-day workplace disputes.

Click here to see how HRW has successfully helped employers with their investigations.

Independent Investigations for Colleges and Universities

In light of the growing awareness of sexual violence and harassment on college campuses, as well as continuing concern about compliance with civil rights and anti-discrimination laws, HRW’s investigative team is routinely called upon to conduct investigations into allegations of:

  • Student-to-student sexual assault and misconduct under Title IX
  • Sexual harassment by students and faculty members under Title VII and Title IX
  • Misconduct by campus security and police officers, including claims of bias, harassment, excessive force, violations of weapons policies, and failure to discharge command-level duties
  • Disability discrimination and failure to provide accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

Independent Investigations for Corporations

To address and remedy concerns about workplace misconduct, HRW has conducted investigations for its own clients, and, when stakes are high, other lawyers also engage HRW to serve as outside investigator for their clients.  HRW’s workplace investigations have involved allegations of:

  • Sexual harassment by the CEO of a high-tech company
  • Preferential treatment and race discrimination in a charitable organization
  • Sexual harassment by supervisory personnel at a national property management company

Labor Relations

The law is specialized and the stakes are high; experienced counsel is a must.

Whether negotiating a collective bargaining agreement, responding to union organizing activity, defending NLRB proceedings, or arbitrating grievances, HRW’s experienced labor attorneys have done it all.  HRW has one of the deepest and most experienced teams of management-side labor attorneys in Massachusetts.

HRW represents and advises clients in every aspect of traditional labor law.

  • Union Organizing – HRW helps non-union clients remain union-free by developing innovative management, communication, and training strategies.  HRW has helped dozens of employers successfully defeat union organizing drives while avoiding the “union busting” label.
  • Collective Bargaining – HRW’s attorneys have been helping clients develop and implement successful bargaining strategies for decades.  HRW has negotiated innumerable contracts across many industries, bringing a collaborative and respectful, but firm, approach that maximizes the chances for success while preserving productive labor relations.
  • NLRB Proceedings – HRW has successfully defended or resolved nearly every manner of ULP charge and petition before the National Labor Relations Board.  These include allegations of bad faith bargaining, discriminatory discipline or discharge, and failure to provide information, as well as petitions seeking representation, decertification, or unit clarification.
  • Grievance and Arbitration – HRW helps unionized clients process, resolve, and defend against grievances and demands for arbitration.  HRW is proud of its record of success and efficiency in this critical “bread and butter” area of labor law.

Litigation

We work hard to keep our clients out of trouble. But when a lawsuit is filed, we roll up our sleeves and focus on winning the case.

Clients are best-served by a lawyer who is fully prepared and unafraid to go to trial.  HRW’s litigators are both.

A lawsuit is the last thing a client wants.  But when a key employee walks out the door after downloading a virtual truckload of confidential documents and joins a competitor, or when a process server arrives with a federal court complaint charging a company executive with discrimination, clients want to know that they have a legal team that is ready to provide tenacious and committed representation.

HRW’s litigators understand the scope and stakes of litigation, from single-plaintiff discrimination cases to wage and hour class actions.  In each case, the goal is simple – win.

HRW understands what clients want – results and value.  The client’s concern becomes HRW’s concern, and HRW helps clients stay focused on running their business while HRW takes care of their litigation.  HRW does not waste time on inconsequential skirmishes that run up a client’s bill but don’t advance its cause.  HRW fights hard, but with the realization that the client benefits from an effective and efficient approach to litigation that provides them the greatest flexibility in achieving their goals.  HRW won’t write a treatise when a concise email with clear advice will suffice.  HRW won’t send three lawyers to court when one can do the job.

For the Litigation team at HRW, the greatest reward comes from calling a client to deliver the news of a win, or to let them know that the case that has been keeping them awake at night is over.  HRW’s lawyers get to do that a lot.

Click here to view a list of some of HRW’s recent litigation successes.

Employment Litigation

  • Won jury trial in favor of major university on claims of race discrimination and retaliation by tenured professor
  • Won jury verdict in favor of major university on claim of gender discrimination by terminated coach
  • After a public hearing, won a ruling in favor of university on claims by former employee alleging failure to accommodate psychiatric disability
  • Routinely obtain rulings from administrative agencies and courts dismissing discrimination claims, including claims based on gender, race, age, disability, and sexual orientation

Non-Competition and Technology Litigation

  • Won a cutting-edge jury verdict in a non-competition case and obtained substantial damages for private jet company
  • Secured multiple victories for employers seeking to enforce non-competition agreement
  • Defended software manufacturer against a multi-million dollar claim by value-added reseller and pursued counterclaims for copyright infringement; obtained a first-impression ruling that manufacturer’s “click license” was enforceable, which dramatically restricted plaintiff’s damages and lead to a favorable resolution after several days of trial
  • Represented software manufacturer on claims for copyright infringement against a computer maintenance provider that had been copying a proprietary operating system; obtained a permanent injunction barring defendant’s unlicensed use and copying of client’s software
  • Successfully defended provider of specialty automated controls and software systems against claims for infringement of robotics software; obtained agreement for judgment in favor of client
  • Defended leading CAD/CAM manufacturer against $25 million claim for copyright infringement asserted by former software licensor; obtained ruling denying plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction and favorably resolved matter after mediation
  • Successfully pursued “cease & desist” action against two ex-employees of advertising systems provider who had misappropriated the company’s source code and threatened to post it on the Internet

Business Litigation

  • Successfully defended securities fraud claims against the president, vice president of finance, and board of trustees of a bankrupt college arising out of an $18 million bond offering; obtained dismissal of all claims
  • Secured a multi-million dollar settlement for health maintenance organization that was sold counterfeit certificates of deposit by a securities dealer
  • Obtained defense summary judgment in massive lawsuit by taxpayer alleging claims for malicious prosecution and civil rights violations against criminal and civil investigators of the Department of Revenue, with double costs imposed on the plaintiff after an unsuccessful appeal
  • Secured a multi-million dollar settlement for shareholder and former employee of close corporation on claims for security fraud and breach of fiduciary duty arising out of company’s undisclosed plans for an IPO
  • Obtained summary judgment in favor of software manufacturer in multi-million dollar equipment leasing dispute

Noncompetition Law

In the fast-paced and controversial world of noncompete and trade secret law, we use experience, agility, and creativity to maximize clients’ results.

Competition is good.  It drives ambition and innovation.  But the pressures of competition sometimes cause companies to try to gain an unfair advantage by hiring a competitor’s employee to get access to confidential information and trade secrets.

When an employee downloads a customer list minutes before tendering his resignation to join a competing company, or when an employee who signed a noncompetition agreement resigns to become head of engineering for a primary competitor, alarm bells sound.  In the face of these threats, a company must take swift and decisive action to protect its competitive advantages and investments.

HRW’s Noncompetition and Trade Secret Team fights these battles every day.  HRW represents companies that are trying to protect their trade secrets and enforce their noncompetition agreements, as well as individuals who are accused of breaching noncompetition agreements and misappropriating trade secrets.  HRW also advises companies on designing and implementing trade secret protection programs and drafting noncompetition agreements.

HRW’s Noncompetition and Trade Secret Team has a high profile in its field.  Many of its victories have received media coverage, and HRW’s lawyers are a regular source of insight for journalists writing about significant cases and legal developments.  HRW’s lawyers regularly serve on the faculty of seminars about noncompetition and trade secret law and have appeared before legislative committees considering change to the law of noncompetition agreements.

Click here to view a list of some of HRW’s recent noncompetition successes.

  • Obtained $1.3 million judgment stemming from a rare jury verdict in a noncompetition case, including payment of client’s attorney’s fees
  • Won a significant monetary award and a dismissal of all counterclaims for an employer in a federal court case involving theft of trade secrets
  • Defeated an application for a preliminary injunction for an employer in a non-solicitation case in Superior Court
  • Obtained preliminary injunction for an employer against departing salespeople, preventing them from performing any work for competitor
  • Defeated motion for a TRO and favorably resolved case in favor of executive who had joined competitor despite noncompetition agreement
  • Obtained significant monetary settlement and restrictive covenants on behalf of Fortune 500 company against competing company
  • Defeated preliminary injunction attempt and obtained favorable settlement of noncompetition matter for client in software industry
  • Won motion to dismiss for Massachusetts high-tech company with novel argument under Massachusetts law that non-solicitation agreement is a restrictive covenant, subject to the same proof requirements as non-competition agreement
  • Defended leading CAD/CAM manufacturer against $25 million claim for copyright infringement asserted by former software licensor; obtained ruling denying plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction and favorably resolved matter after mediation
  • Defended three engineers against former employer’s claims for violation of noncompetition agreements; defeated preliminary injunction motion seeking to prevent them from working at a startup company that was developing cutting-edge Voice over Internet Protocol technology

Training & Education

Workplace problems can often be avoided through proactive training and education.

HRW believes strongly in the value of managerial training and education.  That’s why we developed the Leadership Education Institute  (LEI).

Through the LEI, HRW offers a full range of interactive training and education programs.  From basic sexual harassment and diversity training, to executive-level coaching, to multi-day supervisory skills sessions, HRW’s attorneys help supervisors, managers, and executives understand not only their legal obligations but also the practical dos and don’ts of leadership in the workplace.

Our skilled trainers lead engaging and interactive sessions, tailoring each program to the client’s individual needs.  Programs adhere to the “rule of thirds,” with equal attention paid to content, interactivity, and timing.  Many of HRW’s trainers are MCAD Certified and have decades of training experience.  We have presented hundreds of programs to thousands of managers and supervisors across the country.

Click here to view a summary of recent trainings.

  • two-day labor training and supervisory skills program for all supervisors of a major New England utility
  • sensitivity training for managers at a national non-profit’s call center
  • labor law training for warehouse managers
  • training for hospital supervisors and managers covering leaves of absence and difficult disciplinary situations
  • anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training for executives and employees of a publicly traded healthcare technology company
  • trained college and university personnel on how to conduct internal investigations concerning claims of sexual misconduct and discrimination
  • employment law update for senior leadership and managers of a transportation company
  • labor update and “super supervisor” training for front line nursing home supervisors

Wage & Hour

The law is complex and claims are on the rise. When it comes to wage and hour issues, it pays to get it right.

Wage and hour claims are on the rise and can be an employer’s worst nightmare.  Claims are easy to prove and the stakes are high, given the hammer of mandatory treble damages under relevant statutes.

HRW helps its clients avoid the headaches of a wage and hour case by reviewing clients’ compliance with the myriad and sometimes conflicting state and federal requirements. Whether it’s a matter of employee classification, overtime, hours of work, or record keeping, HRW has dealt with it before. HRW’s attorneys work with clients on a daily basis across a broad spectrum of industries and routinely interact with officials from the Attorney General’s Office and federal Department of Labor.

When litigation is unavoidable, HRW is ready. HRW’s team of litigators are experienced in the defense of wage and hour claims, including attempted class action lawsuits in both state and federal court.  HRW has enjoyed an enviable record of success, through courtroom victories and favorable settlements.

 

Discrimination Claims

The best way to defend against a discrimination claim is to avoid it in the first place. MORE

Employer Counseling

There’s no substitute for good advice. MORE

Higher Education

We defend educational institutions. And we help educate them, too. MORE

Information & Data Security

We help our clients find security in today’s world of data insecurity. MORE

Investigations

We find out who did what, and we do it fast. MORE

Labor Relations

The law is specialized and the stakes are high; experienced counsel is a must. MORE

Litigation

We work hard to keep our clients out of trouble. But when a lawsuit is filed, we roll up our sleeves and focus on winning the case. MORE

Noncompetition Law

In the fast-paced and controversial world of noncompete and trade secret law, we use experience, agility, and creativity to maximize clients’ results. MORE

Training & Education

Workplace problems can often be avoided through proactive training and education. MORE

Wage & Hour

The law is complex and claims are on the rise. When it comes to wage and hour issues, it pays to get it right. MORE

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