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, our attorneys 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 trusted advisors who not only know the law, but who also understand their industry and their company 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, our team 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

Working with you to keep your institution working.

HRW’s dynamic Higher Education Team offers a myriad of services to our institutional clients. Whether HRW’s attorneys are conducting investigations, defending institutions in legal proceedings, crafting policies, or defusing PR crises– we never take a “one size fits all” approach.

Recognized nationally and regionally as one of the Best Law Firms for Education Law by U.S. News & World Report, HRW is committed to working collaboratively and supportively with its institutional clients to achieve the best possible outcomes.

AREAS OF PRACTICE: 

Campus Police and Security

Safety is a paramount concern for any educational institution, and HRW helps colleges and universities keep their campuses safe. From building police departments, to working with your Clery Compliance Team to prepare annual security reports, HRW’s hands-on approach and extensive experience in the field allows us to assess, address, and provide solutions for campus threats.

Crisis Management

No campus is immune from crisis. But when a crisis hits and the clock is ticking, readiness is the key. The HRW Higher Ed Team has extensive experience in anticipating and responding to campus crises, and our attorneys work with institutions to develop and implement a proactive plan for quelling a crisis. When an institution’s reputation is on the line, we are there every step of the way, guiding our clients, overseeing communications, and ensuring reputational protection.

Employment Counseling

From representing institutions at administrative agencies to advising on the implementation of ever-changing state and federal employment laws, the HRW Higher Ed Team will work with institutional Human Resource teams to maintain compliance, provide training on best practices to avoid possible claims, and to defend institutions when claims inevitably arise.

Federal and State Compliance Reviews, Audits, and Investigations

When the Department of Education or Department of Justice start asking questions, our team will be at your side to guide you through governmental compliance reviews and investigations. we have extensive experience dealing with Federal and State authorities on matters including Clery Audits, OCR compliance reviews and investigations, Program Reviews, and Department of Justice investigations.

General Counsel Services

Some institutions do not have in-house lawyers, or have legal teams that are understaffed or overworked. That’s where HRW can help.  Our Higher Ed Team has wide-ranging experience serving as outside General Counsel for institutions, and we collaborate with campus partners to protect their interests and  reach their goals. Our attorneys are ready and able to handle the tasks that might fall to an in-house legal team, including reviewing contracts, overseeing campus expansion, and mentoring members of Title IX and Equity teams, Student Affairs.

Investigations

The trained and trusted investigators on the HRW Higher Ed Team work quickly and effectively get to the bottom of what happened. Our team has significant experience conducting investigations in a wide range of challenging areas, including sexual misconduct, hazing, and discrimination. Institutions can trust our team to conduct an investigation that is thorough, impartial, and reliable.

Title IX Hearings

HRW’s attorneys have served as independent fact-finders and decision-makers in dozens of cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment within the scope of Title IX. After the release of the new Title IX regulations in 2020, each member of the HRW Higher Ed Team underwent additional, intensive training as adjudicators to meet the obligations of the new regulations, making us ready to hit the ground running whenever you need us.

Litigation

When a lawsuit gets filed, HRW’s goal is simple – win. Our team works relentlessly to litigate each case in an effective and efficient manner that best suits our client and the individual case. The litigators on the HRW Higher Ed Team don’t allow a lawsuit to become a distraction for an institution; our lawyers take command of the litigation, so our clients can focus on what matters: their students and running their institutions.

Process and Policy Review

Every institution is unique, and so are their policies, handbooks, and codes of conduct. The HRW Higher Ed Team works with each college and university in detail to craft policies that are specific to their institution and that are not only legally compliant, but that are understandable and work in practice. From students to administrators, we work with you to produce policies that take into account varying perspectives.

Trainings and Workshops

Members of the HRW Higher Ed Team are frequent speakers at educational conferences, locally and nationally. Our expertise allows us to educate our clients and work with them hands-on to continuously improve their institution. Whether it is a one-time or annual training or workshop, you can expect the most updated and accurate information on the topic.

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 organizations in addressing the complex requirements of the data security laws through a compliance program that is thorough and meticulous, yet efficient and cost-effective.

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 training 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, including:

  • Union Organizing
  • Collective Bargaining
  • NLRB Proceedings
  • Grievance and Arbitration

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 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 they have a legal team that is ready to provide tenacious and committed representation.

HRW’s Litigation Team understands 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 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 HRW Litigation Team, 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. Our attorneys get to do that a lot.

Non-Compete Law

In the fast-paced and controversial world of non-compete 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 their resignation to join a competing company, or when an employee who signed a non-competition 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 Non-Competition and Trade Secret Team fights these battles every day. We represent companies that are trying to protect their trade secrets and enforce their non-competition agreements, as well as individuals who are accused of breaching non-competition agreements and misappropriating trade secrets. HRW also advises companies on designing and implementing trade secret protection programs and drafting non-competition agreements.

Many of our team’s victories have received media coverage, and HRW’s attorneys are a regular source of insight for journalists writing about significant cases and legal developments. Our attorneys regularly serve on the faculty of seminars about non-competition and trade secret law and have appeared before legislative committees considering change to the law of non-competition agreements.

Our non-competition successes include:

  • Obtained $1.3 million judgment stemming from a rare jury verdict in a non-competition case, including payment of client’s attorney’s fees
  • Defeated an application for a preliminary injunction for an employer in a non-solicitation case in Superior Court
  • Obtained significant monetary settlement and restrictive covenants on behalf of Fortune 500 company against competing company
  • 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 non-competition 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 on topics including: sexual harassment, discrimination, unconscious bias, executive-level coaching, supervisor skills, and more. 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 certified by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) and have decades of training experience in Massachusetts and across the country.

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 wage and hour cases 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.

When litigation is unavoidable, HRW is ready. Our 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

Working with you to keep your institution working. 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

Non-Compete Law

In the fast-paced and controversial world of non-compete 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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