Stearns Weaver is a great firm to work with, because they bring a level of expertise you would expect to see at only a big firm, yet they combine it with the responsiveness, client service and attention to detail you would see at a small firm. Throughout our interactions with them, it is clear that they have their client’s interest above all else.
- Chambers USA 2016
We understand that our clients are in an extremely competitive business market and that employers (large and small in both the public and private sectors) need timely, practical business-oriented advice on labor and employment issues. We also understand that “human resources” are not a commodity, but real people with real workplace problems that are often difficult for our clients to address alone. We believe that partnering with our clients to provide strategic preventive counseling, training (in English, Spanish and Creole), audits and legal representation is the best antidote to complex and challenging workplace problems.
We also believe that if our clients become involved in a lawsuit, grievance, arbitration, claim of discrimination or wrongful discharge in any legal forum, they each deserve ethical and zealous representation. We are experienced trial attorneys, not just “litigators.” We are also labor attorneys with “in the trenches” experience in dealing with unions seeking to represent blue collar, white collar and professional employees.
Our commitment to our clients is simple:
- Provide practical, business-oriented counseling and candid legal advice
- Partner with our clients to audit employment practices, comply with wage and hour laws, draft employment agreements, protect trade secrets, realign workforces, and comply with EEO and affirmative action requirements and plans
- Provide zealous and effective representation in administrative and litigation matters, including at mediation and in trial
- Educate and train managers and employees about the “do’s and don’ts” in a rapidly changing work environment
- Be responsive to our clients’ needs 24/7
Seminars & Webinars
Our Annual Labor & Employment Law Seminar draws hundreds of human resources professionals, general counsel and senior executives from top businesses throughout Florida. Now in its 27th year, the day-long event features speakers from the Firm’s Labor & Employment Department and explores timely, hot topics in labor and employment law.
The Department also produces a series of workshops for employers throughout the year. Offered in-person and via webinar, the series is designed for Human Resource Professionals, General Counsel and Senior Executives.
Labor & Employment Law Blogs
Listed among the American Bar Association's top 100 blogs in 2016 BelaborThePoint offers insights and commentary on current topics related to labor and employment law.
Featuring writers from Stearns Weaver Miller’s Labor & Employment department, the blog is a resource for employers, management, in-house counsel, HR professionals and anyone interested in the day-to-day issues facing employers.
Subscribe to our blog in English at BeLaborThePoint.com or in Spanish at CafeConLabor.com.
- Affirmative Action Programs & OFCCP Compliance
- Disability & Leave Management
- Employee & Management Training
- Employee Benefits & Compensation Planning
Stearns Weaver Miller’s Employee Benefits practice counsels employers in the design, implementation and operation of employee pension and welfare plans and executive equity and deferred compensation programs. We also represent employers before the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor in the matters of initial and continuing tax qualification and audits of plans. We advise employers on handling employees’ claims for benefits, as well as strategizing the defense of any claims. Further, we have considerable experience providing tax advice and services to tax-exempt organizations in their efforts to provide competitive benefits to diverse groups of employees.
Our lawyers have handled significant and sophisticated ERISA litigation on behalf of employers, plan administrators, trustees and individual defendants. We have handled the defense of numerous types of claims, including claims for severance, disability and other welfare benefits; claims for benefits under ERISA top hat plans, such as supplemental executive retirement plans; claims for breach of fiduciary duty against corporate board members, internal benefits appeals committees, and trustees; claims of procedural and substantive violations under ERISA plans; discrimination under ERISA § 510; and claims for executive benefits and stock options.
We have litigated ERISA cases in state court, federal district court, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and have briefed issues to the United States Supreme Court. Our Employee Benefits lawyers have experience with issues of ERISA exhaustion of administrative remedies requirement and futility issues, ERISA preemption, statute of limitations issues (regarding both fiduciary and non-fiduciary claims), distinguishing between fiduciary and settlor functions, issues relating to the appropriate standard of review and plan administrators’ conflicts of interest, interpretation of plan amendment, termination, vesting, accrual and anti-cutback provisions, remedies available for technical procedural violations, delegation of fiduciary and claims administration functions, ERISA’s church plan exemption, and attorney-client privilege issues.
- Employee Privacy & Background Checks
- Employment Contracts & Independent Contractor Agreements
- Employment Counseling
Our practice is designed to help clients understand their complex legal obligations in every employment area, and to comply with federal, state, and local laws prohibiting employment discrimination. We practice "preventive" law, which requires sensitive counseling skills and the ability to write documents in clear, easy-to-understand English as opposed to "legalese." As part of preventive law, we frequently advise employers on how to avoid employment discrimination or wrongful termination litigation.
We offer the following specific services which are aimed at litigation avoidance:
- Reviewing and drafting personnel policy manuals and employee handbooks
- Developing customized written policies and training programs to prevent workplace harassment and violence
- Formulating strategies and policies to reduce potential legal exposure stemming from employee use of the Internet, e-mail, voice mail, telephone, computer and other communication devices in the workplace
- Mediating and arbitrating workplace disputes
- Drafting employment, non-solicitation, non-compete, consulting, independent contractor and other employment-related agreements
- Designing employment applications, disciplinary forms, performance appraisals, interview guidelines, job descriptions, and pre-employment testing programs
- Creating plans to reduce or restructure the workplace, which includes preparing general releases and waivers
- Handling governmental audits of affirmative action plans or programs
- Designing and implementing drug and alcohol testing programs and policies
- Educating clients regarding compliance with federal and state minimum wage laws, child labor laws, unemployment compensation, and a variety of issues related to the appropriate payment of compensation to employees
- Reviewing general and employment practices liability insurance agreements
- Advising clients on how to conduct lawful background and employee investigations
- Conducting audits of a client’s human resources function for compliance with employment and labor laws, including reviewing employment applications, employee handbooks, supervisor’s handbooks, employment policies not included in a handbook, wage-hour policies and practices, employment agreements, federal and state mandated posters, personnel and medical records, and affirmative action plans
- Employment Discrimination Litigation
No employer likes to be accused of workplace wrongdoing but it has become commonplace in today’s litigious business environment. For decades, our Labor & Employment lawyers have defended employers in state and federal courts and before administrative tribunals in actions brought under Title VII, the FMLA, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Florida Whistleblower Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Railway Labor Act, and other employment laws, among others. We have extensive experience defending class and collective actions involving wage and hour issues. On the other side of the caption, we regularly represent our clients in disputes involving theft of trade secrets, non-competes, breach of contract, defamation, and other business torts.
We are honored that for the past nine years, Chambers and Partners USA has cited us as one of the top-ranked Labor and Employment groups in Florida.
- Executive Compensation
- Handbook Policy Development & Audits
Stearns Weaver Miller’s Immigration practice represents employers and investors in a wide range of industries who seek guidance and assistance employing foreign nationals and structuring their business entities to facilitate the transfer of foreign personnel. Whether a multinational corporation seeking to transfer an overseas executive to the United States or an investor wishing to establish a business in the United States, Stearns Weaver Miller’s Immigration practice has the experience necessary to navigate clients through the obstacles of the immigration process.
We represent large multinational companies in connection with the temporary employment of professionals and intra-company transfers, the entry of business visitors, and the permanent employment of foreign workers. We have extensive experience obtaining H-1B, L-1, and TN status for our clients’ foreign workers and then navigating our clients through the permanent residence process, including labor certification. We have assisted musicians, dancers, scientists, and business people in obtaining O visas as aliens of extraordinary ability and achieving permanent residence on such grounds. We have assisted entrepreneurs in obtaining E visas so that they can establish businesses in the United States and we have helped professional athletes obtain P visas. Our practice also includes providing advice to employers regarding the I-9 employment verification process and immigration-related unfair employment practices.
- Blanket L Petitions
- Family-based Permanent Residence
- I-9 Counseling
- Non-immigrant Visas – H-1B, L-1, TN, E, O, and P
- Permanent Residence – Aliens of Extraordinary Ability, Multinational Executives and Managers & Labor Certification (PERM)
- Labor Management Relations
Our labor attorneys have extensive experience advising and representing clients in their dealings with unions to ensure compliance with the National Labor Relations Act. This comprehensive representation includes:
- Advising employers on lawfully maintaining a union-free workplace
- Counseling employers during union organizing campaigns
- Representing employers before the National Labor Relations Board in union representation cases, secondary boycott matters, and unfair labor practice litigation
- Serving as labor negotiators during collective bargaining
- Representing employers in contractual grievance and arbitration proceedings, as well as labor disputes
- Planning for strikes, and representing employers during strikes, including injunction proceedings
- Advising employers concerning plant closings and work transfers
- Private & Public Sector Representation/Collective Bargaining
- Restrictive Covenants (including non-competition litigation)
- Risk Management, Compliance & Investigations
- Wage & Hour Audits and Litigation Defense
- Whistleblower Litigation Defense
- Workforce Restructuring & Reductions in Force
Faculty & Staff Sexual Misconduct: Minimize the Risk of Misconduct & Respond to Claims Appropriately
Webinar |December 2017|Andrew W. McLaughlin
Florida’s Minimum Wage to Increase to $8.25 per hour –What About the Loonie, eh?
BeLabor the Point Blog |November 2017|Joanne M. Schiffer
Publications, Recent News Updates:
Retirement Plan Hurricane Relief for Affected Participants
Stearns Weaver Miller News Update|November 2017|Sharon Quinn Dixon, Andrew W. McLaughlin, Carol L. Myers
Headline News! HR Tips to Curb Harassment and Discrimination
BeLabor the Point Blog|November 2017|Eric S. Roth
Why Managers Need to Know Employees' Legal Rights in the Workplace
University of South Florida, College of Business |November 2017|Janet Goldberg McEnery
What’s the effect of the Sessions’ memo on transgender discrimination?
BeLabor The Point Blog|October 2017|Andrew W. McLaughlin