Labor & Employment

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Irell & Manella LLP’s labor and employment practice group has extensive experience advising and representing employers with respect to all aspects of employment relations.  Clients range from multinational corporations with thousands of employees to small manufacturers and companies with fewer than 100 employees.  The labor and employment practice group has represented many significant national and international employers, including a major aerospace company, a multinational computer and high-tech manufacturer, one of the world’s largest oil companies, one of the world’s largest food companies and one of the nation’s premier motion picture studios.

The labor and employment practice group’s practice covers a wide spectrum of the employment relationship, including matters involving executive and other employment agreements, arbitration and other alternative dispute agreements with employees and executives, trade secrets, unfair competition and employee raiding, sexual harassment, employment discrimination, wrongful termination, advice in connection with corporate mergers and reorganizations, counseling pertaining to reductions in force, federal and state wage and hour laws, personnel policies and practices, pension and trust fund issues under ERISA and other federal laws, and workplace safety and health.

The labor and employment practice group litigates a wide variety of employment-related matters, including individual and class actions in the state and federal trial courts as well as cases before various administrative agencies.  Our attorneys also have extensive experience in negotiating settlements of employment disputes through traditional and alternative dispute resolution processes. 

Unique Aspects of Our Practice
Irell & Manella is recognized for its creativity, resourcefulness, and energy in representing its clients’ interests.  The firm’s labor and employment practice group is no exception. 

At the outset of any representation, the labor and employment practice group carefully analyzes the matter to develop, in consultation with the client, an early strategy designed to meet the unique circumstances of the case.  This practice of developing an early strategy at the outset of any representation is, perhaps, best illustrated in the context of defending employment litigation.  The practice group carefully reviews the particular facts and circumstances of each case when it is first filed to determine the most cost-effective approach to bringing the case to an early resolution.  In cases where the plaintiff may be unable to amend the complaint to state a viable claim, we may file a demurrer or motion to dismiss.  In other cases, where the filing of a demurrer may do little more than educate the other side as to the important issues in the litigation, we may begin a discovery strategy designed to develop the facts necessary to prevail on an early summary judgment motion.  In other cases, we may initially suggest the exploration of alternative dispute resolution techniques, such as mediation.  Indeed, by imaginatively using mediation, we have resolved many disputes with either little or no discovery costs, often before a complaint is even filed or served.  In all instances, our attorneys seek to bring litigated cases to a successful conclusion in the most cost-effective manner, balancing the precedential value of certain matters, the cost of litigation, and the limits upon the time of management.  We also seek to keep the client informed of the risk the case poses at every stage and to craft the most effective strategy to reach a favorable conclusion.

As important as it is to craft and execute a litigation strategy, members of our practice group can often be even more effective by counseling clients in a manner to avoid litigation.  Our practice group members have extensive experience in all aspects of the employment relationship and thus are able to effectively counsel with regard to the myriad issues and laws that affect the workplace.  Moreover, when counseling employers, we are always looking not just for the best solution to the particular issue but whether there are particular procedures or policies that could be implemented to prevent similar problems.  For example, when counseling with regard to a corporate restructuring involving employee reallocations or a reduction-in-force, we may suggest alternative ways to implement the reorganization to ensure compliance with applicable federal and state laws, and to protect the client from the risks of litigation to the greatest extent possible.

In both litigation and counseling, the labor and employment practice group seeks to represent the firm’s clients vigorously yet efficiently.  To this end, we believe that our clients are better served by staffing most matters with only one or two attorneys, each attorney focusing on the whole problem and assisted as necessary by paralegals.  In our experience, hierarchies of attorneys in narrowly confined roles can result in duplication of effort and adherence to traditional approaches.  This is wasteful for both the firm and its clients.  Irell & Manella’s strategy to staff its matters leanly allows the firm to consistently provide the highest-caliber legal services to its clients while ensuring that each case is handled in an efficient and cost-effective manner.