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Labor, Employment & Employee Benefits

Contact a Labor, Employment & Employee Benefits Attorney

Overview

Stoll Keenon Ogden’s Labor, Employment & Employee Benefits practice has a proven record of being trusted advisors and effective advocates. We help employers solve their problems through proactive counseling, employee training and, where possible, cost-efficient litigation, including alternative dispute resolution. We know the employment laws thoroughly, and we make it our goal to acquire a comprehensive knowledge of our clients and their business so we can provide tailored solutions for each of their needs.

Our scope of services includes:

  • Unlawful discrimination cases (Title VII, ADA, ADEA, Kentucky Civil Rights Act, etc.)
  • Restrictive covenant matters, including non-compete covenants
  • Employee disciplinary matters
  • Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI)
  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)
  • Lie detector and drug testing matters
  • Americans with Disabilities Act counseling and litigation
  • Family Medical Leave Act counseling and litigation
  • Employee handbook drafting/review
  • Employment contract and severance agreement drafting/review
  • Mass layoffs and WARN Act counseling and compliance
  • Unemployment insurance claims and appeals
  • Wage and hour proceedings and planning
  • National Labor Relations Board practice
  • Unfair labor practice charge defense
  • Union avoidance/organizing and related counseling
  • Collective bargaining agreement negotiations
  • Union strike/injunction litigation
  • Arbitration of employment and collective bargaining agreement matters
  • Immigration matters
  • Employee benefits matters

Our team will coordinate with in-house counsel, human resources professionals and/or company leaders to ensure objectives and strategies are aligned with those of your business.  We have years of diverse experience in labor and employee law, and we are responsive to needs without rushing to judgment or sacrificing quality.  In litigation, we take every opportunity to resolve a case in your favor without the cost of a trial – though we are always prepared to present your case to a judge or jury. We are mindful of financial pressures and will work with you to customize solutions for your every need.

Work Highlights

Adams v. Bd. of Educ., Kentucky Court of Appeals Civil Action No. 2008-CA-000910-MR, 2009 Ky. App. Unpub. LEXIS 135 (Ky. App. 2009).  Successful defense of school board in administrator's wage payment claims.

Harrison v. Chitwood, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Civil Action No. 5:12-CV-336-JMH, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21549 (E.D. Ky. 2013).  Successful defense of intentional infliction of emotional distress and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims brought against university officials under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Murphy v. The Allen Co., United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Civil Action No. 09-69-JBC, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72563 (E.D. Ky. 2012).  Successful defense of sex discrimination and retaliation claims.

Employee Benefits

Thacker v. Schneider Electric USA, Inc., No. 12-235, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16612 (E.D. Ky. Feb. 7, 2013), aff’d 547 Fed. Appx. 691 (6th Cir. Oct. 30, 2013)

Obtained judgment in favor of client employer on employee’s claims alleging wrongful denial of disability and life insurance benefits under ERISA.  Sixth Circuit appeal resulted in complete affirmance of lower court judgment.

Civil Rights – Age Discrimination

SKO successfully defended a Fortune 500 company that was being sued in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky by a former employee alleging age discrimination.  The former employee claimed that the company violated the Kentucky Civil Rights Act when it selected him, and not a younger co-worker, for layoff during a company-wide reduction in force.  The plaintiff sought lost wages of more than $100,000, emotional distress damages of $1,300,000, and an award of attorney’s fees.  This case was noteworthy because it included so-called “direct evidence” of age discrimination: an audio recording that plaintiff had secretly made of his conversation with his supervisor, wherein the supervisor could be heard telling the plaintiff that he was being laid off because of his age.

After a four day trial in August 2014, a seven member jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the company, finding that the company had not engaged in unlawful discrimination.  SKO’s trial team won the case by proving to the jury that the company had a well conceived plan for the reduction in force that was properly implemented, and that the plaintiff’s termination was actually motivated by his job performance, which did not compare favorably with the younger co-worker.  The Company also showed that the supervisor’s recorded statements about age were intended to avoid hurting the plaintiff’s feelings by telling him with the true reason for his layoff.

Reorganization, Refinancing and Acquisition of Major Healthcare Entity

Stoll Keenon Ogden represented a major healthcare services entity, its affiliated upstream and sister companies, its owners and its founding management team in comprehensive reorganization, refinancing and acquisition transactions totaling more than $300 million. The matters resulted in the closing of a senior secured term loan and  revolving credit facilities secured by owned senior care facilities in four states with a 9-member syndicate of commercial banks; the requisition of waivers, consents and estoppels from various property lessors on leased senior care facilities in four states; restructuring of upstream holding companies and combination of two upstream ownership groups and boards of managers; the creation of a management company; the introduction of healthcare facility management agreements; the migration of payroll and benefits for more than 7,000 employees; the related restructuring of multiple lease and debt financing and supplier relationships;  the creation and reorganization of multiple SPE organizations accompanied by extensive non-consolidation analysis and issuance of a substantive non-consolidation opinion to the lending syndicate; the exercise of purchase option and acquisition of multiple senior care facilities; the contribution of additional equity capital from the client’s majority owners; and the amendment and restructuring of multiple Master Lease and inter-creditor agreements.

Kentucky Civil Rights Act & Disability Discrimination

Successfully represented a company and one of its executives against claims by plaintiff for alleged disability discrimination, retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. SKO represented the company during investigations by the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After the EEOC found no wrongdoing, the plaintiff filed claims in the Pulaski Circuit Court. After three years of litigation, we obtained summary judgment dismissing all claims. SKO then successfully represented the company on appeal. The Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed the Pulaski Circuit Court's order dismissing all claims and denied the Plaintiff's petition for a rehearing.

Sale of California-based Wine Business

Represented a major wine and spirits corporation in the sale of its Hopland, California-based wine brands to another business based in Santiago, Chile. The $238 million transaction was structured as a stock purchase.

Violations of Agreements and Restrictive Covenants

SKO represented a provider of specialty patient care equipment that sued a consultant and its consulting business after an agreed upon Asset Purchase Agreement and Consulting Agreement’s restrictive covenants had been violated by the consultant. The provider sued for both monetary damages and injunctive relief. The Jefferson Circuit Court granted the provider’s motion for a temporary injunction against the consultant under the Consulting Agreement, but denied the motion for a temporary injunction against the consultant under the Asset Purchase Agreement. Because the Asset Purchase Agreement provided greater injunctive protection, the provider filed an interlocutory appeal pursuant to CR 65.07. The Kentucky Court of Appeals agreed with the provider that the Jefferson Circuit Court had erred in denying injunctive relief under the Asset Purchase Agreement, and reversed the Jefferson Circuit Court’s decision on that issue. This was a notable decision because the standard of review for a party seeking interlocutory relief from a trial court’s decision to grant or deny a temporary injunction is a clear abuse of discretion.

Workers’ Compensation Retaliation

SKO represented a manufacturer and distributor of auto supplies that was sued for workers’ compensation retaliation under the Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Act, KRS Chapter 342. The United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky entered summary judgment in favor of the manufacturer, from which the plaintiff did not appeal.

Dismissal of Complaints

SKO sought dismissal of two complaints against a theological seminary, arguing that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prevents the Court from considering the matter. More specifically, SKO argued that because of the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses, courts do not have jurisdiction over claims arising from the employment relationship between a religious institution and its ministerial employees. The Court granted summary judgment for the Seminary, and the Kentucky Court of Appeals confirmed each judgment.

Breach of Employee Covenant

SKO filed suit on behalf of a relocation and executive housing provider to enforce the covenants in an employment agreement and to recover damages. A competitor hired a former employee of our client and conspired with the employee to steal business from our client by misappropriating trade secrets and improperly utilizing confidential information.

Sexual Discrimination, Hostile Work Environment & Damage to Professional Reputation

SKO represented a university, a university dean and a department chair against allegations of sexual discrimination, hostile work environment and damage to professional reputation. During the long and strongly contested discovery process, SKO moved for summary judgment with respect to claims against the dean and the chair, and the motions were fully briefed and argued. At the conclusion of discovery, SKO moved for summary judgment on behalf of the university. The court granted summary judgment as to all defendants on all counts and dismissed the case.

Breach of Contract, Fiduciary Duty & Trade Secrets Law

SKO represented four employees of an asset management firm employees who sought new employment at a bank and were sued by the asset firm to enjoin them from working for the bank. These employees were also sued for alleged breaches of contract, fiduciary duty, trade secrets law and for other torts. The four managers countersued the asset firm, contending that their 12-month resignation notice period was, in effect, an implied and improper non-compete provision because the employer would not let them perform their regular job duties during the notice period. The Federal District Court, following trial-like evidentiary hearings after expedited discovery, permitted the four employees to work for the bank without requiring them to serve their 12-month notice period. This successful injunction phase then precipitated almost five years of litigation concerning the alleged damages sustained by the asset firm due to the alleged “raid” of the four investment managers and some of their colleagues. After SKO had the case dismissed from Federal District Court on jurisdictional grounds, the asset firm re-filed the suit in New York state court. After years of additional discovery and other motion practice, including battles over experts and their testimony, cross-motions for summary judgment were filed, and the case was poised for trial. Less than 10 days before trial, the case as dismissed with no payment by SKO clients.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination Claim

SKO represented a nonprofit in a suit brought by two women who claimed that they were victims of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The individuals sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Kentucky Civil Rights Act. The nonprofit moved to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The gravamen of the motion to dismiss was that the plaintiffs could not state a claim for religious discrimination without at least contending that their own religious views or practices were adversely effected in some way. The motion was vigorously opposed by plaintiffs and their advocates. The United States District Court granted the nonprofit’s motion to dismiss in a published opinion that adopted SKO’s argument. A panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit unanimously affirmed the dismissal on the same rationale in another published opinion. Petitions for en banc review by the full Sixth Circuit and for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court were later denied.

INDUSTRY INVOLVEMENT

Lexington Employee Benefits Council

Ohio/Kentucky Chapter of the ESOP Association

Society for Human Resources Management

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