Labor & Employment
While we strive to keep clients out of litigation, we recognize that some employment disputes can only be resolved through litigation. Members of the labor & employment group have represented employers in myriad employment matters for national, regional and local clients. We have tried numerous jury and non-jury employment cases in state and federal courts in jurisdictions throughout the country. We have also been very successful in achieving summary judgment. Following is a list of examples:
Allison v. CITGO Petroleum Corp.
Members of the firm’s labor and employment practice area represented CITGO Petroleum Company and defeated class action certification. This ruling is the seminal decision in post-1991 Civil Rights Act discrimination cases involving class certification issues. Congress expanded employees rights to seek compensatory and punitive damages and jury trials for unlawful intentional discrimination. In the class action context, these changes in the law are enormous. An article in the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Laws, The Labor Lawyer, the author called the Allison v. CITGO case 'a rallying cry' for the defense bar. The case is cited in most employment class certification opinions that follow it.
Castellanos-Contreras v. Decatur Hotels LLC
Representing Decatur Hotels, Frilot LLC obtained the dismissal of a post-Katrina lawsuit filed by foreign guest workers who contended Decatur violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) when it refused to reimburse foreign workers for recruitment, transportation and visa expenses incurred before they relocated to the United States. In the this case of first impression, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that Decatur incurred no FLSA liability to reimburse its guest workers for the expenses since proper recruiting channels and procedures were followed. The U.S. Department of Labor has cited the case in their final rule on H‐2B procedures. The Frilot team of attorneys working on this case included Leslie Ehret (lead attorney), Ellen Kovach (former Frilot attorney, now District Judge, 24th Judicial District Court) and Suzanne Risey.
Machlachlin v. Exxon Mobil Corporation et al.
The firm obtained a significant ERISA ruling in favor of employers who supplement their workforce with contractors. The Federal District Court held that the defendant employer was not required to provide ERISA benefits to contractor employees, even if they otherwise qualified as the employer’s common-law employees in Machlachlin v. Exxon Mobil Corporation et al., Case No. 00-2190 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Gervis v. Sears, Roebuck and Company
The firm handled this case in the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. The plaintiff alleged he was discriminated against and harassed in violation of Title VII and the ADA and asserted claims under the FMLA, the FLSA, ERISA, the Tennessee Handicap Act and Tennessee Common Law. We filed a motion to dismiss based on judicial estoppel, asserting that plaintiff failed to identify the suit as an unliquidated or contingent claim or as an asset in his Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition or any of his filings with the bankruptcy court. The District Court granted the motion and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling. We were also awarded attorneys fees based on plaintiff’s failure to appear for the conclusion of his deposition.
Beasley v. Horizon Offshore
Members of the Labor and Employment Group achieved success in a wage and hour collective action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. George Beasley and other workers on offshore pipe laying and construction barges filed suit against Horizon Offshore in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas seeking to establish a collective action for nonpayment of overtime wages. The putative class consisted of approximately 100 present and former employees. The District Court rejected the collective action claims and the case was settled.