Employment Today’s employers operate in an increasingly regulated and complex arena. Stark & Stark’s Employment Group represents employers in a broad range of matters while working with them to implement preventative strategies designed to minimize risk and exposure to liability. Stark & Stark counsels clients so they may make informed decisions and remain compliant with Federal and State mandates. We provide clients with the tools to develop and manage an effective employer/employee program and to promote a healthy workplace environment. While these practices in prevention, proper documentation and discipline add value to our service and are designed to minimize the risk of litigation, litigation arising from the employer-employee relationship is inevitable. Our employment attorneys have substantial experience litigating employment-based claims. Our team includes seasoned trial attorneys who stand ready to vigorously defend our clients against employee claims of wrongful discharge, discrimination, retaliation and other workplace torts before State and Federal courts, and we counsel clients through Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigations and any attendant administrative proceedings. In addition, our employment litigators prosecute and defend clients in disputes arising from restrictive covenants, the misappropriation of trade secrets and other contract disputes. Our attorneys routinely advise clients with respect to issues concerning employment agreements, restrictive covenants, severance agreements, employment discrimination and harassment, wrongful termination, whistleblower retaliation, executive compensation, and shareholder and partner disputes. Internal Investigations Our attorneys provide general counsel and perform internal investigations when allegations of employee/employer harassment or misconduct are made, or when OSHA investigations arise. Internal investigations are conducted to effectively position our clients to avoid litigation and protect our clients from theft, fraud, the misuse of company funds and other exposure to liability. Internal wage and hour audits are conducted to ensure compliance with the Department of Labor, and our attorneys regularly counsel personnel and human resources departments on strategies for understanding and managing issues relating to harassment, discrimination and hostile workplace conditions. Discrimination, Harassment, Wrongful Termination and Other Employment Litigation Stark & Stark’s Employment Group has effectively and successfully litigated and arbitrated numerous discrimination and harassment complaints in the courts, before administrative agencies and through binding arbitration. We work with clients to proactively avoid discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination claims by ensuring compliance with Federal and State laws and regulations like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law, OSHA, and the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, among others. We litigate all types of discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination cases, including the various statutory claims related to age, disability, nationality, ethnicity, pregnancy, race/color, religion, sexual orientation, gender and whistleblower retaliation. In addition, our team has successfully defended clients in multi-million dollar wrongful discharge lawsuits. Employment Counseling Our lawyers are dedicated to providing continued guidance and counseling to our clients during all stages of the employment relationship. The Employment Group assists clients in making informed, compliant, and productive decisions to help build and maintain a healthy workplace. We counsel clients on workplace restructuring, employee management and performance assessments, terminations, and various employment documents and agreements. We perform audits, and guide human resources through self-audits, of various employment practices including termination and leave policies, wage and hour compliance, occupational health and safety, and affirmative action plans. We assist in investigations of employee misconduct including harassment, discrimination and substance abuse, and we advise clients on how to handle everyday situations that may arise during the course of employment. Executive Compensation Executive compensation is an important part of corporate governance and can often lead to complicated situations arising between senior executives, the company and, in some cases, the public. We help clients navigate issues arising from executive termination and take a preventative approach to the creation and negotiation of employment contracts and severance agreements on behalf of executives and employers. Our attorneys constantly research and remain informed about updated comparables, competitive market positions, securities laws, regulatory and compliance issues, ERISA laws, tax laws, and accounting principles to best serve our clients’ needs. Employment Agreements The Employment Group drafts, negotiates and enforces various employment agreements, documents and restrictive covenants. These documents include employee handbooks, procedures and policies, employment agreements, severance agreements, trade secret and confidentiality agreements, change-in-control or golden parachute agreements, non-competition agreements, non-solicitation agreements, indemnification agreements and deferred compensation plans. We often are called upon to review employee handbooks and manuals, employment agreements and severance agreements for our clients to assure compliance with employment laws and protect against unintended risk or exposure to liability. The multidisciplinary talents of our attorneys in the preparation of these documents ensure that our clients remain compliant with employment laws and regulations and to proactively minimize employer liability. Trade Secrets, Non-Competes and Other Contract Litigation Most companies own intellectual property or trade secrets that require protection. Good employment policies and post-employment agreements, including restrictive covenants, can reduce the risk of lost, leaked or misused confidential information and brand identity. Non-compete clauses and confidentiality agreements protect companies by ensuring that former employees do not exploit their confidential information for the gain of a competing business. Our attorneys regularly litigate claims involving trade secrets and the enforceability of non-compete agreements. Additionally, we draft these agreements to reasonably protect our clients’ legitimate business interests and to ensure that these agreements will stand to scrutiny if challenged in court. Shareholder and Partner Disputes When business professionals, and in some cases family members, enter into a business venture (whether by way of close corporation or limited liability company), they may establish shareholder or operating agreements that dictate their rights, obligations and interests, including but not limited to the terms of buy-ins, buy-outs, operations, finance, and other relevant matters pertaining to the business and employment relationship. We counsel clients on the importance of establishing protective procedures in the small business environment and offer conflict resolution through negotiation, mediation, arbitration and litigation when disputes among the owners of the business arise. Our litigators have substantial experience defending majority shareholders against minority oppression, breach of fiduciary duty, usurpation of corporate opportunity and freeze out claims, and prosecuting such claims on behalf of minority shareholders, depending upon the circumstances, when these internal disputes inevitably arise and lead to litigation.