The attorneys in Ogletree Deakins’ Defense Contracting Industry Practice Group recognize the unique labor and employment legal challenges facing clients in the defense industry. We regularly advise many of the largest defense contractors on emerging compliance issues and defend their interests in judicial and administrative proceedings across the country. Whether it is advising on compliance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act in the face of federal sequestration, responding to a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) investigation alleging wage and hour violations, dealing with union threats and relationships, assessing the extraterritorial reach of U.S. employment requirements in Iraq or Afghanistan, or defending against a potential False Claims Act and qui tam action, attorneys at Ogletree Deakins understand that when the United States is your primary customer, your company is subject to significant public scrutiny, and the risks can be much greater than the immediate legal issue might suggest. This inherent complexity informs our judgment in developing and presenting creative and successful legal advice and solutions.
We also recognize that many defense contractors consist of multiple business units, sometimes with each business unit having separate leadership, product lines, policies, and a unique culture. A legal approach for one business unit may not be appropriate for another business unit. As a result, when we are retained by a new business unit of a client that is a defense contractor, we invest our time to learn that unit’s business so that our legal assistance and solutions are consistent with that unit’s goals. We also appreciate the increasing cost pressures defense contractors face with changing national priorities and are committed to partnering with them to find cost-effective solutions to their legal challenges.
Employment Law Advice and Advocacy
With some of our defense contractor clients employing in excess of 100,000 employees, we are called upon regularly to assist on all aspects of employment law. Specific areas include:
- WARN Act compliance generally and in response to federal sequestration;
- reductions in force and conducting privileged disparate impact analyses to avoid unintended consequences;
- compliance with the increasing number of executive orders directed to the federal contracting community;
- compliance with prevailing wage statutes, including the Service Contract Act;
- preparing arbitration agreements that are consistent with the Franken Amendment;
- employment discrimination, including the defense of claims for age, race, sex, national origin, disability, and religious discrimination;
- advocacy before federal agencies, including the handling of U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) compliance reviews and enforcement actions, and state and local investigations;
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Rehabilitation Act issues, including both litigation and advice on the interactive process in response to requests for accommodations;
- Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), including both compliance guidance and litigation;
- compliance with new limitations and regulations on background checks at the state and federal levels;
- False Claims Act and qui tam retaliation actions;
- class and collective actions, including those involving claims ranging from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and state law claims;
- proactive compliance initiatives on wage and hour issues, including payroll, timekeeping, and compensation audits.
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) issues and claims;
- Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) issues and claims; and
- privileged and confidential internal investigations;
Affirmative Action and OFCCP Compliance
OFCCP is often a critical compliance challenge for defense contractors. Ogletree Deakins attorneys are involved with OFCCP offices throughout the United States on an almost-daily basis and have developed professional and personal working relationships with many OFCCP managers and staff members, as well as DOL solicitors.
Our affirmative action compliance services and experience include:
- preparing legally compliant and strategic Affirmative Action Programs (AAPs);
- assisting contractors with the defense of OFCCP complaints, compliance reviews, and enforcement actions;
- strategically preparing Employer Information Report EEO-1 and Veterans’ Employment & Training Service (VETS) reports;
- offering compliance advice and assistance, including training on regulatory requirements and data management issues; and
- providing timely information to contractors on new developments, including OFCCP initiatives and enforcement trends throughout the United States;
Ogletree Deakins attorneys have substantial experience addressing traditional labor matters for our defense contractor clients. The attorneys in our Traditional Labor Relations Practice Group have broad experience with all major unions operating in the defense industry throughout the country. We handle the full range of labor challenges that our clients face, whether they are union-free and seeking to remain so or unionized and engaging in collective bargaining, labor arbitrations, unfair labor practice litigation, strikes, and corporate campaigns.
Our experience helping defense contractor clients remain union-free includes:
- providing positive employee relations training for supervisors, managers, and other members of management that is engaging, informative, and tailored to the particular defense contractor client and its culture;
- successfully supporting management through all aspects of union organizing campaigns targeting defense contractors, assisting clients in crafting strategies regarding bargaining units before card signing and continuing to advocate for our clients through hearings, elections, and objections;
- advising on corporate campaigns and other political mechanisms that unions may employ to advance their goals;
- conducting vulnerability assessments and reviewing policies and handbooks for compliance in light of the more rigorous National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) protected concerted activity analysis; and
- litigating unfair labor practice charges before the NLRB;
Our labor lawyers also have considerable experience advocating for our defense contractor clients in unionized settings. This experience includes:
- training labor relations leaders for upcoming collective bargaining negotiations;
- assisting with collective bargaining—from advice to serving as the client’s lead representative at the table—and addressing the unique issues facing defense contractors with specific contract language;
- handling labor arbitrations of all types;
- advising on due diligence and successorship in the labor context; and
- strategic planning and negotiating regarding health and welfare plans;
Workplace Safety and Health
Violations alleged by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), OSHA-approved state plans, and similar agencies raise unique issues for defense contractors. The safety and compliance records of defense contractors often undergo special scrutiny, and executive orders requiring this level of scrutiny are increasingly common. Ogletree Deakins has one of the largest and most sophisticated workplace safety practices in the United States, and our attorneys routinely assist defense contractors in managing their OSHA liability.
Our Defense Contracting Industry Practice Group also has impressive experience providing benefits advice and counsel. Our attorneys guide defense contractors through the complex benefit compliance regimes they face with confidence. We keep our clients up-to-date with new developments, assist them in developing and administering health and welfare benefit plans, and provide the tools they need to comply with myriad federal and state statutory and regulatory schemes, including the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), and the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA).
With more immigration attorneys than almost any other firm in the United States, Ogletree Deakins provides defense contractor clients with considerable assistance that goes above and beyond visa and Form I-9 application and advice work. We are familiar with the particular immigration challenges that defense contractors often face, especially with respect to positions that require security clearances.
Recognizing our defense contractor clients’ pressing need to control and predict costs, and given the complex legal challenges they face on a regular basis, Ogletree Deakins has become a leader in tailoring alternative fee arrangements. We routinely structure fee arrangements to meet our clients’ needs through fixed fee, capped fee, or portfolio engagements. We are committed to partnering with our defense contractor clients to achieve cost effective results.