The attorneys in Ogletree Deakins’ Healthcare Practice Group understand the unique legal challenges facing healthcare industry clients that must balance vital and demanding work with numerous compliance regimes and heavy regulation. Throughout the United States and internationally, our attorneys represent well over a thousand healthcare clients, including nonprofit and for-profit hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation facilities, long-term care facilities, and physician organizations. Together, these attorneys constitute an integrated international network for the exchange of information about litigation trends, industry changes, and government agency activity, and a ready resource of practical information for all of our healthcare clients. The many matters that we handle for healthcare clients involve employment law litigation and counseling, all aspects of traditional labor law, disability access, data protection and privacy issues, employee benefits, workplace safety concerns, and immigration issues.
Employment Counseling and Litigation
Ogletree Deakins’ lawyers are experienced in handling all aspects of employment law for healthcare employers, from advice and counsel to complex employment litigation in federal and state courts.
Our experience in advising and advocating for top hospitals, long-term care facilities, physician practice groups, and other medical providers includes, but is not limited to
- litigation of cases based on employment discrimination, including the defense of claims related to age, race, sex, national origin, and religious discrimination;
- advocacy before federal agencies, including the handling of U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges, U.S Department of Labor (DOL) audits, and state and local investigations;
- defending Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) charges and litigation and advising on the interactive process for requested accommodations ranging from latex allergies to seizures to blindness;
- handling qui tam retaliation actions;
- representing clients in class and collective actions, including matters ranging from claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) claims to state law claims;
- developing and implementing proactive compliance initiatives on wage and hour issues, including payroll, timekeeping, and compensation audits;
- advising on Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) issues and claims
- defending against Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation instituted against hospitals;
- dealing with data breach and unfair competition issues;
- providing strategic guidance on the labor and employment aspects of mergers, acquisitions, and reorganizations, including advice on due diligence, successorship, and joint employer issues; and
- drafting employment and independent contractor agreements, as well as compensation and severance plans.
Ogletree Deakins has a deep bench of attorneys skilled in addressing the full range of traditional labor matters in the healthcare setting. Our work is strengthened by labor practitioners who have comprehensive knowledge of the unions that target the healthcare industry throughout the country—their strengths and weaknesses, their characteristics and methods—and the dynamics of union campaigns. A labor law practice grounded in years of training and a keen tactical sense borne of real-world experience allows us to effectively handle the labor challenges clients face, whether those clients are union-free and seeking to remain so or unionized and seeking to build constructive relationships with unions.
Union-free healthcare employers face unique challenges, given that numerous unions have identified healthcare as a primary focus for expansion efforts and have even established “healthcare” divisions. We have experience helping healthcare clients remain union-free by:
- providing interactive and engaging positive employee-relations training and providing clients with training materials tailored to the specific needs of healthcare providers;
- helping leaders in healthcare organizations understand the issues unions exploit and providing suggestions on ways to manage those issues to reduce the associated risk;
- handling corporate campaigns in the healthcare context, including defending major hospital systems from aggressive and multifaceted corporate campaigns by powerful unions;
- managing hundreds of union campaigns—from helping employers strategize regarding bargaining units to creatively designing effective communication systems during pre- and post-petition periods;
- conducting vulnerability assessments and reviewing policies and handbooks for issues that often expose union-free employers in the healthcare industry to unfair labor practice charges and other challenges; and
- handling unfair labor practice investigations and litigating before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Our labor lawyers also have extensive experience representing unionized healthcare clients. Our vast experience with the NLRB and the various unions involved in health care enables us to advocate for and advise our clients on a wide range of issues, including
- collective bargaining for both acute and non-acute settings;
- grievance processing;
- labor arbitrations of all types;
- strike preparation and the management of strike situations;
- due diligence and successorship requirements in the labor context; and
- negotiations and strategy regarding health and welfare plans.
Ogletree Deakins’ Healthcare Practice Group has broad experience in the area of benefits advice and counsel. Because of the abstruse nature of benefits work, our attorneys are adept at guiding healthcare employers through the complex compliance regimes that they negotiate. We provide frequent and thorough guidance to numerous healthcare entities, including nonprofit, for-profit, acute, non-acute, and governmental entities. This advice involves helping clients develop and administer retirement, health and welfare benefit plans, and assisting them in their compliance with the myriad federal and state statutory and regulatory schemes, including the Internal Revenue Code, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA), and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), among others. We also help healthcare providers meet federal and state privacy requirements, including HIPAA, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), and GINA, and we counsel our clients on designing and implementing executive compensation plans. Our attorneys frequently assist healthcare employers in the transactional due diligence process, as well as advise them on integrating benefit plans following acquisitions. In addition, we have handled a wide variety of employee benefits litigation.
With one of the largest immigration practices in the United States, Ogletree Deakins provides considerable assistance that goes above and beyond the standard immigration benefits applications and compliance work. We develop strategies to meet the unique immigration challenges that healthcare industry clients often face. For example, we aid our clients in securing two-year home stay waivers for J-1 foreign medical graduates, so they can work in medically underserved communities or health care professional shortage areas (HPSAs) or in identifying workable immigration options to fill registered nurse, physical therapist, medical lab technologist, or any other allied healthcare professional positions. Our immigration practice group consists of dedicated immigration lawyers who work with healthcare clients in developing appropriate strategies to facilitate the international transfer of lifesaving employees. Our full-service immigration practice also assists clients in planning for the immigration impact of mergers and acquisitions, as well as providing expert guidance with regard to I-9 compliance and related antidiscrimination provisions.
Because we know the wide variety of complex legal issues our healthcare clients face and because we are aware of clients’ needs to control and predict costs, Ogletree Deakins has become a leader in tailoring alternative fee arrangements for healthcare providers. We routinely structure fee arrangements to meet our clients’ needs and preferences. We provide portfolio arrangements to cover the labor and employment legal work for several major healthcare industry providers with tens-to-hundreds of thousands of employees, and we are willing to engage in a dialogue on fees and budgetary issues to help our clients meet the demands of a challenging environment.