Labor Law & Litigation
Union Contract Negotiations
We assist public- and private-sector unions at all stages of contract negotiations, providing services spanning from strategic advice to contract review, drafting proposals, bargaining at the table, and representing unions in interest arbitration proceedings.
Sometimes litigation is necessary to achieve our clients' objectives. Our clients need to have their defenses to claims against them aggressively and capably presented. We are accomplished litigators with substantial experience in trying cases before the federal and state courts, the National Labor Relations Board, the Washington Public Employment Relations Commission, and other agencies in Washington and other states. We employ innovative approaches in our cases where appropriate, as well as tried and true litigation strategies to achieve successful trial outcomes.
We frequently represent unions and individuals in appeals before state and federal appellate courts. Our experience with appellate practice, persuasive appellate writing, and oral argument has garnered notable successes for our clients and improvement in legal protections for all workers.
We work closely with our union clients to assist them in managing their day-to-day legal issues. We provide timely advice that allows unions to leverage their power to achieve their objectives. Working with our union clients to prevent or avoid legal problems is central to our mission to support the labor movement and one of the most important aspects of our practice.
Whether performing legal research, establishing an appropriate bargaining unit, or advising clients during corporate campaigns, our support for organizing comes in many forms. At Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt LLP, we have available the full range of legal skills needed to assist our clients in today's campaigns. From traditional NLRB and PERC elections to card-check recognition and neutrality agreements to non-traditional and creative organizing approaches, we pride ourselves on mastering the most effective techniques for winning representation and executing first contracts.
Federal regulation of labor unions has grown increasingly complex. Recent U.S. Department of Labor rules greatly expand union reporting requirements. Our firm has the expertise necessary to assist organizations with the challenges and critical details surrounding union security, LMRDA, and LM-2 obligations.
Our firm has an active practice holding employers accountable for violating federal and state wage & hour laws, including for failing to pay workers the minimum hourly wage for all hours worked and for denying overtime compensation and meal and rest breaks. Our experienced attorneys assist union and non-union clients to strategically and effectively enforce their rights. For example, in Wingert v. Yellow Freight Systems, Inc. the Washington State Supreme Court held that all workers in Washington have a legally-enforceable right to a paid ten-minute rest period after every three consecutive hours of work. In Spokane County, we obtained uninterrupted rest breaks for state nurses under the Industrial Welfare Act. We also advise clients on legislative action and on how wage & hour laws impact collective bargaining.
Appellate litigation is when cases in litigation are appealed to a higher court. Appellate litigation attorneys must review the appeals carefully. They’ll need to know about the evidence, trial transcripts, and the grounds for appeal.
Our experienced attorneys provide decades of expert-level federal and appellate court experience, coupled with up-to-date knowledge, fresh perspectives, and critical judgment. We analyze the issues at hand to determine whether litigation will be effective and appropriate, identify appellate issues and impacts, craft high-level litigation and appellate briefing, and present oral arguments. Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt LLP fully understands the important role federal court plays in relation to our clients, and our approach to federal litigation is careful, thorough and effective. We pride ourselves on keeping our clients' best interests in mind and staying attentive to deliver the best possible client service.
A class action lawsuit is when a group of people who have been impacted in a similar way decide to file a single lawsuit to try and get compensation for the entire group. Normally these are filed against manufacturers for causing harm to the consumers because of negligence. Normally these are beneficial because they typically won’t cost as much if individual claims were being filed. They also help the victims avoid the risk of being stuck with a large bill even if their claim ends up not being worth much.
Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt has litigated class action cases at every stage, from negotiation and settlement to class certification, summary judgment, trial, and appeal. In 2009 alone, we enabled a union to intervene in and successfully oppose class certification in a wage & hour lawsuit that threatened the way dispatch works in the longshore industry; we settled a case against a large grocery chain for failure to pay workers for time spent putting on and taking off necessary protective clothing; and we successfully resolved other class action cases relating to off-the-clock work. We also successfully represented a class of homeowners in an action against King County involving excessive utility fees the County had imposed.
All funds that are raised and spent by labor unions and other entities, political action committees (PACs), and separate segregated funds (SSFs) to promote candidates, parties, policies, referendums, and initiatives are subject to ever-changing guidelines and reporting requirements by various state and federal laws and agencies. Our firm can provide you with the expertise, advice, and representation services needed to help guide your union or PAC through the complex world of campaign finance.
The main purposes of the Railway Labor Act are to avoid interruption of commerce between states through the prompt disposition between employees and carriers. It also protects employee rights to organize and bargain together.
We represent clients in the full range of matters arising under the Railway Labor Act. We advise clients through the complexities of the RLA and related collective bargaining issues. Our RLA practice has used all forums of dispute resolution, including federal and state court litigation and boards of arbitration in both "rights" and "interests" disputes. The combination of our experience, expertise, and knowledge allows us to find effective solutions to labor issues that arise in industries affected by the RLA.
Washington's Public Records Act serves several positive purposes, but it can also be exploited by individuals seeking personal information that most would prefer remain undisclosed. Our firm helps our union clients fight back against extreme interpretations of the Act that would lead to the disclosure of individual and personal information about their members. Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt LLP has decades of combined experience successfully litigating this potentially damaging issue and remains vigilantly prepared to defend both unions and their members from this particular type of invasion.
Employee benefits for employees in private industry are normally subject to the Employee Retirement Income and Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The legal rights, remedies, and procedures under ERISA are completely separate—and often quite different—from those under federal labor laws. For public employees, a complex series of state laws and regulations establish their benefits and impose specific procedural requirements to enforce their right to receive these benefits. Our firm can provide your labor organization, and individual members, with the advice and representation required to establish and enforce the right to employee benefits.
We represent individuals in workplace disputes—primarily wage & hour violations, employment discrimination, civil rights, and public policy torts. This includes cases filed under the state and federal minimum wage laws, family leave acts, anti-discrimination statutes, and the Washington and U.S. Constitution. In the Washington Supreme Court, for example, we have secured employees' rights to overtime for lunch and meal breaks, and job protection for employees who need time off to seek protection from domestic violence. We've also successfully challenged retaliatory discharge for protected speech and expanded the protections of employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. We represent individual employees in severance negotiations as well as litigation, and assist employees in forming and dissolving employment relationships.
We provide the full range of compliance and strategic advice to Sec. 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) organizations whose missions are consistent with those of our labor union and other clients, including both organizations that have an explicit focus on worker interests (such as Casa Latina and Working Washington) and those with a broader focus, such as OneAmerica, FUSE Washington, the Progress Alliance, the Washington State Budget and Policy Center, and the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. We also provide a wide range of advice regarding compliance with federal, state, and local campaign finance requirements. Our campaign finance clients include political organizations such as the Washington State Democratic Party and other political parties and committees, candidates for and incumbents in electoral office, and numerous advocacy and charitable organizations that participate in electoral politics.