Labour and Employment
Fighting for Workers Rights
The relationship between employer and employee should be built on honesty, clarity, and fairness. Unfortunately, all too often problems arise when employers, whether private or government institutions, treat their employees unjustly or without respect. For example, employers subject employees to unlawful discrimination, underpay their workers, force employees to work in inappropriate or unsafe conditions and retaliate against whistleblowers. Even in the limited situations where employees have unions, employees are still vulnerable to mistreatment by employers who continuously attempt to eliminate workers’ rights. Advocates for Justice Chartered Attorneys stands on the side of employees and unions to ensure work environments are free from discrimination and retaliation, unjust treatment or pay, and fear for health and safety.
Everyone deserves to live and work without fear of discrimination based on his or her race, gender, national origin, disability, age or sexual orientation. Unfortunately, far too often people are wrongly denied work or housing or suffer harassment simply because of these things. Advocates for Justice Chartered Attorneys works to level the playing field, both in the workplace and in our communities by fighting discrimination against minorities, women, persons with disabilities, elderly persons, and members of the LGBT community. Through litigation and negotiation, we stand up against these wrongdoers to fight for the equal rights that our clients deserve.
Retaliation and Whistleblower Rights
It takes courage for an individual speak out against wrongs that occur in the workplace, whether that means voicing complaints about unlawful discrimination or taking a stand against corruption. Advocates for Justice Chartered Attorneys stands with those individuals by effectively representing their right to make these complaints without fear of suffering retaliation by their employers. The law protects individuals who bravely make claims of employment discrimination or sexual harassment from being retaliated against through employment decisions or further harassment. The law also protects whistleblowers taking a stand against corruption and unethical conduct in the workplace from suffering in their jobs just because they had the courage to speak out. Advocates for Justice Chartered Attorneys effectively represents the individuals who have spoken out and, as a result of their bravery, have experienced retaliation. We fight to ensure that these courageous individuals are properly compensated for the unlawful actions taken against them.
Wages & Hours
Under the law, employees are entitled to be paid for every hour worked and many workers are entitled to be paid time-and-a-half for every overtime hour worked. Unfortunately, employers often attempt to cut costs by cheating workers out of their full wages. Employers decrease wages in a variety of ways, such as refusing to compensate employees for certain time worked, misclassifying workers to minimize the pay requirements, failing to pay workers at the overtime rate, ignoring legally-mandated family and medical leave, and disregarding their obligation to provide meal and rest breaks. Advocates for Justice Chartered Attorneys vigorously represent clients who have been swindled out of their wages, enforcing penalties under minimum wage and overtime laws, child labor laws and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and seeking just compensation for every hour our clients worked.
Representation of Unions & Benefit Funds
Over the last 35 years, Advocates for Justice Chartered Attorneys principal Arthur Schwartz has represented some of the largest and most active unions in the United States. He continues his career at Advocates for Justice Chartered Attorneys by representing local unions, regional bodies, or international unions as special or general counsel. We also represent benefit funds, be they pension or health funds, in all aspects of governance, investment strategy, and government regulatory compliance. Our expertise includes negotiation of collective bargaining agreements, contractual and disciplinary grievance arbitration, litigation of unfair labor practice claims before the NLRB or public employee fair employment bodies, organization of new employee units, enforcement and defense of arbitration awards, litigation of class or individual discrimination claims, adjudication of internal union disputes and charges, the conduct of union elections, and representation of unions charged with violation of members’ right to fair representation, and around issues of health and safety. Our approach also includes advice on organizing, political activity, media and communications, and participation in the electoral process.
Advocates for Justice Chartered Attorneys is among the foremost firms in the field of internal union disputes. For those seeking to challenge a union’s leadership, we are adept at litigation under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, especially around issues of free speech, equal right to vote, union trusteeships, fiduciary duty of union officers and union discipline. In our representation of unions, Advocates for Justice Chartered Attorneys designs and safeguards fair election processes and helps assure due process when internal union hearings are held. We also have experience challenging discriminatory hiring halls or job referral systems and representing individual employees alleging that they have not been fairly represented by their union.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, every American has the right to work in a safe and healthy environment. Despite this mandate, workplace injury has become increasingly common, whether from workplace accidents, exposure to harmful chemicals and substances, or repetitive stress. Advocates for Justice Chartered Attorneys seeks to ensure that the victims are compensated and that employers clean up their act to ensure a safe working environment in the future.
Many workers enter into employment with the promise of benefits that are critical aspects of their fair compensation and their futures. These include pension benefits, 401(k) and other retirement plans, health care plans, and profit-sharing plans. In addition, employees who become injured and unable to work may be entitled to short-term or long-term disability benefits and employees who are terminated may be entitled to a severance package. Advocates for Justice Chartered Attorneys represents employees in disputes that arise regarding these benefits and fights to ensure that our clients receive all benefits to which they are entitled.