Employment, Labor & Benefits

Masuda Funai's Employment, Labor and Benefits Group represents management, offering the full range of employment, union relations and benefits counseling and representation. While also representing domestic companies, our attorneys understand the full dimension of the unique questions, problems and concerns of foreign companies doing business in the United States. Services include counseling management on day-to-day employment issues, risk management, discrimination, benefits, reorganizations and union issues, as well as representing management in employment litigation, anti-union campaigns, collective bargaining and OSHA investigations.

Often acting as outside general counsel, our attorneys provide management with consistent clear communication and a wide range of substantive employment and labor law services, from day-to-day guidance and risk management training to representation in litigation and dispute resolution.

Working with management, Masuda Funai's labor attorneys help clients initiate effective workplace communications and develop the constructive work atmosphere that is crucial to remaining union-free. Our attorneys have been successful in preventing and responding to union campaigns, as well as negotiating collective bargaining agreements, responding to grievances and guiding employers in establishing a harmonious relationship with existing unions.

We actively promote the use of alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation and arbitration, to achieve cost-effective and fair solutions. Of course, litigation can't always be avoided or the employer needs to aggressively enforce their rights. Our attorneys ably defend employers against claims of discrimination; harassment; wrongful discharge; breach of contract; unpaid wages; and alleged violations of federal, state and local laws, and take action as needed to protect employers from misappropriation of trade secrets and employee theft. Our experienced litigators negotiate with and appear before federal and state agencies and courts throughout the country.

If you have any questions or would like further information about Masuda Funai's Employment, Labor & Benefits practice, please contact the chair of the Group, Frank J. Del Barto, at 847.734.8811 or via e-mail at fdelbarto@masudafunai.com.

RANGE OF SERVICES AND EXPERIENCE
The following is an overview of the range of services and expertise in our employment, labor and benefits practice.
 
Acquisitions and Mergers. Providing legal counsel on employment and labor issues at crucial stages in the life of a company requires substantive understanding of the industry, the business and the owners' goals and objectives. We counsel businesses of all sizes on wage and salary issues, management incentives, reductions in force, employee benefits, employment agreements and contractor agreements that arise in business combinations and dissolutions.

Agreements, Policy Manuals and Related Documents. In this age of telecommuting, "off-shoring" to second and third-party providers, as well as other flexible employment arrangements, Masuda Funai attorneys draft, review and negotiate all types of employment agreements, practices and procedures that lay the foundation for a productive, positive work environment. Client counseling addresses computerization and privacy concerns, confidentiality, non-compete and assignment of invention agreements; personnel policies and manuals, job descriptions and applications, performance review and disciplinary forms.

Audits. Our attorneys audit client employment practices and records, including applications and I-9 forms, payroll practices, vacation and leave policies, and provide practical legal counsel with regard to improving compliance with state and federal laws, maximizing employee performance and morale, and minimizing the risk of litigation.

Benefits. Our attorneys work with clients to design, establish and maintain a variety of employee benefit plans, including 401(k), profit sharing and other tax-qualified plans, executive compensation programs, welfare plans and cafeteria plans. We advise clients routinely on complying with state and federal laws governing employee benefits, such as group health insurance continuation (COBRA), retirement income (ERISA), privacy of personal medical records (HIPAA), the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. We draft notices and documents to satisfy all federal benefits legislative requirements.

Discrimination and Harassment Claims. We assist employers in investigating and responding to employee complaints of harassment or discrimination based on the employee's age, citizenship, disability, gender, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, sexual orientation or other prohibited basis.

Employee Terminations and Layoffs. Our attorneys assist both unionized and non-union clients with planning documenting, and implementing individual terminations as well as larger reductions in force (RIF) and plant closings. We develop strategies for handling terminations that manage the risk of disputes or litigation,including complying with the Workers' Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) and utilizing severance packages and group and individual releases of claims.

Family, Medical and Other Leaves of Absence. We help clients meet the varying requirements under state and federal family and medical leave laws for serious health conditions, childbirth, adoption, and school and medical appointments, and we understand the points at which these statutes intersect with other laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and workers' compensation.

Labor Relations. We advise and assist employers with developing union avoidance strategies, obtaining injunctions against proceeding and other responses to union campaigns and negotiating collective bargaining agreements, in addition to taking action against illegal picketing, handling grievances and representing companies accused of engaging in unfair labor practices.

Litigation. We defend companies in state and federal courts and agencies against claims of employment discrimination, sexual harassment, breach of contract, wage and hour claims, and state law tort claims, such as wrongful discharge, tortious interference, intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy and defamation. We also represent employers in pursuing emergency injunctions and damages for breaches by current and former employees of employment contracts, theft of trade secrets and breaches of non-compete agreements.

Occupational Health and Safety (OSHA). We assist companies in complying with state and federal occupational and safety laws by conducting OSHA audits, preparing safety guidelines and plans, working with expert consultants and responding to OSHA inspections and notices of violations.

Regulatory Compliance. In order to ensure our clients' HR department policies and practices comply with constantly-changing state and federal employment laws, maximize employee performance and morale, and minimize the risk of litigation, we routinely review, audit and revise client employment practices, record-keeping and filings.

Training. Our attorneys provide training to managers on a variety of issues, such as fostering ethical codes of conduct, understanding cross-cultural issues in a diverse workforce, preventing harassment and discrimination claims, union avoidance, responding to employee performance problems, and complying with Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) rules. By engaging employees in interactive training, our clients effectively reduce their potential liability.

Wage and Hour. We assist clients in complying with the overtime and recordkeeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act, determining whether employees qualify for FLSA exemptions, properly calculating overtime and pay for travel time, as well as paying terminated employees in compliance with final compensation requirements


16499_ListImage.jpg
Yulia Chembulatova
Associate
Office: Chicago
Email:  ychembulatova@masudafunai.com
Phone:  312.245.7511

11657_ListImage.jpg
Frank J. Del Barto
Principal
Office: Schaumburg
Email:  fdelbarto@masudafunai.com
Phone:  847.734.8811

11714_ListImage.jpg
Colin Hara
Chairman
Office: Chicago
Email:  chara@masudafunai.com
Phone:  312.245.7500

11718_ListImage.jpg
Joji Kagei
Principal
Office: Los Angeles
Email:  jkagei@masudafunai.com
Phone:  310.630.5900

10963_ListImage.jpg
Eldon H. Kakuda
Principal
Office: Schaumburg
Email:  ekakuda@masudafunai.com
Phone:  847.734.8811

10941_ListImage.jpg
Alan M. Kaplan
Principal
Office: Schaumburg
Email:  akaplan@masudafunai.com
Phone:  847.734.8811

15903_ListImage.jpg
Masanari Katsumi
Associate
Office: Chicago
Email:  
Phone:  312.245.7500

11483_ListImage.jpg
Dayne Kono
Principal
Office: Chicago
Email:  dkono@masudafunai.com
Phone:  312.245.7500

11758_ListImage.jpg
Nancy E. Sasamoto
Principal
Office: Chicago
Email:  nsasamoto@masudafunai.com
Phone:  312.245.7500

11764_ListImage.jpg
Mary W. Shellenberg
Principal
Office: Chicago
Email:  mshellenberg@masudafunai.com
Phone:  312.245.7500

11033_ListImage.jpg
John B. Stanis
Principal
Office: Schaumburg
Email:  jstanis@masudafunai.com
Phone:  847.734.8811

14863_ListImage.jpg
David J. Stein
Associate
Office: Chicago
Email:  dstein@masudafunai.com
Phone:  312.245.7474

11780_ListImage.jpg
Jennifer R.M.C. Watson
Principal
Office: Chicago
Email:  jwatson@masudafunai.com
Phone:  312.245.7500

15526_ListImage.jpg
Jiwon Juliana Yhee
Associate
Office: Chicago
Email:  jyhee@masudafunai.com
Phone:  312.245.7500

  • Represented multi-state employer in a discrimination and harassment lawsuit, including developing evidence in discovery that the plaintiff had falsified emails, perjured herself and made misrepresentations to the court.

  • Drafted employee handbooks, performance review forms and disciplinary documents for numerous employers, including machine tool distributors, manufacturing companies and freight forwarders.

  • Handled internal investigation of sexual harassment by the president of a corporate client and then terminated the president with no lawsuit against the company by the complaining employees of the former president.

  • Represented employer before Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in race discrimination case dismissed because false statements in the employee's job application.

  • Obtained court dismissals and summary judgment decisions in favor of companies in wrongful discharge, alleged oral contract, discrimination, family and medical leave, pregnancy discrimination and overtime cases.

  • Represented manufacturing and construction companies during investigations, litigation and negotiation of settlements with OSHA and the U.S. Solicitor of Labor's Office regarding the liability of companies for workplace injuries.

  • Obtained a favorable verdict for a foreign automobile parts manufacturer in a jury trial with discharged employee, who alleged disability discrimination under Michigan state law.

  • Represented a foreign government before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Illinois Department of Human Rights, obtaining the dismissal of all charges.

  • Adopted Assisted machine tool distributor in several rounds of reductions in force, including advising the client on Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requirements and the proper use of releases and waivers in RIF situations.

  • Conducted anti-union organizing campaigns and negotiated collective bargaining agreements for manufacturing, warehouse, service and construction companies.