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Employment and labour

We are highly regarded for our work across all aspects of contentious and non-contentious employment and labour law around the world. With dedicated teams in Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, we offer a full-service, cross-border employment and labour practice.  

We have substantial transactional experience, and regularly advise on the employment and labour law aspects of multi-jurisdictional corporate reorganisations and mergers and acquisitions.  We regularly engage in employment and labour civil court cases and tribunal advocacy, and advise on matters ranging from sensitive severance issues and boardroom disputes through to matters of corporate governance and whistleblower claims, and more standard disciplinary and grievance issues.

We have a diverse client base of in-house lawyers and HR managers, as well as senior executives, world-wide financial institutions, corporations and charities from our key industry sectors: financial institutions; energy; infrastructure, mining and commodities; transport; technology and innovation; and life sciences and healthcare.

Our areas of work include

  • boardroom disputes and severance claims, including team moves and post-termination restrictions
  • collective labour issues, such as European Works Councils, trade union, unfair labor claims and other industrial relation issues
  • class and collective actions
  • civil rights charges and litigation
  • affirmative action matters
  • discrimination and retaliation
  • workplace and government investigations
  • labour relations issues before labour boards, arbitrators and the courts
  • collective bargaining on behalf of employers and employers’ organisations
  • human rights issues
  • occupational health and safety incident response and education (OSHA)
  • employment litigation, including discrimination and breach of contract claims in all courts (including before juries, where applicable) and tribunals
  • service agreements, contracts of employment and staff handbooks
  • employment policies ranging from performance, sickness and misconduct procedures to maternity and parental leave schemes
  • executive remuneration and corporate governance
  • restructuring and reorganization
  • privacy law and access to information
  • wrongful termination
  • international employment issues including dual contracts and international secondments
  • workplace safety issues
  • due diligence of employment matters in mergers and acquisitions
  • immigration, visas/work permits and international mobility
  • pension, compensation, ERISA and employee benefits
  • pay equity
  • trade secret theft and restrictive covenants, including fiduciary duty issues
  • whistleblower and retaliation claims and related investigations
  • outsourcing
  • general employment issues (including maternity rights and general contractual issues)
  • recruitment issues.

Our recent experience

  • Advising a leading pharmaceuticals company on the employment aspects of a 12-to-18 month phased transfer of employees, pursuant to a transfer of undertakings.  This project involved coordinating advice across 12 jurisdictions, including the UK, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium, Poland, Finland, Canada, Australia and Mexico.
  • Advising HSBC on projects to introduce standardised employment documentation for its 50 most senior global executives and its highly valued international managers.  These projects involved coordinating advice across over 25 jurisdictions, including the UK, Hong Kong, Brazil, Canada and Australia.
  • Advising QIAGEN on a European redundancy exercise and reorganisation affecting employees in Germany, France, Italy, the UK and Switzerland.
  • Advising Stena Line on employment law issues arising from the acquisition of several Baltic Sea routes from Scandlines.
  • Advising the leading German financial services provider, Wüstenrot & Württembergische, on the post-merger integration of the employees of Allianz Dresdner Bauspar into Wüstenrot Bausparkasse, including standardisation of working conditions.
  • Representing a Canadian bank before the Federal Court of Appeal, which confirmed an arbitrator’s decision that an employer is not obliged to relocate an incompetent employee to another position.
  • Advising one of Canada’s largest integrated oil and gas companies in a labour arbitration case in which the union contested the validity of Shell’s drug and alcohol policy under the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. The case constituted an important development in this area of law as it clearly recognises the right of an employer to carry out systematic drug and alcohol testing of applicants for safety-sensitive positions.
  • Successfully representing Herbalife International of America Inc in two significant motions on the eve of trial in a highly contentious gender discrimination case against our client. First, in a creative argument interpreting the scope of Civil Code Section 1717, we successfully opposed the Plaintiff’s motion for attorneys’ fees. Second, the Plaintiff’s attempt to compel Herbalife’s highest executive to attend and testify at trial was defeated; the Plaintiff’s trial subpoena was quashed, precluding the Plaintiff from bringing Herbalife’s chief executive officer to court.
  • Defending National Envelope, an international forest products company, in a class-action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Although the Court initially certified only a small class of employees employed during a limited class period, we successfully negotiated a broad settlement agreement and release that resolved a much broader set of claims on behalf of a larger class and class period. As a result, the settlement agreement and release effectively protected our client from any possibility of subsequent copycat.
  • Advising businesses such as Chaucer, HSBC Insurance Brokers and Enstar on restrictive covenant and team poaching issues in the UK.
  • Advising a major state-owned enterprise in South Africa on resolving its dispute with the dismissed Chief Executive Officer of one of its subsidiary companies, liasing not only with the Board, but also at Ministerial level.  
  • Advising a national food manufacturer in South Africa on numerous matters, including the employment law consequences of an adverse finding by the Competition Tribunal and the nature of the manufacturer’s relationship with its outsourced drivers.
  • Advising Bechtel, a global construction and engineering company with 53,000 employees, on employment and industrial relations issues on major projects in Australia, including aspects of the US$20bn Australia Pacific LNG Project, the US$18.5bn Gladstone LNG Project, the US$20.5bn Queensland Curtis LNG Project and the A$29bn Wheatstone LNG Project.
  • Providing ongoing advice to HP and EDS in Australia on the integration of two large workforces following their global merger.