As the health care landscape continues to shift, so do the issues confronting employers in the health care industry.
We created the Health Employment and Labor (HEAL®) strategic industry group, which unites two of the firm’s practices—Health Care and Employment, Labor & Workforce Management—to help health care and life sciences companies address the many challenges they face in the labor, employment, and workforce management area.
Two Practices, One Team
Our Health Care practice has been at the forefront of health care law for the past 50 years, taking the lead in understanding, interpreting, and shaping the issues and regulations that affect health care and life sciences institutions. And our Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice is a cornerstone of the firm and one of the largest in the United States representing management. Composed of members from these national practices, the HEAL® strategic industry group knows every facet of the employer-employee relationship within the health care and life sciences industries.
Our Diverse Roster of Clients
We serve clients in every sector of the health care and life sciences industries as well as the entities that invest in those sectors. For example, our clients include the following:
- Academic medical centers
- Ambulatory care facilities
- Biotechnology and life sciences firms
- Clinical laboratories
- Drug and device manufacturers
- Health care technology companies
- Health maintenance organizations
- Health plans and other insurers
- Home health care companies
- Hospitals and health systems
- Investment banks and private equity funds focusing on the health care industries
- Medical research institutions
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Physician groups
- Post-acute and long-term care providers
- Skilled nursing facilities
- Suppliers and distributors of health care products
Services to Meet Your Needs
Using our cross-disciplinary legal and regulatory experience and our deep industry knowledge, we provide comprehensive and practical solutions to health care and life sciences employers’ complex workplace and workforce challenges. Our services cover the following areas:
Employment Compliance Counseling
Operating as an extension of a client’s HR and in-house legal teams, we provide day-to-day employment advice and help clients stay compliant with labor and employment laws. We advise on issues relating to, among other things:
- claims of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation
- medical and religious accommodation requests
- leaves of absence
- wage and hour compliance
- employee discipline
- performance and termination
- diversity and affirmative action
- employee handbooks
- employment contracts
- trade secrets, noncompetes, and other restrictive covenants
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance and workplace safety
- privacy and data security
- staffing recruitment and retention, workforce restructuring, staff turnover, early retirements, and burnout in a waning COVID-19 pandemic world
As more states legalize adult-use cannabis, clients seek our advice on cannabis use by employees and workplace drug policies. To mitigate the risk of disputes in the workplace, we structure state-of-the-art compliance and reporting programs, promptly investigate allegations of employee misconduct, and provide training to raise awareness and change behavior. For clients contemplating a merger or acquisition, we perform labor, employment, and health regulatory due diligence reviews and provide post-merger integration advice.
Union organizing activity by nurses and other health care workers is increasing at hospitals and health care institutions across the nation. We offer strategic options to help clients stay union-free and provide counseling on union organizing and corporate campaigns. For clients with unionized workforces, we negotiate collective bargaining agreements, help clients prepare for and manage strikes, and represent clients in unfair labor practice proceedings and decertification cases before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and state agencies. We also prosecute and defend against damages claims by and against labor organizations.
Employer-sponsored benefits programs are crucial to enabling health care and life sciences employers to retain their current workers and recruit new talent. We offer a complete range of services for health care employers relating to the design, implementation, administration, and termination of all types of retirement, executive compensation, and health and welfare benefit plans. We help clients comply with the state and federal requirements governing employee benefits and compensation arrangements and navigate clients through employee benefits and compensation issues in corporate transactions.
Because we have litigated virtually every type of employment dispute, health care clients turn to us to defend them in disability and leave of absence litigation, whistleblower and retaliation actions, and lawsuits concerning allegations of discrimination, harassment, defamation, wage and hour violations, and other employment-related claims. We also represent clients in class and collective actions (including defending complex and high-stakes wage and hour cases), breach of contract disputes, trade secret and noncompete litigation, and Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and employee benefits disputes. In addition, we provide representation before local, state, and federal enforcement and regulatory agencies.
- ADA and Public Accommodations
- Affirmative Action/OFCCP Compliance
- Class Actions
- Commercial and Contract Litigation
- Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Counseling
- Employee Benefits and ERISA
- Employment Compliance Counseling
- Employment Litigation
- Employment Training
- Executive Compensation
- Federal and State False Claims Act (Including Qui Tam)
- Fraud and Abuse Compliance Counseling and Defense
- Health Care Litigation
- Labor and Employment Due Diligence
- Labor Management Relations
- Medical Staff, Peer Review
- Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA)
- Pandemic Workforce Issues
- Pay Equity
- Remote and Hybrid Work
- Social Media and the Workplace
- Trade Secrets & Employee Mobility
- Wage and Hour
- Whistleblowing and Compliance
- White Collar Defense and Internal Investigations
- Workforce Government Relations
- Workforce Restructuring and Other Cost-Saving Mechanisms
- Workplace Investigations
- Academic Medical Centers
- Ambulatory Care Facilities
- Clinical Laboratories
- Health Care Industry
- Health Plans and Other Insurers
- Home Health, Hospice & Community-Based Providers
- Hospitals and Health Systems
- Life Sciences Industry
- Medical Devices
- Physician Group Practices/Management
- Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Providers
- Suppliers & Distributors
- Provided advice and counsel to an operator of long-term care communities regarding managing employee refusals to work during the pandemic, COVID-19 testing protocols for employees, and the implementation of health care screenings, including the use of thermal scanners and the associated privacy concerns.
- Assisted a U.S. operator of optical practices with a phased reopening of its eye care centers during the COVID-19 pandemic based on the lifting of executive orders in the states and cities where the client’s eye care centers are located. To prepare for the reopening, we drafted and helped implement detailed health and safety procedures and communications for employees. We also provided advice on managing COVID-19-positive employee and patient cases, including implementing quarantine and testing protocols, preparing employee and patient communications, and complying with OSHA recording mandates.
- Partnered with a pharmaceutical client to develop a strategy for transitioning its North American headquarters to Massachusetts. We identified policies and agreements that had to be modified to comply with Massachusetts law; drafted retention, relocation, and separation agreements; and assessed and managed notice requirements for the potential mass layoff.
- Conducted an internal investigation into a whistleblower complaint alleging possible legal violations by a public health system’s interim system CEO that were also potential violations of the client’s obligations under a corporate integrity agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General. Our investigative findings led to the termination of the interim system CEO.
- Provided HR advice and counsel to a medical sector specialty company in Connecticut on such topics as the acquisition of new businesses, restructurings, confidentiality agreements, severance agreements, and multistate employee handbooks. We continue to counsel this client nationally on employee disciplinary and accommodation matters.
- Successfully represented a major health care network and one of its hospitals in a novel and high-stakes arbitration with a nurses union that had objected to the network’s policy of requiring all registered nurses who did not possess a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree at the time of their hire to earn the BSN degree within five years of their hire date. The union challenged the policy after the hospital fired a registered nurse for not completing the degree. After we mounted a vigorous defense, the arbitrator ruled for our clients in all respects.
- Persuaded a court, after a four-day preliminary injunction hearing, not to prohibit our clients (three individuals) from working for their new employer (a laboratory co-defendant). Had the three defendants been barred from working for their new employer, the new employer would have experienced a significant business disruption.
- Helped a health care / nursing home company avoid potential wage and hour liability in connection with multiple, complex, and multifaceted federal and state department of labor investigations. We leveraged relationships in federal and state labor departments and mitigated potential substantial exposure concerning back wages and penalties.
- Prepared affirmative action plans annually, and provided advice on their implementation, for a New York-based academic medical center with more than 21,000 employees.
- Currently provide day-to-day employment law services to a growing pharmaceutical company in the Northeast. We have supplied workplace compliance counseling on matters such as employee discipline, leave requests, and hirings and terminations.
- Defeated a lawsuit brought against a national pharmaceutical company alleging retaliatory discharge for protected whistleblowing. Our attorneys persuasively demonstrated that the employee was discharged for reasons unrelated to the complaint, and the employee voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice.
- Worked with hospital clients on fatality and hospitalization investigations with OSHA. As the COVID-19 pandemic evolved, OSHA continued to shift its recordkeeping and investigations requirements, further confusing clients on what was required. We collected, synthesized, and responded directly to OSHA on our clients’ behalf.
- Obtained a complete dismissal of a plaintiff’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family and Medical Leave Act discrimination case against the plaintiff’s employer, a health insurance company. We took an aggressive litigation posture, which culminated in a successful motion for summary judgment. The case resulted in a very good decision on the use of the interactive process under the ADA.
- Assisted a surgery provider with its executive benefit and tax-related matters related to its acquisition of another surgical services company.
- Conducted an internal investigation for a publicly traded Fortune 100 health care company after one of its senior compliance officials alleged that the company’s senior executives retaliated against him for raising concerns over perceived fraudulent billing practices. We presented the findings of our investigation to the company’s audit committee.
- Oversaw a health care system’s processing of over 100+ requests for religious accommodations related to the COVID-19 vaccinations mandated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, including proper engagement in the interactive process and determination of whether the employee had a sincerely-held religious belief that prevented the employee from receiving of such vaccine.
- Conducted a wage and hour wage audit of a health care system’s pay practices related to rounding, meal break auto-deduction, and work shifts that straddle workweeks, and advised on proactive solutions and remedial efforts related to potential exposures revealed in the audit.
- Successfully defended a health care system regarding an HHS Office for Civil Rights charge of failure to accommodate a patient who had requested that the patient’s comfort dog be allowed to stay in the patient’s room, which was located in an isolation ward.
- Represented a life science company concerning employee theft of trade secrets and other violations of restrictive covenant agreements, guiding the client to a successful outcome.
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- October 11, 2022