First Quarter, 2011

Discrimination lawsuits, wage and hour class actions, employee relations disputes, and federal compliance audits are just a few of the employment law issues and challenges facing our clients. What is worse, these are all occurring in an economy when businesses and professionals need to preserve every dollar. Unfortunately, Washington DC is now more focused than ever on employment related enforcement actions and compliance.

In response, Blalock Walters is pleased to announce the arrival of the Firm’s first dedicated labor and employment law attorney. Matt Westerman has joined the Firm as a Principal from the Tampa law firm of Shankman, Leone & Westerman, P.A. Matt represents clients in virtually all types of labor and employment law matters. He has experience defending corporations in sexual harassment, employment discrimination, retaliation and wage-hour litigation matters. He represents clients before federal, state and local administrative agencies and assists companies with their day-to-day employee relation issues.

Matt also works with both businesses and individuals in immigration and naturalization matters. For employers, his experience includes: non-immigrant visa strategy and planning, visa preparation and filing, green card and labor certification processing, immigration law compliance and employee verification training. For individuals and families, Matt represents clients in immigrant and non-immigrant visa matters and assists them with the naturalization process.

The Firm could not be more pleased to expand its practice focus into these important areas, where our clients are becoming increasingly vulnerable to employee lawsuits and government enforcement. Matt reports the following critical issues that will impact clients in 2010:

  1. The threat of employee lawsuits has never been higher. Approximately 50 new employment law claims are filed each week in the federal court that has jurisdiction over our area. Most of these lawsuits involve wage and hour violations that can easily be avoided by employers simply implementing effective  timekeeping and payroll policies.
  2. Federal employment agencies have significantly increased their enforcement efforts locally. Matt has noticed a rise in compliance audits from both the Wage and Hour Division and OSHA. These agencies are aggressively investigating employee complaints and selecting employers for random inspections. The agencies are now more than ever willing to impose civil money penalties for even the most minor violations.
  3. Clients must ensure that their policies and procedures evolve with the  ever-changing employment  laws. Over the past 12 months,  there have been significant amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act and the enactment of new anti-discrimination laws. In 2010, we will likely see additional changes to the employment laws, including passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.

While we anticipate 2010 being a challenging year for employers, Blalock Walters can now assist you with all of your labor and employment law matters. We are excited to have Matt as a member of our team and for the ability to further enhance the services we provide to our clients.

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