EEO, Diversity and Inclusion, and Affirmative Action
WilmerHale's labor and employment lawyers and human resources consultants plan, manage and audit diversity and inclusion programs on behalf of organizations developing voluntary initiatives, as well as government contractors subject to mandatory affirmative action requirements under federal, state or local law. Our clients include internet, technology, energy, healthcare and life sciences companies, as well as universities and nonprofit organizations.
Following implementation, our lawyers and HR professionals provide ongoing analysis—including statistical compensation, applicant and workforce analysis required for government contractors' plans—and guidance on meeting legal requirements within an ever-evolving regulatory framework. We also provide guidance and direct assistance to clients who are responding to government audits, and offer training programs to support personnel responsible for managing their organizations' diversity, inclusion, equal opportunity and affirmative action programs.
Training and Policy Development
To promote a positive and inclusive workplace environment and avoid potential litigation, it is critical that managers and supervisors have a strong working knowledge and understanding of the law, as well as the ability to communicate effectively and respond appropriately to employee concerns. Our labor and employment lawyers assist clients with the development of personnel policies that support anti-discrimination efforts, and offer training programs on topics that include:
- diversity and inclusion;
- legal and psychological perspectives on managing employees through effective communication;
- avoidance of discrimination and harassment on the basis of sex, race, national origin and other protected class status;
- managing leave and accommodations for individuals with disabilities; and
- interviewing skills and hiring.
Our lawyers and our HR Services Practice also provide training in complementary areas such as HR best practices, performance management and coaching, and management and leadership development.
Counseling, Litigation and Investigations
Clients partner with us to address challenging employment matters in a highly regulated area. Our lawyers offer practical solutions that are sensitive to an organization’s particular culture, while considering how the outcomes of decisions will affect the workplace and the business.
We have extensive experience investigating employee complaints of discrimination and harassment, including against senior executives and officials. Our support includes conducting investigations directly, managing internal investigations, and/or providing advice and counsel on process and resolution.
While we aim to help clients avoid litigation, our lawyers are also equipped to defend all types of matters involving allegations of discrimination and discriminatory harassment. We have litigated class actions and other cases in state and federal courts and before numerous state and federal administrative agencies, including the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the US Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, and many state and local human rights commissions and fair employment practices agencies. The firm also represents clients in arbitrations and mediations.
HR ServicesThe firm's unique HR Services Practice provides clients with access to experienced human resources professionals who advise on all facets of human resources management, policy development and best practices related to diversity and inclusion programs and government-mandated affirmative action programs. Our HR consultants and analysts provide comprehensive, timely and cost-effective data analyses and solutions, and partner with attorneys in the firm's Labor and Employment Practice and various regulatory practices to address matters involving legal compliance and risk.
Prevailing in the First Circuit, the Massachusetts Appeals Court and the EEOC in discrimination and retaliation cases, and setting new law related to damages and attorneys' fees in a Massachusetts employment discrimination case.
Winning closure with no adverse findings in many extensive OFCCP audits, including for clients in the high-tech, energy services, publishing and financial services industries.
Negotiating numerous favorable settlements of claims before the EEOC and similar state agencies.
Assisting clients in preparing successful bid submissions for work with state and city governments requiring detailed diversity plans and commitments.
Working with clients to develop legally compliant diversity and inclusion programs that balance the need to increase diversity while ensuring non-discrimination in hiring and selection.
Obtaining summary judgment in gender discrimination and Family and Medical Leave Act retaliation cases in state and federal courts.