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Employment, Labor and Benefits


Schwabe’s employment and labor team helps clients increase value through positive employment relations.

Policies and practices that increase value

Positive employment relations are essential to the overall health of any business. As federal, state and local laws governing employee relations continue to grow in number and complexity, we work closely with clients to ensure compliance while maintaining a productive, cooperative workplace. Our lawyers:

  • Conduct internal audits to ensure compliance with employment laws, regulations, and state and federal agencies, such as OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).
  • Guide buyers and sellers toward successful transitions for employees.
  • Advise clients creating executive compensation, noncompete, nonsolicitation, nondisclosure and arbitration programs, as well as commission plans, bonus retention agreements and other employment-related agreements and plans.
  • Evaluate and develop personnel policies and procedures that incentivize and increase productivity.
  • Negotiate collective bargaining agreements and handle grievances and National Labor Relations Board proceedings.
  • Help employers find the workers they need from international markets, if necessary, and navigate the immigration system.
  • Represent employers in all forms and during all phases of employment-related litigation, including class action litigation.

Trusted counsel for diverse industries

We provide day-to-day, proactive employment and labor law advice to ‎employers of all sizes in a broad range of industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, technology, timber, agriculture, ports and maritime, natural resources, transportation, construction, real estate and nonprofits.

Training that takes hold

To help employment law compliance become part of the corporate culture, we regularly provide customized trainings for HR professionals, business owners and management. We also regularly speak on employment law topics to business and professional groups in the Pacific Northwest.


  • Represented a Fortune 300 retail and distribution company in a benefit plan examination by the U.S. Department of Labor. A favorable no action letter was issued.
  • Assisted 18 separate employer associations to restructure their benefit plans to qualify as bona fide association plans for purposes of the Affordable Care Act and ERISA.
  • Argued the constitutionality of ERISA to the U.S. Supreme Court in RA Gray v. PGBC.
  • Served as lead legal team for ICTSI Oregon, Inc., in a contentious and highly publicized labor dispute at the Port of Portland with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
  • Obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) ‎against former employees of a financial services firm who opened a branch of a competing firm in the same city on the day of their departure.
  • Won a defense verdict for a service-industry client in which the plaintiff alleged wage-claim retaliation.
  • Won a defense verdict in a case involving an ADA discrimination claim that was appealed to (and affirmed by) the Washington Supreme Court.
  • Won a defense verdict on behalf of a national assisted-living facility on a novel pregnancy and gender discrimination theory.
  • Won a defense verdict on behalf of a national play structure manufacturer involving gender-discrimination and retaliation claims.
  • Won an arbitration award on behalf of a financial institution on a breach of non-solicitation agreement claim. 

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