Employment & Labor Relations | Fennemore Craig | Labor Attorneys

Employment and Labor Law

Our attorneys practicing in the Employment and Labor Relations area advise and defend management in virtually all aspects of the employment relationship.  

Our employer clients range from large mining and utility companies to small service and professional firms. They benefit from our significant experience in working with corporate counsel, human resources professionals and management to develop programs designed to improve and define employment relationships and reduce the likelihood that disputes will arise. We regularly draw upon the expertise of our attorneys in other practice areas to address the distinct but related issues that often arise.

Good Counsel

Employee Benefits Law

We have an extensive practice counseling employers on all aspects of the design, implementation, and operation of qualified retirement, profit sharing, and executive compensation plans, including employee stock ownership plans and Section 401(k) savings plans. We routinely represent employers on qualified plan matters before the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. We regularly advise clients concerning fiduciary and prohibited transaction issues. We also advise employers regarding the implications and liabilities involved with participation in multi-employer union pension plans. We regularly advises clients on the tax implications and laws governing the provision of medical benefits, disability coverage, ERISA, and life insurance, including employers’ liability for health continuation coverage under COBRA.

Employment Litigation

Our attorneys have substantial experience in employment-related litigation involving allegations of breach of employment contract, wrongful termination, employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage and hour violations, misappropriation of trade secrets and confidential information, and other employment-related torts. We have represented clients through all phases and all types of employment litigation, ranging from individual charges and single plaintiff cases to broad-scale class and collective actions. We appear frequently on behalf of clients before federal and state administrative agencies, including the United States Department of Labor, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Arizona Civil Rights Division, and the Arizona Department of Economic Security.

Employment Relationships

We counsel employers with regard to personnel policies and procedures, individual employment decisions, drug and alcohol testing policies, and compliance with state and federal statutes and regulations. We also assist clients with drafting legally compliant employment policies and train their supervisory work force on all applicable employment laws and regulations. Our clients are invited to attend periodic employment law seminars, at which we discuss recent developments in the law and emerging client concerns.


Today, the stakes are high for businesses to find the right talent to fill specialized roles in every industry; and to comply with the increasingly complex landscape of immigration law. The right legal team can help to build a strategy to develop internal policies for managing the issues faced by businesses with foreign national employees in their workforce - including defense of state and federal enforcement actions.

Business clients typically include employers who want to comply with migration hiring requirements, as well as foreign entrepreneurs who come to the U.S. to start their business. Our immigration practice helps them navigate the dynamic landscape with experience in:

  • Investor visas
  • Work visas
  • Marriage visas

Our team focuses on compliance with federal law and statutes requiring verification of employee eligibility to work in the United States. And, our immigration attorneys help clients through audits and documentation requests from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Labor, the Social Security Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Our immigration practice attorneys Margo Chernysheva and Josh Griffin, assisted by a team of experienced paralegals, help U.S. businesses to obtain appropriate immigration status for foreign professionals and highly skilled workers. They counsel multi-national clients in the international relocation of employees to diverse locations around the globe including affiliated offices in Los Angeles, California and Guang Zhou City, China.

 Supporting multi-national businesses and clients around the globe, the staff and attorneys in our immigration practice are fluent in:

  • English
  • Spanish
  • French
  • Armenian
  • Russian

Labor Management

We counsel clients concerning union avoidance, collective bargaining, strike management, and contract interpretation and administration. We also represent our clients in labor arbitrations, National Labor Relations Board proceedings, and in contested cases in state and federal courts.

Nonprofit and Tax Exempt Organizations

Our nonprofit lawyers have represented many of the nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations that have shaped the Southwest for decades.

Now more than ever, tax-exempt organizations face a high level of regulation and scrutiny. Escalating oversight from the IRS, Congress, state regulators, watchdog groups, and the media require nonprofit leaders to address a gauntlet of changing nonprofit law and regulations. At the same time, tax-exempt organizations are expected to be more transparent than ever before and to adhere to evolving best practices.

Dedicated Nonprofit Lawyers

We are committed to representing non-profit and tax-exempt clients on a daily basis, not as a side practice. Our ERISA lawyers have extensive experience in advising nonprofits with respect to issues associated with the establishment and ongoing operation of 403(b), 457(b) and 457(f) plans. Our depth and collective years of experience representing nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations is unsurpassed in the Mountain West.

Large Law Firm Resources

We have a specialized niche practice; however, as part of a full-service firm with offices across the Mountain West, we are able to coordinate legal services across the full spectrum of our clients’ legal needs. In consultation with attorneys from our real property, labor and employment, estate planning, intellectual property law, employee benefits, tax, corporate, mergers and acquisitions, and other practice groups, we offer a coordinated approach to providing legal services to our tax-exempt clients. We even act as outside general counsel for a number of our clients providing a coordinated, seamless approach to solving their nonprofit legal issues.

Diverse Client Base

The nonprofit and tax-exempt sector is broad and diverse and our clients reflect that diversity. Our tax-exempt and nonprofit law clients include community and other grant-making foundations; hospitals and healthcare providers; health and human services charities; animal welfare organizations; national and international trade associations; churches and other religious institutions; arts organizations and museums; public, private and charter schools; colleges and universities; supporting organizations; social welfare organizations; organizations involved in lobbying and political activities; veterans organizations; and tribal and governmental entities.

Our attorneys also advise individual clients regarding their charitable gifts including drafting complex gift agreements such as endowment gifts, naming rights gifts, and charitable remainder trusts and charitable lead trusts.

Recognized Excellence

Our law firm’s tax-exempt organizations and nonprofit attorneys include members of Best Lawyers in America®, Southwest Super Lawyers®, the American College of Tax Counsel and the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. The partners in the practice are “AV” rated attorneys by Martindale Hubbell (the highest rating available), which signifies substantial experience and recognition by one’s peers for professional accomplishment.

Unemployment Compensation

Our unemployment compensation practice includes a full range of services relating to unemployment insurance, taxes and benefits. Our clients range from large mining and utility companies to small service and professional firms. We represent employers defending against claims for benefits by ex-employees in all jurisdictions, including the Appeal Tribunal, Appeals Board and Court of Appeals. We also represent employers when the adverse party is the Arizona Department of Economic Security or the Nevada Department of Economic Security. We have participated extensively in legislative revisions to the unemployment insurance statutes and in DES rule-making proceedings to adopt or revise the voluminous set of rules that govern unemployment cases.

Workers’ Compensation Law

We have significant experience in workers' compensation, and related employment and labor areas.

The needs of our employer clients require us to be responsive and qualified in all areas of employment law, including labor law, employment benefits, workers' compensation, and employee health and safety. Our employment law attorneys in each area counsel and represent clients in adversarial proceedings, including appellate proceedings. We also maintain an active legislative and lobbying practice to assist our clients in employment areas, including workers' compensation, affected by legislation.

The nature of our experience and the scope of our representation permits two benefits to flow to our clients. First, we work with in-house management and administrative representatives to improve and define employment relationships and to reduce the likelihood disputes will arise. Second, we draw upon the expertise of our attorneys in the various employment areas and address the distinct but often related issues that arise.

Employment Litigation Contracts and Torts

In the general employment area, we counsel employers about personnel manuals and procedures, drug and alcohol testing policies, and compliance with specific state and federal statutes and regulations. We have broad employment litigation experience in civil actions involving allegations of breach of employment contract, wrongful termination, employment discrimination and related tort actions. We frequently appear before federal and state administrative agencies, including the Arizona Civil Rights Division, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Economic Security, on behalf of our clients.

Employee Health and Safety Law

We provide legal representation and assistance to many employers on employee health and safety issues. Our employment attorneys counsel employers about their obligations to comply with federal, state and local health and safety standards. When necessary, we represent employers in all facets of employment litigation, including state and federal OSHA proceedings, and in Arizona and federal courts.

Labor Law

In the labor law area, we counsel clients concerning contract interpretation and grievance procedures and represents employers in labor arbitrations. Our labor lawyers also represent employers in negotiating collective bargaining agreements, in representation elections, and in defending unfair labor practice charges before the NLRB and in contested cases in the U.S. District Court.

Workers' Compensation Representation

We provide legal representation and counsel to a number of major corporations which are self-insured or self-rater insured for workers' compensation. We also represent insurance companies that provide workers' compensation coverage for smaller employers as well as uninsured employers. We represent employers in all facets of workers' compensation litigation before the Industrial Commission of Arizona and Arizona's appellate courts.

Our litigation attorneys have substantial experience in defending against claims for psychiatric conditions and exposure to toxic substances, as well as more common physical injuries. In the appellate arena, we recently obtained a decision authorizing employers to pay workers' compensation benefits directly to group insurance carriers under some circumstances, thereby avoiding a claimants' receipt of double benefits. The ruling also obtained a favorable appellate interpretation of the dual-purpose trip doctrine, which limits the compensability of injuries incurred during trips for combined business and personal errands.

Our employment litigation attorneys also assist employers in qualifying for self-insurance status, and they advise clients or their administrative representatives on the many legal, medical and administrative issues which arise in connection with workers' compensation claims outside the litigation arena. In addition, our legislative and lobbying legal services include preparing legislative proposals as well as lobbying and testifying before legislative committees on workers' compensation matters.