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Andrea J. Bernard

Partner | Email

  • Grand Rapids

    t. +1.616.752.2199

    f. +1.616.222.2199

Biography

Andrea is a litigator who, since 1993, has represented manufacturers, contractors, financial institutions and others involved in employment, commercial and construction disputes. Always open to a new challenge, Andrea learned at a young age how to assert her position and negotiate solutions. “Growing up number 8 in a family of 11 children played a large role in forming my personality and my competitive nature. Long before I was born, my parents adopted a policy of not interfering in disputes among the kids. Left to our own devices, we kids solved a few of our disputes with fistfights, but more often with diplomacy. I learned very early how to hold my own in either forum,” she says. An executive at one of the businesses Andrea represents in employment litigation matters described her this way: “Andrea is diligent, responsive and understands both our business and our culture – which is a significant issue for our company. We don’t always resolve cases based on economics, but often on principle as well, and Andrea understands that. She has saved us time, stress and expense by helping us close cases based on principle, without overlooking the economics. Andrea has tremendous knowledge of employment law and is well experienced in the courtroom, which is a huge benefit when it comes to navigating our judicial system.” In addition to her litigation practice, Andrea serves as the firm’s General Counsel.

Industries

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Education

  • University of Minnesota J.D. 1993 cum laude
  • University of South Dakota B.S. 1990 summa cum laude

Admitted

  • 1993, Michigan

Courts

  • Michigan Supreme Court in 1993
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan in 2002
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan in 1993

Bar Associations

  • American Bar Association
    Litigation Section, Labor and Employment Law Section, Dispute Resolution Section, Forum on the Construction Industry
  • State Bar of Michigan
    Litigation Section; Labor and Employment Section
  • Grand Rapids Bar Association
    Board of Trustees; Litigation Section; Labor and Employment Section

Experience

Employment Litigation Experience

  • Successfully defended construction company in gender discrimination case, resulting in "no cause" jury verdict for the employer
  • Lead counsel for large farming operation FMLA interference and retaliation case, obtaining summary judgment on plaintiff’s claims.  Affirmed on appeal by Sixth Circuit, reported at 2012 WL 2989238
  • Lead counsel for large West Michigan manufacturer in gender discrimination / Equal Pay Act claim, obtaining summary judgment on plaintiff’s claims.  Affirmed on appeal by Sixth Circuit, reported at 2012 WL 2580609.
  • Successfully defended utility contractor in gender discrimination and retaliation case, resulting in “no cause” jury verdict for the employer
  • Obtained numerous summary judgment awards on behalf of defendants in employment-based lawsuits, including gender discrimination, retaliation, age discrimination, disability, and FMLA claims
  • Successfully defended tier-two auto supplier in sexual harassment and defamation case, obtaining directed verdict at the close of plaintiff's proofs
  • Successfully defended large Michigan utility company against claims for hostile environment, sexual harassment and retaliation, obtaining directed verdict at the close of all proofs
  • Successfully defended professional firm against claims for hostile environment sexual harassment and retaliation, obtaining directed verdict at the close of plaintiff's proofs

Commercial/Construction Litigation Experience

  • Represented large West Michigan mechanical contractor in obtaining substantial award in commercial contract dispute before the International Chamber of Commerce International Court of Arbitration
  • Represented hospital in complex negotiations with architectural and engineering design firm, successfully avoiding protracted dispute resolution and keeping hospital construction project on track to completion
  • Successfully defended large Michigan utility company in trespass and conversion case, reversing substantial default and instead obtaining net judgment of $0 where the plaintiffs were claiming damages over $1 million
  • Represented West Michigan insurance company in obtaining substantial award in breach of commercial contract dispute before the American Arbitration Association
  • Represented German manufacturing company in sales/distribution dispute before the International Chamber of Commerce International Court of Arbitration
  • Successfully defended West Michigan insurance company in commercial contract dispute before the American Arbitration Association

Honors & Awards

  • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell
  • Best Lawyers in America, Commercial Litigation, 2013-Present
  • Named to Michigan Super Lawyers, 2017
  • Named a 2016 "Leader in the Law" by Michigan Lawyers Weekly
  • Leading Lawyers Michigan, 2014
  • Lawyer of the Year 2002, Michigan Lawyers Weekly

Publications

  • "Due Diligence and Dispute Resolution: The Role Each Plans to Improve Commercial Real Estate Loan Repayments," Michigan Banker, January 2011

Ahead of the Curve Auto Supplier Blog

Leadership

Professional Affiliations

  • Michigan Defense Trial Counsel
    Past Section Chair, Labor and Employment

Community Affiliations

  • Inforum - A Professional Women's Alliance
    2005 Class
  • Leadership Grand Rapids
    Class of 2004
  • St. Stephen Parish
    Member, Parish Finance Council

Speaking Engagements

  • "Whistleblower and Retaliation Claims," Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 3, 2018, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "Labor Laws in Other States," Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 23, 2017, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "Legislative Update" and "Changes are A Comin'!—FLSA Basics and the New 'White Collar' Rules," Warner Human Resources Seminar, June 9, 2016, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "Amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP)," Data Solutions Fall Symposium, October 23, 2015, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "Increase Your FLSA Budget, the Government Did," MISHRM Annual Conference, October 15, 2015, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Labor & Benefits Executive Panel, Warner Seminar, October 5, 2015, Traverse City, Michigan
  • "Increase Your FLSA Budget—the Government Did," Warner Human Resources Seminar, April 20, 2015, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Labor and Employment Panel, Labor and Benefits Executive Panel-Government Enforcement Initiatives, September 23, 2014, Midland, Michigan
  • "The Flip Side," Warner Human Resources Seminar, April 22, 2014, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "HR and Benefits Executive Panel," Warner Human Resources Seminar, October 15, 2013, Birmingham, Michigan
  • "Managing the Risks of Risk Management - Making EPLI Coverage Work for You" and "Wage/Hour Update - Classifying Employees Correctly to Avoid Liability," Warner Human Resources Seminar, April 29, 2013, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation," Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 2, 2012, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • "Discrimination & Harassment," Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 25, 2011, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Testimonials


 “After many years in business, we found ourselves facing a major employment issue that required a legal advocate. Having interviewed several law firms in West Michigan, we decided upon Andrea Bernard at Warner Norcross. Why? First, she immediately detailed defensive strategies explaining each approach in a clear and precise manner. Second, each strategy was assigned potential legal costs and fees. Third, and just as important, was the empathy and understanding she conveyed to us as clients. From our first interview, we knew Andrea possessed the required legal expertise for our defense, but her common sense approach and communication skills helped us make the correct legal decisions during the entire process. We highly recommend Andrea Bernard and Warner Norcross.” - President of insurance services and consulting firm

***

“Andrea is diligent, responsive and she understands our corporate culture – which is a huge issue for our company. We will try a (labor-related) case based on principle, as opposed to being based solely on economics, and Andrea understands that. She has saved us money by helping us close cases that were based strictly on principle, as well as cases that were based on economics. Andrea displays great skill and is very experienced in the courtroom, and she is extremely knowledgeable of labor law.” -- Human resources and safety manager at an industrial supply firm
 
 ***
 
“Andrea has a strategic perspective and excellent tactical ability to analyze a case from all sides, anticipate defense strategies and contingencies, and produce consistent, winning results. Over the course of many years, she has become a valued part of our team. Andrea works closely with our HR team to produce cost-effective case management strategies that control cost without jeopardizing our interests. She is tenacious in her pursuit of successful outcomes and abides by the mantra that “failure is not an option.” Despite the intense nature of her work, Andrea also demonstrates remarkable charm, wit and grace under fire.” -- Human relations manager at a global furniture manufacturer
 
 ***
 
"Andrea is an excellent attorney. Her skill as a litigator is matched by her practical approach to problem solving, which helps clients achieve the best possible business result." -- West Michigan attorney

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