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Employment Litigation

Intro

Innovative Strategies. Vigilant Defense. Proven Results. The employment litigators at Warner Norcross & Judd know that successfully representing employers requires more than technical knowledge of the myriad employment laws. Success requires innovative strategies for handling all aspects of a case, including effects on other employees and media relations. Success requires a vigilant defense that addresses all stages and issues in a case, including crafting strategies for maximizing settlement leverage, framing compelling narratives and minimizing plaintiffs’ claims for damages. Our employment litigation team has used that comprehensive approach to compile a long, exceptional record of proven results.

Professionals

Order list by:
Photo of Edward Bardelli
Edward Bardelli
+1.616.752.2165
Photo of Andrea Bernard
Andrea Bernard
+1.616.752.2199
Photo of Pamela Enslen
Pamela Enslen
+1.269.276.8112
Photo of Amanda Fielder
Amanda Fielder
+1.616.752.2404
Photo of C. Ryan Grondzik
C. Ryan Grondzik
+1.616.752.2722
Photo of DeAndre' Harris
DeAndre' Harris
+1.616.752.2331
Photo of Margaret Jozwiak
Margaret Jozwiak
+1.616.752.2767
Photo of Matthew Nelson
Matthew Nelson
+1.616.752.2539
Photo of Dean Pacific
Dean Pacific
+1.616.752.2424
Photo of Allyson Terpsma
Allyson Terpsma
+1.616.752.2785

Professionals


Andrea J. Bernard
Chair
616.752.2199
Grand Rapids

Edward J. Bardelli
616.752.2165
Grand Rapids

Pamela C. Enslen
269.276.8112
Kalamazoo

Dean F. Pacific
616.752.2424
Grand Rapids

Matthew T. Nelson
616.752.2539
Grand Rapids

Elisabeth M.
Von Eitzen

269.276.8118
Kalamazoo

Amanda M. Fielder
616.752.2404
Grand Rapids

C. Ryan Grondzik
616.752.2722
Grand Rapids

Margaret Stalker
Jozwiak

616.752.2767
Grand Rapids

Allyson R. Terpsma
616.752.2785
Grand Rapids
   

Proven Success

Businesses of all sizes rely on our Employment Litigation team to manage employment-related disputes. Examples of our Employment Litigation team’s successes include:  
 
Trial Victories
  • Won jury verdict in favor of employer in former employee's claim for allegedly unpaid overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Also won jury verdict in favor of the employer's owner and president, who were sued individually
  • Won jury verdict in favor of employer against former shareholder and management employees on claims of conversion and breach of fiduciary duty related to misappropriation of a business opportunity. Award recovered included treble damages and attorneys’ fees
  • Won jury verdict in breach of contract case, in which former employees claimed breach of a severance agreement; judgment was affirmed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in 452 Fed. App. 677
  • Won jury redirect in favor of utility contractor employer in gender discrimination and retaliation case, resulting in “no cause” jury verdict for the employer
  • Won jury verdict in favor of manufacturer in FMLA case

Pre-Trial Victories
  • Won summary judgment in pension benefits class action – involving claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the Labor Management Relations Act – related to facility purchased in bankruptcy sale
  • Won denial of preliminary injunction, and later summary disposition of all claims, in action against surgeon for alleged breach of covenant not to compete
  • Won summary judgment in race discrimination case under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, affirmed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals 580 F.3rd 394 (6th Cir. 2009)
  • Won summary judgment in Whistleblower Protection Act and sex discrimination case
  • Won summary judgment in FMLA interference and retaliation case

Arbitration Victories
  • Won $26 million arbitration award in suit arising out of non-compete, non-solicit and trade secret claims. Report at 2008 WL 5386774; 2010 WL 3927661
  • Won award in favor of employer in AAA arbitration involving claim for severance pay by former company executive
  • Won award in favor of employer in AAA arbitration involving claims by former company president for benefits under Employee Stock Ownership Plan, claims of breach of fiduciary duty, breach of duty of disclosure under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and common law claims

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
 
***
 
“Dean Pacific is a knowledgeable, passionate and attentive employment attorney.  Over the last five years, Dean has assisted and advised SpartanNash on a number of employment-related issues and successfully represented its interest in employment related arbitrations and litigation.

“Whether engaged to provide legal advice or to represent our interests in arbitrations or litigation, Dean is always well prepared and passionate in his defense of our interests. He works hard to understand the facts of each legal question he is presented with, simplifies and explains the applicable law and listens attentively for the related business challenges. He works alongside us to find the right business solution to the legal challenge posed.

“Dean is prompt in his response to calls and e-mails and works hard at finding ways to minimize the business disruption that sometimes accompanies legal challenges.  Whether it’s traveling to one of our business locations or arranging and coordinating a conference call, he understands and is sensitive to the everyday demands that come with operating a business.  He works hard at accommodating the operational realities of business and incorporates our needs into his overall plan. I would highly recommend Dean Pacific for his legal acumen, preparation and attentiveness and overall sensitivity to the needs and demands of business." - Jose C. Rosario, Director of Labor Relations, SpartanNash

***

“Amanda (Fielder) is a great labor attorney. She is very knowledgeable of the law, she keeps us informed every step of the way when we are involved in litigation, and she makes an uncomfortable situation – trying a labor dispute in court – seem very comfortable. She gives us peace of mind. Amanda also understands our corporate culture and perspective on labor issues, works hard to meet our needs and gets the best results for our company. On top of all that, she has educated our management team on labor issues so that we can avoid problems in the future.” - Human resources and safety manager at an industrial supply firm
 
***
 
“The service Liz (Von Eitzen) provides is top quality – from the initial request for information to the completion of a case. She is an active listener, understands our unique legal issues, provides accurate and sound advice when requested and thinks outside the box to get us the best results possible. I am proud to have Liz represent us with our legal issues. The process is always fun, outstanding – and yes, dare I say perfect.” - Bankruptcy specialist at a large financial institution
 
***
 
“Matt (Nelson) represented us on several very important litigation matters and also provided valuable advice on non-litigation matters. He was always very responsive to requests for assistance and was a clear communicator in all of his writings and conversations. Our litigation results with Matt were positive – they provided municipal officers the opportunity to effectively carry out their duties in a constitutionally and statutorily appropriate manner. Matt is an excellent attorney.” - Retired corporate counsel for a Michigan municipality
 
***
 
“Pam Enslen provides excellent legal services for Western Michigan University, including successful litigation defense. The field of higher education law is complex and unique, and Pam quickly assimilated her specialized employment and labor expertise to our higher education environment, as well. She is extraordinarily intelligent, thorough, caring, knowledgeable, and works extremely well and collaboratively with both clients and in-house counsel. Without hesitation, I would recommend Pam Enslen to other universities and colleges, organizations, and public and private entities.” - Carol L. J. Hustoles, Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel, Western Michigan University
 
***
 
“Andrea (Bernard) 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
 
***
 
“My organization’s efficiency has greatly benefited from Pam (Enslen)’s HR legal advice and counsel. Her understanding and application of the law has consistently demonstrated a keen intellect, sound reasoning and objectivity, along with an acute sense of fairness and equity. Pam’s passion to see organizations like mine accomplish their mission effectively is well-demonstrated in how she cares about the law and what is right for her clients. I do not hesitate to contact Pam anytime I need the assistance of an attorney in a difficult case or expert advice.” - CEO at a community nonprofit organization
 
***
 
“Andrea (Bernard) 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
 
***
 
“Pam Enslen has been our labor advisor for the last three years. We joined forces with Pam because she is an excellent mediator and problem solver. Our business culture is very positive and we aim to keep it that way. Pam helps us develop effective strategies that mitigate legal risk, act in the best interest of our business and treat our employees fairly. Pam is extremely responsive and approachable. I would highly recommend Pam Enslen.” - Human resources director at a food products company
 
***
 
“Andrea (Bernard) 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
 
***

“I’ve worked with Amanda (Fielder) on EEOC responses and find her to be very responsive and thorough. Right from the start, she asks all the right questions to learn everything that’s needed to prepare an appropriate response. I definitely suggest that others choose Amanda because she’s always spot-on, whether she’s providing a quick opinion, assessment or a response plan to guide us.” – Susan Mason, Human Resources Manager, The PIC Group
 
***

“(Dean Pacific is) superb in every way.” - A West Michigan judge
 
***

“What I like about working with Warner Norcross & Judd is that I do not have to worry about minute details. I can rely on them to handle the details and I appreciate their explanations in laymen’s terms. Additionally I recognize their integrity for always wanting to do what is best for the client.” – Frank Rinderspacher, General Manager, Hark Orchids

***

“Dean Pacific has worked with us for a number of years and has proven to be a responsive, reliable and level headed advisor. We’ve had nothing but good experiences with him." General Counsel for a consumer goods manufacturer
      

Case Studies

Testimonials

Events

Oct 2015
15
October 15, 2015

Partners Ed Bardelli and Amanda Fielder and associate Margaret Jozwiak present on The Flip Side: Best Practices to Reduce Risks of Employment Litigation (MISHRM Annual Conference)

DeVos Place

Like a lot of professional training, application of personnel management principles is often best learned “in the trenches” or by experience. This session will explore best practi...

Oct 2015
15
October 15, 2015

Partner Andrea Bernard and client Ann Harten of Haworth present on Increasing Your FLSA Budget, the Government Did (MISHRM Annual Conference)

DeVos Place

Employee classification revisions are happening. The Department of Labor received $11.8 billion in discretionary funding, including a budget increase of more than $41 million for the Wage and...

Sep 2015
15
September 15, 2015

Anatomy of a Discharge Case

Doherty Hotel, Clare, Michigan

As an HR professional, you are constantly provided with advice on best practices, but rarely get to see when those practices are not implemented. During this interactive seminar, yo...

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