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Labor and Employment Practice

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The modern workplace demands strict compliance with a vast array of ever-changing state and federal laws and regulations.

It is essential to have as your partner highly qualified legal counsel who can guide you through the complex labor and employment law issues that often arise. Robinson & McElwee is uniquely equipped to fill that role.

Throughout our history, we have enjoyed a highly diversified and successful labor and employment law practice dedicated to ensuring that West Virginia employers, our clients, receive superior advice and counsel designed to prevent disruptive and expensive litigation. When litigation becomes an unfortunate reality, we have extensive experience in all aspects of labor and employment law.

Each of our labor and employment attorneys has gained broad, hands-on experience in the representation of West Virginia employers before various tribunals with jurisdiction over labor and employment cases. We routinely represent employers in all types of legal and human resource counseling and labor and employment litigation.

Because of the wide range of Labor & Employment matters Robinson & McElwee handles, a separate contact has been listed for each area.

Robinson & McElwee’s clientele is diverse, and we are routinely involved in handling a wide array of cases for West Virginia employers ranging from small businesses to multi-national corporations. We are careful to get to know each client and its business. At the forefront of all representation is a focus on the client’s objectives and the specific solution or strategy that will provide it with maximum value and benefit.

Please contact Joseph M. Price at jmp@ramlaw.com or 304-347-8306 for more information regarding our Labor & Employment Department.

Robinson & McElwee’s attorneys defend employers in discrimination issues involving the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), ERISA and COBRA.

Whether a discrimination or harassment claim arises because of gender, age, disability or other protected category, Robinson & McElwee works to protect the rights of employers.

Our Labor & Employment Practice Group counsels with regard to employment contracts, including non-compete agreements, separation, release and waiver agreements, and security of trade secrets.

Robinson & McElwee’s Labor & Employment attorneys draft and review employee handbooks to ensure employers maintain consistent workplace policy and set clear standards. Robinson & McElwee also represents employers in collective bargaining matters.

Accurate and effective management of pension and employee benefit plans is an integral part of a West Virginia employer’s overall labor relations and human resource program. ERISA and related statutes and regulations have converted what once was a simple and effective way to offer employees stability and security into a complicated web of financial, legal and fiduciary duties.

Reflecting to West Virginia’s employer community, Robinson & McElwee’s clientele is diverse. We are routinely involved in handling a wide array of employee benefits issues for West Virginia employers ranging from small shops to multi-national corporations and their insurers.

Our attorneys provide comprehensive legal advice, counseling and representation to employers, plan administrators and fiduciaries, insurers and benefit plans involving the following issues:

  • COBRA violations
  • ERISA discrimination litigation
  • ERISA litigation involving denial of benefits and breach of fiduciary duty
  • Health and welfare benefit plan administration
  • HIPPA and other employee privacy issues
  • Plan operation and compliance
  • Plan terminations
  • Retirement and deferred compensation plans

Robinson & McElwee handles employee benefits litigation of varying degrees of complexity for employee benefit plans, some involving a single individual and others brought by a large class of plan participants. Whatever the size or complexity of a matter, we collaborate with our clients, beginning with an early and ongoing dialogue between the client and the firm’s attorneys, to determine the appropriate strategy to achieve the most efficient and cost-effective resolution. We have the ability to favorably resolve most cases efficiently prior to trial, and at trial to present cases in a clear, persuasive manner.

Please contact David S. Russo at dsr@ramlaw.com or call 304-347-8350 for more information regarding our employee benefits practice group.

West Virginia is a dual-file state where charges are filed simultaneously at the federal level with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and through the West Virginia Human Rights Commission at the state level.

Robinson & McElwee attorneys handle all aspects of employment-related arbitration and litigation before both the EEOC and WV Human Rights Commission.

Robinson & McElwee represents West Virginia employers and insurers in federal black lung cases. Our federal black lung defense attorneys and non-legal personnel are experienced in providing effective, cost efficient representation. The Robinson & McElwee Federal Black Lung Practice Group provides clients with the advantage of experienced attorney representation while experienced non-legal personnel manage the litigation files and gather evidence. This reduces litigation costs.

Our federal black lung defense group provides a broad spectrum of services, including the defense of claims at the Department of Labor level, the Office of Administrative Law Judges, the Benefits Review Board, the federal circuit courts of appeals and the United States Supreme Court of Appeals.

Robinson & McElwee’s federal black lung attorneys have also been involved in representing employers in negotiations involving the sale or purchase of coal properties with regard to provisions addressing prior and subsequent liability for federal black lung claims. We have also consulted self-insurers regarding their self-administration of claims and addressed insurance coverage issues, and we monitor case law, legislative and regulatory changes.

For more information regarding our federal black lung defense practice, please contact Michael A. Kawash at mak@ramlaw.com or call 304-347-8315.

State and federal employment statutes and regulations impose a wide array of obligations and attendant risks on West Virginia employers. Among the top priorities for most employers is the avoidance of litigation surrounding hiring, discipline, promotions and demotions, terminations, and occupational safety and health. Robinson & McElwee routinely provides advice and training to West Virginia employers and human resource professionals regarding cost-effective strategies for preventing potential litigation regarding human resource issues.

Our attorneys, some of whom also possess advanced human resource degrees or instruct post-graduate courses on labor relations and human resources, routinely help clients avoid employment litigation through:

  • Development of up-to-date human resource policies and procedures
  • Preparation of employee handbooks and personnel policy manuals
  • Management training programs relating to:
    • Affirmative action
    • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
    • Employment issues for supervisors of bargaining unit employees
    • Employment issues for union free supervisors
    • ERISA
    • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
    • Legal trends, judicial developments, and statutory and regulatory compliance
    • National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) procedures
    • OSHA compliance
    • Risk reduction in hiring and discharge cases
    • Sexual harassment avoidance, policies and procedures
    • Whistleblower issues
  • Preparation of separation, release, and waiver agreements
  • Review and development of employment agreements

Litigation can be avoided or reduced and attendant cost savings realized through the combination of management training with ensuring that employment policies and procedures are up-to-date and fully compliant with West Virginia state and federal law.

Please contact Joseph M. Price at jmp@ramlaw.com or call 304-347-8306 for more information regarding our human resources practice.

Nearly every employment decision by West Virginia employers, from wage structure and work rules to restructuring and downsizing, can have significant impact on a company’s ability to avoid union organization. We have extensive experience in such matters, as well as those related to the grievance and arbitration process and at the negotiating table.

Robinson & McElwee works closely with West Virginia employers in dealing with:

  • Collective bargaining negotiations
  • Grievances and arbitration
  • Labor Management Relations Act litigation
  • Maintaining a union-free workplace
  • National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) proceedings
  • Picketing issues
  • Pre- and post-hiring employee relations issues
  • Reductions in force and reorganizations
  • Strategic planning related to “culture change” within unionized businesses
  • Strike planning
  • Unfair labor practices
  • Union elections
  • Work stoppages

Robinson & McElwee’s clientele is diverse, and we are routinely involved in handling a wide array of cases for West Virginia employers ranging from small businesses to large, multi-national corporations. We are careful to get to know each client, its business, and its industry. At the forefront of all we do is a focus on the client’s objectives in a particular matter, and the development of alternative strategies that will provide maximum flexibility and the greatest chance of meeting objectives at the lowest cost.

Please contact Joseph M. Price at jmp@ramlaw.com or call 304-347-8306 for more information regarding our labor management relations and litigation practice group.

In workplace health and safety matters, our attorneys help employers in the compliance stage to maintain a safe environment, as well as record keeping and reporting of issues. We counsel clients to be proactive in compliance and safety standards. Additionally, our attorneys coordinate litigation and defense in matters before OSHA, workers’ compensation filings boards, and in courtroom litigation.

West Virginia’s workers’ compensation laws and administrative procedures have evolved rapidly during the past several years. Compliance and insurance issues, workplace safety, claims handling and defense, and payment of compensation for occupational injuries and diseases, including occupational pneumoconiosis, all create a great burden on West Virginia employers and their insurance companies. In light of the significant costs associated with occupational injuries and diseases, it is in the best interests of every employer, insurance carrier and third-party administrator to ensure compliance and claims handling are a priority.

Robinson & McElwee’s West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Practice Group has tremendous experience in handling and effectively addressing the myriad workers’ compensation issues present in every workplace. For nearly 30 years, we have enjoyed a substantial West Virginia workers’ compensation practice through which we have gained a unique understanding of the complex relationships among employers, insurance carriers, claims administrators, and employees.

We understand the legal and human resource issues that arise with return-to-work complexities associated with occupational injuries and diseases. We routinely develop solutions when workers’ compensation issues collide with state disability discrimination statutes, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

We counsel our clients both before and after a claim is filed, and assist employers, insurance carriers, and third-party administrators in the development of creative, efficient solutions, including:

  • Claims defense
  • Claims litigation before the West Virginia Office of Judges, Board of Review, and Supreme Court
  • Cost reduction programs
  • “Deliberate Intent” litigation
  • Discipline or termination issues
  • Employee rehabilitation
  • Insurance coverage issues
  • Medical management and treatment
  • Return-to-work planning and accommodations
  • Self-insurance matters
  • Subrogation
  • Temporary total disability, permanent partial disability, and permanent total disability
  • Workers’ compensation discrimination and retaliation
  • Workers’ compensation management training
  • Workplace compliance and safety issues

Robinson & McElwee represents a diverse clientele, and we are routinely involved in handling a wide array of West Virginia workers’ compensation issues for employers, insurance carriers, and third party administrators. Our workers’ compensation attorneys and staff take time to get to know each client and its unique circumstances, including the nuances of each client’s industry and workplace. The Workers’ Compensation Practice Group at Robinson & McElwee provides aggressive representation designed to ensure that each client’s interests are protected to the greatest degree possible.

Please contact Michael A. Kawash at mak@ramlaw.com or call 304-347-8315 if you have any questions about our West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Practice Group.

Participating Lawyers

Mr. Gallagher is a member of the Business & Corporate practice area. Mr. Gallagher serves Robinson & McElwee as Chair of the firm's Litigation Department. Mr. Gallagher has practiced law for more than 30 years and is well-positioned to help clients with navigating this area of the law.
Mr. Gallagher serves Robinson & McElwee as Chair of the firm's Litigation Department. Mr. Gallagher has defended major companies during the past 30 years in a variety of labor and employment litigation matters involving both class actions and individual claims alleging violations of both federal and West Virginia wage, hour and discrimination statutes. These major companies have included those in the communication, manufacturing, forestry, wood products and chemical industries.
Mr. Gallagher serves Robinson & McElwee as Chair of the firm's Litigation Department. Mr. Gallagher has defended large and small companies in major injury, construction, predatory lending, insurance and toxic tort matters at both the trial and appellate levels. These cases have included allegations of overweight truck accidents, defective construction, manufacturing injuries, defective automotive claims, intentional injury causes of action and toxic torts involving environmental and property damage claims.
Mr. Grigoraci's practice focuses primarily on the representation and counseling of employers in Workers' Compensation and federal black lung matters, and a wide array of labor and employment issues. Mr. Grigoraci’s practice also includes civil litigation. He has handled virtually all issues that arise in Workers’ Compensation claims, including: treatment; compensability; indemnity benefits; permanent total disability; claim re-openings and closures; return to work; and “deliberate intent” (mandolidis) claims. Mr. Grigoraci also has significant experience defending against federal black lung claims. Mr. Grigoraci’s experience in civil litigation includes preparing and responding to discovery, preparing motions and legal memoranda, attending hearings, and taking and defending depositions. In his practice, Mr. Grigoraci appears before the West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Office of Judges, the West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Board of Review, the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Administrative Law Judges, the U.S. Department of Labor Benefits Review Board, the Circuit Courts of West Virginia, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Mr. Kawash is a member of the Labor & Employment practice group. Mr. Kawash has defended workers’ and unemployment compensation claims for clients in a wide variety of industries during the past 20 years, as well as wrongful discharge cases and claims before the West Virginia Human Rights Commission. Mr. Kawash has written on and spoken to various audiences on Labor & Employment law and has participated in several seminars. Mr. Kawash is a founding member of the St. Thomas More Catholic Lawyers Society and is a member of the Board of Directors of St. Paul Radio Co. and South Charleston Little League; he is active as an adult leader in Boy Scouts of America; he has served on the Board of Directors of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra and he is a former chairman of the Kanawha County Republican Party. In 2009, Governor Joe Manchin appointed Mr. Kawash to the three-member Probable Cause Review Board of the West Virginia Ethics Commission, and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has re-appointed him to that position. He also serves as the West Virginia State Bar President’s designated appointee to the West Virginia Access to Justice Commission.
Mr. Price has over three decades of experience in the litigation of labor and employment cases before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the West Virginia Human Rights Commission, and in state and federal courts throughout West Virginia, in addition to high risk personal injury, wrongful death, “deliberate intent” and significant class actions. He has presented more than 200 employment cases at trial (jury and non-jury) and arbitration, including “wrongful discharge,” discrimination cases (all types), ERISA claims, employee benefits litigation, FMLA cases, Unfair Labor Practice cases (before the National Labor Relations Board and on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit), MSHA discrimination cases, cases before the West Virginia Coal Mine Safety Board of Appeals, injunctive proceedings, labor dispute cases and damage claims arising out of work stoppages. Mr. Price has authored numerous articles concerning employment law issues and is AV 5/5 rated by Martindale-Hubbell, and is listed as a "Top Rated Employment & Labor Lawyer" in the SuperLawyers publication.
Mr. Price has over 30 years of experience in the litigation of labor and employment cases before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the West Virginia Human Rights Commission, and in state and federal courts throughout West Virginia, in addition to high risk personal injury, wrongful death, “deliberate intent” and significant class actions. Mr. Price serves as Chair for Robinson & McElwee's Labor & Employment Department. He has presented more than 200 employment cases at trial (jury and non-jury) and arbitration, including “wrongful discharge,” discrimination cases (all types), ERISA claims, employee benefits litigation, FMLA cases, Unfair Labor Practice cases (before the National Labor Relations Board and on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit), MSHA discrimination cases, cases before the West Virginia Coal Mine Safety Board of Appeals, injunctive proceedings, labor dispute cases and damage claims arising out of work stoppages.
Mr. Price has over 30 years of litigation experience. In addition to employment cases in state and federal courts throughout West Virginia, he has served as first chair in high risk personal injury, wrongful death, deliberate intent trials. His work has included, representing a major metal products company in a significant class action brought by more than 700 workers against their former employer seeking pension and welfare benefits. He has presented more than 200 cases at trial (jury and non-jury) and arbitration. He has served as trial counsel before the National Labor Relations Board in unfair labor practice cases, including a three-week hearing involving seven separate cases that the Board had combined for trial. Mr. Price served as a member of the litigation team defending a significant class action brought against a major oil company, and successfully defended a petroleum processer against claims brought by an employee who alleged he had been discharged for reporting environmental violations.
Mr. Russo has more than 24 years of experience in the litigation of employment cases (including “wrongful discharge,” discrimination cases, ERISA benefits cases, federal black lung cases and others) and cases before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, West Virginia Human Rights Commission and the National Labor Relations Board. Mr. Russo also acts as counsel in high risk personal injury and death cases, complex class actions, environmental and regulatory issues, cases involving complex insurance and reinsurance issues, (particularly arising in the oil and gas industry). He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree (Italian Literature) from Bowdoin College and received his legal training at Oxford University, Corpus Christi College, England. Mr. Russo serves as a member of the Democratic Executive Committee, City of Charleston.
Mr. Russo is a member of the Labor & Employment practice area. Mr. Russo has practiced law for 25 years and is well-positioned to help clients with navigating this area of the law.
Mr. Russo is a member of the Litigation practice area. Mr. Russo has practiced law for 25 years and is well-positioned to help clients with navigating this area of the law.