Companies facing complex, high-profile employment disputes have a lot on the line. In addition to financial exposure, a business needs to be concerned about its reputation with the public, its workforce and its customers. Litigating these disputes requires both a delicate touch and an aggressive stance, which is why employers nationwide rely on Dowd Bennett to defend their most serious employment and ERISA-related lawsuits.
Our litigators defend companies in class actions and against individual claims of discrimination, harassment, disparate treatment, disparate impact and retaliation under the Missouri Human Rights Act, Title VII and Section 1981; wage and hour claims under the Missouri Minimum Wage Law and the Fair Labor Standards Act; and wrongful termination claims in both the public policy and whistleblower contexts.
We also defend against allegations of ERISA violations in cases that range from individual claims for benefits to massive class actions alleging mismanagement of 401(k) plans and entitlement to benefits after a company’s change in control.
On the plaintiff side, we represent employers bringing claims for all types of breaches of employment contracts, including violations of noncompete agreements, nonsolicitation agreements and relocation agreements. We represent corporations at every level of the state and federal judicial system in trial and on appeal.
Dowd Bennett lawyers represent clients from the start of employment issues as well. We have a reputation for exercising discretion and good judgment in investigations. Employers — including sports teams, financial institutions, universities, nonprofits and retailers — retain us to conduct internal investigations in cases involving alleged violations of the law or internal corporate policies. We also represent clients responding to charges filed with the EEOC, the U.S. Department of Labor and similarly situated state agencies.
In November 2015, a St. Louis county jury returned a unanimous defense verdict in favor of Missouri Baptist Medical Center on a plaintiff’s claim of retaliation in violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act. Dowd Bennett attorneys had already obtained a summary judgment for Missouri Baptist on the plaintiff’s claim for race discrimination.
In September 2015, a Laclede County judge ordered the dismissal of a disability discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination lawsuit brought under the Missouri Human Rights Act against Emerson Climate Technologies and Scroll Compressors LLC.
In May 2014, a St. Louis City jury found in favor of Anheuser-Busch on Francine Katz’s claims of gender discrimination. Ms. Katz was the highest ranking female at Anheuser-Busch and claimed gender discrimination in pay from 2002 through 2008 and sought approximately $19M in actual damages.
In December 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit found in favor of Anheuser-Busch on a claim for ERISA benefits under a severance plan. The district court granted summary judgment and dismissed the plaintiff’s state law claim. Following oral argument, the Eight Circuit held that the abuse of discretion stands was correctly applied in reviewing and upholding the ERISA plan administrator’s decision to deny benefits.
In April 2010, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri found in favor of Walmart on a claim of age discrimination brought by the EEOC.
In December 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit found in favor of Walmart on a claim of disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The district court was faced with an unanswered question: Whether an employer who has an established policy to fill vacant job positions with the most qualified applicant is required to reassign a qualified, disabled employee to a vacant position, although the disabled employee is not the most qualified applicant for the position. On cross motions for summary judgment, the district court ruled in favor of the plaintiff. Following oral argument, the Eight Circuit reversed and remanded the decision direction the district court to enter judgment in favor of Walmart. It held that the ADA’s reassignment provision did not require Walmart to turn away a superior applicant.
Dowd Bennett is a litigation firm with extensive courtroom experience. Led by trial-seasoned lawyers, including former federal prosecutors and judicial law clerks, our team shares tenacity, a passion for seeing cases through trial and a complete commitment to client service.