As an experienced advisor licensed in multiple jurisdictions, Nicole Bermel Dunlap has practiced labor and employment law since entering private practice in 2009. Most recently, Nicole served as in-house employment counsel for a Fortune 200 managed care company. She was one of a two-person team advising human resources and other business partners on a range of employment issues including:
- Discrimination and hostile work environment allegations
- Leave and accommodation requests
- Employee terminations
- Noncompete agreements
- Hiring policies and practices
- Other employment policy-related inquiries
Nicole also managed the investigation and early case assessment protocols for threatened and actual employment litigation and directly responded to both federal and state charges of discrimination, including regularly investigating and preparing position statements.
Nicole also has extensive experience as outside counsel in both employment and labor litigation. Coupled with her in-house knowledge, she offers a unique perspective that enables her to appreciate the day-to-day challenges her clients face, to effectively problem-solve potential legal and business solutions, and to develop litigation strategies consistent with each client’s unique philosophy. She has defended employers in a variety of different industries, including healthcare, transportation, manufacturing and service industries. Additionally, she has litigated all facets of employment claims including:
- Race, gender, national origin, religion, age, and disability claims
- Whistleblower and other retaliation claims
- Disability and religious accommodations
- Restrictive covenants
- Leave issues
Nicole particularly enjoys partnering with her clients to obtain results-oriented outcomes, including taking the initiative to engage in early case assessment and to drive the litigation consistent with client objectives.
Highly skilled at developing overall case and trial strategies for her clients, Nicole has substantial experience in labor litigation and has first-chaired several labor arbitrations and served as second chair for multiple unfair labor practice bench trials before administrative law judges. In addition, she has gone to trial on issues related to the enforcement of a noncompete agreement in a federal jury trial. In each case, Nicole was an integral part of the trial team, involved in developing trial strategy, managing documents, preparing and questioning witnesses, and preparing necessary written pre- and post-trial persuasive arguments.
Prior to entering private practice, Nicole served as the judicial clerk to the Hon. David R. Farmer of the Tennessee Court of Appeals; interned with the Hon. Diane K. Vescovo, Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court, Western District of Tennessee; interned at the National Labor Relations Board, District 26; and served on the editorial board of the University of Memphis Law Review. Nicole’s broad array of clerkships has given her insight into the judiciary that continues to guide her day-to-day litigation practices.