Colleges and universities are impacted by complicated human resources and legal issues that have become even more challenging in these difficult economic times. Littler represents scores of educational institutions throughout the nation, and many of our lawyers are well-experienced in the unique intersection of higher education law and employment and labor law. 

We represent both private and public schools – from community colleges to statewide university systems – and know how to work within the special constraints and imperatives of these institutions. We assist our clients with virtually every type of employment and labor issue, including promotion and tenure reviews, shared governance concerns, labor initiatives involving faculty and graduate students, reductions-in-force, and leave of absence issues.

Our Lawyers

Many of our lawyers are nationally recognized for their work in higher education. Several  have served as general counsel, vice president or other high-level positions at prominent schools, gaining invaluable hands-on experience in administration, human resources, and employee and labor issues.

Because of our breadth and depth of experience, we can identify potential issues and help our clients take preventive measures with resources that include our own employer training programs. Our lawyers are also frequently called upon to speak to associations of higher education lawyers, human resources professionals, and business officers.

Labor and Employment Issues

Not only do we skillfully advise and defend higher education clients on a myriad of employment and labor law matters, we do so with a full appreciation of the unique challenges that university senior officers and general counsel face attempting to manage these sensitive issues in the higher education environment.  Examples of the challenges we routinely handle include:

  • Defense of discrimination suits, whistleblower claims and retaliation charges;
  • Collective bargaining negotiations, arbitrations, union organizing drives, and unfair labor practice cases;
  • Affirmative action requirements and annual reports that must be prepared for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP);
  • Faculty issues such as tenure disputes, employment discrimination suits and faculty misconduct;
  • Advice regarding policies requiring a unique higher education perspective, such as policies on intellectual property, social networking, and employee committees;
  • Advice regarding  efforts to attract and retain a diverse workforce and provision of compensation and benefits that will retain the institution’s most valued employees;
  • Training for supervisors and managers (including faculty), as well as employees, regarding freedom from harassment  and workplace investigations;
  • Graduate student unionization drives, negotiations and labor board proceedings;
  • Peer review procedures;
  • FLSA compliance, wage and hour litigation and other compensation compliance issues;
  • Employee benefits, executive compensation and related tax and regulatory compliance concerns;
  • Immigration advice, compliance, and representation to facilitate the efficient movement of employees from one country to another;
  • Compliance with Title VII, ADA, FLSA, HIPAA and other state and federal laws.

Whether the challenge is a class action lawsuit involving claims of unpaid overtime, representation of a university during union negotiations, or compliance with the myriad of employment and benefits related regulatory requirements, Littler has the depth of knowledge and experience to help senior administrators and legal counsel solve problems and fulfill their educational mission.

Higher Education Contacts

Darren Gibson


Barbara A. Gross


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