Regulatory Compliance and Administrative Enforcement
Compliance can be a burden and enforcement actions can be taxing and distracting. However, both offer opportunities. These include recalibrating the labor-management or employee-employer relationship, increasing employee understanding and investment in the compliance process, demonstrating the organization’s commitment to certain interests and objectives deeply held and shared by its workers, and educating employees on the business considerations and other reasons behind certain decisions and actions that may otherwise be misunderstood.
Employers in our region face an increasingly dense thicket of rules and regulations imposed by federal, state and local regulatory and enforcement agencies. The latter include the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Washington Human Rights Commission, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, the federal Department of Labor, the Washington Department of Labor & Industries, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Washington Division of Occupational Safety and Health, to name only some. The rules and regulations extend to nearly every facet of the employment relationship, including hiring, compensation, benefits, discharge, and workplace safety. And many are less-than-intuitive in application, easy to overlook, and/or evolving. Consider the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. While the general purpose of these statutes is to promote corporate responsibility and the integrity, transparency, and reliability of financial reporting, they also contain anti-retaliation provisions which establish causes of action for workers who engage in certain protected activities. And the precise extent of these rights and remedies, including the interplay between the two statutes, is the subject of a growing body of conflicting judicial and administrative decisions.
Our lawyers are well versed in these myriad regulations and have substantial experience developing and implementing compliance strategies that advance business objectives while meeting legal requirements. We understand the practical significance of providing representation that is consistent with, and where possible, advances the broader business concerns of each client. With clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to sole proprietorships, and including both public and private, for profit and not-for-profit, we have deep experience managing the nuances of compliance issues across all sectors of the economy.
We place a particular premium on offering quick and effective solutions in recognition of the fact that employment and labor issues that initially appear to be modest or fairly contained can rapidly expand and escalate. And we recognize that clients want concrete advice, direction and recommendation, not a broad recitation of issues or options. We collaborate with our clients, but we also provide leadership through complex or uncertain circumstances.
Our practical advice regarding regulatory compliance issues is informed by our enforcement experience. We have successfully represented employers in administrative enforcement actions and other adversarial proceedings across the full spectrum of laws described above. Our work in this area includes preparing position statements, presenting testimony and other evidence at administrative hearings, preparing for and defending against compliance audits, and challenging the validity of administrative rules and regulations in court.