David L. Jones
John D. Davis

Labor & Employment

The firm's Labor and Employment team has management-oriented practices addressing all aspects of the employee/employer relationship.

We offer proactive and preventive resources for employers and HR professionals, including employee and manager training, e-newsletters, employment law luncheons and webinars, and website articles.

Class and Collective Actions Under the Employment Laws

Wright Lindsey Jennings provides innovative, aggressive advocacy to defend our clients in class and collective action litigation under the various employment laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act. Our labor and employment attorneys have been involved in a wide range of complex litigation arising under both state and federal laws and understand the key legal issues that arise in these cases. We develop a sophisticated defense tailored to each case and each client’s individual needs.

Recognizing the extraordinary expense such cases pose for our clients, we work in conjunction with our paralegal and support staff to use the latest litigation support technology to reduce litigation costs and maximize efficiency, particularly in the often-difficult area of e-discovery.

We have a record of success in defeating class and collective actions, including cases in which our attorneys:

  • Defended a regional energy transmission company in wage and hour claims filed under the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act in state court. The court denied the plaintiff’s motion to certify a class, and the company eventually settled with the plaintiff on an individual basis.
  • Defended a regional mental health provider in wage and hour claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act in federal court. The court denied the plaintiff’s motion to certify a collective action.
  • Defended a regional oil and gas company in wage and hour claims asserting both collective and class actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act and Arkansas Minimum Wage Act. The Court denied the plaintiffs’ motions for certification of a collective action, and ultimately the plaintiff non-suited his individual wage and hour claims.
  • Defended a state-wide restaurant chain in wage and hour claims brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act in federal court. The Court granted summary judgment to the restaurant on the main claim related to an alleged illegal tip pool and denied the plaintiffs’ motion for certification of a collective action on the remaining side work wage and hour claims.

Covenants Not to Compete and Trade Secret Litigation

Wright Lindsey Jennings’ attorneys assist clients with developing policies and agreements to protect both our clients’ business interests and trade secrets.  When needed, our experienced attorneys also assist clients in enforcing or defending non-compete and trade secret claims.

Employee Leave Under the FMLA, ADA and Workers’ Compensation Law

Employers face a complicated web of laws that impact employee leave.  With the extensive know-how and experience of our labor and employment attorneys, Wright Lindsey Jennings can help.  We frequently advise clients on complicated  leave issues involving the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Arkansas Civil Rights Act (ACRA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Arkansas Workers Compensation laws.

Employment Agreements and Handbooks

From day-to-day guidance to defending employers in the courtroom, our labor and employment team works in every aspect of labor and employment law. Part of the team’s work involves assisting our clients in preparing or updating employment agreements, personnel policies and handbooks (including provisions dealing with medical marijuana) in order to comply with federal and state law.

These materials can be essential in protecting a company against a variety of employment claims, including harassment and wage and hour claims related to employees working off the clock.

Employment Litigation and Counseling

Public and private employers alike have a variety of laws to follow covering civil rights and employment. With the extensive know-how of the labor and employment attorneys and the breadth of their practices, Wright Lindsey Jennings is uniquely qualified to handle a multitude of employment and civil rights matters.

In fact, our attorneys have litigated and tried a variety of cases under federal and state law, including cases brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Arkansas Civil Rights Act, the Fair Labor Standard Act, the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Equal Pay Act and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983.

Our labor and employment attorneys place a premium on preventing employee claims in the first place and frequently advise clients on a variety of employment issues, including harassment investigations and leave issues involving the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. We also offer training to managers and employees in order to educate clients on the various employment laws and ensure that best practices are being followed.

ERISA & Employee Benefits

Our labor and employment attorneys have experience representing clients in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and employee benefits issues regarding nonpayment of benefits and breaches of fiduciary duties, including litigation resulting from these issues. We have represented employers, pension plans, plan administrators, plan sponsors, fiduciaries, third party administrators, insurance companies and welfare plans, both fully insured and self-insured.

Government Agency Investigations (EEOC, DOL, OSHA and DOE)

Public and private employers alike have a variety of laws to follow covering civil rights and employment. With the extensive know-how of the labor and employment attorneys and the breadth of their practices, Wright Lindsey Jennings is uniquely qualified to defend clients facing government investigations, including those by the EEOC, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour and OSHA Divisions, and the Department of Education.

Our labor and employment attorneys place a premium on preventing employee claims in the first place and frequently advise clients on a variety of employment issues, including harassment investigations and leave issues involving the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. We also offer training to managers and employees in order to educate clients on the various employment laws and ensure that best practices are being followed.

Harassment Counseling and Litigation

Appropriate handling of harassment claims has never been more important. The reputation and legal risks presented by these sensitive claims cannot be underestimated. Our lawyers have extensive experience handling harassment lawsuits, EEOC charges and internal complaints. Workplace violence and bullying claims are on the rise, and we help companies navigate those issues as well.

Prevention of workplace harassment is a top priority for businesses and their employees. Our attorneys develop policies and procedures and provide training to ensure that our clients’ employees fully understand their rights and obligations relative to these issues.


Business Immigration

In today’s business environment, many companies recruit from a global workforce and need to move key personnel to different work sites, both inside and out of the U.S. At Wright Lindsey Jennings, we are dedicated to crafting solutions to meet our clients’ immigration needs. We offer a wide variety of immigration services and guidance, including:

  • Temporary Work Visas
  • Employment Based Immigration (“Green Card”)
  • I-9 Compliance & Audit Representation
  • Practical Training Employment for Students
Temporary Work (Nonimmigrant) Visas

Companies looking to hire a citizen of a foreign country for a temporary or fixed period of time must file a petition for a nonimmigrant visa with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). There are many categories of temporary work visas, depending on the type of position available or the foreign national’s country of citizenship. Common temporary work visas include:

  • H-1B: Workers in a Speciality Occupation.
  • H-2A: Temporary or seasonal agricultural workers.
  • H-2B: Temporary or seasonal non-agricultural workers.
  • L-1: Intracompany transferees in managerial or executive positions or in positions utilizing specialized knowledge.
  • O-1: Persons with extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics and motion picture or TV production.
  • P-1: Internationally recognized athletes, entertainers, or members of internationally recognized entertainment groups.
  • Q-1: Persons participating in an international cultural exchange program for the purpose of providing practical training, employment, and to share the history, culture, and traditions of the alien’s home country.
  • R-1: Religious workers.
  • TN: North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) temporary professionals from Mexico and Canada.

Many of these visas are subject to numerical caps, have strict timing limitations, or require certification from the Department of Labor before you can file a petition with USCIS. Our experienced staff has secured visas on behalf of employers in a wide variety of industries, including manufacturing and design, information technology and health care.

Employment-Based Immigration (Green Card)

There are several employment-based options to become a permanent resident, many of which require the sponsorship of a U.S. employer. Each preference is a unique, complex and time-consuming process.

  • First Preference (EB-1): Persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors or researchers; and multinational executives and managers.
  • Second Preference (EB-2): Persons who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or for persons with exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business.
  • Third Preference (EB-3): Professionals, skilled workers, and other workers.
  • Fourth Preference (EB-4): “Special immigrants,” which includes certain religious workers, employees of U.S. foreign service posts, retired employees of international organizations, alien minors who are wards of courts in the United States, and other classes of aliens.
  • Fifth Preference (EB-5): Business investors who invest $1 million or $500,000 (if the investment is made in a targeted employment area) in a new commercial enterprise that employs at least 10 full-time U.S. workers.

If you are thinking about sponsoring a foreign employee to work permanently in the U.S., our attorneys can help you determine the appropriate preference category and then outline a strategy for success.

Practical Training Employment for Students

Foreign nationals admitted to the U.S. with a F-1 or M-1 visa may be eligible to engage in practical training employment related to their field of study. Generally, there are three types of off-campus employment available to F-1 students:

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT);
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) (pre-completion or post-completion); and
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT).

M-1 students may engage in practical training only after completing their studies. Both F-1 and M-1 students must have prior authorization from their Designated School Official (DSO) before they can begin working. Many employers initially hire foreign employees on OPT before sponsoring him/her for an H-1B visa. However, compliance with practical training requirements can be critical when seeking a change of status from F-1 to H-1B.  Our attorneys can help ensure that these requirements are met so that you have the opportunity to extend your employment relationship beyond the limited practical training period.

Internal Investigations

Employee claims present significant legal and reputation risks and can negatively impact a company’s performance. Promptly and thoroughly investigating complaints is essential. We can assist in developing appropriate processes for your company’s human resources or legal staff to follow when conducting internal investigations and provide behind-the-scenes advice. Alternatively, our attorneys can conduct the investigation, as we often do when a member of senior management is the subject of the complaint. We have developed investigation protocols designed to protect the dignity of all parties and the company’s business reputation.

Labor Management Relations

For more than 30 years, our attorneys have represented companies in connection with a variety of labor relations matters, including union avoidance, collective bargaining, labor arbitration, NLRB charges, labor disputes, and work stoppages.

We provide assistance with negotiating collective bargaining agreements with unions. After a collective bargaining agreement is in place, we provide support to the company in the interpretation and administration of the agreement.

If a grievance is filed by an employee or the union under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement, we provide guidance to the company on processing the grievance through the grievance procedure. If the grievance is submitted to binding arbitration, we act as the company’s representative at the arbitration hearing.

Medical Marijuana & Industrial Hemp

Since Arkansas legalized medical marijuana in November of 2016, a multi-disciplinary team of attorneys began working to advise our clients on the diverse range of issues raised by the emerging program. We offer experienced counsel and representation on every aspect of medical marijuana in Arkansas, including:

  • Updating employment policies and HR practices;
  • Advising traditional businesses on issues raised by transactions with a medical marijuana business;
  • Assisting in the application process for a medical marijuana business license;
  • Representing medical marijuana businesses before city, county and state government regulatory bodies
  • Representing entities or potential investors in a medical marijuana-related business investment, including securities compliance; and
  • Advising medical marijuana businesses on state tax compliance, Section 280E and other tax implications.

For employment-related medical marijuana issues or concerns, contact:

Stuart Jackson

For all other medical marijuana matters, contact:

Erika Gee

Recent Publications:

Disclaimer: WLJ advises its clients on state laws regarding medical marijuana in order to facilitate compliance with those laws. Although Arkansas has decriminalized the possession, sale, and distribution of marijuana by individuals and entities that have obtained appropriate licensure from the state, the conduct decriminalized under state law remains illegal under federal law, including but not limited to the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq. Federal enforcement policy may at times defer to state law in not enforcing conflicting federal laws, but businesses and individuals should be aware that compliance with state law in no way assures compliance with federal law, and there is a risk that conflicting federal laws may change or be enforced in the future.

Post-Merger Integration

In today’s business world, mergers and acquisitions are common-place. But, there is more to the agreement than closing the deal. Companies must also merge the policies, benefits and personnel of two or more companies into a new one.

We take a collaborative approach when assisting our clients with this process, drawing on the experience of our Business and Labor & Employment Teams (and outside benefits and change management experts when needed) to help ensure the business goals of the merger or acquisition are not hindered by “culture” issues or legal landmines under the laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service or any other government agency.

Surveillance in the Workplace

Increasingly, businesses rely on workplace surveillance to protect their interests and the interests of their employees. Surveillance arises out of and intersects with a variety of issues in today’s modern workplace, including the protection of trade secrets and confidential information, data security and cybersecurity, deficient employee job performance, the potential for workplace injuries, and the protection of employees from harassment and violence in the workplace. The attorneys at Wright Lindsey Jennings are well-versed in balancing the interests of businesses and the privacy rights of employees. We can help you develop workplace surveillance protocols that comply with state and federal law and can also assist with communicating those protocols to your employees, as needed.

Wage & Hour

Wage and hour claims are increasingly a significant risk for employers. Our lawyers take a practical approach to wage and hour issues that focuses on our clients’ business needs and compliance with state and federal law. Our attorneys have extensive experience litigating wage and hour claims.  We have defended clients in governmental agency investigations, individual claims, and numerous class and collective actions.  We also have experience with alternative dispute mechanisms used before and during litigation.

Additionally, our attorneys provide training and advise clients on a variety of day-to-day matters to ensure compliance with wage and hour laws, including developing policies and procedures, conducting internal wage and hour audits, and reviewing classification of employees and independent contractors.

Workers' Compensation

Our labor and employment attorneys have vast experience representing workers’ compensation carriers, third-party administrators and self-insured employers in disputed claims before the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission and the Arkansas appellate courts.

These team members also assist clients in evaluating and resolving workers’ compensation claims through binding settlements approved by the Commission.

Workforce Training

Our attorneys regularly train managers and employees on a full range of employment issues. Training topics include discrimination/harassment, wage and hour issues, accommodations, medical leave, interviewing/hiring, documentation requirements and Arkansas’s medical marijuana law. Implicit bias training is also available, which has been of growing interest to companies whose employees regularly interface with the public.