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Covington’s international employment group advises a wide range of multinational companies on strategic, day-to-day and transaction-specific employment, employee benefit and global mobility issues.
Our expertise encompasses legal aspects of M&A, restrictive covenants, codes of conduct, HR policies, employment and atypical worker contracts, and compensation plans.
Our U.S. employment lawyers have an outstanding record of success in U.S. employment litigation—defending against nationwide class actions, resolving employment disputes privately or through mediation, and negotiating resolutions with federal agencies.
Our global reach gives us a deep understanding of the various models of employment regulation, and our lawyers possess in-depth knowledge of discrimination laws, collective employment rights, redundancy laws, working time compliance/overtime issues, and employment civil and contract claims that multinationals face. We also are able to call on a trusted network of employment counsel across the Middle East, Asia, South America and elsewhere, to provide the local expertise that our clients require while ensuring that advice is responsive, business-oriented and meets Covington’s standards.
We have investigated sensitive sexual harassment claims, conducted extensive employment audits, advised companies on the adoption of global and domestic employment policies appropriate to their business culture and drafted executive employment, share incentive plans, bonus and other compensation agreements.
Our U.S. employment litigation team includes a former Solicitor of the U.S. Department of Labor and our lawyers are recognized nationally and internationally as leaders in employment and ERISA law.
Assisted Microsoft with the integration of approximately 32,000 Nokia employees across 60 countries, following Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services business.
Drafted and implemented a global code of conduct and policies for Harley-Davidson addressing privacy, harassment, discrimination, the use of electronic communications and anti-corruption.
Won summary judgment and Ninth Circuit affirmance of a whistleblower/discrimination case brought against a major pharmaceutical company.
Provided guidance to a major technology and manufacturing company in connection with the unauthorized posting of employee personal information on a third-party webpage. Our efforts on behalf of the client included working with Internet service providers to remove the posted information and providing notice to potentially affected individuals and applicable state regulators.
Assisted a life sciences company with international assignments, including relevant cross-border corporate and individual tax risks and immigration requirements.
Represented Indivior plc in its $1.6 billion demerger transaction from Reckitt Benckiser Group plc and listing on the LSE.
Assisted with employment and variable compensation aspects of the hire of a European CEO for a FTSE-listed company.
We secured the reversal of a class certification order in a “stock drop” lawsuit claiming breaches of fiduciary duty in the administration of a company retirement savings plan.
Secured summary judgment for George Mason School of Law against sexual harassment and other discrimination claims by law school professor.
The U.S. Supreme Court held that a participant stated a colorable ERISA fiduciary breach claim for losses stemming from the alleged failure to implement investment directions for his 401(k) plan account. In a concurring opinion, Chief Justice Roberts cited our amicus brief for The ERISA Industry Committee in stating that such actions might need to be brought as benefits denial claims and subjected to exhaustion of administrative remedies.
Advised a New York-headquartered investment bank on an international assignment from the UK to China.
Obtained a complete jury verdict for an aerospace contractor accused of conspiring with the employee of a competitor to misappropriate trade secrets. The plaintiff had sought $30,000,000.
Devised a data privacy compliance program relating to international HR data processed by a US-headquartered multinational.
Structured a senior executive’s cross-border tax and employment arrangements for a U.S./UK clean tech company.
Defended claims threatened against a technology company in the US and the UK, involving alleged SOX whistleblower protections and unlawful detriment claims.
Successful defense of putative nationwide class action for race discrimination on behalf of financial advisors.
Advised a NYSE-listed corporation in relation to a Singaporean/UK expatriate dismissal.
Representation of UBS Financial Services in an employment discrimination class action brought on behalf of minority financial advisers.
Advised a Japanese technology client on the international employment, pensions and incentives aspects arising on the formation of a joint venture with operations in the US, Asia and Europe.
Advised Giorgio Armani S.p.A. on employment and benefits aspects of the acquisition of its retail and wholesale UK business from Club 21.
Provided international employment law advice to AstraZeneca in relation to its acquisition of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s interests in the companies’ global diabetes alliance across 40 jurisdictions.
Drafted and advanced legislation that became the Pension Protection Act of 2006. Since passage of the Act, we have been leading discussions with the US Treasury and the US IRS to resolve significant issues affecting hybrid pension plans and sponsors of those plans.
Represented Pixar and Disney in multi-defendant antitrust class actions alleging unlawful agreements among certain Silicon Valley firms and animation studios to limit their recruiting of each other’s employees.
Co-ordinated U.S., Dutch and German tax, employment, immigration and benefits advice in relation to a U.S. listing of a Dutch company and relocation of senior managers.
Successfully handled important ERISA litigation in the Supreme Court, including Conkright v. Frommert, 130 S. Ct. 1640 (2010) (requiring deference to the plan administrator’s interpretation of a plan, even though the administrator had previously relied on provisions that were not properly added to the plan), and Kennedy v. Plan Adm’r for Dupont Sav. & Invt. Plan, 129 S. Ct. 865 (2009) (applying ERISA’s “plan document” rule to affirm unanimously a plan administrator’s decision to follow a beneficiary designation that gave rights to a participant’s former spouse, even though a divorce decree had stated that the former spouse gave up her rights).
Conducted a pan-European and selective US survey of laws and regulations affecting an employer’s right to monitor employee’s Internet use and review electronic communications. We have also advised numerous clients on the law governing call recording and access to (and disclosure of) employee e-mail, including in connection with several personal crises and actions.
Won a jury trial for a major credit card firm, defending claims based on race and national origin discrimination; and he obtained an award of $265,000 in attorneys' fees against the law firm of plaintiff's counsel.
Advised Microsoft in relation to expatriate issues arising from post-acquisition integration with Nokia’s global mobile phone business.
Won a multi-million dollar trial verdict for a government contractor arising from the en masse departure of 25 employees from the contractor to a competitor. The verdict was affirmed on appeal.
Advised numerous clients regarding the privacy implications of conducting an informal internal audit of certain foreign business practices at the request of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Negotiated on behalf of a major health care network a class action FLSA consent judgment with the U.S. Department of Labor relating to overtime that avoided liquidated damages and civil money penalties while foreclosing any private right of action.
Advising a leading multinational pharmaceutical company on the acquisition of diabetes drug assets in China and the transfer of related employees from a multinational drug company.
Covington successfully represented the National Football League in a class-action antitrust case in which the NFL Players Association and ten prominent players sought to enjoin the NFL’s lockout of its player-employees. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled for the National Football League, vacating the injunction entered by the District Court on the ground that the injunction violated the Norris-LaGuardia Act, which prohibits judicial interference in labor disputes.
Tried and won a class action lawsuit alleging “pattern or practice” discrimination on the basis of age in connection with a corporate reduction in force.
Represented railroad clients in obtaining more than $150 million through scores of settlements for FELA, environmental, and employment practice claims.
Represented Verizon Communications with respect to its pension plan’s $7.5 billion annuity purchase (one of the largest pension annuitization transactions in US history), and successfully defending Verizon against an attempt by retirees to block the transaction in court.
Resolved contentious investigations by the US Department of Labor and Internal Revenue Service, in which the government took positions that exposed our clients to many millions, and in some cases over $1 billion, of potential liability. In several of these cases, we replaced counsel that was unable to reach agreement with the government, when litigation appeared to be imminent.
Conducted a detailed review of the human resources operations of a large pharmaceutical company to assess compliance with data protection and privacy laws and regulations in both the US and EU, in anticipation of possible certification under the US-EU Safe Harbor regime. Our extensive written report described potential compliance issues and recommended specific remedial actions.
Advised on employment and variable compensation aspects of dual US/UK employment contract for senior executive of FTSE 100 company.
Successfully argued a whistleblower retaliation case arising under the False Claims Act in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on behalf of a pharmaceutical company after winning dismissal at summary judgment stage.
Young v. Verizon’s Bell Atl. Cash Balance Plan, __ F. Supp. 2d __, 2009 WL 3677350 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 2, 2009). For Verizon, we secured a court order reforming a $1.7 billion drafting error in a pension plan formula. This was the first court order correcting a scrivener’s error in an ERISA plan.
Structured the cross-border tax and employment aspects of the transfer of a UK executive to an Indian entity for a U.S. conglomerate.
Taylor v. United Technologies Corp., 2009 WL 4255159 (2d Cir. Dec. 1, 2009), aff’g 2009 WL 535779, 46 Empl. Ben. Cas. (BNA) 1935 (D. Conn. Mar. 3, 2009). The Second Circuit affirmed the summary judgment entered in favor of our client United Technologies in a 401(k) plan expense class action lawsuit. The court upheld the rejection of all of plaintiffs’ claims concerning a variety of fiduciary decisions over more than a decade, for which plaintiffs had calculated alleged damages of $230 million.
Resolved tax and fiduciary issues in connection with the proposed consolidation of more than $1 billion in assets held in separate voluntary employees’ beneficiary associations (“VEBAs”).
Helped a leading global fund-of-funds sponsor with benefit plan investors acquire several large portfolios of European private equity interests. Working with corporate lawyers in our London and New York offices, we designed tax-efficient acquisition vehicles that complied with ERISA and avoided potential fiduciary and plan asset concerns.
Achieved a favorable settlement on behalf of a telecommunications client filing a claim against a former employee accused of breaching post-employment restrictive covenants and confidentiality obligations, as well as misappropriating trade secrets.
We have directed investigations into cyber-based insider thefts of highly sensitive proprietary information and consumer information.
Represented Tencent Holdings Limited in its $8.6 billion acquisition of a majority stake in Supercell Oy, developer of Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, Boom Beach and Hay Day, from SoftBank.
November 7, 2016, Agenda
Barbara Hoffman and Lindsay Burke are quoted in an Agenda article regarding the SEC’s continued interest in restrictive confidentiality agreements that could deter employees from reporting company violations to authorities.
According to Hoffman, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration administers a number of whistle-blowing programs for federal ...
October 18, 2016, Covington Alert
At the end of each September in California, a flurry of legislative activity precedes the deadline for Governor Brown to sign or veto bills approved during the 2015 to 2016 legislative session. As in years past, a number of employment-related bills were signed into law by Governor Brown. The following alert highlights a few such bills that merit attention. ...
October 5, 2016, Covington Alert
The International Employment Update summarises recent international employment law developments in the United Kingdom, France, Poland, China and the United States of America.
September 30, 2016, Covington Alert
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) continues to aggressively pursue companies using severance and other employment agreements that could be perceived to discourage employees from reporting possible securities law violations. Three enforcement actions this past summer demonstrate the need for companies to proactively review and give consideration ...
September 19, 2016, Covington Alert
In 2015, the UK government introduced a requirement for certain companies to make annual statements on action taken to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from their businesses and suppliers. The publication deadlines for the first organisations caught by the rules expire in September and recent statements issued by businesses across a variety of sectors ...
June 29, 2016, Covington Alert
Following the vote by the United Kingdom in an advisory referendum to leave the European Union (“EU”), there is no immediate change to employment law in the UK.
Assuming that the referendum decision is put into effect (which still appears to be subject to significant political, legal and practical obstacles), the extent of any future changes will of course ...
June 23, 2016, Covington Alert
China amended its Population and Family Planning Law in December 2015. It abolished the one-child policy and eliminated incentives for late marriage and late parenthood. Many provinces are announcing changes to local regulations to comply with the national amendment.
June 21, 2016
SILICON VALLEY—Covington advised Tencent Holdings Limited, a leading provider of internet service in China, in connection with its acquisition of a majority stake in Supercell from SoftBank. A consortium established by Tencent will acquire up to 84% of Supercell for $8.6 billion in a transaction valuing Supercell at approximately $10.2 billion.
Supercell is a ...
June 21, 2016, Webinar
June 14, 2016, Covington Alert
Not content with California’s state law requiring employers to provide certain employees with paid sick leave, Los Angeles’s Mayor recently signed into law a new ordinance that would provide eligible employees working in the City of Los Angeles with more generous paid sick leave benefits. Meanwhile, voters in San Diego also recently approved a local sick leave ...
June 7, 2016, Covington Alert
On May 18, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) finalized its much-anticipated update to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) so-called white collar overtime exemption rule. Effective December 1, 2016, an employee must earn at least $913 per week—the equivalent of $47,476 per year, more than double the current rate—in order to qualify as exempt from overtime ...
May 2, 2016, Covington Alert
China has just released its 13th Five Year Plan. This includes a mandate to encourage foreigners to work and reside in China by rolling out policies to relax entry, visa and residency requirements for qualified foreign talent.
As part of this focus, the Ministry of Public Security has issued, effective March 1, 2016, a number of preferential immigration ...
April 14, 2016, Covington Alert
Latest figures suggest that women in the UK still earn on average 20 percent less than men. Companies that fail to address gender pay differences will be highlighted in league tables under the new Gender Pay Gap Regulations. The draft regulations require private employers in the UK to collect and publish information showing differences in pay between male and ...
April 2016, Covington Alert
Right to Private Life v. Right to Monitor
On January 12, 2016, the European Court of Human Rights published its judgment in another case concerning an employee’s use of company information systems, once again highlighting the challenge of balancing an employee’s right to a private life against the right of an employer to monitor employees at work.
March 18, 2016, Corporate Counsel
March 17, 2016, Law360
March 10, 2016
NEW YORK — Covington represented MidFirst Bank in its acquisition of 1st Century Bancshares, Inc. 1st Century is a publicly traded bank-holding company of 1st Century Bank of Los Angeles.
Simultaneously with the closing of the acquisition, 1st Century Bank will be merged into MidFirst Bank. Following these transactions, the business of 1st Century Bank will ...
December 16, 2015, Covington Alert
September 4, 2015, Covington Alert
August 10, 2015, Covington Alert
July 23, 2015, Covington Alert
July 17, 2015, Webinar
July 13, 2015, Covington Alert
7/10/2015, Covington Alert
July 8, 2015, Covington Alert
June 23, 2015, Covington Alert
May 12, 2015, Covington E-Alert
May 12, 2015, Covington Alert
4/16/2015, Covington E-Alert
April 1, 2015, Covington E-Alert
March 26, 2015
BEIJING, March 26, 2015 -- Covington announced today that Grace Chen has joined the firm’s international employment practice in its Beijing office.
Ms. Chen has more than 15 years of experience working at international law firms in China, advising multinational companies on a range of projects including matters relating to employment law and employee benefits. ...
March 26, 2015, The Lawyer
March 26, 2015, Legal Week
Covington's Grace Chen is featured in this article regarding her joining the firm's international employment practice.
March 26, 2015, Asian Legal Business
March 20, 2015
February 10, 2015, Covington E-Alert
December 10, 2014, Covington E-Alert
November 10, 2014, Covington E-Alert
October 20, 2014, Covington E-Alert
July 8, 2014, Covington E-Alert
June 6, 2014, Law360
May 29, 2014, Covington E-Alert
May 21, 2014, Covington E-Alert
April 22, 2014, Covington E-Alert
April 8, 2014, Covington E-Alert
April 1, 2014, Covington E-Alert
March 25, 2014, Covington E-Alert
October 15, 2013, Covington Advisory
September 23, 2013, Covington E-Alert
September 10, 2013, Law360
August 15, 2013, Covington Advisory
August 8, 2013, Covington Advisory
July 30, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC, July 30, 2013 — Covington & Burling is pleased to announce that Lindsay Buchanan Burke has returned to the firm, expanding the firm’s employment practice. Ms. Burke will be based in the firm’s Washington office as special counsel and will work with the firm’s employment, international employment, employee benefits, privacy and executive ...
July 10, 2013, Covington E-Alert
March 7, 2013, Webinar
February 20, 2013, Covington E-Alert
February 12, 2013, Covington E-Alert
January 7, 2013
NEW YORK, January 7, 2013 — Covington & Burling advised Illumina, Inc. on its announced acquisition of Verinata Health, Inc. for cash consideration of $350 million plus up to $100 million in milestone payments through 2015.
Upon completion of the acquisition, Illumina will have access to the Verinata’s verifi® prenatal test, the broadest non-invasive prenatal ...
December 13, 2012, Covington Advisory
November 21, 2012, Covington E-Alert
October 1, 2012, Covington E-Alert
September 27, 2012, Covington webinar
July 26, 2012
July 2, 2012, Covington Advisory
June 29, 2012, Covington E-Alert
June 28, 2012, Covington E-Alert
WASHINGTON, DC, June 25, 2012 — Tom Williamson, co-chair of the firm’s employment practice group, was sworn in as president of the D.C. Bar on June 19. The Honorable Eric Holder introduced Mr. Williamson at the swearing in ceremony, while Chief Judge Eric Washington of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals administered the oath of office. “To this new post, ...
June 22, 2012, Covington E-Alert
June 12, 2012, Webinar
May 29, 2012
LONDON, 29 May, 2012 — Covington & Burling LLP is pleased to announce Louise Nash as the new London office managing partner. She succeeds Roger Enock, who steps down after five years in the role. The firm also announced that Christopher Walter will succeed Ms. Nash as the office deputy managing partner. Mr. Enock will continue as head of the firm’s London ...
May 2, 2012, Covington Advisory
March 26, 2012, Covington E-Alert
March 19, 2012
LONDON, 19 March, 2012 — Covington & Burling LLP received 46 individual mentions and 20 practice mentions in the Chambers Global 2012 edition. The guidebook, which ranks lawyers globally by pan-regional and country practice area, is designed to identify the most skilled legal practitioners based on the qualities most valued by clients.
The Covington lawyers ...
March 16, 2012, Covington E-Alert
February 2012, Covington E-Alert
January 19, 2012, Covington Advisory
2012, Tax Management Compensation Planning Journal
2012, N.Y.U. Review of Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation
November 2011, Covington E-Alert
August 2011, Bloomberg Law Reports
August 2011, Global Business Magazine
July 5, 2011, Covington E-Alert
June 22, 2011, Covington E-Alert
June 15, 2011, Covington E-Alert
May 2011, Covington E-Alert
April 2011, Covington E-Alert
March 30, 2011
WASHINGTON, DC, March 30, 2011 — Covington & Burling LLP has secured an important victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on behalf of Family Dollar Stores, Inc., which had been accused of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.
At issue is whether a group of current and former managers at Family Dollar Stores should qualify for overtime pay ...
February 1, 2011, Covington Advisory
February 2011, Covington E-Alert
February 2011, Employment Law Journal
January 6, 2011
WASHINGTON, DC, January 6, 2011 — Covington & Burling LLP announced today that it plans to establish a strategic risk and crisis management practice to assist national and international businesses and their managements and boards.
Senior members of the group include former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff; Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat; former DC ...
October 6, 2010
LONDON, 6 October, 2010 — Covington & Burling LLP is pleased to announce the appointment of Christopher Walter as a partner in the European employment practice. He will be joined by special counsel Chris Bracebridge and associate Helena Laughrin. They will significantly enhance Covington's capabilities to meet the needs of the firm's growing European corporate ...
May 24, 2010
WASHINGTON, DC, May 24, 2010 — Covington & Burling LLP obtained summary judgment on all claims asserted by law professor Kyndra Rotunda against George Mason University. Ms. Rotunda had sued the University for sexual harassment, retaliation, pay discrimination, and constructive discharge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
NEW YORK, NY, August 24, 2009 — Procter & Gamble today announced the sale of its global pharmaceuticals business to Warner Chilcott Ltd. Covington & Burling LLP advised Procter & Gamble on the transaction.
Procter & Gamble is a leading global branded products company, with one of the strongest portfolios of quality, leadership brands in consumer health and ...
February 2009, Covington E-Alert
2005/2009, Media Law Resource Center, 50-State Survey of Employment Libel and Privacy Law
November 2008, Covington E-Alert
LONDON, October 29, 2008 — MPS Global, LLC, a US-based provider of high-tech engineering, design and IT talent, has acquired UK-based Talascend Group. The Talascend business includes EPCglobal, an international engineering staffing company, which operates exclusively in the engineering and construction industries in the UK, the US, India and Abu Dhabi. Covington ...
September 29, 2008
WASHINGTON, DC, September 29, 2008 — Covington & Burling LLP received 124 individual mentions in 40 areas of law in the 2009 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. This annual compilation of top US lawyers is based on peer-review surveys and is used as a referral guide in the legal profession. The Covington lawyers recognized are as follows:
July 2008, Covington E-Alert
June 16, 2008
WASHINGTON, DC, June 16, 2008 — Covington & Burling LLP received 81 individual mentions and 45 practice mentions in the newly released 2008 Chambers USA. The guidebook, which ranks lawyers by state and national practice area, is designed to identify the most skilled legal practitioners based on the qualities most valued by clients.
Here are the Covington ...
June 3, 2008, Covington E-Alert
WASHINGTON, DC, May 27, 2008 — The National Law Journal has named Covington & Burling LLP partners Eric Holder and Thomas Williamson to its survey of “The 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America.” The first-ever list, which honors lawyers who have had a national impact in their legal fields during the past five years, is featured in the NLJ’s May 26 ...
February 4, 2008, Covington E-Alert
WASHINGTON, DC, November 15, 2007 — Covington & Burling LLP announced today that Simone E. Ross has joined the firm’s white collar defense and investigations group as of counsel. Ms. Ross will be resident in the firm’s Washington office, where she previously practiced as an associate. For the past five years, Ms. Ross was an Assistant Counsel in the Justice ...
WASHINGTON, DC, September 28, 2007 — In its inaugural year, The Legal 500 US has recognized Covington & Burling LLP’s practice excellence in 23 fields. Compiled in four volumes published in 2007, the Legal 500 US singles out the following practices:
Broadcasting and Digital
Copyright - regional
Copyright Litigation - regional
September 28, 2007, Covington E-Alert
February 20, 2006
LONDON, UK, February 20, 2006 - Covington & Burling announced today that Peter Cooke has joined the firm as of counsel and will lead Covington's European Employment Law Group. Mr. Cooke is resident in the firm's London office. Mr. Cooke has experience advising on the employment law aspects of acquisitions, outsourcing and other corporate transactions, employee ...
October 3, 2005
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 3, 2005 - Covington & Burling announced the election of ten new partners, effective October 1. Stuart Stock, chair of the firm's management committee, commented: "These exceptional lawyers reflect the strength, excellence and diversity of the firm, and the continuing growth of our practices across the firm." Covington's newest partners ...
May 19, 2003, Legal Times
October 26, 1998, Covington Alert
August 21, 1998, Covington Alert
May 1998, Corporate Legal Times
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