Employment Litigation

The Employment Litigation Practice Group represents employers in all aspects of employment, labor, employee benefits, and occupational injury law. Group lawyers routinely work with clients' management teams to craft forward-thinking solutions to management issues and handle adversarial matters in industries such as energy, manufacturing, education, health care, construction, and natural resources.

Read our Labor and Employment Law Blog

The firm's broad-based employment litigation practice includes the following:

  • Employment-related counseling
  • Litigating employment-related disputes in state and federal court
  • Handling wrongful discharge cases before state and federal agencies
  • Handling both representation and unfair labor practice proceedings before the NLRB
  • Negotiating collective bargaining agreements
  • Arbitrating contractual disputes
  • Providing employee benefits advice and litigation services

Our litigators have particular experience dealing with the following:

  • Employment discrimination
  • Retaliatory discharge
  • Breach of contract Sexual harassment
  • Covenants not to compete
  • Employee benefits
  • FLSA
  • Challenging and defending arbitration awards
  • Tort theories
  • FMLA
  • Injunctions under state and federal law



Know How

Alert: Three Pittsburgh Attorneys Join Steptoe & Johnson Employment Law Team
Three Pittsburgh Attorneys Join Steptoe & Johnson Employment Law Team
Alert: Defending Discrimination Claims
Defending Discrimination ClaimsThe Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that it received over 27,000 charges of sex discrimination in 2013.  The number of discrimination charges filed is a clear indicator that all employers need to be prepared for handling such allegations.  An employer’s first line of defense is, of course, proper documentation.In a recent case, a saleswoman terminated by an energy service company brought a sex discrimination suit against her former employer alleging she was terminated for discriminatory reasons. Her supervisor claimed that he terminated the saleswoman for performance issues.The outcome of this suit will almost certainly be affected by whether the company can produce documents that support its explanation of the termination.
Alert: Energy Employers Face Increased Enforcement Activities
Representatives of the West Virginia Department of Labor (WVDOL) have begun visiting drilling sites in the state to make sure that all people receiving 1099 income are registered to do business in West Virginia, as required by law.If not registered, businesses may be subject to fines if they are doing business without registration. The WVDOL will be checking to see if the project managers, who are responsible for construction of various phases of the drilling site, are both registered to do business and have their West Virginia contractor’s licenses. To get a license, individuals are required to sit for an exam.
Alert: Wage and Hour Alert for Energy Industry
On Wednesday, November 14, 2012, Department of Labor (DOL) Investigator Diana Smargie spoke to the North Central WV Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) chapter. Smargie made a number of points during her talk, one of which she was careful to highlight. As part of its 2013 enforcement initiative, the DOL will be targeting small energy producers and oil and gas service providers.  As Smargie put it, a lot of people in the industry have come up through the ranks being paid wrong, so when they are in a position to pay employees themselves, they really do not know how to pay properly and they violate the wage and hour law.So what are the chief issues she sees?  Her top three problems:
Alert: Employers’ Rights Affirmed
Following significant reforms to West Virginia’s workers’ compensation system in 2003 and 2005, insured employers benefitted from statutory changes that granted them the right to review claims in which awards of permanent total disability benefits had been made. This review process allowed insured employers to determine if workers who had been granted such awards previously remained qualified recipients of the benefits. This grant of authority from the legislature remained relatively unused since the revisions to the Workers’ Compensation Act because of a lack of interpretation from the Supreme Court of Appeals. A decision entered just this week, however, is likely to change that lack of use.

Representative Experience

  • Represented employer regarding the interpretation and enforcement of absenteeism and discipline policies
  • Received no probable cause determination from Fairfax County (Virginia) Human Rights Commission in national origin discrimination claim
  • Litigated multi-million dollar discrimination lawsuits involving known government contractor
  • Drafted post-hearing briefs on behalf of employers in various arbitration proceedings
  • Represented major hotel before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on issues relating to wrongful discharge and federal labor relations
  • Jury trial on behalf of aircraft leasing company where plaintiff claimed constructive discharge, sexual harassment and battery claims
  • Defended employers, facility owners, product manufacturers and product distributors in traditional and toxic tort-related civil actions alleging deliberate intent, premises liability and product liability theories. Cases were filed on an individual and mass tort basis against defendants related to the mining, welding, petroleum, protective equipment, fire suppression systems and food service industries.
  • Defended a major utility in a gender discrimination case that went to trial in the Circuit Court of Kanawha County, West Virginia
  • Defended a major hospital in a disability and age-discrimination case
  • Landmark Supreme Court decision for employer in prevailing wage case - the court reversed Department of Labor opinion applying prevailing wage law to employees of state agencies
  • Defended numerous deliberate intent actions on behalf of large manufacturers and retailers
  • Handled dozens of claims before the West Virginia Human Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Defended multi-national manufacturer in deliberate intent claim arising from traumatic limb amputation
  • Tried more than a dozen actions before the administrative law judges of the West Virginia Human Rights Commission on various claims of age, race, gender and disability discrimination
  • Defended multi-national manufacturer in deliberate intent claim alleging repetitive stress injury
  • Represented numerous clients in actions before the West Virginia Human Rights Commission, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other state human rights commissions on behalf of employers
  • Defended alleged workplace fatality on behalf of environmental contractor
  • Defended employers in wage-and-hour class actions, collective actions, and single-plaintiff claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act, West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act, and Prevailing Wage Act
  • Defended an industrial cleaning enterprise in a class action under the Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Defended owners of a metal alloys industrial plant in a "deliberate intent" case involving the alleged wrongful death of a worker in a fire
  • Defended employers in state court in various employment cases involving claims for discrimination, harassment and retaliatory discharge
  • Defended numerous charges before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the West Virginia Human Rights Commission, alleging race, age, sex, disability and national origin discrimination
  • Sought summary judgment on behalf of large law firm in shareholder's discrimination retaliation action
  • Defended numerous charges before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, West Virginia Human Rights Commission and Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, alleging race, age, sex, sexual preference, disability and national origin discrimination
  • Represented a public entity in a disability discrimination case brought by a former firefighter with hemophilia
  • Negotiated pre-suit settlements for clients in sensitive employment matters
  • Defended mine operators in civil litigation against claims of wrongful death, deliberate intent, personal injury, and breach of contract
  • Represented Colorado employers in EEOC matters alleging discrimination based on national origin and age
  • Defended client in MSHA investigation and civil litigation
  • Represented management at numerous labor arbitrations
  • Arbitrated grievances for unionized employers
  • Defended surface damage claims related to construction of oil and gas wells
  • Counseled Colorado employers on issues related to termination and wage payment
  • Sought summary judgment in case involving claim of disability discrimination
  • Assisted large West Virginia bank in post-merger reorganization of its workforce
  • Litigated charges before the EEOC and West Virginia Human Rights Commission
  • Defended groundbreaking cases under the W. Va. Wage Payment & Collection Act
  • Defended unsafe working condition claims for employers
  • Defended employers in discrimination, retaliation, and workplace injury litigation before state and federal courts and administrative agencies
  • Represented clients in labor and employment disputes
  • Assisted a large manufacturer through a reduction in force that impacted union and non-union employees, overseeing every aspect of the reduction from WARN Act notification to salaried employee evaluations to training managers to deliver the news to impacted employees
  • Jury trial for a large chemical manufacturing company in a case brought by seven women alleging sex discrimination
  • Sought summary judgment for purported class claims for wage and hour violations and individual claim of discriminatory discharge
  • Handled arbitrations against the Teamsters, Steel Workers, Brick Layers, Service Employees, and Chemical Workers unions
  • Defended discrimination claims of race, gender, age, disability, religion and national origin in state and federal court, as well as claims brought before the EEOC and state human rights agencies in West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Tennessee, New York, Florida and South Carolina
  • Handled a number of FLSA / Wage and Hour issues for clients both in litigation and in the investigative stage by the Department of Labor


Steptoe & Johnson PLLC is a U.S. energy firm with core strengths in labor & employment, litigation and transactional law. In 2013, Steptoe & Johnson celebrated 100 years of helping clients reach their goals.


Did you know?

15 Offices Throughout the U.S.

15 offices throughout Colorado, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia.

One Firm

Ours is a client-of-the-firm culture, service model and compensation system that matches the best talent to the assignment and puts your economic interest ahead of ours.

10.5 Years

equals the average tenure of our client relationship. We'd like to be in it for the long haul with you too.

Face-to-Face Client Interviews

25+ face-to-face client interviews are conducted every year by our CEO and firm management to learn how we can do better (so please give us an earful).

Leaders in our Field

22 of us are ranked as “Leaders in their Field” by Chambers USA.

Leaders in our Field

Steptoe & Johnson was the first firm to successfully secure regulatory approval for a multi-lateral Utica shale well.