John Gardner is a shareholder at DeWitt Ross and Stevens S.C., one of Wisconsin’s largest law firms. He serves as Chair of the Firm’s Labor and Employment Practice Group.
Employment/Labor Law and Related Specialties
Employers regularly ask John to help them deal with a wide assortment of legal issues relating to employment, as well as to represent them in employment-related lawsuits. Since 2004, John has successfully represented employers across the United States in lawsuits involving claims for violations of state and federal wage and hour laws (including the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”)), violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), violations of state and federal anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and leave/accommodation laws, as well as claims for breach of contract. In addition, John regularly represents employers in collective bargaining negotiations, and in proceedings in front of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”). On top of these efforts, however, John has tailored much of his practice to helping employers avoid litigation altogether, regularly counseling employers regarding compliance with state and federal leave laws (including the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”)), compliance with state and federal wage laws (including overtime exemptions), employee/independent contractor classifications, termination and hiring decisions, and reductions-in-force.
Significantly, John has developed two clear specialties within employment law:
- Religious School Employment Law
First, John regularly provides employment law expertise to religious schools located throughout Wisconsin. As a result of this work, he has developed a detailed understanding of the many unique issues faced by religious schools, including the importance of the ministerial exception and teacher contractual/recruitment needs. To date, John has helped religious schools with an extremely broad array of legal issues, from updating their employee handbooks and drafting legally-compliant social media/internet usage policies, to revising their teacher and principal contracts of employment, advising them regarding personnel decisions, and defending them against legal claims. Perhaps most importantly, John understands the critical role religion plays in everything each school does, including in its curriculum and its expectations for appropriate staff conduct, and works hard to limit the degree to which this role is negatively impacted by any employment-related legal concerns.
- Restrictive Covenants/Covenants Not To Compete
Second, through years of litigation experience and advising clients, John has developed a detailed understanding of the appropriate language, use and limits of restrictive covenants, such as non-compete, non-solicitation, and confidentiality provisions. John regularly advises employers regarding the appropriate manners in which to structure and utilize restrictive covenants, and has successfully represented employers in Wisconsin and across the country with respect to lawsuits to enforce those agreements, and for related claims for civil theft, violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and trade secret misappropriation.
Since beginning his practice, John has represented employers of all sizes and from all types of industries, including, religious education, trucking, cable installation, manufacturing, healthcare providers, redistribution, staffing services, and financial services, to name a handful. These employers include members of the Fortune 500, as well as businesses that have no more than one or two permanent employees.
In addition to his employment law work, John takes great pride in representing businesses and individuals in connection to a wide variety of other civil disputes. These include intellectual property litigation, commercial breach of contract actions, and condemnation/eminent domain proceedings, among others. In addition, John regularly represents Wisconsin licensees, including chiropractors and physicians, in disciplinary actions initiated by the Department of Safety and Professional Services.