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 of all sizes 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 defended employers in courts and administrative agencies across the United States from suits asserting 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. John also represents employers in collective bargaining negotiations, has successfully represented employers in proceedings in front of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) and labor arbitrators, and regularly advises employers on union-related issues.
Significantly, John has developed a couple of specialties within employment law. First, 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, related claims for civil theft, violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and trade secret misappropriation, as well as efforts to avoid such litigation altogether.
Second, as a result of regularly defending employers in class action lawsuits, especially collective actions brought pursuant to the FLSA, John has accumulated a great deal of knowledge and skill regarding potential litigation strategies and how best to defend employers from such suits. Even more importantly than in single-plaintiff lawsuits, John understands that counsel must undertake the defense of class action claims in a manner that makes economic sense to the employer and with an eye toward ensuring that the long-term health of the employer is not placed at risk.
Finally, John has tailored much of his practice to helping employers with legal compliance and to avoid litigation altogether. He regularly counsels employers with regard to their employee handbooks, the proper construction of various employment policies and procedures, 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 the overtime exemptions set forth under the FLSA), employee/independent contractor classifications, termination and hiring decisions, disciplinary decisions, reductions-in-force, and disability accommodation issues.
Since beginning his practice, John has represented employers of all shapes and sizes and from all types of industries including, but not limited to, the following: trucking; cable installation; software solutions; manufacturing; biotechnology; redistribution; staffing services; financial services; engineering; health care; and agriculture. 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 in disciplinary actions initiated by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services.