Modrall Sperling Law Firm

Keeping abreast of the ever-changing laws regarding labor, employment and benefits can present challenges for any employer. Our team of attorneys shares the commitment of following changes to the laws, regulation updates, and trends that affect employers. This dedication allows our attorneys to efficiently identify, address and resolve our clients’ employment-related challenges.

Labor and Employment

Both private and public sector clients depend on our representation in a wide variety of employment law litigation matters in federal and state courts and administrative bodies, as well as in proceedings before the courts of the Navajo Nation. Such cases include employment discrimination claims under federal statutes like Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as claims involving the New Mexico Human Rights Act, workers’ compensation laws, breaches of employment contract, and collateral torts such as retaliatory discharge.

Many clients come to Modrall Sperling to become or remain in compliance with state, federal and tribal law. We assist our clients in dealing with employee issues as they arise, in the hope that disputes and litigation may be avoided if possible. Our lawyers have conducted extensive training for clients in anti-discrimination and harassment, and on compliance with wage and hour laws. We assist in preparing employee handbooks and in drafting employment policies that comply with federal, state and tribal law. We also counsel our clients through administrative audits, investigations and informal inquiries.

Benefits

We represent our clients with regard to designing, implementing, and maintaining benefit plans and trusts; drafting necessary communications, documentation and procedures; obtaining favorable determination letters; assisting with audits, ERISA compliance and IRS compliance; advising on compliance with reporting, disclosure obligations and claims handling; and counseling on executive compensation and employment contracts.

Our clients include a wide variety of taxpayers, both individual and large and small businesses, professional and corporate, third-party administrators, non-profit and for profit entities, and governmental and tribal entities. We work in conjunction with a wide variety of professional contacts and associations, including actuarial services, accounting services, third party administrators, trust departments, and investment advisers, to broaden the range of solutions we offer.

The firm also possesses extensive experience in ERISA litigation, having handled numerous cases involving both pension benefits and welfare benefits, including cases for disability and medical insurers, self-insured plans and third-party administrators.

Representative Employment Experience

  • Garcia v. Albuquerque Public Schools: The firm obtained summary judgment in favor of the employer on a matter involving a former employee’s claims of Title VII discrimination, retaliation, and hostile work environment discrimination.
  • Andrea Felts-Pargas, et al. v. Albuquerque Public Schools: Three female administrators filed an employment action against Albuquerque Public Schools alleging gender discrimination following their transfers to different administrative positions in the district, which occurred as part of a District-wide reorganization of administrators. The female administrators alleged that the reorganization disproportionately disadvantaged female administrators generally and the three plaintiffs specifically. Plaintiffs alleged damages associated with lost wages and lost retirement income. The Court granted summary judgment in APS’ favor, finding that the Plaintiffs had failed to show that their reassignment was related to gender. The Court found that one Plaintiff was moved because her job was eliminated (the campus was closed) and that the other two were reassigned due to performance issues.
  • Ethridge v. Brooks and Albuquerque Public Schools: An administrator filed breach of contract, equal protection, gender discrimination and retaliation claims against Albuquerque Public Schools, alleging that the superintendent had disparaged her in various email communications, which were leaked to the press and widely reported on in local papers. Modrall Sperling filed a qualified immunity motion on behalf of the individual defendant, and won. The Court’s opinion makes it clear that many of the claims filed against APS (as opposed to the individual defendant) fail, and Plaintiff agreed to voluntarily dismiss the remaining claims.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. San Juan Coal Company: The firm obtained summary judgment in favor of its client in a sex discrimination case in which the plaintiff alleged her employer discriminated against her and other women by failing to provide training opportunities which would have enabled her to advance within the company.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Fisher Sand & Gravel: Summary judgment in favor of the employer on employee claims of race discrimination, defamation and negligence in administration of drug tests.
  • Simmons v. Walgreen Co.: The court granted the employer’s motions to dismiss and for summary judgment as to plaintiff’s claims for age and disability discrimination, and numerous state law tort claims, including wrongful termination, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
  • Jones v. BHP Billiton: In a proceeding under the Navajo Preference in Employment Act, the Navajo Labor Commission upheld the employer’s decision to terminate the employee for violation of various company policies, rejecting the employee’s claim that the decision was motivated by bias against his practice of his Native religious beliefs.
  • England v. Albuquerque Public Schools: The court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment as to plaintiff’s claims for failure to provide a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and retaliation under the New Mexico Human Rights Act.

Representative Benefits Experience

Working with both exempt and non-profit employers as well as non-exempt business corporations, sole proprietors, LLCs, and other entities, we design, draft and help implement qualified and non-qualified retirement plans and welfare benefit plans.

We also assist clients in connection with:

  • IRS and DOL audits
  • Claims by participants
  • Correction of plan and operational errors under the IRS and DOL voluntary correction programs
  • Most types of employee benefits including:
    • Qualified plans, such as 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, profit-sharing plans, ESOPs, and defined benefit plans
    • Welfare Plans including health reimbursement plans, fringe benefit plans, cafeteria plans, dependent care reimbursement plans, and health flexible spending accounts
    • Non-qualified plans, such as executive compensation, 409A deferred compensation plans, and 457 plans
  • Tribal Employment Preference Laws,” Tribal Employment Rights & Law, sponsored by Law Seminars International, Washington State Convention Center, Seattle, Washington, July 14, 2014 (based on previous articles)

News

Megan Muirhead Earns Two Statewide Appointments

Posted on March 30, 2017 By

Articles

What Can We Legally Ask Foreign Workers During the Pre-Employment Process?

June 15, 2017
By

An Employer’s Dilemma in Providing a Recommendation for a Former Employee

June 7, 2017
By Jennifer G. Anderson

Limiting the Scope of “Joint Employment” Under New Mexico Law

April 19, 2017
By Jennifer L. Bradfute

Joint Employment and Overtime Obligations

March 27, 2017
By Anna E. Indahl

Guidance for New Mexico Employers: Criminal Background Checks for Job Applicants

March 8, 2017
By Emily Chase-Sosnoff

Three Things New Mexico Employers Should Know for 2017

February 25, 2017
By Megan T. Muirhead

The ADEA Does Not Abrogate Tribal Sovereign Immunity: Eleventh Circuit Confirms Recent Trend

December 2, 2016
By Robin E. James and Brian K. Nichols

Guidance for Employers Dealing with Mental Illnesses in the Workplace

USLAW Magazine,
October 9, 2016
By Jennifer G. Anderson and Megan T. Muirhead

Update on Reverse Discrimination Claims in New Mexico

July 27, 2016
By Elizabeth A. Martinez

How the New FLSA Regulations May Impact You and Your Company

July 26, 2016
By Jennifer L. Bradfute

Update on Medical Marijuana and Employment Law in New Mexico

July 19, 2016
By Emily Chase-Sosnoff

Guidance for New Mexico Employers: Misclassification of Independent Contractors

July 13, 2016
By Anna E. Indahl

EEOC Issues New Wellness Program Rules

June 10, 2016
By

What New Mexico Employers Need to Know about the U.S. Supreme Court’s Recent Decision Regarding Constructive Discharge Claims

June 3, 2016
By Jeremy K. Harrison

The DOL’s New FLSA Regulations – Millions Entitled to Overtime Wages Beginning December 1, 2016

June 1, 2016
By Jennifer L. Bradfute

HIPAA for New Mexico Covered Entity Employers: Avoiding Penalties

May 12, 2016
By

New Mexico’s Whistleblower Statute 101: A Crash Course

March 31, 2016
By Megan T. Muirhead

Tips for Conducting Employee Investigations

February 18, 2016
By Sonya R. Burke

Protecting New Mexico Employers from Inadvertent FMLA Violations: What can your employee do (or not) while on FMLA leave?

January 28, 2016
By Zoë E. Lees

What Employers Need to Know About New Mexico’s Domestic Abuse Leave

December 22, 2015
By Mia Kern Lardy

New Mexico Has Some Unique Employment Laws

December 15, 2015
By George R. McFall

To Evaluate or Not to Evaluate? A Question for New Mexico Employers

October 26, 2015
By Jennifer G. Anderson

An Employee’s Bankruptcy Can Assist New Mexico Employers Defend Against The Employee’s Claims

October 26, 2015
By Megan T. Muirhead

New Mexico State Court Judge Grants Summary Judgment For Employer in Medical Marijuana Case

September 28, 2015
By Nathan T. Nieman

New Mexico Employers Can Limit Liability Under The Faragher-Ellerth Defense

August 27, 2015
By Jeremy K. Harrison

New Rules For Participation In Employer Wellness Programs Proposed

August 27, 2015
By Anna E. Indahl

EEOC Recommends Pro-active Training and Well-defined Policies to Help Employers Protect Themselves Against Costly Employment Lawsuits

July 1, 2015
By Megan T. Muirhead

Medical Marijuana and Employment Discrimination in New Mexico

July 1, 2015
By Emily Chase-Sosnoff

Jurisdiction over Suits Against Tribal Entities or Employers

June 25, 2015
By Zoë E. Lees

Favorable Employment Law Decision in Garcia v. APS

June 1, 2015
By Jennifer G. Anderson, Elizabeth A. Martinez and Megan T. Muirhead

Top Five Tips for Employers Regarding Employee Use of Social Media

February 23, 2015
By

Tribal Employment Preference Laws

July 25, 2014
By Brian K. Nichols

Same Sex Marriage: What Do Employers Need to Know?

January 1, 2014
By Anna E. Indahl and Zachary L. McCormick

Salt River Project v. Lee Navajo Nation Held to Waive Regulation of Employment

April 20, 2013
By Brian K. Nichols

Tribal Employment Preferences and Employee Protection Laws

April 22, 2011
By Brian K. Nichols

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