John Gardner is a Partner at DeWitt LLP, one of Wisconsin’s largest law firms. He serves as Chair of the Firm’s Labor and Employment Practice Group, and is also a member of the Firm’s Litigation and Eminent Domain Practice Groups.
Employment | Labor Law and Related Specialties
John is a management-side labor & employment attorney. Since 2004, he has represented employers across the United States in lawsuits involving claims for violations of wage and hour laws (including the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”)), violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), violations of anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and leave/accommodation laws, as well as claims for breach of contract. In addition, he regularly represents employers in collective bargaining negotiations, labor-related arbitration proceedings and in front of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”). Notwithstanding his extensive litigation experience, however, John understands that litigation is often an employer’s last resort, and a costly one at that. As a result, he has tailored much of his practice to helping employers avoid litigation altogether, regularly advising them regarding various legal compliance issues relating to employment and labor law.
Significantly, John has developed two main specialties within employment law:
1. Day-To-Day Employment Counseling
First, he regularly provides day-to-day legal counseling to employers located throughout the state of Wisconsin (and many with operations across the country). This counseling ranges from helping employers handle emergency disciplinary issues, safety concerns (including OSHA complaints/compliance) and employee theft matters, to assisting employers in managing long-term employee leave situations and making strategically-minded policy changes. In addition, since the first few months of 2020, he has been constantly advising employers on the ever-changing legal landscape created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s responses to the pandemic.
2. Restrictive Covenants/Covenants Not-To-Compete
Second, 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. He regularly advises employers regarding the appropriate manners in which to structure and utilize restrictive covenants, and has represented employers across the country with respect to lawsuits/threatened legal actions, both on the side of the party attempting to enforce the agreements and the party attempting to avoid enforcement.
Employer Clients and Representative Laws
Since beginning his practice, John has represented employers of all sizes and from all types of industries, including, construction, trucking, agricultural, religious education, restaurant, cable installation, manufacturing, healthcare, software, engineering, 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.
Among many others, John has provided counseling and/or represented employers with respect to the following laws: the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (“OSHA”), Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Wisconsin Wage Payment and Collection Act, the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (“WFEA”), the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”).
Eminent Domain, Licensing Representation and other Litigation
In addition to his employment law work, John regularly represents businesses and individuals in connection to a wide variety of other civil disputes. These include intellectual property litigation, commercial breach of contract actions, and defamation proceedings, among others.
In addition, John has developed two further legal specialties. First, for a number of years now, John has represented landowners with respect to condemnation/eminent domain disputes and proceedings. These include matters initiated by a variety of governmental actors, including utilities, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, cities, towns, villages and other entities with condemning authority.
Second, John regularly represents Wisconsin licensees, including chiropractors, veterinarians and physicians, in disciplinary actions initiated by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services, and in connection to complaints filed with other Wisconsin agencies, such as the Wisconsin Department of Consumer Protection.