Employment Litigation

The attorneys of Cornell Smith Mierl Brutocao Burton, LLP bring over a century of collective experience in representing the interests of employers and individual managers in employment controversies presented for final resolution to administrative agencies, arbitrators, judges, and juries. We are committed to proactive representation that seeks the optimum resolution and benefit for our clients. In doing so, we work closely with our clients through the process, analyzing risk at each stage from the demand letter to the appeal.

Focusing on the practice of labor and employment fosters efficiencies in the employment dispute process. Our docket and practices are standardized where possible to minimize charging clients for ‘re-inventing the wheel’ in each individual matter – resulting in cost savings.

Agency Proceedings & Charges

Compliance advice quickly turns to controversy representation the moment our client receives a demand letter from an opposing counsel or the notice of a charge of discrimination filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or corollary state, or local agency. The preparation of the charge response is critical to the employer’s later defense.

Cornell Smith Mierl Brutocao Burton also represents employers in wage claims under the Texas Pay Day Act and unemployment benefits claims before the Texas Workforce Commission, as well as issues involving the U.S. Department of Labor and OSHA.

Discrimination / Harassment / Retaliation Claims

Our docket has historically included a number of claims based upon alleged violations of the various statutes prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, and age. Such cases are often couched as allegations of unlawful harassment.

Many employers around Texas seek out Cornell Smith Mierl Brutocao Burton to defend claims of sexual harassment because of the caliber of our female attorneys. Connie Cornell has served the legal market in central Texas for more than thirty years and was profiled as one of the labor and employment attorneys in the Austin Business Journal’s “Best of Business Law in 2004”.

Allegations of retaliation often accompany discrimination and harassment suits based on the various civil rights laws. We also have defended allegations of retaliation brought pursuant to the Family & Medical Leave Act, the Texas Whistleblower Act, the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, and the common law public policy exception for refusal to commit a crime.

Wage & Hour Claims

Cornell Smith Mierl Brutocao Burton has represented clients through audits by the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division and defended the employers’ positions through litigation surrounding exempt treatment and proper payment under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Contract Claims & Owner Disputes

In addition to statutory claims, the Cornell Smith Mierl Brutocao Burton attorneys have extensive experience in controversies over severance, commissions, bonuses, and other post-employment obligations arising from allegations of breach of contract. The arbitration of whether an executive was terminated for “cause” is also a typical part of our docket.

Our attorneys have extensive experience representing the interests of individual business owners when employment or fiduciary disputes arise among co-owners. We have also assisted many businesses with the departure, whether voluntary or involuntary, of partners, shareholders, and co-entrepreneurs.

Non-Compete & Trade Secret Controversies

Controversies surrounding the alleged breach of non-competition or non-solicitation covenants are increasing as employers seek to protect their business interests and trade secrets. Cornell Smith Mierl Brutocao Burton has experience representing the interests of the new or prior employer in the temporary restraining order, temporary injunction, and permanent injunction process, as well as in corollary declaratory judgment proceedings.

Tort Claims

More often than not a statutory claim is accompanied by one or more tort claims as the plaintiff attempts to circumvent the statutory damage caps. This results in Cornell Smith Mierl Brutocao Burton defending allegations against the employer, as well as a manager, for such torts as intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, defamation, invasion of privacy, negligent hiring or retention, and fraud.

Local and Conflict Counsel

A number of our attorneys are native Austinites. We know the community and are active in the local bar. Our attorneys “know their way around the courthouse” and are familiar with the rules and procedures followed in the courtrooms of state and federal judges in the area. Out-of-state attorneys often select Cornell Smith Mierl Brutocao Burton to serve as local counsel in the representation of their clients in employment litigation filed in Texas. When potential conflicts arise, other law firms recommend Cornell Smith Mierl Brutocao Burton to represent the interests of the individual manager named as a co-defendant in a suit against their corporate client.