The firm was established in 1972 and focuses on the representation of employers and government contractors. The firm prides itself on providing individualized, cost-effective legal services. Two of the firm’s attorneys are Board Certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. The firm’s depth of knowledge and experience covers virtually every aspect of labor and employment law and government contracts. Additionally, the firm’s representation of employers and corporate clients has evolved to include commercial litigation and corporate transactions. Neel, Hooper & Banes, P.C. is also a member of the Worklaw® Network. Consequently, the firm works with offices throughout the US so that it may further service clients with diverse geographical needs.
Neel, Hooper & Banes, P.C. has extensive experience in all aspects of matters between companies or public entities and unions and their pension funds. This experience ranges from counseling management in union election campaigns, assisting in contract negotiations, coordinating strike management measures, advising on day-to-day labor contract administration, arbitrating grievances, helping with decertification efforts, litigating pension fund collection and withdrawal liability disputes, and representing companies in proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board. Furthermore, the level of our involvement in your company’s management/labor relations needs can be specifically tailored to the experience and skill levels of your own in-house labor relations personnel. Our services here assist management in the areas of:
- Union Election Campaigns
- Contract Negotiations
- Strike Management
- Contract Administration
- Decertification Efforts
- Union Pension Fund and Withdrawal Liability Disputes
- Unfair Labor Practices and the National Labor Relations Board
Avoiding litigation is a top priority for most employers, and our attorneys are experienced in providing advice and counseling that minimizes the risk of litigation. While the firm frequently advises clients on preventive and cost-effective alternatives, civil litigation is an unavoidable reality in the business world and is a significant part of our practice. When facing employment litigation, employers need fast, effective, and focused legal assistance. Our services in this area address:
- Employment Discrimination
- Whistleblower Complaints
- Wage and Hour Litigation
- Trade Secrets Protection & Noncompete Agreements
- Appellate Practice
Neel, Hooper & Banes, P.C. has considerable experience representing employers in discrimination, harassment and retaliation charges brought before Federal and State Courts, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and other federal and state fair employment practice agencies. Our attorneys have a proven record of disposal of discrimination suits in federal court before trial in Title VII discrimination cases.
We also possess unique expertise relating to whistleblower investigations, as well as in litigation pursued against public companies pursuant to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and against government contractors and recipients of federal dollars pursuant to the Federal False Claims Act (“Qui Tam”). The firm also has extensive experience handling claims brought before other administrative agencies such as the Department of Labor, National Labor Relations Board, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Small Business Administration and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.
Wage and Hour Litigation
The firm assists clients to achieve compliance with the minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping requirements of all federal and state wage and hour laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Davis-Bacon Act, the Service Contract Act, and the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act. The firm also assists clients in complying with state wage payment laws involving vacation pay, deductions, commissions, reviews and design pay plans. The firm conducts preventive audits, as well as represents clients in investigations conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division and similar state agencies. It also defends wage and hour lawsuits in court, including representative actions.
Trade Secrets Protection & Noncompete Agreements
Companies work hard to build their unique approach to their business. In a world where loyalty has lost its meaning, and tomorrow’s biggest competitor may be sitting next to you today, protecting your human and intellectual capital has become essential. And while you cannot patent your clients, you can protect them. Our attorneys can help you in safeguarding the ideas and people that drive your business’ success.
One mark of a great firm is a deep well of legal talent that can not only try cases to verdict but also take cases to the “next level,” the appellate courts. Our attorneys have won labor and employment law appeals. Our cases have made law, changed labor and employment practices, and/or simply saved clients money.
We can help you navigate the confusing array of regulations associated with government procurement. We have experience in every facet of government contracting. This includes:
- Fiscal Law and Procurement Methods Advice
- Business Development, Teaming Arrangements and Contract Financing
- Drafting Winning Proposals and Compliance Counseling
- Small Business And Socioeconomic Programs
- Bid Protests and Size or Status Protests
- Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Government Relations, Audits and Investigations
- Appellate Practice
Fiscal and Procurement Methods Advice
The first step in any government procurement is identifying the proper procurement method and color of money for the item or service needed. We can assist government entities and the bidding public on the how to structure procurements in such a manner that satisfies fiscal and procurement laws. Our attorneys have years of experience inside and outside of government in performing such tasks, and we stand ready to put our experience and competence to work for you.
Business Development, Teaming Arrangements and Contract Financing
A working knowledge of whom to communicate with and how to say it is the key to pursuing government business. This applies whether you are formulating a presentation for government officials, developing a teaming agreement with potential partners, or creating a business plan to obtain necessary financing. Our attorneys know the government and what it takes to become a successful government contractor. Whether you are a start-up with a novel idea or an established commercial business with a proven track record, we can help you achieve your government business goals.
Drafting Winning Proposals and Compliance Counseling
Early legal advice can mean the difference between winning and losing a contract or grant. We help you to understand the government’s requirements to increase the competitiveness of your proposal and respond to the evaluation criteria for award. We can review your proposals, bids, or quotations to make sure all necessary information is included. We can also help you to draft and implement compliance programs and develop procurement and workforce programs, policies and procedures. Before you submit your proposal, bid, or quotation, we can review your solicitations and related documents for risks, ambiguities, rights in technical data, protection of confidential or proprietary information, pricing issues, and compliance problems.
Small Business and Socioeconomic Programs
Our experience includes small business size matters, set-aside challenges, determinations of eligibility, Small Business Administration (“SBA”) certificates of competency determinations and matters relating to the SBA’s 8(a) program. We advise small, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses about incentives such as those offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the Small Business Innovative Research Program (SBIR), and the Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program. We can help you to identify, apply for, and use these program benefits and other preferences. In addition, we can help you work with agencies to set aside contracts for small businesses.
Bid Protests and Size or Status Protests
Most government procurement rules allow prospective contractors to challenge the terms, conditions or other perceived irregularities in a solicitation before award. These rules also allow a post-award challenge to the selection of the awardee based upon alleged improprieties in the awardee’s proposal, in the government’s evaluation or award selection process, or with regard to the size or status of small business offerors. We have substantial experience in both challenging and defending contract awards before the General Accounting Office, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and the SBA. We recognize the importance of preserving your opportunity to compete for government business. The time constraints associated with bid protests are very strict and demanding. We are available on short notice and are only a phone call away.
Claims, Disputes, Litigation, Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution
Government and contractor claims, including those resulting from contract terminations, are an unfortunate aspect of doing business with the government. We help you analyze, prepare, present, and negotiate claims against governmental agencies. Contractors look increasingly to mediation, arbitration and other alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedures for resolving disputes, and we are ready to assist you through the process. Failing negotiation and/or ADR, we will zealously prosecute your interests in any ensuing litigation. Bryant Banes has extensive experience in the litigation of highly complex contract disputes before the federal boards of contract appeals, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Government Compliance, Audits and Investigations
Our attorneys can often use their knowledge and experience to end a problem before it begins. When the government audits or investigates a government contractor, it uses standards and regulations that may be inapplicable, unclear or at least counterintuitive. We advise and assist contractors in responding to audits and investigations, and in avoiding the pitfalls that often accompany them. We can minimize expense and disruption by participating in audits as an integral part of your audit response team. Because our team has extensive public and private sector experience, we have an integral and working knowledge of government operations and commercial business.
One mark of a great firm is a deep well of legal talent that can not only try cases to verdict but also take cases to the “next level,” the appellate courts. Our attorneys have won government contract law appeals. Our cases have made law, changed government practices, and/or simply saved clients money.
Our firm has long believed that the best way to either avoid “making a federal case” out of every employment law decision or to maximize the chances of success in those that make their way into the courtroom anyway – and thereby minimize the outflow of legal expenses relating to employment matters – is through the prudent and judicious use of legal counsel and advice services. Our firm offers several services to help meet these needs, including:
- Legal Updates
- Supervisory Training
- Day to Day Counsel and Advice
- Employee Handbooks/Personnel Policy Review
- Compliance Audits
As a continuing service to clients, our firm strives to keep you up to date on new legal developments. Most often, this is accomplished through either weekly e-mail alerts or our quarterly newsletter (now readily available through our website). However, as new developments arise that are of either a critical nature or, perhaps, impact a particular industry, we also publish special release news bulletins for our clients in the industry that is particularly affected. In this way, our firm helps clients avoid problems by staying one step ahead of the game.
Consistent with our philosophy that preparation and training in advance of any problem is the best way to avoid a problem in the employment arena, our firm has over the years conducted numerous supervisory training sessions for employers. These training sessions are tailored to a particular client’s needs. Thus, they can encompass anything from a particular subject or need that a client feels must be addressed – such as sexual harassment in the workplace or union avoidance – or it can be a broader overview that touches virtually every aspect of a supervisor’s needs and requirements in managing his or her subordinates – from record keeping and proper counseling and disciplinary procedures to general reviews of the laws that impact the workplace. Furthermore, our training sessions often use a wide range of demonstrative aides and techniques, including videos, overheads, and role-playing. In short, we attempt to make the requirement of the law a real life, demonstrable experience that is more readily understood and retained.
Day to Day Counsel and Advice
Our firm’s experience, knowledge and resources in the fields of labor and employment law are only a telephone call away or, for the more complex issues, a simple matter of arranging a conference either at our offices or at the employer’s place of business. Increasing the value of this resource is the fact that our firm structures its representation of clients on the team concept in which at least two lawyers have a working familiarity and interaction with each client. Moreover, since we are a relatively small firm and all the attorneys’ practice is limited to labor and employment law, every attorney in our firm is postured to help any client with an employment problem, even if the two primary contacts might not be available on that rare occasion. Therefore, our firm is there when you need it.
Employee Handbooks/Personnel Policy Review
As the federal and state legislatures pass more and more laws impacting the employment relationship, there is more and more information that either those laws, or the courts interpreting and applying those laws, that must be communicated to employees. Our firm regularly conducts reviews of employers’ employee handbooks and personnel policies for both legal compliance and completeness.
As the law becomes more burdensome and complex, it becomes increasingly important to review the legal “health” of your company, including its susceptibility to costly and distracting litigation. We recommend that every company have a sensible and cost-effective compliance program, and we can assist in both its formulation and monitoring. In this manner, our legal team can partner with your company’s management team to ensure that compliance issues are caught early and addressed appropriately.