LL.M. in Employment Law students enter the program as members of a cohort and proceed through the curriculum together. The curriculum covers a wide range of topics with a focus on emerging theories and new legislation.
470.0 Cutting Edge Issues in Employment Law (2 credits)
Delving into the broad range of legal issues that arise in the workplace, this course will focus on those of particular significance in today’s economy. Covered topics will include defining the boundaries, terms and conditions of the employment relationship; regulation of compensation; regulation of leave time; employee privacy in the private workplace; whistleblower protections; and employee covenants and duties during and after employment. This course is one of three to be taken in the first year of the program that, together, will provide an overview of the core legal issues that an employment lawyer might face, while approaching the material from the vantage point of an experienced practitioner. Successful completion of this course will aid the lawyer in advising clients about and litigating claims pertinent to these issues of critical modern importance.
471.0 Evolving Employment Discrimination Law (2 credits)
Courts and Congress, along with state and local governments consistently refine, alter, and compound the law with respect to workplace discrimination. This evolution in the regulation of equality in the workplace presents challenging legal issues for the employment law practitioner. Thus, this course will probe the most recent changes in employment discrimination law with respect to Title VII, the ADA, the ADEA, but will also involve examination of currently controversial subjects related to barriers to workplace equality. As a primary course in the first year of the program, the problem-based model employed in this class will not only deepen the student practitioner’s knowledge in employment discrimination, but also advance the lawyer’s skill with respect to litigation strategies and methods of proof and procedure, while also examining the economic consequences of workplace inequality.
472.0 Representing Clients in the 21st Century Unionized Workplace (2 credits)
Participants will study, in-depth, selected aspects of how the relationships among the players in a unionized workplace — international and local unions, employees, employers, the National Labor Relations Board (NLBR), and the U.S. Congress — have evolved in the last 30 years. Participants in this course will work through one or more case studies selected and prepared by the facilitator. Case studies will address topics such as: the role of neutrality agreements in partially unionized workforces; outsourcing bargaining unit work; downsizing the unionized workforce; collective bargaining in the era of globalization and job losses to overseas workforces; and the status of post-retirement medical and pension benefits in unionized workplaces. Participants in this course will gain a clearer understanding of the complex interplay among federal labor laws, politics, and economic realities facing American businesses in order to construct their own “tool-kits” for advising and representing any of the players in a unionized workplace.
473.0 ADR in Employment Law (2 credits)
Some familiarity is assumed with negotiation, mediation, and arbitration in employment situations that do not involve collective bargaining. The course will focus on representing clients effectively in ADR processes, creative approaches to dispute resolution, and less frequently used ADR options. Students will consider dispute resolution clauses in employment contracts and focus on current issues in mediation and arbitration law. Students may participate in online mediation role plays, research and argue the enforceability of ADR clauses, and act as arbitrator in an employment arbitration. This course will take a very practical approach to dispute resolution, while recognizing the theory and policy behind differing practices and court decisions.
474.0 Constitutional Issues in the Workplace (2 credits)
This course will explore constitutional issues that are common in the modern workplace, including property rights in employment, due process rights, free speech, and liability under Section 1983. The course will also cover the state action doctrines that enable this constitutional and statutory law to extend to private employers. Students should expect to confront the current limits of constitutional regulation of the workplace and to gain proficiency in spotting and addressing constitutional liabilities.
475.0 Investigating and Litigating Employment Law Cases (2 credits)
Improving the lawyer’s ability to effectively investigate and litigate employment law cases in the modern era is the focus of this course. Course materials will center around one or a few factual scenario(s), based upon actual cases, and the lawyer will draw upon the relevant law (statutes, regulations, cases, etc.) to work through the investigation and litigation process, gathering the skills and tools necessary to achieve the most favorable outcome possible. The substance of such real or hypothetical facts would likely raise legal issues pertaining to, among other things, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wage and hour violations.
476.1 Master’s Thesis I (1 credit)
In consultation with a thesis adviser (one of the faculty members teaching in the program or another John Marshall faculty member who agrees to serve as an adviser) students choose a topic for their thesis near the beginning of the third semester of the program. Part of the semester will be a structured time to learn about scholarly research and writing, using such resources as Eugene Volokh’s Academic Legal Writing.
The goal of the thesis project is for the student to write a 25-30 page paper of publishable quality and, if possible, to have it published. The thesis will demonstrate that the student is skilled at writing and research that should be expected of a highly competent lawyer. Publication of the thesis should enhance significantly the student’s reputation among employment law practitioners.
A detailed outline and bibliography is due by the end of the third semester. The faculty adviser will give extensive comments on the quality of the outline, any deficiencies that must be corrected, and any additional areas of inquiry that should be explored.
477.0 Improving Employment Law Documents (2 credits)
This course is designed to both advance the student practitioner’s knowledge and understanding of transactional documents that are frequently and less commonly used in the employment law context while improving the lawyer’s skills in drafting them. The course will be structured around numerous factual scenarios each of which calls for the drafting of employment-related transactional documents including, but not limited to, employment and contractor agreements, policies and procedures, employee handbooks, non-competition/non-solicitation agreement, severance agreements, executive compensation agreements, and other documents related to cross-border practice. Student practitioners will not only be expected to negotiate and analyze the requisite transactional documents, but also comment on, draft, and revise the relevant documents consistent with a hypothetical client’s needs.
478.0 Twenty-first Century Administrative Agency Practice for Employment Lawyers (2 credits)
Employment lawyers often represent clients before administrative agencies. This course will focus on how to represent clients before the various agencies to which many employment cases must be referred, at least initially. Lawyers will study administrative practices and procedures, such as how to present or defend a Sarbanes-Oxley claim, how to file a qui tam action and work with the U.S. Attorney and Department of Justice, how to work effectively with the EEOC on a discrimination claim, filing FLSA actions or agreements with the Department of Labor, and making or defending USERRA claims to the Department of Labor. Students may also study how to make FOIA requests and claims. The course will cover exhaustion of administrative remedies and how the administrative agencies work within and separate from the court system as well as methods for efficiency and effectiveness. Students will work with various scenarios to determine appropriate administrative action, draft the initial documents, and consider strategies for success.
476.2 Master’s Thesis II (1 credit)
By the end of the fourth semester, students should have completed the research and have prepared a draft of the paper. A complete draft of the thesis is due by the end of the fourth semester. The faculty adviser will give extensive comments on the style and substance of the project and may require additional revisions of all or part of it by specified dates during the fifth semester. Working with the faculty advisor, the student will narrow or broaden the topic to ensure appropriate coverage and reasonable length, met the deadlines agreed to with the advisor, and respond to the advisor’s comments on the draft.
479.0 Workplace Safety Regulation (2 credits)
This class explores the theory and operation of state and federal legislation regarding workplace safety, noting the central goals of work safety regulation: injury prevention, compensation, and worker rehabilitation. The class will approach the topics studied from a regulatory perspective, explaining differing theories of agency regulation and the role of stakeholders — employers, workers, government, and the public — in securing safe workplaces and compensation for those injured through work. An integral part of the course will follow a particular work safety problem from risk identification to injury compensation. Students will study the nature of obligations to assure safe and healthful working conditions under the US Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA) and the operation and requirements of Workers’ Compensation Acts. This class will be useful for those representing employers, employees or government to better understand the scope and interaction of legal obligations in work safety.
476.3 Master’s Thesis III (2 credits)
Any remaining revisions to the paper will be made to the satisfaction of the faculty advisor. The advisor will guide the student in submitting the paper to an appropriate journal or law review. After the advisor gives final approval, the cohort of students will convene in Atlanta for 2-3 days to deliver and discuss their papers before an audience composed of classmates, professors, and practitioners.
During the fifth semester, students will choose one elective course from those offered, depending on student demand. Potential elective courses include:
480.0 Employee Benefits (2 credits)
Without assuming a great deal of tax law experience, this course will examine new issues in employee benefits regulation, including strategies with tax consequences, plan design, fiduciary duty requirements, and the effects on benefits of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. The course will consider new developments in deferred compensation and retirement plans and how those can be structured to best protect the interests of both employers and employees. Practitioners will consider how to best advise clients about new developments in health benefits, flexible cafeteria plans, severance benefits, and COBRA continuation coverage.
481.0 International Labor and Employment Law (2 credits)
As work becomes ever more globalized, cross-national and interdependent, employment lawyers need to understand the international scope and impact of work-related obligation. This course, an elective unit, will explore the international law of work. The course will develop an understanding of the basic function and operations of the International Labor Organization (ILO), labor regulation through regional trade agreements (eg, NAFTA and the EU), and the obligations arising from the American Tort Claims Act (ATCA) and overseas workers. A particular focus of the class will be on labor problems for the multi-national enterprise (MNE), including methods of self-regulation of labor and the influence of non-governmental organizations on cross-border labor matters.
482.0 Issues in Public Employee Law (2 credits)
In this course, the special and unique concerns and laws that govern the public-sector workplace will be explored. Contrasts with the laws governing private-sector employment will be highlighted. From the broad array of public-sector employment law issues, the instructor will select a group of issues each semester on which to focus. Issues may include public- sector union organizing, union membership, and collective bargaining; compliance under the Fair Labor Standards Act’s exemptions and overtime requirements; operation of the federal and state anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, and anti-retaliation (including whistle-blower) laws in the public sector; affirmative action obligations in public-sector employment; state-law statutory protections for public employees; and Constitutional protections for public employee speech , privacy, and property rights in employment.
483.0 Employment Issues in Immigration and Naturalization Law (2 credits)
The focus of this course is primarily on advising employers about strategies in hiring and verification of status for entry-level employees and in securing work visas for highly skilled and managerial employees. Students will be challenged to use the Immigration and Reform Control Act, as amended by the Immigration and Nationality Act, in both actual and hypothetical case studies of businesses seeking to avoid transgressions, or to avoid sanctions for transgressions, of the Acts. If the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program remains in force, the class will consider best practices in qualifying foreign entrepreneurs and investors for visas.
484.0 Employment Law in the Information Age (2 credits)
This class deals with legal issues arising in the brave new world of work produced by information technology. Many aspects of the intersection of electronic communications and work will be explored, from telecommuting, to privacy and security issues, to labor issues in the virtual workplace. As much as possible, content and assignments in this class will take advantage of the online environment and be delivered through hyperlinks and online forms of media. This is an elective class in the LL.M. curriculum and will be useful for those representing employers and employees operating in the online environment.
485.0 Collective Bargaining, Arbitration, and Contract Enforcement (2 credits)
Although labor organizing is at a relatively low ebb, many enterprises are still governed by collective bargaining agreements. This two-hour elective course focuses on defining, interpreting, and enforcing the common law of the workplace. It will benefit practitioners who represent labor organizations, unionized employers, or unionized employees and those interested in labor arbitration. The problem-based approach will broaden and deepen substantive understanding and sharpen analytical skills. Basic coverage includes subjects and scope of bargaining in good faith; bargaining impasse; the duty of fair representation; arbitration practice and procedure; interest, contract language, and employee grievance arbitration; arbitration and the NLRB; arbitration and the courts; and hybrid actions under Section 301. Attention is also focused on ethical issues that arise in this practice area. Students will work through a number of dynamic and complex scenarios designed to reveal gaps in their understanding while encouraging them to build upon the experience they bring to the course. The problems call for a variety of responses designed to increase research and writing proficiencies as well as sharpen integrative and strategic thinking in areas of current interest, such as drugs and violence in the workplace, plant closings and layoffs, and the arbitration of employment discrimination and retaliation issues under collective bargaining agreements.