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NJL People: David A. James

Dave, a Shareholder with the firm, helps clients transform themselves by designing and implementing complex policies or transactions, navigating challenging collective bargaining agreements, and resolving complicated litigation. His clients consider Dave an extension of their human resources and labor relations, a true partner.

Dave’s strength lies in his practical advice designed to meet clients’ objectives, not frustrate them. He understands that his clients need creative solutions—which are rarely the most conservative path—so he works hard to design answers that both achieve objectives and mitigate risk.

If Dave isn’t at home or in a park with his wife and two boys, you might find him golfing, curling, or dreaming of his next trip abroad (as soon as his boys permit it).

Key Industry Experience

  • Retail
  • Manufacturing
  • Nonprofit
  • Health Care
  • Financial Services and Insurance
  • Hospitality

Representative Matters

  • Reductions in force: Constructed and executed major reductions in force for various Fortune 500 companies and organizations of all sizes across industries.
  • Labor relations: obtained favorable results in numerous greivance arbitrations and contract negotiations.
  • Department of Labor investigations: Defended various wage and hour investigations to favorable resolutions.
  • Drafted numerous affirmative action plans, independently and partnering with vendors, as appropriate.
  • Olukayode v. UnitedHealth, Obtained denial of conditional certification in an independent-contractor misclassification case involving at-the-elbow consultants.  This matter is still in litigation.
  • Martin v. Wells Fargo: Created ground-breaking precedent expanding the investigations exemption to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
  • Ramquist v. Target Corporation: Obtained summary judgment and total dismissal in an age discrimination lawsuit.
  • Stroud et al v. Target Corporation: Defended Target against a putative nationwide class action alleging misclassification of warehouse executives under the FLSA. Defeated plaintiffs’ motion for conditional class certification.
  • Gifford et al v. Target Corporation: Defended Target against a putative nationwide class action alleging misclassification of store executives under the FLSA. Secured voluntary dismissal of class claims and favorable resolution of individual claims.
  • Schlau v. Restaurant Technologies, Inc.: Obtained favorable settlement of age and sex discrimination claims.
  • Lehman v. UnitedHealth Group: Obtained Rule 12 dismissal of discrimination and retaliation claims, along with dismissal of defamation claim premised on unprecedented argument.
  • Geving v. Univita Health, Inc.: Defended Univita against a putative class action alleging misclassification. Efficiently limited class and obtained favorable resolution.
  • EEOC v. Target Corporation: Defended Target against a class claim by the Philadelphia EEOC office alleging racial discrimination in hiring, promotion, discipline and discharge as well as race-based harassment. Successfully concluded the defense with a favorable settlement.
  • Primary Surgical v. Smith & Nephew, Inc.: Defeated motion for temporary restraining order against Smith & Nephew. Obtained favorable settlement thereafter.
  • Magnuson v. LCA Vision, Inc.: Obtained early favorable settlement of pregnancy discrimination claim.
  • Johnson v. Peterson: Obtained Rule 12 dismissal of employer negligence claims; affirmed on appeal.
  • H&R Block Enter., Inc. v. Short: Enforced restrictive covenants against former employee; recovered liquidated damages and attorneys’ fees.

Recognitions and Honors

  • Selected in Rising Stars by Minnesota Super Lawyers (2007 – present)
  • Phi Beta Kappa, Wake Forest University
  • Order of the Coif, University of Minnesota Law School

Publications and Presentations

  • Numerous corporate and manager trainings for best practices and compliance (2010 – present)
  • “Whirlwind Tour of Employment and Labor Law FAQs,” Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association Spring Conference (April 2014)
  • “Ahead of the Class: Staying One Step Ahead of Various Federal Initiatives,” SHRM chapter meeting (September 2013)
  • “Introduction to Separation Agreements,” SHRM chapter meeting (June 2011)
  • “Worker Classification: Employee or Independent Contractor?” Twin Cities Human Resources Association Spring Conference (May 2011)
  • “The NLRB and Your Workplace,” Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association Spring Conference (April 2011)
  • “White-Collar Exemptions,” SHRM chapter meeting (September 2010)
  • Summary Guide to Minnesota Statutes Ch. 181, co-authored with Joseph G. Schmitt, Minnesota CLE, Inc. (May 2010)
  • White Collar Exemptions, audio conference on FLSA classification, Workplace HR & Safety (November 2009)
  • “Beyond the Time Clock: Blackberries and the Non-exempt Workforce,” Corporate Counsel’s Records Retention Report (November 2009); Employment Litigation Reporter (August 2009)
  • “Out with the Old: The ADA Amendments Act and new FMLA Regulations,” Compliance Today (May 2009)
  • Congress Retaliates: The ADA Amendments Act and Its Impact on Management, audio conference on ADA Amendments, Workplace HR & Safety (December 2008)
  • “Check Your Separation Agreements,” Nilan Johnson Lewis Top Story, (August 2008)

Professional Associations

  • American Bar Association
  • Minnesota State Bar Association
  • Minnesota Defense Lawyers Association
  • Society for Human Resource Management
  • Twin Cities Human Resources Association

Community Engagement

  • Member of Edina School District Early Childhood Special Education Site Council

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