Jim Coil joined the firm in 1974, following his service as a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps. He is one of the firm’s most experienced attorneys concentrating in the representation of management in all phases of employment-related legal matters. In addition to providing counseling and pro-active advice to clients about policy development and implementation, reduction-in-force planning and general legal compliance matters, Jim provides guidance and defends employers in three specialty areas: Government Contractor Affirmative Action planning and representation in federal government compliance audits; defense of individual and complex lawsuits alleging all forms of discrimination and wrongful treatment of employees; and wage/hour compliance advice and representation in government wage audits and all varieties of individual, collective, and class actions alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and/or state wage hour laws.
Jim has advised numerous Fortune 50 and 100 companies on a national basis in preparing and implementing compliant Affirmative Action Plans, and he has successfully led them through scores of difficult, and often aggressive, compliance audits conducted by the Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs. He has also provided guidance to clients developing compliant policies, in conducting internal audits of pay practices, and successfully represented many businesses, both large and small, in difficult wage/hour investigations conducted by the Department of Labor and numerous state agencies involving suspected misclassification of employees, erroneous pay practices, and other alleged violations of these complex laws.
When litigation cannot be avoided, Jim has extensive experience successfully defending clients in a wide range of industries and services in all types of employment and wage/hour lawsuits. He has represented companies in state and federal courts throughout the nation, and has defended their trial court victories in numerous appellate courts, including the United States Supreme Court, the Federal Courts of Appeal for the Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, Eleventh, and District of Columbia Circuits, and numerous state appellate courts, including the highest courts in New York and Georgia. Jim has won defendants’ verdicts of no liability in numerous jury trials, obtained summary dismissal in scores of others without the need for trial, and negotiated favorable settlements in the remainder. His experience includes defending multi-plaintiff claims alleging wrongful termination, whistleblower and retaliation accusations; dozens of large class and collective actions alleging FLSA and/or state law wage and meal/rest break violations; as well as cases based on systemic discrimination claims involving race, sex, age and disability.
Jim is also a prolific author and a frequent speaker at client, industry and bar sponsored seminars. He authored The New Supervisor’s EEO Handbook and has published more than 50 employment-related articles.
Jim has been listed every year since 2007 in The Best Lawyers in America® for Labor and Employment Law, every year since 2007 as one of Who's Who Legal: Georgia's Labor & Employment Lawyers, and as one of Georgia Trend magazine's “Legal Elite” every year since 2009. He was also named a 2017 "Atlanta Lawyer of the Year" in the area of Management Employment Law by The Best Lawyers in America®. Jim has been recognized as a Georgia “Super Lawyer” in the areas of Employment & Labor, Business Litigation and Civil Litigation Defense by Super Lawyers magazine every year since 2004. He has been included in every edition of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business for Labor & Employment Law since 2005, ranking #1 in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 editions. Jim has similarly been recognized in international publications such as the PLC's Cross Border Labour & Employment Lawyers Handbook since 2008, in the Guide to World's Leading Lawyers for Labour & Employment since 2006, and in the yearly editions of the International Who's Who of Business Lawyers for Labour & Employment Law since 2008. In 2011, he was named a Volunteer of the Year by the Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta. In 2012, Jim was awarded the Helping Hands Award from the Center for the Visually Impaired (CVI) in Atlanta for his significant pro bono work representing CVI in an employment matter. Jim is AV® rated by Martindale-Hubbell.*
*CV, BV, and AV are registered certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedure's standards and policies.
Co-counsel for nationally recognized bedding manufacturer in successfully defending and resolving through mediation a class action filed in California state court (San Francisco area) on behalf of all nonexempt workers at its manufacturing locations in California. The complaint asserted a long list of alleged labor code violations, including unpaid minimum wage and overtime due to improper rounding of clock times, off the clock work, missed meal breaks, improper wage statements, and failure to pay all wages at termination.
Co-counsel for large home mortgage industry client in a hybrid FLSA and Pennsylvania class and collective action alleging state and federal wage violations in payment of commissions to over 300 sales representatives. Negotiated settlement on very favorable terms.
Designed and prepared hundreds of Affirmative Action Plans and provided on-going advice and training in effective compliance programs for nationally recognized companies in virtually all segments of the economy, including the snack foods, manufacturing, airline and ground transportation, banking, construction, financial services, beverage, fast food, retail, and professional service industries.
Has represented many Fortune 50 and 100, as well as smaller companies, in hundreds of Compliance Audits conducted by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, including the first “Glass Ceiling” audit ever conducted by the OFCCP and numerous other Headquarters audits, all of which – with only one exception in 30 years – resulted in either determinations of full compliance or the resolution of the alleged deficiencies without a finding of discrimination or the monetary payments.
Represented an industry leading provider of mortgage processing solutions in a California state court class action alleging labor code violations for failure to reimburse business expenses, forfeiture of accrued but unused vacation, improper wage statements, and failure to pay all wages due at termination. Negotiated a settlement covering more than 3,000 of its current and former employees on very favorable terms.
Represented a nationwide retailer in two related age discrimination collective actions brought by 14 former store managers claiming that they were terminated due to age. Following discovery, we were able to get the plaintiffs' cases severed for individual trials, obtained summary judgment as to some of the plaintiffs and settled the remainder on terms favorable to the client.
Successfully marshaled a large aircraft manufacturer through a year-long OFCCP compliance audit at a manufacturing plant employing thousands of employees. The on-site investigation lasted more than 100 days, with up to a dozen compliance officers at a time interviewing hundreds of workers and managers, and reviewing thousands of personnel files, selection decisions and compensation records, and involved an initial demand by the OFCCP for millions of dollars in back pay. It concluded with a finding of only minor deficiencies requiring correction and no monetary relief of any kind.
Represented a major North American bottled water company in a class action brought in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Plaintiffs filed a class action complaint on behalf of themselves and similarly situated California route sales representatives alleging that our client denied overtime pay, rest periods and meal breaks to more than 1,000 of its former and current employees in violation of California law. Negotiated a favorable settlement of all claims.
Represented a major beverage company in a state-wide class action contending that our client's 800+ route salespeople were not exempt from the overtime requirements of California wage laws by virtue of the Outside Sales Exemption. The matter was settled on terms favorable to our client.
Represented a major North American beverage company in a putative class action brought by seven route salespeople seeking to represent a class alleging FLSA, age and race discrimination claims against our client in the Southern District of New York. Following initial discovery, we successfully convinced the plaintiffs that the case could not be certified and then settled the individual claims on terms favorable to our client.
Represented a major beverage company in class action brought under New Jersey and New York law on behalf of all route sales personnel (approximately 1,900) claiming that the company had misclassified them as exempt from the overtime provisions of state law, and seeking six years of back overtime pay. Obtained dismissal of the New York class and settled the New Jersey class on favorable terms.
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Harvard Law School, J.D.
Duke University, B.A.
U.S. Court of Military Appeals
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Past Member of Board of Directors
Governor's Advisory Task Force on AIDS, Past Member
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