People: James M. Hlawek, Associate

Photo of James M. Hlawek, Associate

James M. Hlawek

Associate

Boston
Direct: (617) 946-4895
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Mr. Hlawek is a senior associate in the Boston office of Seyfarth Shaw LLP. A member of the Labor and Employment Department and the Appellate Team as well as the ERISA & Employee Benefits Litigation Team, his practice is focused on the representation of management in a variety of employment matters.

Mr. Hlawek has experience in both litigation and consulting.  His litigation experience includes helping clients to navigate a variety of appellate issues in federal and state appellate courts.  He has also litigated matters before federal and state trial courts as well as administrative agencies.  He has successfully represented employers against discrimination claims brought under federal and state laws, including claims brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and Massachusetts' Chapter 151B. He has also successfully represented employers in several non-competition and contract disputes. His experience with ERISA and employee benefits litigation includes successful representation on ERISA class action claims and withdrawal liability matters.

Mr. Hlawek's counseling practice includes advising employers regarding compliance with federal and state employment laws, leave management issues, and reductions-in-force. He also has experience drafting employment contracts, severance agreements, non-competition agreements, and company handbooks.

In 2013, Mr. Hlawek was selected to participate in the Future Leaders program by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.  In 2013, 2014, and 2015, Mr. Hlawek was also recognized as a Rising Star by the Massachusetts Super Lawyers Guide.

Prior to law school, Mr. Hlawek worked for several years as a consultant where he developed extensive experience in the health care, financial services, and education industries. Additionally,  Mr. Hlawek is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Management Accountant.

Mr. Hlawek is a senior associate in the Boston office of Seyfarth Shaw LLP. A member of the Labor and Employment Department and the Appellate Team as well as the ERISA & Employee Benefits Litigation Team, his practice is focused on the representation of management in a variety of employment matters.

Mr. Hlawek has experience in both litigation and consulting.  His litigation experience includes helping clients to navigate a variety of appellate issues in federal and state appellate courts.  He has also litigated matters before federal and state trial courts as well as administrative agencies.  He has successfully represented employers against discrimination claims brought under federal and state laws, including claims brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and Massachusetts' Chapter 151B. He has also successfully represented employers in several non-competition and contract disputes. His experience with ERISA and employee benefits litigation includes successful representation on ERISA class action claims and withdrawal liability matters.

Mr. Hlawek's counseling practice includes advising employers regarding compliance with federal and state employment laws, leave management issues, and reductions-in-force. He also has experience drafting employment contracts, severance agreements, non-competition agreements, and company handbooks.

In 2013, Mr. Hlawek was selected to participate in the Future Leaders program by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.  In 2013, 2014, and 2015, Mr. Hlawek was also recognized as a Rising Star by the Massachusetts Super Lawyers Guide.

Prior to law school, Mr. Hlawek worked for several years as a consultant where he developed extensive experience in the health care, financial services, and education industries. Additionally,  Mr. Hlawek is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Management Accountant.

Education

  • J.D., Harvard Law School (2005)
    Primary Editor, Harvard Law Review
  • M.B.A., University of Illinois (1994)
  • B.S., Millikin University (1992)
    summa cum laude

Admissions

  • Massachusetts

Courts

  • U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Representative Engagements

Representative Single-Plaintiff Cases

  • Obtained reversal of probable cause finding by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.
  • Williams v. United Technologies, Case No. 12-10294 (D. Mass.) (summary judgment for defendant on all counts, including termination-based race, retaliation, and wage claims).
  • Furtado v. Standard Parking Corp. et al., Case No. 10-11231 (D. Mass.) (summary judgment for defendants on all 11 counts, including termination-based disability, FMLA, and reasonable accommodation claims)
  • Valentino v. Brown Shoe Co., Case No. 10-11712 (D. Mass.) (obtained dismissal of plaintiff’s FMLA and disability-based claims)
  • Browne v. Chartwells Dining, No. 11-12038 (D. Mass.) (obtained complete dismissal of complaint alleging retaliation)
  • Defense of hotel owner against allegations of age discrimination and retaliation.
  • Defense of aerospace manufacturer against plaintiff’s FMLA and age-based discrimination claims.
  • Defense of consumer products company against allegations of race-based discrimination.
  • Defense of leading manufacturer against allegations of disability-based discrimination.
  • Obtained complete defense award in the arbitration of a plaintiff’s claim of race-based discrimination.
  • Obtained complete dismissal of former employee’s complaint alleging infliction of emotional distress and interference with advantageous relationship against employer and several of its senior management team

Representative Complex Discrimination Cases

  • Defense of insurance company in discrimination lawsuit involving multiple former employees brought by EEOC.
  • Defense of restaurant chain in pattern and practice lawsuit brought by EEOC.
  • Defense of university in class action alleging gender-based discrimination.

Representative Wage and Hour Cases

  • Obtained complete defense verdict in case regarding application of outside sales exemption to sales representative.
  • Obtained decertification of FLSA collective action regarding overtime claims in home builder industry.
  • Defense of restaurant chain in class action challenging tip pooling practices and use of tip credit to pay less than minimum wage.

Representative Workplace Counseling Matters

  • Negotiated and drafted severance agreement with employee threatening to bring an FMLA claim.
  • Conducted anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training sessions for employers in several industries.
  • Assistance to employers on reductions in force. 
  • Advice to employers on drafting multi-state non-competition agreements.
  • Advice to employer on implementation of policy prohibiting the hiring of smokers.

Representative Appellate Cases

  • Obtained affirmance of district court ruling that an employee’s arbitration agreement did not allow for class arbitration.
  • Obtained reversal of district court ruling that an arbitrator, rather than a judge, should decide whether class arbitration is permissible under an arbitration agreement.
  • Obtained denial of an appellee’s motion for summary action before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
  • Obtained decision from U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirming dismissal of complaint for failure to plead with sufficient clarity.  
  • Obtained six-figure remittitur of emotional distress award in appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Representative ERISA & Employee Benefit Cases

  • Obtained dismissal of complaint alleging that defendant unlawfully denied the plaintiff’s claim for short-term disability benefit payments.
  • Negotiated favorable settlements of several lawsuits alleging unlawful denial of long-term disability benefit payments. 
  • Defense of board of directors and pension committee in breach of fiduciary duty claim regarding administration of 401(k) plan.
  • Defense of employers in ERISA class action claims.
  • Defense of employers in withdrawal liability disputes.

Presentations

  • “Changes in Massachusetts Employment Law,” MassMEDIC HR Forum (September 2016)
  • “Earned Sick Time Law,” Seyfarth Shaw Breakfast Briefing (May 2015)
  • “Developments in Anti-Discrimination Law 2009-2010,” Employment Law Update, presented by NEHRA (Spring 2010)

Publications