Barnes & Thornburg LLP
Labor and employment law veteran, trusted adviser and proven advocate Don Lawless consistently delivers responsive, focused advice that gets his clients where they need to go under the law, while leveraging their workforce potential and business objectives.
Don focuses his practice in the pharmaceutical and health, food processing, manufacturing, higher education and service industries. His traditional labor experience is extensive and includes contract negotiation, grievance arbitration and defense of unfair labor practice charges, and union avoidance.
Don advises on workforce restructurings and works with clients on a broad range of civil rights compliance and defense, with particular emphasis on ADA compliance, facility and program access under Titles II and III of the ADA, FMLA compliance, and employment-related contracts and policies. He also represents multinational auto parts manufacturers, major global brands and universities in OSHA-related compliance and appeals.
As vice chair of the firm’s Higher Education practice group, a significant portion of Don’ practice is devoted to representing college and university clients in labor and employment matters and student affairs, athletic program compliance, internal investigations, tenure denial disputes, and facility and program accessibility issues. Notably, he directed a major public university's response to a comprehensive U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Title IX sexual violence compliance review, and for another, developed the client’s strategy in response to the anticipated expiration of student Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. Don also successfully defends civil rights matters, including many discreet student OCR complaints of discrimination typically related to disability accommodation.
Don offers honed abilities in designing and executing a wide variety of workplace investigations. He consistently executes workplace investigations that are comprehensive and complete, ascertaining all the evidence available and rendering sound, balanced conclusions that are ultimately clear and justifiable.
Don is valued by clients and colleagues for his outstanding written work product. He is dedicated to achieving success for his clients and delivering value, and for taking the time to listen carefully to each client.
Don is a frequent speaker to a variety of organizations, such as the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the Michigan Public Employer Labor Relations Association, the National Association of College and University Attorneys, and numerous industry-specific organizations on such subjects as medical and recreational marijuana, strategic union avoidance, NLRB-related developments, DOL wage and hour and FMLA enforcement, equal pay compliance, and EEO enforcement developments.