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Employment Law360: A Conversation With Dennis Duffy

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Editor’s Note: Congress should consider preemption of overlapping state and local laws covering the same subject as part of any expanded federal regulatory regime in the area of labor and employment law, says Baker Botts’ Dennis Duffy in Employment Law360’s series of chats with high-profile employment lawyers.

Q. What attracted you to employment law as a practice area? And what keeps you interested?

A. My father’s experiences as a union-represented employee dealing with issues with his union and with management when I was growing up fueled my initial interest in labor and employment law. The constantly changing nature of the practice is what keeps me interested.

Q. What is the most challenging case you worked on?

A. As the first general counsel for the Office of Compliance, I was responsible for enforcing the labor and employment laws as applied to Congress and related legislative branch entities by the Congressional Accountability Act. This required me to create a regulatory and enforcement regime from scratch, which was an incredible opportunity to see the policy aspects of labor and employment law close up. I was responsible for responding to an early federal court challenge to the scope of the office’s enforcement authority, which was an interesting mix of law and politics.

I also participated in the defense of a class action lawsuit against a major manufacturer based on its closure of a large facility and seeking substantial damages and a nationwide injunction against future plant closures. The case had a number of interesting tactical and strategic twists, turns and issues, including a number of cutting-edge and thorny privilege, confidentiality and waiver issues, issues involving ex parte communication with management employees, and others.

To read the entire interview with Duffy, please click here.

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