Employment Law Expertise
Chen Palmer’s highly successful public law practice was complemented in early 2011 with the addition of an employment law practice. The Employment Law team leverages off and adds to the Public Law team’s specialist public sector knowledge and high level of complimentary technical expertise in areas including public sector restructuring, human rights, information management and conflicts of interest.
This unique convergence of expertise makes us ideally placed to ensure that our clients receive advice and assistance that meets and exceeds their employment and public law needs.
Chen Palmer and LexisNexis will publish the Employment Law Toolbox for Business in June 2013.
Collective Employment and Bargaining
Chen Palmer has provided strategic and legal advice to a significant number of public and private sector agencies in relation to their collective bargaining. This has included advising on:
- drafting bargaining process agreements and the enforceability of those documents;
- when a party can declare bargaining to be at an end;
- communications with employees;
- good faith obligations;
- facilitation under the Employment Relations Act;
- passing on;
- the cross initiation of bargaining;
- contingency planning;
- strikes and lockouts;
- the use of alternative labour; and
- picket and trespass matters.
Chen Palmer has significant experience in organisational change, providing advice to a number of major institutions during difficult periods of restructuring.
Chen Palmer’s experience at the interface between public and employment law has been important in ensuring organisational change is cognisant of and responsive to this broader political context.
Disputes and personal grievances
Chen Palmer has advised large employers on:
- serious misconduct investigations and disciplinary processes relating to senior executives; and
- the implementation of performance management processes for a senior executive who had been failing to perform since being appointed to the role.
We are available to provide representation at all levels of the dispute resolution process.
Health and Safety
Chen Palmer advises on:
- the implementation of drug and alcohol policies for employees;
- consultation with employee unions in order to implement drug and alcohol policies as quickly as possible;
- the use of Australian standards for testing where New Zealand standards do not yet exist; and
- technological developments in this area.
Chen Palmer has also provided advice:
- To a number of employers in relation to their obligations to employees in light of the Christchurch earthquakes;
- On the options available in the event that employees refuse to return to work;
- On disciplinary processes for failure to follow a lawful and reasonable instruction; and
- On termination for medical incapacity where employees have a psychological or medical condition which might prevent their return.
We have particular expertise in discrimination cases involving decisions based on or related to:
- sex, which includes pregancy and childbirth;
- marital status;
- religious belief;
- ethical belief;
- ethnic or national origins;
- political opinion;
- employment status;
- family status; and
- sexual orientation.
Chen Palmer’s human rights team led by Nicholai Anderson works closely with the Employment Law team on issues relating to human rights and discrimination. Nicholai has a strong background in human rights, being the former Secretary and Legal and Research Counsel to the Human Rights Review Tribunal, which deals specifically with deliberations on human rights and proceedings under the Human Rights Act.
Employment Law Team
Jim Castiglione, Partner, Auckland
LLB / BA (Victoria University of Wellington)
Jim Castiglione is an employment lawyer with a particular focus on health and safety issues. Jim has advised on employment and health and safety matters, primarily for employers, including advice as in-house counsel to large organisations. Jim is particularly skilled at formulating innovative strategies and the team required to get the results they need on time and on budget.
Jim’s specific areas of expertise include:
- Strategic and transactional advice to clients in all aspects of employment law;
- Restructuring and redundancies;
- Employment dispute resolution, including mediation; and
- Advice on Health and Safety in Employment obligations.
Some examples of Jim’s work include:
- Drafting and advising on employment agreements, policies, procedures and staff handbooks;
- Advising on and managing restructuring and redundancy processes;
- Advising on and managing disciplinary processes for misconduct and serious misconduct, including senior level terminations;
- Managing and successfully defending against or settling personal grievances;
- Advising on Health and Safety in Employment obligations and working with the Department of Labour to resolve enforcement action, including prosecutions; and
- Providing training and seminars on employment and health and safety issues to clients.
Direct dial: 09 924 9004
Mobile: 021 464 993
Mai Chen, Founding Partner, Auckland
LLB (First Class Hons) (Otago) LLM (Harvard) FNZIM, Adjunct Professor, University of Auckland Business School, Commercial Law Department and Law Faculty
Mai is a founding partner of Chen Palmer, which she co-founded in 1994 and has led for the last 18 years. She is an experienced public and employment law problem solver. Mai has particular experience in advising governance boards, including on public sector restructuring and machinery of Government issues. Mai also has particular expertise in discrimination cases. Mai is a tenacious advocate, and provides pragmatic, effective advice to achieve clients’ desired outcomes.
Mai’s specific areas of expertise in employment law include:
- Public law tools, public sector restructuring and machinery of Government issues, including Crown entities and SOEs;
- Board and Governance issues, and interfacing with Government; and
- Discrimination and human rights law.
Some examples of Mai’s employment law work include:
- Advising public sector governance boards on interfacing with Government, including on restructuring proposals;
- Advising public sector Chief Executives on employment and disciplinary process, and managing risks;
- Providing advice and representation in discrimination cases;
- Representing clients in employment disputes;
- Appearing in the Court of Appeal in Capital Coast Health Ltd v New Zealand Medical Laboratory Workers Union Inc  1 NZLR 7 in a case concerning communication with employees during collective bargaining and the proper interpretation of the Employment Contracts Act 1991 in light of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990;
- Teaching discrimination and employment law at Victoria University of Wellington.
- Chaired Government Review of the Policy Concerning Women in Combat: Report of the Working Party on Women in Combat, which resulted in changes to the Human Act 1993 to allow women to serve in combat roles.
- Advisory role at the United Nations on discrimination against women and indigenous peoples’ rights.
Direct dial: 09 557 0351
Mobile: 021 565 709