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Virginia’s Go To Lawyers – Employment Law: Thomas M. Winn III

winn_thomasThomas M. Winn III
Principal
Woods Rogers PLC
Roanoke

Education

AB, Duke University
JD, University of Richmond

Best known for:

Labor and employment law – management

Signature case or representation:

In fall 2019, obtained a jury verdict In EEOC v. Appalachian Power Co., after a week-long trial of Title VII sexual harassment and retaliation claims brought on behalf of a temporary worker. The EEOC claims a 95% resolution success rate in district court litigation, so this was a considerable victory.

Other important cases:

In summer 2020, handled socially distanced collective bargaining negotiations on behalf of a government contractor with several hundred bargaining unit employees. Tom negotiated a collective bargaining agreement that included a pension freeze, an extremely contentious issue in labor negotiations.

Over the course of several months in 2018, handled collective bargaining negotiations on behalf of a manufacturing client with 700 bargaining unit members. Following negotiations, the union filed a $7 million contract interpretation grievance over changes to retiree health benefit CBA language. Represented the company in a 2019 labor arbitration and secured a complete victory.

Following protracted litigation on behalf of a large manufacturer, obtained a jury verdict in a case that began as class-action race discrimination, harassment, and retaliation Title VII claims. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the defense verdict. was affirmed. See Barber v. JTEKT Automotive Virginia, Inc. (4th Cir. 2013).

Working with clients:

I try to treat every client like each is my most important client, and that their issue is the most urgent matter I am handling. I do my best to respond with prompt and personal attention. Most HR clients in my experience do not want lengthy, wishy-washy legal memoranda. Instead, they want direct, practical solutions. That is what I aim to provide quickly and efficiently. Finally, I don’t hesitate to involve one of my colleagues, like Victor Cardwell or King Tower, when their experience in a particular area will better suit the client’s needs.

Best career advice:

I have been blessed with several mentors who were giants in this field. Bill Poff told me early on that the law and the facts may not always line up perfectly for your client, but you can always outwork and out-prepare the other side through a tour de force. Bayard Harris often admonished that you can’t always delegate the least pleasant labors – sometimes you have to “muck out the Augean stables” yourself. Finally, while not advice, strictly speaking, I have tried to emulate Tom Bagby’s thoughtful analysis from every angle, as well as his personal and careful attention to his clients and their needs.

Outlook for 2021:

Effective May 1, 2021, public sector collective bargaining is permissible in Virginia. Labor issues are already heating up, with localities evaluating the pros and cons of ordinances and resolutions authorizing bargaining. Also, we can expect to see an increase in state court employment litigation following 2020’s blockbuster amendments to the Virginia Human Rights Act. Finally, we will continue to see the pendulum swing in a pro-employee and pro-union direction at the EEOC, DOL and NLRB given the change in administration.