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Dedicated to serving the legal needs of municipalities, franchised businesses, employers, and public utilities.
Labor & Employment
Labor & Employment
Michigan's Labor and Employment Lawyers
The Labor and Employment Law Team at Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC has represented employers in both the public and private sectors for over thirty years. We provide practical advice and forceful litigation in order to assist employers in complying with a variety of Michigan labor laws and employment regulations.
We believe that the following qualities are what keeps our clients satisfied and distinguishes us from other Michigan labor attorneys:
Employment Law Prowess
At Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC, we know that the beginning of the employment process starts before the hire, and the end of the relationship does not arrive until after the employee is long gone. Our skill goes far beyond the legal aspects of employment; we have learned from years of experience the importance of preparedness in all aspects of labor and employment regulations. From the beginning until the end, our Michigan labor attorney offers employment counsel and advice to our clients.
Versatility and Employee Management
We use our knowledge and skill to work with our clients to help them efficiently manage their relationships with their employees. Whether it is helping our clients develop sound pre-employment policies, drafting employment contracts, engaging in collective bargaining on behalf of our clients, or responding to an emergency disciplinary matter, we are here to adapt extensive legal knowledge to our clients’ unique needs.
Guidance and Prevention
We believe in “preventative maintenance.” The best way to avoid legal fees as related to Michigan and federal labor laws is to avoid litigation where possible. We are here to assist clients before (and as soon as) a serious and expensive work-place problem develops. We firmly believe in the adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Therefore, our Labor Attorney Team works closely with clients to negotiate practical contracts and implement practical employment policies that prevent work-place problems before they begin.
Employer Advocacy and Collective Bargaining
Our attorneys are ready and willing to handle your case in any type of setting, whether it is giving advice, litigating a matter to its conclusion, or providing representation and guidance at the bargaining table. When it comes to Michigan labor law relations, you will not find a firm in the state with more experience at the bargaining table or in working with represented employees. We negotiate dozens of Michigan collective bargaining agreements annually for both private and public sector employers. Our attorneys have been directly involved in contract negotiations with every major labor organization in this state.
Dedicated to serving your legal needs
For more information about our labor and employment law legal services, please contact us today and ask for a member of our Labor and Employment Law Practice Group.Request Consultation
Sheralee S. Hurwitz
Sheralee brings more than two decades of experience as an employment lawyer to FSBR, focusing on proactive management advice and helping clients solve problems when there’s no clear legal answer.
She works with employers in a broad range of industries — from small business and nonprofit to health care and municipalities — helping them identify legal and practical issues in workplace concerns ranging from employment law to harassment investigations.
Employment law is often complicated and contradictory, and Sheralee takes pride in finding answers to tough questions. She’s supportive, quick to offer advice and her perspective, and she is exceedingly thorough in her work to ensure she can see the big picture of a situation and boil it down for her clients.
Sheralee has extensive experience with the defense of employment discrimination claims, routinely assisting employers with the investigation and resolution of employment harassment claims. Since 1989, it’s been her job to listen, distill, and offer expert advice so clients can make thoughtful decisions.
Sheralee joined FSBR in 2019. She started her legal career with the Labor and Employment Law Department of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in its New York office. From New York City, she relocated to Lansing, practicing law with Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith, P.C., and then with Lewis, Reed & Allen in Kalamazoo.
In her free time, she stayed involved in her three children’s activities as a band mom, stage manager and religious school committee chair, and also mentored at-risk students at their high school. Currently, she is a member of the Anti-Racism Task Force of ISAAC Kalamazoo, and spends time sewing or reading for fun.
- Defending EEOC, Michigan Department of Civil Rights, and other state civil rights agency claims.
- Investigations of workplace harassment claims.
- Day-to-day legal questions, answers, and practical guidance.
- Wage and Hour concerns and claims defense.
- ADA, FMLA, accommodations Q&A, and forms drafting and assistance.
Sheralee has presented to clients and nonprofit organizations on topics including anti-harassment law, the Americans with Disabilities Act, employee handbooks, road funding, jurisdiction, and non-motorized facilities laws. She has performed audits for nonprofit organizations regarding their employment law needs. She has authored articles regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, employee handbooks, policies and legal practices, defending against discrimination, and other workplace problems claims.
- University of Virginia School of Law, J.D., 1989
- University of Virginia, B.A. magna cum laude, With distinction, History, 1985
- New York
- U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan
- U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York
- U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
- Member, Society for Human Resources Management, 2012–present
- Member, Kalamazoo County Bar Association, 2015–2019
- Husky Helper Mentoring Program, Portage Northern High School, 2011–2019
- Board Member, including Vice President, Temple B’nai Israel, 2007–2010
- Board Member, Arc Community Advocates of Kalamazoo, 2012–2015
- Chair and Member TBI Religious School Committee, 2009–2016
Helen Lizzie Mills
Lizzie works in municipal law, labor and employment law, and general litigation, providing daily advice and counsel on the myriad issues municipalities and employers face.
Her municipal practice involves drafting and enforcing ordinances, preparing legal opinions, and addressing the issue du jour for the many townships with whom she works. Lizzie enjoys helping her clients solve problems and plan for success, and she understands the challenges of running the business of local government in the public eye.
Her labor and employment law practice focus keeps her busy, representing municipal and private sector management. The labor and employment practice in particular can be intensely personal and sometimes involves the tough realities of termination, but Lizzie strives to bring empathy to the table as she advocates for a legal resolution. Her affinity for interacting with people enables her to quickly dissolve conflicts. She also has the gift of an incredible memory, recalling details not only about problems she’s worked to solve but about the people involved. Relationships are critical in labor and employment issues; being able to recall professional and personal details off the top of her head is a real asset to her clients in labor negotiations and conflict resolution.
Lizzie has extensive experience in collective bargaining, grievance and interest arbitration, and administrative claims defense before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Michigan Department of Civil Rights, state and federal wage and hour divisions, and others.
Lizzie joined Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes in 2010 and became a member in 2017. Prior to that, she served as a judicial extern to the Hon. Thomas L. Ludington, District Court Judge in the Eastern District of Michigan. While at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Lizzie earned 11 Certificates of Merit, the highest honor for academic performance in a course.
When she’s not at work, Lizzie enjoys spending time with her husband and children; strives to read hardcover books ranging from mysteries to autobiographies of important figures in world history, to true crime to professional development theories; listening to an HR or true crime podcast; and enjoying the lake near their home year-round.
- Negotiates labor contracts for public and private employers with UAW, Teamsters, AFSCME, POLC, POAM, TPOAM, IAFF, MAFF, CCLP, Steelworkers, and unaffiliated groups.
- Defends contract and disciplinary grievances on behalf of management.
- Successfully defends against unlawful discrimination claims in circuit court and before civil rights agencies.
- Drafts employee handbooks that are up to date with ever-changing labor and employment laws.
- Coordinates return to work transitions involving fitness for duty, accommodations, or other complex matters.
Lizzie regularly presents on issues relating to the following areas:
- Wage and hour, including unique rules related to public employees.
- Unlawful harassment and discrimination avoidance and management.
- Bargaining strategies and obstacles.
- Managing employee leave in the complex world of the ADA, FMLA, workers’ compensation, collective bargaining restrictions, and policy mandates.
- Personnel policies and handbooks.
- Keeping personnel decisions out of the headlines.
She has authored articles on the following topics:
- Bargaining strategies and obstacles in the public sector.
- Unlawful harassment and discrimination, including policy drafting, investigations, resolution, and defense of claims presented in state or federal civil rights agencies or the courts.
- Managing wage and hour investigations and outcomes.
- Common traps for restauranteurs in managing personnel and wage and hour matters.
- Western Michigan University Cooley Law School (formerly Thomas M. Cooley Law School), J.D., 2010, magna cum laude
- Saginaw Valley State University, B.A., Spanish, history and philosophy, 2005, summa cum laude, Roberts Fellow Scholar
- Federal Bar Association
- Inaugural “book award” scholarship recipient for excellence in advanced property law courses, 2010, Real Property Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan
- Top 5 Under 35, 2015
- Honoree, Michigan’s Rising Stars in State, Local & Municipal Law, 2019
- Co-chair and chair, Ingham County Bar Association’s annual Ask A Lawyer event for October’s Pro Bono month, 2013–2018
- Volunteer mediator, Resolution Services Center of Central Michigan, 2014–present
- Council for the Government Law Section of the State Bar
- Member, 2016–present
- Secretary/Treasurer, 2019–2020
- Editor, “Briefly,” the publication of the Council for the Government Law Section of the State Bar, 2016–present
- Highfields Board of Directors
- Member, 2015–present
- Chair, 2018–2019
- Founding member, Den Defenders Youth Football program, Laingsburg, Michigan, 2017–present
Stephen O. Schultz
Since 1978, Steve has dedicated himself to the representation of municipalities across the state of Michigan and protecting the interests of employers in both the private and public sectors.
Steve’s practice focuses on the representation of cities, townships, libraries, and other local governments in a wide range of matters including those arising under the Home Rule Cities or township enabling statutes, the Open Meetings Act, the Freedom of Information Act, Michigan’s Public Employment Relations Act, the Downtown Development Authority Act and myriad other statutes affecting municipalities across the state.
Through the years, Steve has served as a city attorney, township attorney, library attorney, and counsel to counties, DDAs, and other specialized authorities throughout Michigan, from the Sault to St. Joseph to the Detroit area. He is a committed advocate for the interests of municipalities and a firm believer in the benefits of local control of local concerns.
In addition, Steve is a recognized expert in employment and labor law. Representing private and public employers alike, Steve has bargained hundreds of contracts with every labor union in the state of Michigan, arbitrated myriad contract disputes, and represented employers in delicate employment matters.
His expertise is valued by clients and colleagues alike, particularly related to municipal law for townships and cities. Prior to co-founding FSBR, Steve was a partner with Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC.
Outside of work, Steve enjoys time with his family at their cottage, playing golf, skiing, and generally enjoying the great outdoors.
- City Attorney, City of Fenton: Advice and counsel to the mayor and city manager on virtually every issue the City faced as it transformed itself into a truly cool city.
- Township Attorney, Meridian Charter Township: Advice and counsel to the Township Board and Manager of a recognized “best place to live” in Michigan.
- Coalition to Protect Michigan Resources: Representing a coalition of natural resource, sport fishing, and other related interest groups in a complex, long-running federal court case addressing the scope and extent of Native American rights under the Treaty of 1836 between the United States and five Michigan tribes.
Steve is a frequent speaker and writer on topics of interest to employers and municipalities. He has presented an untold number of seminar sessions on a wide variety of topics relevant to townships, cities, and employers in both the private and public sectors.
Over the years, Steve has served as the Chair of the governing council of the Public Corporation Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan and Editor of the “Public Corporation Law Quarterly.” He has also served as an instructor of Local Government Administrative Law for the Master of Public Administration Program at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, and authored dozens of articles and contributed to publications for many years on a wide range of topics.
- Wayne State University Law School, J.D., 1978
- Michigan State University, M.A., Political Science/Public Administration, 1975
- Oakland University, B.A., Political Science, 1973
- U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan
- U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan
- Best Lawyers in America, since 2005
- Best Lawyers: Lawyer of the Year, Employment Law–Management, 2012, 2016, 2018
- Best Lawyers: Lawyer of the Year, Municipal Law, 2020
- Chair, Public Corporation Law Section, State Bar of Michigan, 2000–2001
- Council Member, Public Corporation Law Section, State Bar of Michigan, 1988-2018
- Fellow, Michigan State Bar Foundation, 2000- Present
- Master, American Inns of Court, 2002- 2018
Jacob P. Fox
Jake contributes to the firm’s growing Municipal Law and Labor and Employment Law practice groups. He values and strives for pragmatic solutions for employers that limit liability exposure and encourage a harmonious work environment. He is committed to advising clients on the right thing to do and keeping them informed on case status and the potential outcomes from decisions.
His municipal work involves local government transitions where he helps guide newly-elected township officials in understanding and complying with state financial practice requirements. Jake advises Downtown Development Authorities on various tax issues that must be dealt with to ensure development project success. He also assists municipalities with contract interpretation, restricted covenants, land use restrictions, zoning ordinance compliance, and municipal tax issues.
Jake’s labor and employment law work focuses on preserving management rights under collective bargaining agreements. He helps both public and private sector employers try to avoid potential conflicts with employees and ensure compliance with FLSA requirements through comprehensive review and modification recommendations of employee handbooks. He also performs arbitration research and preparation of post-arbitration briefs.
Jake joined FSBR in June 2019 as a law clerk and became an associate attorney in November 2019. Prior to that, he worked as a law clerk for the Michigan Education Association Legal Services Department while in law school. Jake is a detail-oriented individual who never loses sight of the big picture. He is precise in drafting legal documents and meticulous in his client communications, always keeping the client informed on strategy and plausible outcomes.
Outside of work, Jake enjoys camping, hiking, and traveling with his wife, watching college and pro football, World War I history, and spending time with his two Newfoundlands.
- Completed regulatory work for meeting state requirements for a power plant construction project
- Drafted post-hearing briefs for both corporate clients and municipal employers
- Advised township on administrative requirements for proper tax reporting of employee disability income
Jake works with practitioners throughout the state to help keep the legal community informed of developments in government law by coordinating the bi-monthly publication, “Briefly.”
- Michigan State University School of Law, J.D., 2019, magna cum laude
- Alma College, B.A., History and Political Science, 2016, summa cum laude
- J.J. Smith Award for Outstanding Graduate in History, Alma College
- Ronald Kapp Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Senior Thesis, “Franklin Roosevelt’s Attempt to Expand the Supreme Court,” Alma College
- Editor, “Briefly,” a bi-monthly E-Letter publication of the Michigan Bar Association Government Law Section, December 2019 – present
- Managing Editor, Law Review, MSU College of Law, 2018 – 2019
- Member, Law Review, MSU College of Law, 2017 – 2019
Chad P. Karsten
Chad assists the firm’s growing Municipal and Labor and Employment practice groups. He particularly focuses on the representation of municipalities in labor and employment matters, from negotiating collective bargaining agreements to assisting in the handling of employee disciplinary matters.
The rules and regulations that surround public sector labor and employment issues can be complex, but focusing on forward-thinking measures that prevent labor and employment issues from arising in the first place is essential. Chad regularly evaluates the employment practices of municipalities by working closely with elected public officials and by reviewing the effectiveness of employee handbooks and personnel policies to make sure they are in compliance with current labor laws.
Labor and employment issues can create unique challenges for municipalities due to the scrutiny of being in the public eye, which is why it is important to have dedicated legal counsel with a comprehensive understanding of governmental entities and the political environment in which they operate. When labor and employment situations arise, Chad is dedicated to finding workable solutions to issues and informing clients of their best options for moving forward. Chad often drafts legal opinions providing clear answers to clients’ questions and concerns. When the need arises, Chad is there to vigorously represent his clients and fight for their best interests, whether it be in arbitration, negotiation, mediation, or even litigation.
Chad joined Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes in 2017 as a law clerk before becoming an associate attorney with FSBR in November of 2019. Chad has a history of a strong work ethic, graduating summa cum laude with a Juris Doctor Degree and graduating in the top 6% of his class at MSU College of Law. While in law school, Chad was an extern at the Michigan Supreme Court Judicial Institute.
When Chad isn’t at the office, he enjoys spending time with his fiancée, Brooklyn, playing golf, and watching football.
- Grievance Arbitrations – contract interpretation and discipline
- Internal investigations of harassment or discrimination
- Personnel Policy/Employment Handbook Drafting and Review
- Municipal obligations regarding service and emotional support animals
- Michigan State University College of Law, J.D., 2019, summa cum laude, Eve August Scholarship
- Grand Valley State University, B.S., Political Science, 2015, magna cum laude
- All Michigan state courts
- Four-time recipient, Jurisprudence Award, MSU College of Law
- 3rd place finisher, Donald Nystrom Best Brief Competition, MSU College of Law
- Articles Editor, Law Review, MSU College of Law, 2018-2019
- Briefwriter, Moot Court Competition, MSU College of Law
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At Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC, we’ve been helping municipalities, franchised businesses, employers, and more with their legal needs since 2008. We’d love to learn how we can help you, too.