Labor and Employment Law on Behalf of Colleges and Universities

Our college and university clients are secure in the knowledge that the legal advice they receive comes from attorneys who are concerned with every aspect of the employer-employee relationship in the higher education industry. Our decades of experience across a wide range of industries and practice areas can help you control your labor costs, avoid workplace disputes, and defend yourself when litigation arises.

Managing the employees of a college or university offers a unique set of challenges that require focused knowledge and skill to handle effectively. That is why employers in this industry routinely seek the advice and counsel of the lawyers at Venable, who offer decades of experience representing higher education institutions in a number of employment-related issues.

Our experience in this industry is broad, and includes the handling of NLRB representation cases, union negotiations, arbitrations, equal employment advice and litigation, tenure disputes and grievances, wrongful discharge litigation, DOE investigations, faculty and staff handbook reviews, FERPA and HIPAA compliance, affirmative action plans, employee benefits advice, and OSHA investigations. Clients tell Chambers and Partners that "Venable has a very credible core of labor and employment lawyers."

Practice Focus

  • Arbitrations
  • Audits
  • Class actions
  • Collective bargaining
  • Diversity / affirmative action
  • EEO / harassment claims
  • Employee benefits
  • Employment agreements
  • Employment disputes
  • ERISA compliance
  • Financial services wage compliance
  • Government contracts
  • Healthcare cost reduction
  • Intellectual property litigation
  • Immigration sanctions
  • Labor cost reductions in mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcy, and healthcare
  • Litigation
  • NLRB, union campaigns, and ULPs
  • OSHA counseling and litigation
  • Personnel policies
  • Trade secrets / non-competes
  • Wage and overtime claims
  • WARN Act compliance
  • Whistleblower

Industry Focus

  • Academies
  • Career colleges
  • Public and private institutions
  • Research institutions
  • Vocational schools


  • Venable attorneys successfully represented in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia a local university and its medical school against claims of national origin discrimination, Title VII retaliation, and breach of contract filed by a medical resident dismissed from a residency program
  • Venable currently serves as labor consultant to the University System of Maryland (USM). In that capacity, Venable advises the chancellor as to the proper interpretation of and compliance with the state higher education collective bargaining law. We also serve as chief negotiator for a seven-member coalition of USM institutions, which bargains with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) regarding economic and other core terms and conditions of employment of the non-exempt employees at the member institutions
  • Venable attorneys won a jury verdict in defense of a prominent Washington-area law school against a former professor who claimed sex and race discrimination and harassment. Venable also defended the case on appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which ruled in favor of the university
  • As labor counsel and general counsel to a four-year coed university in northern Virginia, Venable attorneys negotiated settlement of a long-standing faculty union dispute at the NLRB. As a result of restructuring the university's faculty governance in accordance with the Supreme Court's Yeshiva guidelines for managerial employees, the faculty union was voluntarily decertified
  • Venable regularly advises and represents colleges and universities on all aspects of faculty governance and staff employee relations, including rank and tenure grievances, discrimination claims, personnel policies, employee benefits, and student matters
  • Venable has successfully defended its college and university clients before administrative agencies and in the courts against both employee and student discrimination claims


  • Chambers USA
    • Labor and Employment, Virginia, 2016
    • Labor and Employment, Maryland, 2004 – 2023
  • The Best Lawyers in America, 2006 – 2022 (Venable attorneys selected for inclusion)