Brian P. Pezza spends most of his time working to keep employers in compliance and out of trouble. He partners with executives and with human resource (HR) professionals to reach pragmatic and cost-effective solutions to difficult workplace situations.
Brian's clients rely on him to help navigate complex medical leave scenarios and to evaluate reasonable accommodation requests. Often these situations involve how various laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), intersect with workplace attendance and conduct policies. Recognizing that every employer and every medical leave is unique, Brian probes the details, parsing FMLA certifications and physician correspondence. Together with HR personnel, Brian develops a communication strategy between the employer and health care provider. And if FMLA has been exhausted or does not apply, he helps construct the fact-specific steps of the ADA's interactive process. Over time, this exposure allows Brian to augment his clients' institutional knowledge and to manage leave and accommodation requests more efficiently.
Human Resources Counsel
Employment law counseling is not always a case-by-case proposition, however. Smart employers update their policies and review their job descriptions periodically. Brian helps employers keep their handbooks up-to-date and reviews job descriptions to ensure that employees are properly classified as exempt or non-exempt. As Ben Franklin observed, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." To this end, Brian regularly conducts on-site training for company management and HR personnel alike on topics as diverse as medical leave, sexual harassment, and affirmative action.
And when working with organized employers, Brian strives to understand his clients' priorities and goals so that he can negotiate a collective bargaining agreement that both faithfully reflects management's vision for the enterprise and enables both sides to work together productively during the contract term.
Brian is also Lewis Rice's lead practitioner in the realm of affirmative action compliance for federal contractor employers. Every year, he helps covered employers analyze the data and produce solid affirmative action plans that have withstood multiple OFCCP audits. And throughout the year, Brian works with clients to ensure they are meeting the many non-AAP employment obligations of their federal contracts.
Sometimes, of course, even thoughtful and well-executed HR practices will not dissuade an employee from filing a lawsuit or discrimination charge. Brian has represented a diverse range of employers: from a Fortune 20 pharmacy chain to a technology startup, from a national bank to a family-owned tree trimming business, from a large public school district to a small sheriff's department. Brian tries cases in state and federal courts, and he represents employers in administrative investigations and government audits of many kinds.
Brian was selected for inclusion in Missouri & Kansas Rising Stars® 2010-2012 and Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers® 2013 and 2014.