2012 Legal Elite Profile: LABOR/EMPLOYMENT

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Reed Smith LLP

NewsTitle: Partner
Other legal specialties: Civil litigation
Birthplace: Suffolk
Education: University of Virginia, bachelor’s degree in political and social thought, with high distinction (Echols Scholar); University of Virginia School of Law, law degree (Order of the Coif, senior editorial board, Virginia Law Review)
Spouse: August K. (Chip) Graumlich III
Children: Lizzie Graumlich, 16
Hobbies: Golf, cooking
First job as a lawyer:  After completing a clerkship for the Hon. Jerry L. Buchmeyer in the Northern District of Texas, I was recruited and joined the D.C. office of Kirkland & Ellis as an associate.
Fan of:  Virginia Cavaliers
Favorite vacation spot: Duck, N.C.
Recently read book: “The Litigators” by John Grisham
Career mentor: The Hon. Jerry L. Buchmeyer, who still serves as a constant reminder that in life as well as in law “a sense of humor is an absolute necessity.”

How has Virginia’s status as a “right to work” state affected its ability to attract new employers?
“Virginia’s status as a ‘right to work’ state creates a business-friendly environment by taking away a powerful tool unions use to increase their membership — the ability to force an employee to join the union and pay union dues.  Without a guarantee that all employees will join the union and pay dues, unions have less incentive to take on the duties and responsibilities that come with representation of the entire work force.  Consequently, employers locating in Virginia bear less risk of unionization, which removes an employer’s ability to set and unilaterally adjust labor costs.  Being able to set wages unilaterally gives employers a competitive edge over employers whose labor costs are fixed by collective bargaining agreements. Boeing’s move to South Carolina is a perfect example of this incentive.  After a period of difficult union relations at its plant in Seattle, including several strikes, Boeing decided to build a new plant in South Carolina, another ‘right to work’ state, for its next-generation airplane.  Virginia’s ‘right to work’ status holds the same appeal for other employers.”

Are age-discrimination claims becoming more common as the baby boom generation gets older?
“Age-discrimination claims have been on the rise for years.  With the current economic crisis, there are fewer jobs, fewer opportunities and more competition for the job opportunities that are out there.  In addition, baby boomers are working longer and putting off retirement.  Because older workers are more expensive from a benefit standpoint, employers may be tempted to find reasons to remove them from the payroll to cut costs.  Moreover, companies may hold ‘ageist’ stereotypes that older workers are less flexible, less technology-savvy and less able or willing to change with the times to affect worker selection in any reduction in force.  All of these forces create a fertile breeding ground for age-discrimination claims”

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