Michael J. Muskat  »  Partner
Mike is Board-certified in Labor & Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has developed a wide range of experience in and litigating employment and labor law matters and in counseling employers on their obligations under the laws. Representative matters include wrongful termination and discrimination claims, class action wage and hour litigation, employment eligibility verification and I-9 compliance, union-management issues, arbitration of employment disputes, employment agreements, and noncompetition and trade secrets matters.

Representative Experience

Employment Litigation

  • Regularly represents employers in federal and state courts in defending claims of employment discrimination, wrongful discharge, breach of contract claims, and other employment claims.

Wage and Hour Litigation

  • Represents employers in nationwide class and collective action litigation under the federal and state wage and hour laws.

Government Agency Investigations and Litigation

  • Department of Labor:  Represented large employer in DOL wage and hour investigation into exemption status of a class of employees and obtained favorable result.
  • OSHA:  Represents employers in OSHA inspections and subsequent OSHA litigation.  Part of team that successfully defended cases at trial involving alleged violations of fall protection, PPE, and recordkeeping regulations.
  • OFCCP:  Represented federal contractor in OFCCP sex discrimination investigation and obtained finding of no violation.
  • ICE:  Represented employer in ICE civil penalty proceedings and obtained favorable settlement of claims.

Arbitration

  • Has successfully defended numerous employment cases in arbitrations administered by AAA and JAMS.
  • Drafts arbitration agreements and has obtained enforcement of employment arbitration agreements on many occasions.
  • Obtained ruling from U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirming district court's decision that plaintiff waived right to arbitrate ERISA dispute.  See Nicholas v. KBR, Inc., 565 F.3d 904 (5th Cir. 2009).

Noncompetition and Trade Secrets

  • Obtained arbitration award against a former employee for breach of a confidentiality agreement occurring when the employee took trade secrets and confidential information upon his termination of employment.
  • Obtained denial of temporary injunction in hearing on behalf of employees and their new employer against claims of misappropriation of trade secrets.
  • Reviews and prepares noncompetition and nondisclosure agreements.

Union Organizing and Traditional Labor Law

  • Conducted training sessions for supervisors on union organizing drives and presented in-house seminars on union campaigns.
  • Prevailed in labor arbitration proceeding involving dispute over union member’s retention of seniority after a leave of absence.
  • Assisted employer in the Texas Medical Center in defeating union organizing drive involving most of the job classifications within the organization.
  • Negotiated collective bargaining agreements on behalf of arts organization and provided client with advice on labor law issues arising throughout the bargaining process.
  • Obtained dismissal of claims brought against a non-union employer before the NLRB alleging that employee was terminated for engaging in concerted, protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act.
  • Revises and updates nonsolicitation and nondistribution policies.

Results depend on facts of each case.

Professional Activities and Bar Memberships

  • Board-certified in labor and employment law by The Texas Board of Legal Specialization
  • Listed: "Texas Super Lawyer" in labor and employment law, Texas Monthly, 2011-2016; "Texas Rising Star," Texas Monthly, 2004-2011
  • Member:  American Employment Law Council (AELC), American Bar Association EEO section
  • Speaker: "EEOC Enforcement Priorities," American Petroleum Labor Lawyers Association Seminars, October 2015 and October 2014; "Wage & Hour Update: Energy Companies," American Petroleum Labor Lawyers Association Seminar, October 2013; "Noncompetes, Nondisclosures, Nonsolicitations: Can Someone Explain It All," South Texas College of Law Symposium, July 2013; "Cutting-Edge Ethical Issues," South Texas College of Law In-House Counsel Seminar, July 2012; "Non-Competes After Marsh," South Texas College of Law Symposium, July 2012; "Notable Trends and Recent Developments Under the FLSA," American Petroleum Labor Lawyers Association Seminar, October 2011; "Cutting-Edge Ethical Issues," South Texas College of Law In-House Counsel Seminar, July 2011; "Independent Contractor Misclassification," Houston Bar Association Seminar, March 2011 (with Rebecca Hanks, U.S. Department of Labor); "Cutting-Edge Ethical Issues," South Texas College of Law In-House Counsel Seminar, July 2010; "Employment Discrimination Cases After the ADA Amendments Act," State Bar of Texas Webcast, March 2010; "The ADA Amendments Act: What's New, and New Tools to Curb FMLA Abuse," American Petroleum Labor Lawyers Association Seminar, September 2009; “The New ADA: Winning and Losing,” South Texas College of Law Symposium, July 2009; "The Hard Stuff," South Texas College of Law In-House Counsel Seminar, July 2009; "Family and Medical Leave Act" and "Fair Labor Standards Act," M. Lee Smith seminars, October/November 2008; “Bad Economy, Good Practices: How Best to Handle a Reduction-in-Force,” South Texas College of Law Symposium, July 2008; “Employment Eligibility Verification,” Greater Houston Restaurant Association seminar, May 2008; "Workplace Privacy in the 21st Century," Texas Employment Law Council seminar, April 2008; “Labor & Employment Law Developments that H.R. Professionals Need to Know,” Houston Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration, February 2008; “Cutting-Edge Employment Law Strategies,” Texas Institute for Continuing Legal Education, October 2007 (program chair); “Wage and Hour Issues,” Greater Houston Restaurant Association seminar, August 2007; “Employment Law Icebergs,” South Texas College of Law Symposium, July 2007; “Best Practices for Documenting Employee Performance,” Texas Medical Association Seminar, July 2007; “Discrimination Law 101,” Council on Education and Management Seminar, March 2007; “Risky Business: What You Need to Know About an Employer’s Obligation to Protect Employee Data,” Houston Bar Association Labor & Employment Section, December 2006; “Update on Drafting and Enforcing Arbitration Agreements,” Texas Institute for Continuing Legal Education, November 2006; “What Small Business Owners Need to Know About Wage and Hour Issues,” Asian American Bar Association seminar, August 2006; "Race, Sex, and Age Discrimination," HBA Labor & Employment Law Seminar, April 2006 and HBA CLE Program, March 2006; “Spector v. Norwegian Cruise Line,” UT Maritime and Admiralty Law Seminar, November 2005; "Employment Policies," TAB seminar, January 2005; "Labor Law and Transactions," Vinson & Elkins CLE Seminar, September 2004; "10 Reasons Employers Get Sued," Texas Association of Business seminar, March 2004; "Emerging Issues in Employment Law," Council on Education in Management employment law seminar, 2003; "Untangling the Overlapping Web of Leave Laws," Council on Education and Management employment law seminar, 2002 and 2003.
  • Quoted:  "Companies Get Training to Avoid Email Legal Woes," Houston Chronicle, July 10, 2014; "Be Careful When Seeking Confidentiality," Houston Chronicle, August 29, 2012; "Focus: Disaster Preparedness," Houston Business Journal, March 25, 2011; "Unions Take Aim at Hospitals," Houston Chronicle, June 24, 2010; "Did the Janitors Get a Good Deal?," Houston Chronicle, April 8, 2010; "A Union Local May Not Be Very Local," Houston Chronicle, November 4, 2009; "Nurses' Division Over Union Still Raw," Houston Chronicle, May 21, 2009; “When Employees of Unions Organize,” Houston Chronicle, November 23, 2008; “Unions Eager for Change,” Houston Chronicle, November 6, 2008; “No Catch-22 for Disabled,” Houston Chronicle, October 9, 2008; “Unionizing Not as Spontaneous as it Seems,” May 8, 2008;  “Food for Thought,” Houston Chronicle, November 15, 2007; “Free Speech Too Nasty?,” Houston Chronicle, May 17, 2007; “For Better or Worse, Openness to Affect Talks,” Houston Chronicle, April 12, 2007; “Contract Just Might Attract Members,” Houston Chronicle, November 23, 2006; “Bakers Union Cooking Up Momentum With Its Win,” Houston Chronicle, July 6, 2006; “2 Rival Unions Join at City Hall,” Houston Chronicle, June 15, 2006; “Two Unions Pursue Unity,” Houston Chronicle, June 10, 2006; "Each Day is Casual to Some U.S. Postal Service Folks," November 25, 2004; "Political Winds Steer Labor Board's Decisions," Houston Chronicle, June 24, 2004.
  • Author:  “ADA Requires Employers to Make ‘Reasonable’ Medical Judgments,” Houston Lawyer, May/June 2007; Contributor to Age Discrimination Chapter, Lindemann & Grossman’s Employment Discrimination Law; "OSHA Boards Executive Accountability Ship," Houston Business Journal, January 2003; "Substantive Justice and State Interests in the Aftermath of Herrera v. Collins: Finding an Adequate Process for the Resolution of Bare Innocence Claims," 75 Texas L. Rev. 131 (1996).
  • Admitted to practice: Texas, 1997; U.S. Supreme Court; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit; U.S. District Court for the Southern, Eastern, Northern, and Western Districts of Texas.

Education and Background

  • The University of Texas School of Law, J.D. with honors, 1997 (Articles Editor, Texas Law Review; Order of the Coif).
  • Bowdoin College, A.B. magna cum laude, 1993.
  • Law clerk to the Honorable Lee H. Rosenthal, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, 1997-1998.