Matt Lonergan practices almost exclusively in the area of labor relations and employment law on behalf of management. In his career, he has represented companies throughout the country in the areas of union organizing, collective bargaining negotiations, grievance and arbitration, employment discrimination litigation in both federal and state courts, the National Labor Relations Act, wrongful discharge, wage and hour law, and other employment-related areas. He is also experienced in ADR and mediation, and has served as a mediator in employment litigation matters.
Matt spends a great deal of time consulting with management clients in identifying potential legal issues and resolving day-to-day management and operational issues. He also conducts work place training and client seminars on a wide variety of personnel issues.
Matt is a member of the Nashville, Tennessee (Labor Law Section), Texas and American (Labor and Employment Law Section) Bar Associations, and a Fellow of the Nashville Bar Association. He is co-editor of the Labor and Employment Newsletter.
Successfully defended major Southeastern convenience store chain against claims that store’s parking lot and restrooms were not compliant with Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The plaintiff claimed that the station’s parking lot and restrooms did not meet the ADA’s standards. Represented client and worked with ADA compliance expert in addressing the store’s ADA compliance issues to prevent subsequent litigation and negotiated successful settlement with plaintiff to resolve dispute.
Represent automotive parts manufacturing in wrongful termination case where employee claims he was terminated in violation of Mississippi statute establishing the right to carry a weapon in his car on private property. Summary judgment granted on the basis that employer fit with the exception created for parking lots that prohibit access to the general public by “gate, security station or other means”, and that termination was based on violation of company policy and other complaints regarding employee’s behavior. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the granting of summary judgment for the company.
Worked with an insurance company on an ADA Title III compliance audit in a retail center they purchased from a seller with existing access issues in the center’s parking lot. Worked with an expert witness to resolve the issues identified in the compliance report and avoided litigation.
Former employee claimed gender discrimination in her termination from employment. Employer asserted employee had waived her claims by executing a Severance and Release Agreement and filed a motion for summary judgment. Employee argued that the waiver did not apply because the explanation for her termination, elimination of her position, was not true as evidenced by employer’s subsequent hiring of a male employee in her same position. Employer’s motion for summary judgment was granted by the court citing that the waiver was valid and enforceable, and waived all claims related to her employment.
Obtained summary judgment for personnel supplier in automotive industry in case involving allegations of FMLA interference, FMLA retaliation, ADA discrimination, failure to accommodate under the ADA, and retaliation in violation of the ADA. In granting supplier’s motion for summary judgment, the court held that the company was entitled to rely on an FMLA certification showing the plaintiff was not legally entitled to leave, that plaintiff did not make a request for a reasonable accommodation as a matter of law, and that the plaintiff could not show that the supplier’s legitimate, non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory reason for terminating him was pre-textual.
Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® Employment Law – Management, 2011-2022 Labor Law – Management, 2011-2022 Litigation – Labor and Employment, 2013, 2017-2022 Labor and Employment Law, 2006-2010 Listed in Chambers USA Labor & Employment, 2007-2012, 2014-2021 Employment: Mainly Defendant, 2003-2006 Listed in Mid-South Super Lawyers, Labor and Employment, 2006-2021 Listed in Benchmark Litigation "Labor & Employment Star," 2020-2021 Listed in Lawdragon 500 Leading U.S. Corporate Employment Lawyers, 2020 Listed in Nashville Business Journal, “Best of the Bar,” Labor & Employment, 2011-2012 Martindale-Hubbell® AV Preeminent Rated, Labor and Employment, Employment Litigation ADA and FMLA discrimination, wrongful discharge and retaliation case Represented hospital in ADA and FMLA discrimination, wrongful discharge and retaliation case brought by former social worker. Employee was terminated as part of the progressive discipline process upon her return from leave. Hospital was granted summary judgment by the court holding that all leave was provided to employee, discipline was properly administered, and employee was terminated as final step after another round of patient complaints. Summary judgment was affirmed by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Wrongful termination and failure to accommodate claims Obtained summary judgment in state court for a municipality that had removed a city employee from her position based on her complaints of pain related to a disability and her doctor’s statements that she could not perform certain essential functions of the job. When employee’s paid sick time ran out, she submitted her resignation from employment. Employee brought wrongful termination and failure to accommodate claims under the Tennessee Disability Act. The court ruled that the city properly relied on her statements and her doctor’s statement indicating she could no longer perform her duties when she was removed from her job. Court further ruled that her resignation was, in fact, voluntary even though she knew she was facing termination. The Tennessee Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for the city. ADA and wrongful termination Won summary judgment in ADA and wrongful termination case against a city involving the plaintiff’s CBD usage and a failed drug test for marijuana. The plaintiff, a city employee, claimed that her usage of legal CBD had a permitted amount of THC that caused her to fail a drug test. Our client argued that regardless of whether the plaintiff only used legal CBD products or illegal marijuana, the result of the drug test as verified by the medical review officer was positive for marijuana as the test could not tell the difference between THC consumed via legal CBD usage and THC consumed via illegal marijuana. Our client argued that it was entitled to rely on the result of the verified drug test and that there was no evidence the city was aware of the plaintiff’s alleged disability. The federal court agreed with our client’s arguments and granted the motion for summary judgment in full, dismissing the plaintiff’s lawsuit in its entirety (2020 WL 5424104 (M.D. Tenn. Sept. 10, 2020)). Lead negotiator for government subcontractor Conducted collective bargaining negotiations for government subcontractor at White Sands Missile base in Alamogordo New Mexico (2017 and 2020 – in process) ADEA discrimination claims Represented trucking company in jury trial on three plaintiffs’ ADEA discrimination claims. Obtained directed verdict on one plaintiff’s claims, and then obtained favorable post-trial rulings reversing jury’s finding of willful violation and liquidated damages for other two plaintiffs, resulting in modest monetary verdicts. ADA claims and retaliation Obtained summary judgment on behalf of regional retail company on former accounting employee’s ADA claims and retaliation. Title VII race discrimination claims Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment verdict for church on former teacher’s claims of Title VII race discrimination and violation of the ADEA. Represented Stein Mart in employment matters Assisted Stein Mart in responding to employment discrimination charges and represented the department store chain in state and federal court lawsuits on employment matters across the country. Conducted work place investigations regarding employee complaints, and represented Stein Mart with outside agencies, such as the Department of Labor, in wage and hour matters. Consulted with the CEO, HR and legal department on personnel matters, as well as assisted in contract review and drafting employment agreements. Gender discrimination claim Obtained summary judgment for employer related to former employee’s claim of gender discrimination in her termination from employment. Employer asserted employee had waived her claims by executing a Severance and Release Agreement and filed a motion for summary judgment. Employee argued that the waiver did not apply because the explanation for her termination, elimination of her position, was not true as evidenced by employer’s subsequent hiring of a male employee in her same position. Court cited that the waiver was valid and enforceable, and waived all claims related to her employment. Jenkins v. Davidson Transit Organization, 2016 WL 2939910 (M.D. Tenn. April 13, 2016) In an age and disability discrimination case, the court granted our client’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the plaintiff’s case in its entirety. Our client asserted the affirmative defense of judicial estoppel because the plaintiff failed to disclose the existence of his potential lawsuit on his bankruptcy filings and therefore he was barred from bringing his claims. The court agreed with our client’s argument and dismissed the plaintiff’s lawsuit in its entirety. Bess v. Yates Services, LLC (Rutherford Co. Circuit Court, Tenn 2016) Lawsuit in state court alleged worker’s compensation retaliation. Former production worker was terminated after five months of employment due to the inability to get certified on all four positions. Bess claimed that since she could not perform her regular job duties at different times due to varying work restrictions associated with her injury, Yates was not permitted to terminate her for being unable to meet the job requirements. Summary judgment granted in favor of Yates holding that Bess’ inability to meet the job requirements due to her work-related injury and restrictions was not retaliation. Represented hospital in USERRA action filed by former doctor (E.D. Tenn 2014; 6th Cir. Ct. App 2015; cert denied U.S. Sup. Ct. 2016) Claim by doctor that he his employment contract was terminated while serving overseas and not allowed to complete his contact period upon return from active duty in violation of USERRA. Summary judgment granted to hospital on the basis that it was exempt from the USERA reinstatement obligations under the exemption for short term employment, and that the doctor was provided notice of termination consistent with his employment contract, and reinstated upon his return from service for the remainder of the notice period. Nicholson vs. City of Clarksville, (6th Cir. 2013)(M.D. of Tenn. 2012) Race discrimination and harassment cased filed in federal district court. Former employee Nicholson alleged racial harassment, a racially segregated work force, discipline in a discriminatory manner, and two failure to promote claims against the city. Obtained summary judgment in favor of the City of Clarksville dismissing all claims and affirmed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Bryan, Ward & Elmore, Inc. v. Rothberg, Davidson County Circuit Court (2014) Obtained summary judgment concerning religious discrimination and harassment claims under the Tennessee Human Rights Act based on the argument that defendant/counter-plaintiff, an insurance salesman, was an independent contractor and not an employee and thus his claims failed as a matter of law. Campbell v. Bass Pro Shops (M.D. Tenn. 2006) Claims for race discrimination and wrongful termination. Summary judgment for defendant. Chen v. MCI Telecommunications Corp. (E.D. Tenn. 2001) Claims of race and national origin discrimination, directed verdict for defendant at trial. Covington v. MCI Telecommunications Corp. (W.D. Tenn. 2002)(6th Cir. App. 2004) Multiple claims of age, race and sex discrimination in employment and termination. Jury verdict for plaintiff on sex discrimination claim, reversed liability and damages verdicts on appeal; settled after remand. Daugherty v. MAPCO Express Inc., 2012 WL 2357732 (N.D. Ala. June 19, 2012) Former employee claimed gender discrimination in her termination from employment. Employer asserted employee had waived her claims by executing a Severance and Release Agreement and filed a motion for summary judgment. Employee argued that the waiver did not apply because the explanation for her termination, elimination of her position, was not true as evidenced by employer’s subsequent hiring of a male employee in her same position. Employer’s motion for summary judgment was granted by the court citing that the waiver was valid and enforceable, and waived all claims related to her employment. Durham v. City of Clarksville (M.D. Tenn. 2012) Police officer’s claims for disability discrimination and failure to promote. Defendant’s motion to dismiss based on statute of limitations and failure to state a claim granted dismissing all claims. Cozart v. CalsonicKansei North America Inc. (Tenn. Cir. Ct. 2011) Week long jury trial in state court with plaintiff alleging worker's compensation retaliatory discharge seeking over $600,000 in damages plus punitive damages. Resulted in a hung jury, 8-4 favor of the company. Freys v. St. Thomas Hospital and Baptist Hospital, et al. (Tenn. Chancery Ct., Tenn. Ct. App. 2005) Claims for age and sex discrimination, retaliation, FMLA violations and wrongful termination. Obtained summary judgment for defendants, affirmed by Tenn. Court of Appeals. Molina-Parrales v. Shared Hospital Services Corp., 992 F. Supp. 2d 841 (M.D. Tenn. Jan. 17, 2014) Terminated employee brought suit for disability discrimination under the ADAAA, Tennessee Human Rights Act and Tennessee Disability Act, and national origin and race discrimination harassment and retaliation under Title VII. Obtained summary judgment for SHSC on all claims based on plaintiff’s failure to comply with company policy. Germain et al. v. Doane Pet Care Co. and the UFCW, Local #888, (S.D.N.Y. 2005) Claims by six plaintiffs for breach of the duty of fair representation and wrongful termination. Summary judgment for defendants. McRunnels and Madison v. CalsonicKansei North America and Johnson (S.D. Miss. 2008) Obtained summary judgment for defendants in sexual harassment and constructive discharge case. Moore v. Flemings Restaurant (M.D. Tenn. 2005) Claim for race discrimination in employment and wrongful termination. Summary judgment for defendant. Petguard, Inc. v. Doane Pet Care Company (M.D. Fla. 2006) Represented a large pet food manufacturer in a fraud and product liability case filed in federal court in Jacksonville, Florida. The action was brought by a distributor with regard to the manufacture of premium pet food. After the firm’s client successfully received summary judgment on the plaintiff’s fraud claims, the parties resolved the action. Smith v. CalsonicKansei North America (E.D. Tenn. 2010); Ensey v. CalsonicKansei North America (E.D. Tenn. 2010) Companion cases brought by former employees alleging disability discrimination and retaliation. Complex litigation issues involving over five years of medical records and numerous productions positions. Successfully resolved by the parties prior to trial. Thompson v. Doane Pet Care Co. and Dorin (M.D. Tenn. 2006) Claims for wrongful termination and breach of contractual rights. Defendant's verdict at trial; settled on appeal. Tibbs v. Calvary United Methodist Church (M.D. Tenn. 2011)(6th Cir. 2012) Calvary’s motion for summary judgment granted by the district court on Tibb’s claims on race and age discrimination. Summary Judgment affirmed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals upheld application of the honest belief rule that Calvary believed Tibbs was insubordinate, determined that three subsequent memos addressing alleged similar conduct with dissimilar treatment from seven months to two years after Tibbs was terminated were not relevant for comparative purposes, and ruled that the district court’s alleged failure to directly address the mixed-motive race discrimination claim was adequately addressed by the court’s decision that there was “no evidence” of race discrimination produced by Tibbs. Trout v. ATA, et al. (E.D. Tenn. 2008)(6th Cir. 2009) Obtained summary judgment for government contractor joint venture company where former employee claimed employer failed to reasonably accommodate his disability by placing him in a different job. Affirmed on appeal to Sixth Circuit. Troxler v. MAPCO Express Inc. (M.D. Tenn. 2012) Former employee terminated as part of management decision to rebuild department rife with hostility and lack of team work. Five employees were terminated, but two were then reinstated. Employee, who had complained several times over the years about her asthma being aggravated by work place smells, including coworker perfumes, alleged that her discharge was in retaliation for her internal complaints and the EEOC charge filed one week before her termination. Employer’s motion for summary judgment granted on the basis that each time employee complained it attempted to accommodate her condition, and that it did not know of the EEOC charge at the time of discharge. Williams v. Capital Motor Sales (E.D. Tenn. 2007) Obtained directed verdict in favor of automobile dealership in federal court lawsuit filed by former employee, alleging that he was terminated after requesting FMLA leave. Advise construction clients in employment matters Work with construction clients advising them on prehire agreements and project labor agreements, as well as union campaigns, elections, and negotiations for collective bargaining agreements, and NLRB litigation. Provided counsel to client regarding negotiations and union decertification R.D. Herbert & Sons. Counseled client on project agreement negotiations and successful decertification election of long- standing union representation by Sheet Metal Workers and Roofers union in 2010. Collective bargaining negotiations and arbitration Lead counsel and advisor for Computer Sciences Corporation (dba ACS), service provider to USAF base involving 13 unions represented by Air Engineering and Metal Trades Council in Tullahoma TN. (1996-2005). Union organizing activities and elections, collective bargaining negotiations and arbitration, strike work, and NLRB litigation Lead counsel and negotiator for contract negotiations for Doane Pet Care Co. in seven states (NY, PA, MO, AL, IW, IN, OK) and counsel for all arbitrations and NLRB litigation arising under these contracts (2000 - 2008). Management and supervisor training Conduct wide variety of management and supervisor training on topics including Equal Employment Opportunity, Discipline and Discharge, Contractual Agreements and Restrictive Covenants, Wage and Hour law, National Labor Relations Act and Union Organizing, Risk Management, ADAAA and FMLA Interplay.