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Charles Palmer Photo

Charles B. Palmer

Managing Partner, Waukesha Office

Overview

Chuck is a go-to lawyer for complex cases involving OSHA, employment law, labor negotiations, independent contractor and joint employment matters. Clients rely on his years of experience in dealing with state and federal enforcement agencies to develop human resource, safety and environmental policies and practices that prevent problems and save them significant expense.

Chuck has defended employers in more than 1,000 Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) citation cases for more than 25 years, including multiple six-figure and/or fatality cases. He has argued a good number of those OSHA citation cases before the OSHA Review Commission and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

 

In manufacturing, Chuck has a hands on approach evaluating systems, practices, risks, and solutions utilizing his extreme in-plant experience. He has advised and defended manufacturers of technology, foundry, machinery, paper, wood, food, energy, and other product lines.

In the construction industry, Chuck’s experience encompasses safety, risk management, labor negotiations, and indemnification. He has considerable industry experience related to subcontractors, such as electrical, excavators and earthmovers, renewable energy and road builders.

In agriculture, Chuck assists employers in a wide range of regulatory compliance and employment matters throughout the country and advises Agricultural Trade Groups regularly.

Chuck also advises clients on Department of Transportation Safety Regulations including Federal Highway, and Office of Pipeline Safety, and has represented clients in multi-party litigation involving federal safety regulations.

Experience

Successfully opposing the U.S. Department of Labor

When another manufacturing client was subject to multiple OSHA inspections, Chuck’s representation resulted in the Western Federal District of Wisconsin ruling against the federal government, holding that it was not entitled to company audit documentation without specific evidence of a violation. The case was critical in that the federal government had started a trend of demanding corporate safety audits at the outset of inspections in order to target employer vulnerability and leverage evidence for greater penalties. Chuck led his team in arguing that these audits were constitutionally protected. In another instance, Chuck used OSHA’s own internal regulations to halt its inspection of a food manufacturing client’s operation, resulting in no citations for the client.

Victory for the rights of trial judges in the State Supreme Court

A labor arbitrator ruled that the Circuit Court in one of Wisconsin’s largest counties was required to terminate contracts with trusted personnel serving the courts and transfer the work to union personnel.  When the Judges, Court Commissioner, and County Executive considered challenging that ruling, they turned to Chuck.  Reversal of a binding arbitration decision is very rare, but Chuck successfully persuaded the Wisconsin Supreme Court to vacate the award, by arguing constitutional separation of powers principles prevent an arbitrator from controlling court decisions.

Successful acquisition at a bargain rate

When a tool manufacturing client wanted to acquire a plant, Chuck led an assessment of the plant for OSHA compliance. The strategy led to a successful acquisition, with a price adjustment and immediate compliance changes.

Honors & Recognitions

  • The Best Lawyers in America®, in Employment, Labor, and Worker's Compensation Law, 2010-present
  • Milwaukee "Lawyer of the Year" in Employment Law, The Best Lawyers in America, 2013
  •  "Wisconsin Super Lawyers" list, Employment and Labor, Super Lawyers magazine, 2011-present

Professional Activities

  • Board Member, Waukesha County Business Alliance
  • Board Member, Wisconsin Underground Contractors Association
  • Board of Directors, Wisconsin Council of Safety
  • Member, Midwest Food Processors Association, Inc., Safety Committee
  • Member, Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., Safety Committee
  • Steering Committee Member, Waukesha County Manufacturing Alliance

Education

Admissions

Community Involvement

  • Past Chairman, Make a Wish Foundation of Wisconsin
  • Board of Directors, Waukesha County Community Foundation
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