Franklin G. Shuler, Jr.

Franklin G. Shuler, Jr.

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Frank Shuler went to law school with the express purpose of becoming a labor and employment lawyer.

He became fascinated with the law of the workplace as a student at Georgia Tech. Those classes in “personnel” and “collective bargaining,” among others, stimulated an interest that has led to a long and successful legal career. He has handled literally thousands of different employment related issues over his 35-year career.    

Frank started as an insurance defense attorney in a day that cases where routinely tried.  It was during this first year that he tried numerous non-jury cases (under $5000), successfully tried his first jury case and was fortunate enough to “second chair” three federal court jury trials. After his wife decided to attend law school, he returned to Birmingham, where Frank began his career in labor and employment law. It was at a boutique firm devoted to labor and employment law that Frank learned the intricacies of many of the laws he works with on a daily basis now. He was thrust into the roll of lead counsel for a firm that routinely practiced in 11 states, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico when the firm split during the two weeks between him accepting the job and starting.  He was blessed to be able to learn at the feet of some very experienced employment lawyers who had been the in the 1930s and 1940s when employment and labor law was in its infancy.

In 1993, Turner Padget hired Frank to develop its employment practice. Today, he has a statewide practice and the firm’s practice includes two certified specialists and seven other attorneys who routinely handle employment law matters. Over the years, he has served the firm as employment counsel, employment law team leader and as a member of the management committee.

Frank has been practicing employment law for almost 35 years. He has practiced in virtually all aspects of labor and employment law, including matters arising under federal employment laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA), Title VII, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). He has also addressed actions based on state law claims such as retaliatory discharge, breach of a handbook and breach of a covenant not to compete. Over the years, Frank has developed a substantial counseling practice in which he spends as much time trying to protect his clients before a situation ever arises as he does defending them in court. His clients range from service providers, such as financial institutions, healthcare providers and hospitality providers, to employers in manufacturing.

Before attending law school Frank served in the U.S. Marine Corps. As a student naval aviator, he landed a jet on a carrier and he keeps that qualification on the wall of his office today. He later spent time in Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he served as a rifle platoon commander. What Frank learned about discipline, focus, hard work, striving for excellence, people and leadership during his time in the Corps has served him well throughout his legal career.

Frank has the unique perspective of having represented employees, employers, union and benefit plans over the course of his long legal career. Additionally, he has mediated over 500 employment cases. Thus, when confronted with a legal problem, he has the ability to understand the problem from both sides of the equation and craft solutions to fit the problem.

Frank has served his firm, church, his presbytery and the bar in various leadership positions. 

Frank received the 2014 Distinguished Lawyer Award by the Employment and Labor Law Section of the South Carolina Bar.

Employment

  • Defeated in a case of first impression claim that the attorney-client privilege could serve as a basis for the tort of wrongful discharge in violation of public policy.
  • Obtained summary judgment on behalf of college in two cases in which tenured faculty members lost their jobs as a result of the college’s effort to deal with a projected budget shortfall of $2,000,000 due to the collapse of the economy. The college prevailed on the age discrimination and breach of contract claims by way of motion for summary judgment.
  • Obtained summary judgment in age discrimination on behalf of national restaurant chain after it discharged a long-time manager for failing to follow cash handling procedures.
  • Obtained summary judgment for a financial institution with respect to claims of national origin discrimination by a manager after it received information that led it to believe he had violated the financial institution’s lending policies.
  • Obtained a defense verdict in less than 30 minutes after a four day jury trial in which the plaintiff alleged violation of trade secrets, breach of fiduciary duty and other employment-related contract and tort claims.

ERISA Claims

  • Obtained the dismissal of all claims brought against an ERISA plan in lawsuits brought by the Department of Labor and a class of former employees for alleged breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Obtained summary judgment for plan administrator when Plaintiff alleged the plan administrator breached the fiduciary duties imposed by ERISA § 404, 29 U.S.C. § 1104 when it distributed money to his mother on his behalf instead seeking a court appointed guardian.
  • Annually defends over 50 benefits cases.

Other

  • Obtained a dismissal of corporate and individual defendants in a suit in which the plaintiff alleged he, and the organization he was a part of, were discriminated against based on his race in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The case was significant because there are very few reported opinions involving cases under Title VI (in contrast to Title VII), which makes it illegal to discriminate in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
  • Defeated class certification in an action brought against a financial institution regarding its decision to change from credit insurance for loans to a debt cancellation product.
  • Fought the termination of a mother’s parental rights, on a pro bono basis, all the way to the United States Supreme Court.
  • Samford University, J.D., 1983
  • Georgia Institute of Technology, Bachelor of Science, 1977
  • Florida Bar, 1984
  • Alabama Bar, 1983
  • South Carolina Bar, 1986
  • United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, 1983
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Judicial Circuit, 1986
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Judicial Circuit, 1991
  • United States District Court, District of South Carolina, 1992
  • United States Supreme Court, 2013
  • DRI, The Voice of the Defense Bar (Employment Law Committee, Chair, 2004-2006)
  • South Carolina Bar (Labor and Employment Law Section, Chair, 2003; Officer, 1998-2006)
  • South Carolina Bar (Employment and Labor Specialization Advisory Board, Chair, 2000-2002, 2010-2014; Member, 1999, 2009)
  • American Bar Association (Member)
  • Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Rating™-AV®
  • 2014 Distinguished Lawyer Award, South Carolina Bar, Employment and Labor Law Section
  • South Carolina Supreme Court, Certified Mediator, 1999
  • South Carolina Super Lawyers, Employment Law, 2008-2018
  • Best Lawyers in America, Alternative Dispute Resolution, 2008-2016
  • Best Lawyers in America, Mediation, 2017-2019
  • Best Lawyers in America, Litigation: Labor and Employment, 2017-2019
  • Best Lawyers in America, Litigation: ERISA, 2017- 2019
  • Best Lawyers in America, Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law, 2014-2019
  • Best Lawyers in America, Employment Law: Management, 2004-2019
  • Best Lawyers' 2019 Columbia, SC Mediation “Lawyer of the Year”
  • Best Lawyers' 2018 Columbia, SC Employment Law - Management "Lawyer of the Year"
  • Best Lawyers' 2017 Columbia, SC Litigation - Labor and Employment "Lawyer of the Year"
  • Best Lawyers' 2016 Columbia, SC Litigation - ERISA "Lawyer of the Year"
  • Best Lawyers' 2015 Columbia, SC Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law "Lawyer of the Year".
  • Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Employment Law, 2007, 2012-2018

Articles

  • Privacy Interests in Employment After Quon, For The Defense 61 (June 2011) (co-authored with Michelle Clayton)
  • Contributing Author, Labor and Employment Law for South Carolina Lawyers (S.C. Bar 2007) (all four editions)
  • Contributing Author, Jury Instructions for Employment Defense Litigators (DRI 2007)
  • Emerging Trends Under The Fair Labors Standards Act, DRI, The Voice of the Defense Bar, 2004
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993: The First Two Years, 7 The South Carolina Policy Forum 34 (1996)
  • Model Employee Policies for South Carolina Employers (S.C. Chamber of Commerce 1996) (eight editions before becoming an online publication that is annually updated)
  • Employment Discrimination and Other Employment-Related Claims after Burke: When Are Amounts Received Taxable? 9 The Labor Lawyer 189 (1993)
  • Burke Revisited: Taxation of Employment Related Damages, 4 South Carolina Lawyer 23 (March/April 1993)

Presentations & Speaking Engagements

  • Over 50 presentations on employment, ethics and mediation related topics on local, state and national basis

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