Eric J. Pelton


Kienbaum Hardy Viviano Pelton & Forrest, PLC
280 N. Old Woodward Ave.
Suite 400
Birmingham, MI 48009

Tel: 248.645.0000


Mr. Pelton is a founding member of the firm, and serves as its managing partner. He is a fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and has been identified by Chambers USA in the top tier of employment lawyers in Michigan. Super Lawyers identifies Mr. Pelton as one of the top 50 litigation attorneys in Michigan.

He earned his law degree and an MPA from Syracuse University in 1987, where he served as an Executive Editor of the Law Review. He has a BA from Michigan State University.

In 2015, he was recognized by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as a “leader in the law” for being an attorney who is changing the law, improving the profession, and setting an example for other lawyers. Mr. Pelton is currently a second-term member of the Michigan Board of Law Examiners, and previously served on the Michigan Board of State Canvassers. Mr. Pelton was appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court to serve on the State Bar of Michigan’s Board of Commissioners, and later served on its 21st Century Practice Task Force.

Practice Highlights

  • Jury Trials. Successfully tried a dozen cases to juries on behalf of numerous clients in the automotive, beverage, restaurant and food service, garment, medical, radio and television, and retail industries in the federal and state courts in Michigan, Kentucky, and Wisconsin.
  • Class Actions. Among other recent successful defenses of FLSA collective actions, Mr. Pelton was lead counsel representing a major retailer in defeating certification of a putative class of 75,000 employees and former employees alleging off-the-clock work and denial of breaks.
  • Arbitration and Mediation. Arbitrated numerous labor relations cases as well as non-union discrimination, FMLA, and executive contract claims. He has successfully enforced pre-dispute arbitration agreements for employers in a half dozen states and mediated scores of cases throughout the country.
  • Appellate. Argued in the Michigan Supreme Court and represented employers in the intermediate appellate courts of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois. He has also handled appeals in the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Sixth, Seventh, and D.C. Circuits.
  • Administrative. Represented employers on federal and state law administrative matters in over a dozen States and in the District of Columbia.
  • Restrictive Covenants. Represented the interests of employers in non-compete and trade secret litigation in the federal and state courts in Michigan, New York, Ohio, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. These cases have involved such industries as insurance, real estate, IT, medical, chemical, and sports equipment.
  • Election Law. Represented a major political party and judicial, mayoral, and other candidates in the federal and state courts in Michigan.

We are employment litigation specialists. We defend management clients against the full spectrum of employment-related claims: wrongful discharge, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage and hour, non-compete, trade secret, employee benefits, and workplace tort claims. We regularly represent employers in state and federal courts, as well as proceedings before administrative agencies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board, and equivalent state agencies.

We are experienced and aggressive trial lawyers. Unlike many of today’s “litigators,” we regularly conduct trials before juries, judges, and arbitrators. We do so proactively, strategically, and with grit. Our attorneys include members of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the American Board of Trial Advocates, and the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. We have handled many significant employment and labor cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, various U.S. Courts of Appeals, the Michigan Supreme Court, the Michigan Court of Appeals, and the appellate courts of other states.

We are rightsized, highly focused, and efficient. Our firm draws on its attorneys’ individual talents and wide-ranging experiences in the employment and labor field to deliver large-firm effectiveness at small-firm cost. In addition to competitive hourly rates, our firm derives other efficiencies – which are passed on to our clients – from our specialized boutique practice.

Traditional Labor Matters

Union issues are an ever-present concern for employers, large and small, whether or not their employees are already unionized. While recent state laws have given workers greater freedom to abstain from union membership, and the percentage of unionized workers has continued to decline, the possibility of unionization and unions themselves continue to exert power in the workplace. We counsel our management clients on issues of union organization, collective bargaining, and contract administration. And we regularly represent them in labor arbitration proceedings covering a broad range of disputes.

Our attorneys have many years of experience in all types of National Labor Relations Board matters, including representation elections, unfair labor practice proceedings, strikes, picketing, secondary boycotts, unit clarification proceedings, and decertification and deauthorization elections.

Preventive Employment Counseling

Helping our clients avoid litigation, and advising them on the mandates of state and federal law, is a key part of our practice. We counsel employers on compliance with equal employment opportunity laws, such as Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), as well as comparable state statutes. We also advise our clients on other employee protection laws, including the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), Executive Order 11246 (administered by the OFCCP), and various wage and fringe benefit statutes.

Properly crafted employment policies and related documents can help employers avoid needless misunderstandings and possible litigation with their employees. We prepare and update personnel policies, employee handbooks, employment contracts, trade secret agreements, and covenants not to compete. The firm’s preventive approach includes training supervisors in such areas as affirmative action, union issues, sexual harassment, disability-related concerns, substance abuse, and family or medical leave.

We also advise clients on effectively handling work force reductions, employee discipline and terminations, retaliation suits, and, increasingly, whistleblower claims. These kinds of business-altering events, difficult in themselves, can give rise to added complications, such as defamation suits against the employer, if not properly handled.

In addition, our firm conducts investigations into sensitive workplace problems, such as allegations of sexual or racial harassment, employee fraud, or defamation issues. Our firm is uniquely qualified to advise and assist management in these difficult areas. We will also anticipate and address the complex employee privacy issues involved in workplace investigations.

Kienbaum Hardy Viviano Pelton Forrest. Our firm stands for a few simple things. Practice law at the highest level. Do it with integrity. Serve our clients and our community.

We are fortunate to boast some of the region’s most talented attorneys. We are proud of the peer recognition we have received. Our attorneys have been recognized as industry leaders by Chambers USA, “Best Lawyers in America,” Super Lawyers, dBusiness, and many other publications. They have been inducted as Fellows of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.

But we are most proud of the recognition we receive from our clients. The ones who trust us with “bet-the-company” litigation or look to us to guide them through some of their most sensitive and important issues.

Our firm’s distinctive boutique practice style and philosophy offer our clients a highly focused, proactive, strategic, and resource-conscious approach to avoiding if possible, confronting when necessary, and efficiently resolving the many complex employment and commercial issues facing American companies today.