Robert A. Fleming has been practicing law for 30 years. He is an independent business attorney based in Puerto Rico also admitted to practice law in New York, the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. He began his career as a litigator and trial lawyer representing insurance companies in tort litigation. Fleming subsequently worked as a senior associate in the premier labor & employment firm in Puerto Rico and subsequently became a Partner and Co-Chair of the labor section of a leading firm in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His litigation and trial practice focuses on commercial litigation, employment law and personal injury. Fleming’s transactional practice focuses on franchising, licensing, distribution, leases and employment contracts.
He earned a BA in Political Science/International Affairs from Georgetown University, an MBA from Indiana University Kelley Business School, and his JD from Inter American University in San Juan. He has continued his professional development obtaining multiple certificates including a Certificate in Strategic Human Resources from Cornell University.
Fleming’s views have been published in peer-reviewed journals, newspapers and trade publications. He served as editor for the labor newsletter of the PR Bar Association and published a weekly newspaper column on employment law for six years. He has been a contributor for Chanel 11/Univision Puerto Rico on business and labor topics and advisor for leading non-profit an professional organizations.
Fleming has extensive trial experience and has represented local and foreign organizations – from private corporations to publicly-held multinational corporations- in a wide-range of industry sectors including:
- Banking and insurance (banks, credit unions, insurance companies)
- Distribution (wholesalers, agents, importers)
- Food industry (supermarkets, dairy, meat packing)
- Healthcare (hospitals, clinics, physicians)
- Hospitality (hotels owners and operators, restaurants, fast-food franchises, supermarket chains)
- Retail (electronics, food, home goods, hardware)
- Manufacturing (plastics, building materials)
- Education (schools, universities)
- Non-profit (charitable, professional and industry organizations, chambers of commerce)
- Real estate (developers, lessors, lessees)
- Professional services (consulting firms, accountants)
Examples of Professional Work
Litigated from filing response to conclusion thousands of labor, employment and commercial law claims; completed dozens of bench trials, 400+ labor arbitration (wage & hour, discipline, discharge and general collective bargaining grievances) including the following highlights:
- Defended one of the leading hotels in Puerto Rico in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico in disability and retaliation claim under ADA and local statutes. Most of the claims were dismissed and case was settled for less than nuisance value.
- Represented a leading New York- based insurance company in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico alleging contractual violations of an employee benefits plan. Obtained removal of cases to federal court and subsequent dismissal.
- Represented a leading Ohio-based insurance company in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico in several claim alleging wrongful discharge, age and national origin discrimination; claims were dismissed and/or settled under favorable terms.
- Hired by an executive of a financial firm for representation in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. The client had sued former employer in the Superior Court of Puerto Rico but defendant had removed the case alleging federal jurisdiction. Was hired for the federal litigation portion of the case. As a result, case was dismissed and remanded to local courts.
- Represented a U.S. Virgin Islands-based fuel distributor in a breach of contract claim filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. Case was favorably settled.
- Represented the leading hospital in Puerto Rico in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico and U.S. Court of Appeals in an age discrimination claim under ADEA and local statutes. Obtained dismissal of claims at the district court and judgment upheld at the appeals level.
- Represented the oldest and leading hotel in Puerto Rico in over 20 labor arbitration claims.
- Defended international bank (parent based in Canada) in a wrongful discharge case filed by senior executive. Case was tried and obtained judgment in favor.
- Defended international bank (parent based in Spain) in an age discrimination filed by senior executive. Obtained summary judgment in favor of client.
- Obtained $1 million fraud/fault judgment against board member on behalf of a financial institution.
- Defended ceo and owner of a Dominican Republic corporation in a breach of claim case in U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. Case was dismissed.
- Defended Franchisee based in the Dominican Republic in a breach of contract case filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico by franchisor based in Cayman Islands. Obtained voluntary dismissal and attorneys fees for client.
- Defended a 30-outlet supermarket operation in several cases filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico alleging age discrimination, wrongful discharge and cobra violations.
- Represented local distributor in Law 75 Puerto Rico Dealers’ Act dispute with U.S. based manufacturer. Devised legal & operational strategy to After successful negotiations, distributor was able to get orders processed and distribution line returned.
- Obtained removal of 300K in fines levied by Labor Dept. for wage & hour violations to client with a twenty-four outlet retail operation.
- Successfully litigated numerous cases before the National Labor Relations Board including petition for elections, unit clarification and unfair labor charges.
- Collaborated with client to avoid USDA efforts to close meat wholesaler; negotiated favorable settlement in claim filed before the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.
- Successfully litigated discrimination and retaliation claim on behalf of medical care facility resulting in plaintiff’s early voluntary dismissal of causes of action in U.S. District Court.
- Represented building material manufacturer in the successful negotiation and resolution of multiple citations issued by U.S. Attorney’s Office in connection with alleged non-compliance with employment eligibility notification.
- On behalf of local subsidiary of U.S. based leading battery manufacturer, removed wrongful discharge and benefits lawsuit from P.R. Court, San Juan Part to the U.S. District Court for the District of P.R. and obtained dismissal of case.
- Represented local food service business in copyright infringement, breach of contract and trade secrets violation suit.
- Represented local developer in claim regarding eminent domain in court. Through litigation and subsequent settlement negotiations, client obtained a considerable higher offer for land.
- Represented sub-franchisor in claims against franchisee for breach of franchise agreement.
- Defended a claim for wrongful employment practices against a nonprofit organization with a ‘directors & officers’ policy from a Minnesota based insurance carrier. Obtained dismissal of claim.
- Represented local distributor in Law 75 Puerto Rico Dealers’ Act civil action against Japan.-based manufacturer. Case was settled on favorable terms for client.
- Obtained a $200k settlement for claimant slip and fall accident, under Puerto Rico’s Article 1802 Tort Claim.
- Obtained a $125k settlement for claimant in a negligent supervision claim under Puerto Rico’s Article 1802 Tort Claim.
- Succesfully negotiated for executive a 250k settlement in an employment termination dispute.
- Succesfully negotiated for client coverage for wrongful discharge claim under an employment practices policy, which inurer initially declined.
Fleming’s transactional practice focuses on employment law contracts, franchising and distribution.
- Assisted in negotiation process and drafted distribution agreement for a Costa Rica based company with operations in Puerto Rico.
- Drafted contract and provided counsel and representation to local firm to resolve distribution dispute with U.S. based manufacturer.
- Provided legal counsel to a U.S. based meat packer regarding new local distributor in compliance with dealers act no. 75.
- Teamed with publicly traded NY-based international cosmetics firm to effectively structure and execute strategy to reduce 85% of workforce in Puerto Rico.
- Assisted emerging manufacturer of snacks to negotiate distribution agreement in Puerto Rico.
- Provided legal counsel for prospective franchisees on contract provisions, FDD disclosure requirements and other legal matters pertaining to the purchase of franchises in the food, cosmetics, services and energy sectors.
- Drafted for Franchisor extensive revisions to master franchise agreement and franchise disclosure document for compliance with FTC rules.
- Assisting in the formation of corporations and setting up systems for corporate governance, including the preparation of shareholders agreements.
- Conducted employment due diligence for the leading Hispanic food distributor to successfully complete purchase of manufacturing division from Fortune 500 company. Matters included- reviewing and assessing all contracts to determine the employer’s rights and obligations; assessing labor agreements, wages and benefits; providing legal opinions on sensitive issues.
- Developed rigorous employment policies and preemptive strategies for 32-store company to assure legal compliance, reduce risks and meet business objectives.
- Counseled boards of directors on employment issues involving their CEO’s, including drafting of contractual agreements with trade secret and non-compete provisions.
- Advised financial institution on workplace law issues affecting purchase of competing institution.
- Prepared and reviewed employment policies, handbooks, contracts, non-disclosure and non-compete provisions for international consulting practice establishing operations in Puerto Rico.
- Liaised with Puerto Rico Department of Justice on behalf of employer to prosecute accountant charged with embezzling company funds.
- Conducted preventive audits and risk assessments, overhauling hiring, disciplinary and discharge processes; created investigation protocols.
- Designed & deployed for leading dairy the tactical and legal response to a two-week violent strike; coordinated security, and evidence for NLRA labor charges.
- Liaised with federal enforcement agency on behalf of employer in a matter of credit card theft by employees.
- Structured successful union avoidance activities and engaging in over 12 NLRB-directed elections with multiple employers.
- Acted as lead labor law attorney and spokesperson on numerous union contract negotiations.
- Advised on the closing of a manufacturing operation with two sites and several collective bargaining agreements. Work included preparation of all required notices and separation agreements.
- Drafted numerous employment contract, clauses, policies, procedures and handbooks including codes of ethics, investigations, leaves, disciplinary procedures and substance abuse policies.
- Liaised with Puerto Rico Department of Justice on behalf of a financial institution in matter involving a check kiting scheme.
- Conducted audits for various employers to evaluate employment policies, forms, and wage and hour classifications to ensure compliance with laws and regulations.
- Developed procedures to protect confidential information, competitive advantages and goodwill from unfair competition by current and former employee.
- Conducted training programs for managers in key legal issues related to internal labor relations, equal employment opportunity, retaliation, documenting discipline and performance issues, sexual harassment , along with updates on labor and employment law developments.
- Counseled winery in connection with termination of local agent agreement.
- Drafted numerous lease agreements for real estate developers and lessees.
- Advised Puerto Rico distributor in Law 75 Puerto Rico Dealers’ Act dispute with U.S.-based manufacturer. Devised legal & operational strategy to close business and obtain relief from debts.
- Advised several Puerto Rico sales agents on contracts disputes with principals as per Sales Agent Law 22.
- Advised several franchisees on matters regarding adverse actions by franchisors.