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J. Walker Coleman IV

Administrative Partner (Charleston)
+1.843.579.5627
Fax +1.843.579.5601
Walker Coleman heads the firm’s Charleston office and serves on the firm’s Advisory Council. He is an experienced litigator who primarily litigates complex employment, labor, restrictive covenant, and trade secret misappropriation disputes. He also litigates business disputes, defends product defect claims, defends class and collective actions and represents companies in government investigations.

Mr. Coleman has successfully handled cases for numerous local, national, and international companies in industries including: athletic equipment, automotive, aerospace, banking, beverage, broadcast media, chemical, computer software, construction, energy, entertainment, environmental, government contracts, health care, intellectual property, manufacturing, maritime, medical laboratory testing, medical product, paper and packaging, plumbing fixtures, pharmaceutical, retail, resort and hospitality, restaurant, shipping, snack food, steel, telecommunications, textiles, and trucking.

In the labor and employment areas, Mr. Coleman routinely defends companies in litigation, relating to employment discrimination, all forms of harassment, wage and hour, wrongful termination, trade secret misappropriation, restrictive covenants, and unfair labor practices. He also represents employers in government investigations and routinely counsels employers on leave issues, positive and legally viable employment practices, reductions in force and plant closings, the sale and acquisition of domestic and foreign businesses, executive terminations and severance packages, and union avoidance. Mr. Coleman also has successfully represented numerous employers before the EEOC, the U.S. Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board, and the S.C. Department of Labor, Licenses and Regulation.

In the product defect area, Mr. Coleman has defended numerous medial device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies in defective product and bad drug cases. Mr. Coleman also routinely litigates in business disputes involving RICO claims and claims, among others, for breach of contract, unfair trade practices, fraud, civil conspiracy, defamation, and breach of fiduciary duties.

Highly regarded in his field, Mr. Coleman has been recognized by his peers and corporate counsel as a leader in the labor and employment practice area through his inclusion in Chambers USA, Best Lawyers in America, and South Carolina Super Lawyers for many years.

Professional Background

Prior to going to law school, Mr. Coleman served as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy, ultimately attaining the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Prior to joining K&L Gates, Mr. Coleman was a partner at two other regional law firms.

Achievements

  • Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers in Labor & Employment, since 2009
  • Woodward/White’s The Best Lawyers in America in Labor and Employment Law and Land Use & Zoning, since 2008
  • South Carolina Super Lawyers in Employment Litigation: Defense, since 2009
  • Martindale Hubbell, AV Preeminent, Peer Review Rating, since 2000

Professional/Civic Activities

  • Charleston Regional Development Alliance, Board of Directors, 2012-present
  • Charleston Regional Development Alliance, Executive Committee, 2016-2017
  • Porter-Gaud School, Board of Trustees, Executive Committee Member 2011-present
  • Chairman, Clemson University, Accounting, Finance, and Legal Studies Board of Directors, 2010-2016
  • Clemson University Senior Advisory Board of Directors, 2012-present
  • Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors, 2007-2015
  • Defense Research Institute, Panel Counsel Committee Chair and South Carolina Liaison, Employment Law Committee, 2005-2011
  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Board of Directors, Mid-Atlantic Chapter, 2003-2008
  • Leadership Charleston, Class of 1996
  • Defense Trial Lawyers Association, Member

Speaking Engagements

  • Charleston Metro Chamber: Labor Climate Outlook, 2010
  • Mebane Surgery Center: Professional Conduct Training, 2010
  • South Carolina & Georgia Society of Ambulatory Surgery Centers Annual Meeting: FMLA and ADA Update, 2009
  • Self Regional Healthcare: Professional Conduct Training, 2007 & 2009
  • Roper St. Francis Healthcare: Professional Conduct Training, 2007
  • South Carolina Federal Credit Union: Harassment & Diversity Training, 2006
  • Lowcountry Manufacturer’s Counsel: Hot Wage & Hour Issues, 2006
  • Home Depot USA: Image & Appearance Based Discrimination, 2006
  • SC Home Care Association Leadership Conference: Employment Law Highlights, 2005
  • Myrtle Beach Hospitality Association: How to Legally Control Overtime, 2005 
  • Lorman Education Services: FMLA – Tips and Traps, 2005
  • Coastal Organization of Human Resources: Workplace Violence, 2005
  • National Restaurant Association: Costs of Employment Litigation, 2004
  • Coastal Organization of Human Resources: Proper Use of Employee Handbooks, 2004
  • Charleston Tri-County Human Resources Management Association: Conducting Internal Investigations, 2003
Mr. Coleman's representative experience includes:
  • Obtained summary judgment in more than 100 employment cases involving claims of wrongful termination and/or claims under the ADA, FMLA, Title VII, Section 1981, FLSA, and/or USERRA
  • Received a defense verdict after a jury trial in a Title VII harassment case against a national hospitality company
  • Received a defense verdict after a jury trial in a Title VII harassment case against an international manufacturing company
  • Received a defense verdict after a jury trial in a Title VII discrimination and retaliation case against an international snack food company
  • Received a defense verdict after a non-jury trial in a Title VII discrimination and retaliation case against an international manufacturing company
  • Defeated class certification in an age discrimination case against an international construction company
  • Successfully prosecuted and defended numerous multi-million dollar trade secret misappropriation cases, and received first judicial decision in South Carolina recognizing the Inevitable Disclosure Doctrine
  • Successfully prosecuted and defended numerous restrictive covenant cases in jurisdictions throughout the United States
  • Received a defense verdict after a jury trial in a medical device product liability case against an international manufacturing company
  • Obtained summary judgment in numerous medical device product liability cases
  • Successfully represented an international plumbing products company in product liability cases in jurisdictions throughout the United States
  • Successfully represented numerous hospital systems, hospitals, and other healthcare organizations in lawsuits, grievance proceedings, and federal investigations
  • Successfully represented numerous local, national and international companies in multi-million dollar business disputes involving RICO claims and/or claims of breach of contract, civil conspiracy, unfair trade practices, breach of fiduciary duties, fraud, and/or defamation/libel
  • Successfully represented a large manufacturing company in a commercial dispute involving 16 causes of action in which all but one of the causes of action were dismissed after a week long arbitration and a de minimis award was granted on the plaintiff’s sole remaining cause of action
  • Drafted, reviewed, and negotiated hundreds of executive employment agreements, separation agreements, and severance agreements
  • Drafted, reviewed, and negotiated numerous non-competition, non-solicitation, and non-disclosure agreements for local, national, and international companies
  • Assisted numerous local, national, and international companies with reductions in force and employment issues surrounding plant shutdowns
  • Assisted numerous companies with the sale and/or acquisition of domestic and foreign businesses
  • Assisted numerous domestic and international companies with unfair labor practice charges and/or union avoidance
  • Quarterback national employment litigation for multiple national and global companies
  • Handled labor and employment issues in over 40 foreign countries for two global companies