Areas of Practice

Labor & Employment Law

Business and Corporate

Norman D. Hawkins

Member

Email: ndh@msblaw.com
Phone: 616-732-5000
Fax: 616-732-5099

For more than 30 years, Norm Hawkins has represented management in a wide range of labor and employment matters. He provides proactive and practical daily advice to employers of all sizes, shaped by his vast experience: as first-chair employment trial defense, as chief spokesperson in collective bargaining, as first-chair labor arbitration counsel, in decades of daily advising employers, in decades of drafting all kinds of labor and employment documents, in working in the personnel department of an automotive supplier, and as a prior member of the UAW. Norm focuses on identifying and mitigating risks, and assisting employers to achieve their objectives through cost effective solutions.  

Norm counsels both U.S. and foreign companies, large and small, publicly held and private. He has successfully defended employers in hundreds of lawsuits in federal and state courts in Michigan, and in other states such as Ohio, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Texas. In addition, for more than ten years, he has represented a number of employers as their outside general counsel concerning all legal matters.   

Drawing on his in-depth and broad experience, Norm has become especially skilled at resolving disputes early, at very limited cost, and without litigation.  However, when the circumstances require, he will vigorously litigate disputes through jury verdict, defend appeals, and handle arbitrations through opinion and award.    

Norm especially enjoys training managers and supervisors concerning all aspects of labor and employment law and investigating allegations of harassment and discrimination.  In addition to automotive suppliers and other manufacturers, he represents clients in healthcare, financial services, and other industries.    

In college, Norm worked in the foundry of a large unionized automotive supplier (where he was a member of the UAW), later moving into the company’s personnel department to improve relationships between union employees and management. The president of the company gave him credit in writing for avoiding a work stoppage during contract negotiations, the first time that had occurred in six contracts, a span of nearly 20 years. Norm’s experience with that automotive supplier sparked his interest in labor law and formed the basis for his real-world view and pragmatic approach.

Representative Matters

In a sexual harassment suit against a Fortune 500 subsidiary and its managers, Norm obtained summary disposition in Wayne County Circuit Court weeks before a scheduled trial, a ruling that the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed and concerning which the Michigan Supreme Court denied leave. 

In a race discrimination lawsuit in federal court in Detroit, Norm served as co-counsel and secured a no-cause jury verdict. 

In a sexual harassment lawsuit against an automotive OEM in which the plaintiff alleged harassment by more than 20 co-workers and multiple supervisors, Norm successfully defended the suit and substantially mitigated the client’s exposure.  

Norm served as discovery counsel and a trial witness in a lawsuit in Oakland County Circuit Court, helping to recover nearly $1 million in costs and attorneys’ fees after recovering $11 million (100% recovery) in loan repayments for a company president and former owner involving more than five separate actions. 

In a sex discrimination lawsuit in a federal court in Austin, Texas, Norm obtained summary judgment on behalf of Fortune 500 company. 

In an age discrimination lawsuit in federal court in Columbus, Ohio, Norm obtained summary judgment on behalf of a nationwide financial brokerage firm.  

Norm successfully handled numerous discharge arbitrations resulting in denied grievances, and has secured dismissals of unfair labor practice charges for large employers. 

Norm served as the chief spokesperson for collective bargaining involving initial, successive, and shutdown agreements. 

Bar Admission:

  • Michigan 
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan 
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan 
  • U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals  
  • Pro hac vice admissions to numerous courts in other states

Education:

  • Wayne State University Law School, Juris Doctor, cum laude 
    •  Order of the Coif 
  • Spring Arbor College, Bachelor of Arts, cum laude 

Professional Associations and Membership:

  • State Bar of Michigan 
    • Administrative & Regulatory Law, Labor & Employment Law, and Workers Compensation Law Sections 
  • Grand Rapids Bar Association, Labor and Employment Section 
    • President 2010 
    • Secretary 2009 

Community Involvement:

  • Adjunct Professor, Thomas M. Cooley Law School (now, Western Michigan University), six terms of Federal Administrative Law, 2008-2009 
  • Partner and Volunteer, Crossroads Bible Church 

Publications:

  • Numerous articles and many presentations during a period spanning three decades