James W. Bucking

Partner - Boston

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Jim Bucking is a partner at Foley Hoag, where he represents corporations and other employers in union disputes, complex employment litigation and other labor and employment matters.

Jim has extensive experience representing management at the bargaining table in union negotiations and litigating labor disputes in court, before arbitrators and at the National Labor Relations Board. Management clients have sought Jim’s representation in negotiations involving the Teamsters, UFCW, electrical workers, steelworkers, utility workers, broadcast employees, service employees, textile workers, building trades, security, police and firefighters. He also advises clients on day-to-day personnel matters, drafts employment agreements and policies, and assists with sexual harassment and discrimination investigations.

Jim has worked extensively on behalf of such major corporations as Anheuser-Busch, PG&E National Energy Group, CVS Health, Starbucks, Mariner Health Care, Owens & Minor, MasterCard, Dominion Energy, Clear Channel Outdoor, Cogentrix Energy, Guardian Life Insurance Company, H&M, Genzyme, Natixis, Steward Health, Covanta, Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Ameriprise, PolyOne Corporation, Verizon and Cornell Dubilier Electronics, Inc.


  • Financial services
  • Retail 
  • Healthcare 
  • Energy 
  • Manufacturing 
  • Janitorial 
  • Warehouse/distribution 
  • Waste disposal
  • Life Sciences
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  • University of Pennsylvania Law School, J.D., cum laude, Order of the Coif
  • Northeastern University, B.S., summa cum laude

Representative Experience

  • Won directed verdict after jury trial on behalf of financial services company, dismissing claim of misclassification under independent contractor statute 
  • Won defense verdict after jury trial on behalf of hospital client, dismissing all claims in a multi-count complaint alleging race discrimination
  • Won seven-figure jury verdict on counterclaim for damages arising out of multi-employer collective bargaining, on behalf of janitorial company
  • Defeated motion for class certification on behalf of financial services company in lawsuit challenging use of independent contractors for information technology functions
  • Won dismissal of disability discrimination lawsuit against energy company, with federal court ruling that unrestricted access authorization was an essential job function at a nuclear power plant (2015 WL 1456769)
  • Won arbitration against former employee of biotechnology client for breach of confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses of settlement agreement, and obtained preliminary and permanent injunctions for the violations in federal district court (2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11197 (S.D.N.Y.))
  • Advised unionized higher education client concerning the labor aspects of its merger with a non-union college, and negotiated with the faculty association concerning the effects of the merger
  • Advised energy firm on its acquisition of a unionized power plant portfolio, and its subsequent sale of a portion of the portfolio, including related negotiations with the union representing the employees
  • Represented several close corporations in shareholder/employee disputes, including state court litigation involving salaries, profit distributions and terminations
  • Won unanimous decision at NLRB dismissing ULP charges against university client alleging refusal to engage in effects bargaining (362 NLRB No. 178)
  • Won administrative trial on behalf of retail coffee client, dismissing all age discrimination and retaliation claims (37 MDLR 154)
  • Obtained three separate injunctions in state court action against biotech firm for violations of non-solicit agreement
  • Advised financial services client concerning dozens of hires from Protocol and non-Protocol firms, and successfully defended non-solicit and related claims
  • Successfully represented multiple clients with respect to union petitions under new NLRB election rules
  • Won defense verdict after jury trial on behalf of restaurant, involving claims of hours shaving and minimum wage violations (See Verdict Search New England, March 2015)
  • Representing clients in multiple putative class action litigations including: claims under the Massachusetts independent contractor law; claims that employees were not paid for meal and rest breaks; and claimed violations of the state and federal tip credit statutes
  • Won jury trial and money damages on behalf of waste disposal business against local Teamsters union for unlawful picket line activity (See Verdict Search New England, October 2013)
  • On behalf of healthcare company, negotiated collective bargaining agreements with a variety of unions at seven different hospitals and successfully litigated numerous disputes at NLRB arising out of these negotiations
  • Assisted several clients in negotiating a withdrawal from defined benefit pension plans, both single employer and multi-employer
  • Advised biotech company in connection with change-of-control agreements with executives which were triggered when company was acquired, and successfully litigated claims brought by executives who were denied benefits under the agreements (2012 AAA Employment Lexis 265; 2012 AAA Employment Lexis 367)
  • Advised financial services company concerning complex employment and executive severance agreements, including plans to hire employees and groups of employees from competing firms
  • Represented national retail chain in union negotiations, organizing campaigns and related litigation in locations across the country
  • Provided strategic labor relations advice to several multi-national corporations concerning union issues in Canada, Mexico and Europe
  • Successfully represented medical practice in state court lawsuit brought by physician/employee, obtaining dismissal of all counts including profit-sharing dispute and breach of contract claims arising out of rejection of physician for partnership (29 Mass. L. Rptr. 543)
  • Successfully represented employer in lengthy criminal and civil investigations by the Attorney General’s office and other regulatory agencies involving wage-hour, tax and prevailing wage claims - including representing witnesses in grand jury testimony
  • Represented financial services client in interrelated court and arbitration proceedings raising employee raiding, non-compete and other business tort claims - obtained dismissal of all claims against client and won six-figure counterclaim
  • Won a bench trial where the plaintiff raised a reverse discrimination claim, establishing that the employer did not use affirmative action or diversity policies in a wide-scale layoff
  • Represent multi-employer bargaining association in traditional labor matters throughout the United States, including collective bargaining and advising the association regarding strikes and lockouts
  • Successfully defended a large telecommunications company in a week-long administrative trial involving claims of sex and disability discrimination brought by a former employee (33 MDLR 39)
  • Successfully defended construction company against putative class action lawsuit, where our aggressive defense and pursuit of discovery against union sponsor caused plaintiffs to voluntarily dismiss their claims within two months after filing complaint
  • Successfully appealed NLRB hearing officer’s decision in an election dispute over a determinative challenged ballot, winning a unanimous ruling from Chairman Liebman and Members Becker and Pearce, and clarifying law on voter eligibility of regular part-time employees (355 NLRB No. 181)
  • Represented a retail employer in two arbitration cases arising out of a neutrality/card check organizing agreement, in one case invalidating a determinative authorization card and in the second case proving that the union misled employees and otherwise breached the agreement when trying to recruit employees
  • Represented a janitorial company with regard to a massive immigration raid which resulted in the termination of over one hundred unionized employees, and in subsequent litigation with the Department of Homeland Security
  • Successfully represented a large financial services firm in a nationwide EEOC-initiated claim of pattern and practice discrimination, with all charges being dismissed
  • Sued insurance company for failing to defend employer under EPLI policy, with insurer agreeing to provide coverage as well as paying all fees and costs of both the coverage action and the underlying claim with 12% interest
  • Prevailed in representation hearing before the NLRB on claim that warehousemen who occasionally drove delivery vehicles should be included in a bargaining unit of truck drivers, resulting in the withdrawal of the petition
  • Obtained dismissal of equal pay claim alleging that female faculty were systematically paid less than male faculty of educational institution
  • Convinced the NLRB to overturn an administrative law judge’s decision against a client company, arguing successfully that the union’s aggressive and unconventional behavior in presenting grievances to the company rendered the union’s conducted unprotected by law (338 NLRB No. 78)
  • Obtained dismissal of an NLRB election petition for a construction client in Region 34 (Connecticut) on the grounds that there was a “contracting unit”
  • Advised and represented clients through seven union decertification proceedings which resulted in employee votes to remove incumbent unions as bargaining representative or voluntary union disclaimers of representation
  • Negotiated, on behalf of a large municipality, a city-wide project labor agreement with the Building Trades unions and drafted the executive order implementing the PLA (reported in 9/3/97 DAILY LABOR REPORT)
  • Obtained a favorable verdict for our biomedical industry client (which was the lead case cited in a national publication that reports significant developments in wage and hour law) after a bench trial in U.S. District Court, by convincing the Court to dismiss a prosecution by the Department of Labor alleging misclassification of salaried employees (cited at 907 F. Supp. 512)
  • Obtained several Norris-Laguardia Act injunctions in Federal Court in Massachusetts to end illegal picketing and other strike-related misconduct in the midst of a lengthy labor dispute
  • Secured summary judgment dismissals of discrimination complaints while establishing new law in Massachusetts favorable to employers, including a hearing in State Superior Court which resulted in the dismissal of an employment discrimination suit by a transsexual who asserted that this condition was a legally recognized handicap (3 Mass. L. Rptr. No. 9, 196), a hearing in Federal District Court resulting in the dismissal of a civil rights claim on grounds of preemption (906 F. Supp. 65), and a hearing in State Superior Court where the judge rejected the plaintiff’s argument that an age discrimination claim constituted a continuing violation (17 Mass. L. Rptr. 699)
  • Prevailed in a hostile environment sexual harassment arbitration on behalf of a supermarket client, with the arbitrator finding that the plaintiff lacked credibility
  • Served as trial counsel for a major national manufacturer in a lengthy NLRB proceeding in which the client prevailed on bad faith bargaining, secondary boycott and threat of violence charges against the Teamsters Union, secured three separate federal court injunctions against the Union and won an unprecedented award of attorneys’ fees and litigation costs [reported at 334 NLRB No. 137]
  • Obtained Boys Markets TRO and preliminary injunction in federal court in New York, with the judge ordering 400 employees back to work after an illegal strike
  • Won an NLRB trial on behalf of a power plant client which had eliminated a 30% incentive bonus during first-contract negotiations and later unilaterally implemented a variety of work rules and economic items (2006 WL 721474)
  • Provided pro bono representation to a unionized legal services organization with respect to its affiliation with a non-union counterpart, including effects bargaining with the union
  • Tried dozens of arbitration cases and related proceedings arising out of a hotly contested 105-employee layoff, including an administrative trial before the state Labor Relations Commission upholding the lawfulness of the layoffs (19 MLC 1551, aff’d 22 MLC 1468)
  • Represented numerous clients in the negotiation, implementation and litigation of card check and neutrality agreements for union organizing
  • Served as a Special Assistant Attorney General, representing a public employer in successfully overturning a civil service decision at the Massachusetts Appeals Court (60 Mass. App. Ct. 1120)
  • Successfully represented a personnel placement company in a commission dispute with a former employee, securing a state court decision that limited the reach of the Massachusetts Wage Act when payment is based on contingencies (2001 WL 716911)
  • Obtained dismissal, on ERISA pre-emption grounds, of a claim for health benefits for an employee’s ex-spouse in state court
  • Served as trial counsel for a prominent state agency in an MCAD age discrimination proceeding which resulted in a favorable verdict for our client (21 MDLR 182)
  • Successfully appealed to court to overturn an arbitrator’s award against a client on grounds that the arbitrator exceeded his authority under the collective bargaining agreement
  • Won an NLRB trial before an administrative law judge and a resulting NLRB appeal where the union alleged that our energy industry client had improperly terminated its employee pension plan after acquiring the assets of a Massachusetts utility (341 NLRB No. 142)
  • Represented a client in federal court in New York and before Region 2 of the NLRB (Manhattan) in a dispute over the union’s majority status after a count of authorization cards made under a neutrality and card check agreement
  • Obtained dismissal of an employment arbitration claim filed by a former CEO of our client company, in which the CEO sought a six-figure bonus after sale of the company
  • In first of its kind case in Massachusetts, successfully represented a manufacturing company at a 7-day trial, obtaining dismissal of harassment and discrimination claims brought by transgendered employee (23 MDLR 231)
  • Successfully represented an energy trading firm in an employment arbitration case brought by a terminated employee with the arbitrator dismissing wrongful discharge and all other claims
  • "Massachusetts Wage and Hour Laws: What Every Manager Should Know"
  • Chapter: "Post-employment Benefits," Drafting Employment Documents in Massachusetts - MCLE
  • Chapter: "Discovery in Alternative Forums," Massachusetts Discovery Practice - MCLE
  • "A Guide for Massachusetts Employers: The Basics of Federal and State Labor and Employment Law"
  • Chapter Author, "The Family and Medical Leave Act," BNA
  • Chapter Editor, "How to Take a Case Before the NLRB," BNA
  •  "Is this the Plumber? A Sensible Construct for Determining Independent Contractor Status," ABA (2010)
  • “Employee Terminations: 10 Must-Do Steps When Letting Someone Go,Staff Digest (2008)
  • “Confusion Over Paternity Leave in Massachusetts,Employment Law 360 (2008)
  • “Terminating an Employee: 10 Steps to Avoid Litigation,Employment Law 360 (2008)
  • "Epilepsy Foundation Raises Questions About Scope of Federal Labor Law," Massachusetts Bar Institute Section Review (Winter 2000)
  • "NLRB Rules for Employer in Election-Bar Dispute," NLRB Watch (September/October 2000)
  • "OSHA Helps Health Care Employers Curb Violence," Boston Business Journal (May/June 1996)
  • "Employers Can Be Held Liable for Third-Party Sexual Harassment," Boston Business Journal - Human Resources Supplement (August 1995)
  • "Beyond the ADA: Protection of Employees with Drug and Alcohol Problems in Arbitration," The Labor Lawyer (Winter/Spring 1995)


  • Fellow, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers  
  • Ranked by Chambers and Partners' Global guide in the USA category for Labour & Employment
  • Recognized as Boston Labor Lawyer of the Year for 2012 by The Best Lawyers in America
  • Ranked by Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business as one of Massachusetts' leading employment lawyers, Band 1 
  • Recognized as a Top Rated Lawyer in Labor & Employment by American Lawyer Media and Martindale-Hubbell
  • Ranked as leading Labor and Employment lawyer in numerous other publications, including New England Super Lawyers, Massachusetts Super Lawyers, The Best Lawyers in America, Who’s Who Legal: USA and Benchmark Litigation Labor & Employment
  • University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Editor
  • Graduated valedictorian at Northeastern University
  • Order of the Coif, Pennsylvania Chapter


  • American Bar Association, Labor and Employment Section
    • NLRB Practice and Procedure Committee, Chair (2013-2015) 
  • Massachusetts Bar Association, Labor and Employment Section
    • Chair (2001-2002)
  • Lex Mundi, Labor and Employment Section
    • Chair (2005-2007)
  • SJC Judicial Youth Corps, Legal Training
  • American Bar Association, Labor Agency Liaison
  • Panelist, Independent Contractor or Employee, Lex Mundi Global Meeting, June 2018
  • Speaker, Regulatory Environment’s Effect on Compensation Programs, salary.com compX, March 2018
  • Moderator, Settlement Issues Following UPMC, ABA Committee on Practice and Procedure Under the NLRA, February 2018
  • Moderator, Meet the NLRB’s General Counsel, ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law Conference, November 2017
  • Panelist, NLRB v. Murphy Oil and its Implications, Robert Fuchs Labor Law Conference, October 2017
  • Speaker, Election Post-Mortem: What Does This Mean For The NLRB?  ABA Committee on Practice and Procedure Under the NLRA, March 2017
  • Moderator, Managing Whistleblower Investigations, Lex Mundi Global Meeting, March 2017
  • Panelist, Assessing the Past and Predicting the Future, Robert Fuchs Labor Law Conference, November 2016
  • Moderator, Meet the National Labor Relations Board: Insider’s Perspective, ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law Conference, November 2016
  • Panelist, Employment Cases of the Supreme Court and SJC, 2015-2016, Boston Bar Association, October 2016
  • Speaker, Joint Employer Status Under the NLRA, Strafford Webinar, October 2016
  • Speaker, Employment Law for Construction Lawyers, Boston Bar Association, January 2016
  • Moderator, Behind the Curtain at the National Labor Relations Board, ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law Conference, November 2015
  • Panelist, NLRB’s New Standard for Joint Employer Status After Browning-Ferris, Strafford Webinar, October 2015
  • Speaker, Massachusetts Sick Leave Law & Regulations, ASM, May 2015
  • Speaker, Utilizing Alternative Dispute Resolution in Employment Matters, NBI, February 2015
  • Panelist, NLRB Regulation of the Non-Union Workforce with Board Member Harry Johnson, November 2014
  • Panelist, NLRB Update 2014, ABA Annual Labor & Employment Law Conference, November 2014
  • Panelist, Review of 2014 Supreme Court and SJC Employment Cases, Boston Bar Association, October 2014
  • Panelist, “Unilateral Termination by the Employer,” Lex Mundi Labor & Employment Global Conference, July 2014
  • Panelist, “NLRB Update: The Impact of Noel Canning, Proposed Representation Rules and Other Developments," ABA Labor & Employment Section Webinar, July 2014
  • Speaker, “Trends and Developments in Associational Discrimination,” MCLE Employment Law Symposium, May 2014
  • Speaker, "Don’t be Ambushed by the NLRB," Human Resources Conference, April 2012
  • Panelist, "The Impact of Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes on Class Action and Civil Rights Cases," Boston Bar Association, September 2011
  • Speaker, "Keeping Current on Discrimination Law," AIM Webinar, September 2011  
  • Panelist, "The New Focus on Regulatory Enforcement of U.S. Employment Laws," Lex Mundi Global Labor & Employment Law Conference, May 2011
  • Speaker, "Shifting Landscape of Employment Laws," Associated Industries of Massachusetts, April 2011
  • Moderator, "NLRB General Counsel Open Forum," ABA Committee on Practice and Procedure Under the NLRA, March 2011
  • Speaker, "Legal Risks of Diversity and Inclusion Programs,"Human Resources Network, February 2011
  • Panelist, "Absolutely Positively Not an Employee – New Standards for Independent Contractors?" ABA Committee on Development of the Law Under the NLRA, March 2010
  • Speaker, "Hot Issues in Labor and Employment Law: 2009 and Beyond," American Gas Association, July 2009
  • Panelist, "Neutrality and Collective Agreements, Union Avoidance and Employee Free Choice Act," Lex Mundi Institute, July 2009
  • Speaker, "Impact of the 2008 Election on Labor and Employment Laws," November 2008
  • Panelist, “Private Elections and Card Checks,” NLRB Practice and Procedures Committee Meeting, March 2006
  • Panelist, “Collective Bargaining in the New Millennium,” Massachusetts Bar Association, April 2005
  • Panelist, “Help! I Need an Employment Attorney,” Boston Bar Association, April 2005
  • Appointee, Labor Agency Liaison Meeting, American Bar Association, November 2004 and November 2005
  • Panelist, “Collective Bargaining Process,” American Bar Association, March 2004
  • Panelist, “Deferral of Information Request Charges,” NLRB Practice and Procedures Committee Meeting, February 2004
  • Program Chair, “Employment Class Actions,” Massachusetts Bar Association, June 2003
  • Panelist, “Wage and Hour Issues,” MBA Annual Conference, May 2003
  • Speaker, “The Massachusetts Wage Act,” MCLE, December 2002
  • Panelist, “Labor Relations Involving Multiple Employers,” American Bar Association, June 2002
  • Panelist, “Upgrading Your Workforce in a Down Economy,” Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, February 2002
  • Panelist, “Collection and Presentation of Evidence in 10(j) Cases,” 29th Annual Joint Labor Law Conference, October 2000
  • Panelist, “State & Federal Wage Statutes: What Every Employment Lawyer Should Know,” Massachusetts Bar Association, March 2000
  • Speaker, “Basic Law & Procedures Under the NLRA,” American Bar Association, June 1999
  • Program Chair, “The Changing Face of Employment Law,” Massachusetts Bar Association, March 1998
  • Program Chair, “Lawyer in the Hot Seat: Counsel as Witness in an Employment Dispute,” Massachusetts Bar Association, February 1997
  • Speaker, “The Overlap Between the NLRA and Anti-Discrimination Law,” Massachusetts Bar Association, December 1996
  • Panelist, “The Beginning and End of Arbitration: Procedural and Remedial Issues,” Massachusetts Bar Association, October 1996
  • Speaker, “Temps, Contractors and Telecommuters: It’s Time to Face Up to the Legal Risks,” Personnel Law Update Conference, October 1996
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Bar Admissions

  • Massachusetts

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit