Matthew Cooper utilizes his unique prior experience as a trial lawyer for the US Department of Labor, and as a boutique firm litigator, to provide pointed advice to employers dealing with a wide array of environmental, safety and health (ES&H) and labor and employment (L&E) matters.

    As a counselor, Matt helps employers develop robust ES&H and L&E policies to ensure compliance with government laws and regulations. This includes, among other things, drafting and appraising employee and safety handbooks, analyzing and improving compliance history, conducting internal audits, connecting employers with subject matter experts, and providing advice related to wage and hour compliance, employment agreements, trade secret protection, and discrimination, retaliation and whistleblower claims.

    While intent on preventing workplace problems, Matt’s practice also consists largely of helping employers navigate regulatory inspections, special investigations, accidents and other crisis management, as well as litigating a wide array of government enforcement actions. Matt maintains expertise with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), among other agencies, and has successfully litigated numerous actions brought by these types of agencies.

    Regardless of your needs, Matt takes great pride in understanding each organization’s uniqueness and in fostering strong client relationships in order to successfully represent his clients in the best way possible.

    Matt has been recognized by Colorado Super Lawyers as a Rising Star, Colorado, 2014-2018; and by the Denver Business Journal as one of Denver’s 40 Under 40, 2017.

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    • Effectively counsels and defends numerous clients through inspections, investigations, and enforcement actions with the OSHA (and related state agencies), the MSHA, and the EEOC (and related state agencies).
    • Assists and defends clients dealing with elevated citations (i.e., willful, repeat and serious violations) in litigation before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, as well as multiple unwarrantable failure and flagrant citations before the Mine Safety and Health Review Commission.
    • Routinely guides clients throughout major accident investigations, crisis management situations, and related enforcement actions by OSHA, MSHA, and other federal and state regulatory agencies.
    • Frequently assists clients with employee handbook and other workplace policy drafting, review, and analysis.
    • Effectively defended various retaliation claims under Section 11(c) of the OSH Act, whistleblower claims under OSHA’s jurisdictional statutes, as well as numerous claims under Section 105(c) of the Mine Act. We have often been able to achieve either agency dismissal during the investigative stage or successful early settlement prior to expensive and time-consuming litigation.
    • Represented a roofing distributor related to an accident where our client was issued a notice of intent to classify citation as “Serious” three violations dealing with workplace inspections, equipment operation and operator restraint, and Injury and Illness Prevention program policy implementation. Through position statements and negotiations with Cal/OSHA, we were able to get all accident-related citations vacated, reduce the remaining citations to “Other than Serious,” and negotiate a nominal civil penalty.
    • Obtained a full defense verdict for a national grocery chain related to claims alleging workplace discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, involving demands for extensive compensatory and punitive damages.
    • Successfully defended a global gas station service company in a national class action wage and hour action.
    • Represented a full service cargo facility client in connection with OSHA’s accident investigation into an incident in which the employee received serious injuries from an unintended chemical release, closing the investigation without any citations, in part based on our assertion of the employee misconduct defense.
    • Effectively represented a client in connection with two separate employee fall incidents, getting one case dismissed in its entirety and the other reduced to nominal citations and penalties through negotiations with state OSHA agencies.
    • Obtained summary judgment on behalf of an environmental products company in defense of age, sex and disability discrimination claims.
    • Represented a national metals company with regard to a “Serious” citation issued as a result of allegations of violations leading to possible amputation injuries. Through negotiations, we were able to avoid serious citations and to protect the client from future claims.
    • Developed emergency action plans for clients, including a California-based sake company and a national surfing company.
    • Provides ongoing L&E counseling to numerous national and local clients, including restaurants, grocery stores, land trust organizations, mine operators and contractors, construction companies, metals manufacturers, product distributors, sporting goods stores, utilities companies, and insurance software providers.
    • Successfully represented a global chemicals manufacturer in a whistleblower claim brought under the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act, one of the 22 whistleblower statutes under OSHA’s jurisdiction. Defended client through extensive litigation, and was ultimately able to successfully settle in favorable fashion.
    • Defended a national transportation firm in connection with a whistleblower claim brought under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act, resulting in positive early settlement.
    • Part of the core team representing the general contractor in a tragic bridge collapse. Beginning a mere two hours after the accident, our work included onsite investigations, counseling, leading the media response team, crisis management, working with multiple state and federal regulatory agencies, and defending 15 wrongful death and personal injury litigation matters, as well as five government investigations, a Department of Transportation administrative proceeding arising from the incident, and responding to congressional inquiries.
    • Represented a major US retailer in response to a Commissioner’s Charge of Discrimination issued by the EEOC under Title VII.
    • Representation of the second-largest commuter railroad in the country, in connection with the investigation, enforcement and public policy stemming from a major rush hour crash and derailment. Our role included handling crisis management and FRA matters, and continues as to compliance, enforcement, and related regulatory matters and legislative and congressional inquiries.
    • Concluded a four-year representation of a mining and metals company with regard to MSHA investigations and enforcement stemming from a 2012 fatal accident involving a temporary employee at the company’s former mine. Matters included resolution of all pending government investigations, including the DOJ’s ultimate denial of two MSHA criminal referrals stemming from the accident.
    • Retained to represent the former owner of a Colorado mine that was the site of a tragic double fatality in 2013 and the subject of national media attention. Matters included resolution of all pending government (DOJ/US Attorney’s Office and Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission) investigations, agency enforcement actions, and civil wrongful death and personal injury actions against the company.
    • Effectively represented a surfing and sporting goods manufacturer in an OSHA investigation in Hawaii, and also guided the client in developing emergency evacuation plans and injury and illness prevention plans for the company’s operations in California, Hawaii, and Florida.
    • Represented a national mining and distribution client in an OSHA matter in relation to an ammonia discharge accident resulting in contractor injuries. The case involves complex engineering, process safety management, energy control, contractor screening and other issues, as well as a parallel civil action relating to the same issues.

    Education

    • University of Denver, J.D., Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, Order of St. Ives, 2009
    • University of Kent (UK), Brussels School of International Studies, LL.M., with distinction, 2005
    • Colorado State University, B.S., magna cum laude, 2002

    Admissions

    • Colorado

    Courts

    • U.S. District Courts for the Districts of Colorado
    • Co-chair, Colorado Bar Association, Labor and Employment Section, 2019
    • 40 Under 40, Denver Business Journal, 2017
    • Super Lawyers Rising Star, Colorado, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
    • Judicial Clerk for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)
    • National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA), Trial Skills Training
    • National Mine Health and Safety Academy, Technical Mining and Legal Training
    • Order of St. Ives (J.D.), commencement in top 7%
    • Top of class (LL.M.)
    • Articles and Technical Editor, Denver Journal of Int’l Law and Policy
    • Captain, Jessup International Appellate Team
    • Top 5% Oralist, 2009 Jessup International Rounds
    • Written Memorial Award, 2009 Jessup International Rounds
    • V.B. Sutton Writing Award
    • Reese Persuasive Writing Award
    • Harold H. Widney Award
    • Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society
    • Psi Chi Honor Society

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    Publications

    • “US Department of Energy Geothermal Plan Offers Opportunity But Deadlines Approaching,” frESH Perspectives on Environmental, Safety & Health, May 24, 2018.
    • “The Evolving World of Colorado Non-Compete Agreements,” Employment Law Worldview, March 26, 2018.
    • “MSHA Officially Delays Effective Date of Workplace Examination Rule Until June 2018,” frESH Perspectives on Environmental, Safety & Health, October 18, 2017.
    • “MSHA Workplace Examination Rule Delayed Once Again,” frESH Perspectives on Environmental, Safety & Health, September 22, 2017.
    • “OSHA to Hold Stakeholder Meetings on Voluntary Protection Programs,” frESH Perspectives on Environmental, Safety & Health, June 30, 2017.
    • “OSHA Reporting Rule Now in Effect – Injunction Request Denied,” Employment Law Worldview, December 1, 2016.
    • “New FLSA Overtime Regulations Set to Become Effective in Just Days, But Further Developments Are Anticipated,” Employment Law Worldview, November 21, 2016.
    • “Successorship, Bankruptcy, and Mine Act Enforcement: When the Automatic Stay is Not Automatic,” frESH Perspectives on Environmental, Safety & Health, October 13, 2016.
    • “Health & Safety Retaliation Cases are Very Much Alive: Current Trends in OSHA and MSHA Whistleblower Laws and Regulations,” frESH Perspectives on Environmental, Safety & Health, September 30, 2016.
    • “What To Know About EEOC’s New Retaliation Guidance,” Law360, September 28, 2016.
    • “EEOC Issues Long-Awaited Retaliation Guidance,” Employment Law Worldview, August 30, 2016.
    • “US Mine Safety and Health Administration Proposes New Workplace Examination Rule; Requests Information Regarding Exposure of Underground Miners to Diesel Exhaust,” frESH Perspectives on Environmental, Safety & Health, June 27, 2016.
    • “US Mine Safety and Health Administration Holds Stakeholders’ Meeting to Discuss Safety, Compliance, and Next Steps,” frESH Perspectives on Environmental Safety & Health, June 3, 2016.
    • “The General Duty Clause,” Chapter 4, in Occupational Safety and Health Law Handbook, 2016.
    • “Recent Developments in Business and Corporate Litigation,” Chapter 19, American Bar Association Publication, 2014.
    • “Colorado Human Resources Manual: A Guide to Colorado and Federal Employment Laws and Regulations,” American Chamber of Commerce Resources, 2014.
    • “Colorado Human Resources Manual: A Guide to Colorado and Federal Employment Laws and Regulations,” American Chamber of Commerce Resources, 2013.
    • “Colorado Legislative Wrap-Up,” Ogletree Deakins Publication, 2013.
    • “A Note to States Defending Humanitarian Intervention: Examining Viable Arguments Before the International Court of Justice,” Denver Journal of Int’l Law and Policy, 40th Anniversary Print Edition, 2012.
    • “The War on Terror and International Human Rights: Does Europe Get it Right?” Denver Journal of Int’l Law and Policy, 2009.
    • “The Case Concerning Operation Provide Shelter,” Jessup Compendium, 2009.

    Speaking Engagements

    • Colorado Bar Association L&E Annual Conference, “A New Age: Combating Ageist Stereotyping and Discrimination,” Vail, CO, September 2018.
    • Private Client Seminar, “Employment Law Update: 2017 – A Year in Review,” Denver, CO, December 13, 2017.
    • Southeastern Mine Safety and Health Conference, “M/NM Workplace Examinations: Enforcement Today and Tomorrow,” Birmingham, AL, November 2016.
    • Mine Safety & Health Law Special Institute, “Successorship, Bankruptcy, and Mine Act Enforcement: When the Automatic Stay is Not Automatic,” Las Vegas, NV, September 2016.
    • 2015 Health and Safety (OSHA) Law Updates Webinar – “Attention Employers: 2015 is Already Off and Running, Are You Keeping Up?” September 2015.
    • Southeastern Mine Safety and Health Conference – “Safety and Health Enforcement and Litigation: Recapping the Past Year and Reading the Tea Leaves for 2015,” Birmingham, AL, November 2014.
    • Managing a Workforce Employment Law Conference – “Mile High Problems: Drugs in the Workplace,” Denver, CO, October 2013.
    • Western Mining Conference – “Legislative Review of Mining Safety and Health,” Las Vegas, NV, October 2013.
    • Private Client Seminar – “Miner and Employee Rights: Successfully Responding to MSHA and OSHA Discrimination Complaints,” Denver, CO, January 2013.
    • Managing a Workforce Employment Law Conference – “Workplace Safety Regulation: The Effect on Your Business,” Denver, CO, October 2012.
    • Lorman Employment Law Conference – “Promoting Workplace Safety and Preempting Potential Violations: OSHA and MSHA,” Denver, CO, July 2012.
    • IMA-NA 2012 Industrial Mineral Technology Workshop – "A Review of MSHA Legislation, Regulation and Policy," Orlando, FL, March 2012.
    • Brussels Tri-Center Conference on International Affairs – "Ending Darfur Genocide," Brussels, Belgium, 2005 (awarded Best Panelist).
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