James W. Bucking

Managing Partner

I am a strategic advisor to employers dealing with unions or difficult employment issues. When disputes are necessary, I am a fierce advocate for clients with the goal of total victory in litigation.

As Managing Partner, Jim is responsible for the firm’s day-to-day operations and overall strategic direction and growth. He sees his mission as ensuring that Foley Hoag provides superior results for our clients, while being an inclusive, collegial and rewarding place to work.     
Jim is the immediate past chair of the firm’s Labor & Employment group. He represents corporations and other employers in union disputes, complex employment litigation and a wide range of 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, SEIU, UFCW, hotel workers, electrical workers, steelworkers, auto workers, utility workers, broadcast employees, textile workers, building trades, security, and the Progressive Workers Union. 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, Fenway Sports Group, PG&E National Energy Group, CVS Health, Starbucks, Credit Suisse, Boston Medical Center, Boston Globe, T-Mobile, Kimpton Hotels, Westmont Hospitality, Fairmont Hotels, Mariner Health Care, Owens & Minor, MasterCard, Dominion Energy, Clear Channel Outdoor, Cogentrix Energy, Guardian Life Insurance Company, H&M, Sanofi, Natixis, Loomis Sayles, Steward Health, Covanta, Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Ameriprise, PolyOne Corporation, Verizon and Cornell Dubilier Electronics, Inc.

Jim is recognized nationally as a leader in the labor and employment bar. He is a frequent thought leader, and regularly provides comments to major media organizations like the Wall Street Journal, American Lawyer, National Law Journal, Boston Business Journal, Lawyer’s Weekly, Inside Counsel, Boston.com, Salon.com, Employment Law 360, BNA Collective Bargaining Bulletin, Daily Labor Report, Human Resource Executive, SHRM HR Daily, Comstock’s Magazine, Workforce Management, West HR Advisor, Supervision Magazine, HR Daily Advisor, California Job Journal and Lawyer's Journal. His broadcast media activities include appearing on Emily Rooney’s "Greater Boston" program, WGBH-TV. He also spoke about layoffs on "The David Brudnoy Show" (WBZ Radio 1030 AM).


  • University of Pennsylvania Law School, J.D., cum laude, Order of the Coif
  • Northeastern University, B.S., summa cum laude

Bar and Court Admissions

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


  • Negotiated first-in-nation project labor agreement for construction of offshore wind farm, along with associated negotiations with the maritime and longshoremen unions
  • Assisted unionized and non-union clients throughout pandemic on ever-changing legal and employee relations issues, including negotiating COVID-specific labor agreements
  • Achieved major changes to half-century old collective bargaining agreement during six-year long negotiation, including filing two successful bad faith bargaining charges against the Teamsters, dismissing over a dozen ULP charges against the employer, and winning all seven arbitrations filed by the union
  • Won settlement from hotel workers union on employer’s grievance challenging illegal job actions during term of collective bargaining agreement
  • Prevailed in 20-party jurisdictional dispute arbitration, achieving dismissal of all claims filed by multiple building trade unions
  • Assisted multiple clients across industries in establishing double-breasted operations, and successfully defended federal court lawsuits filed by unions
  • 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
  • Successfully represented multiple clients with respect to union petitions under new NLRB election rules
  • 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
  • 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 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
  • 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
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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]
  • 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
  • Represented numerous clients in the negotiation, implementation and litigation of card check and neutrality agreements for union organizing
  • 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
  • Won unit clarification petition before NLRB, excluding nearly half of a pharmacist bargaining unit as statutory supervisors
  • Won seven-figure jury verdict on counterclaim for damages arising out of multi-employer collective bargaining, on behalf of janitorial company
  • Won unanimous decision at NLRB dismissing ULP charges against university client alleging refusal to engage in effects bargaining (362 NLRB No. 178)
  • Represent multi-employer bargaining association in traditional labor matters throughout the United States, including collective bargaining and advising the association regarding strikes and lockouts
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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)
  • Obtained dismissal of an NLRB election petition for a construction client in Region 34 (Connecticut) on the grounds that there was a “contracting unit”
  • 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
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • Won jury verdict for financial services firm dismissing claim under Massachusetts independent contractor statute, following Appeals Court decision that established novel legal standard to prove bona fide business-to-business arrangement
  • Prevailed before Massachusetts Court of Appeals on behalf of financial services company, overturning FINRA three-arbitrator panel on grounds that the award exceeded the arbitrators’ authority
  • Prevailed before Massachusetts Appeals Court on behalf of telecommunications company, upholding dismissal of Wage Act claims for unpaid commissions
  • Won directed verdict on Wage Act claims after three-week bench trial 
  • Assisted construction firm before Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards to obtain favorable job classification determinations under Prevailing Wage Law
  • Won directed verdict after two-week jury trial on behalf of financial services company, dismissing claim of misclassification under independent contractor statute 
  • Defeated motion for class certification on behalf of financial services company in lawsuit challenging use of independent contractors for information technology functions
  • Represented several close corporations in shareholder/employee disputes, including state court litigation involving salaries, profit distributions and terminations
  • 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)
  • 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
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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 verdict and damages on behalf of life sciences staffing firm for multiple trade secret misappropriations and usurpations of business opportunities by competitor
  • Won jury verdict for financial services firm dismissing claim under Massachusetts independent contractor statute, following Appeals Court decision that established novel legal standard to prove bona fide business-to-business arrangement
  • Prevailed before Massachusetts Court of Appeals on behalf of financial services company, overturning FINRA three-arbitrator panel on grounds that the award exceeded the arbitrators’ authority
  • Won dismissal of trade secret lawsuit on behalf of biotech firm, while maintaining countersuits in both state and federal court and obtaining temporary restraining order against competitor
  • Successfully defended investment firm against anti-raiding and associated claims involving the hiring of over a dozen top-level employees, including: filing offensive claims in Delaware Chancery Court; dismissing lawsuit and arbitration filings in the Eastern District of Missouri; upholding dismissals before Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals; defeating preliminary injunction motion to prevent hirings; and winning judgments in two related lawsuits in Chancery Court 
  • Represented health care company in non-compete litigation, obtaining case-dispositive preliminary injunction preventing senior executive from working for Amazon subsidiary
  • Filed declaratory judgment suit to invalidate non-compete agreement under new Massachusetts law, facilitating client’s hiring of medical director despite restrictive covenants with former employer
  • 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 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.))
  • 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
  • Represented clients responding to racial justice complaints, including conducting internal investigations and issuing comprehensive reports and recommendations to boards of directors and executive management
  • Represented international apparel manufacturer in defense of sweatshop claims, including conducting on-the-ground investigation at its Vietnam factory and issuing a comprehensive report 
  • Won defense verdict after jury trial on behalf of hospital client, dismissing all claims in a multi-count complaint alleging race discrimination
  • 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 administrative trial on behalf of retail coffee client, dismissing all age discrimination and retaliation claims (37 MDLR 154)
  • Won a bench trial where the raised a reverse discrimination claim, establishing that the employer did not use affirmative action or diversity policies in a wide-scale layoff
  • 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 represented a large financial services firm in a nationwide EEOC-initiated claim of pattern and practice discrimination, with all charges being dismissed
  • Obtained dismissal of equal pay claim alleging that female faculty were systematically paid less than male faculty of educational institution
  • 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 prominent state agency in an MCAD age discrimination proceeding which resulted in a favorable verdict for our client (21 MDLR 182)
  • 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)
  • Assisted several clients in negotiating a withdrawal from defined benefit pension plans, both single employer and multi-employer
  • Advised financial services company concerning complex employment and executive severance agreements, including plans to hire employees and groups of employees from competing firms
  • 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)
  • 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
  • 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)
  • Obtained dismissal, on ERISA pre-emption grounds, of a claim for health benefits for an employee’s ex-spouse in state court
  • 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
  • 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

Honors & Involvement

  • Fellow, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers  
  • Ranked by Chambers Global guide in the USA category for Labour & Employment
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America 
  • 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, Boston Magazine Top Lawyers, 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

Speaking Engagements

  • Panelist, NLRB Update, New York State Bar Association Annual Meeting (January 2022)
  • Panelist, A Discussion with the New NLRB General Counsel, Cornell Law School and ILR Symposium (October 2021)
  • Panelist, Navigating Conflicts Between Anti-discrimination Law and Labor Law, ABA Committee on Development of the Law Under the NLRA (March 2021)
  • Speaker, Labor Law Under the Biden Administration, Strafford Webinar (February 2021) 
  • 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)