Don Smith limits his practice to representing employers and executives in labor and employment matters. He defends employers in cases pending before state and federal courts, the National Labor Relations Board, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Indiana Civil Rights Commission, U. S. Dept. of Labor, OSHA, IOSHA, Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development, and Indiana Worker’s Compensation Board. Don advises employers concerning various employment issues such as employee handbooks, employment agreements, severance agreements, covenants not to compete, restrictive covenants, wrongful termination, collective bargaining, labor arbitration, unions, discrimination, harassment, wage and hour matters, unemployment compensation and worker’s compensation.
- Board of Directors of the International School of Indiana, Board Member (2016 - 2019)
- The International School of Indiana is a private school (pre-K through high school) offering language immersion in Spanish, French, and Mandarin.
- Legal Lines (IndyBar’s Ask-A-Lawyer Program), Volunteer Attorney
- Don answers calls from the general public through the Indianapolis Bar Associations Ask-A-Lawyer program that gives callers the opportunity to obtain legal advice free of charge.
- Washington Township Football, Inc., President (2001)
- After coaching his sons’ youth football teams, Don accepted the call to head the organization.
- Westlane Delaware Trail Little League, Vice President (2002)
- Don coached Little League baseball players and was involved in the administration of their local Little League (now Washington Township Little League).
- North Central Football Fanatics, President (2002-2004)
- Don renamed the North Central High School football boosters the “Football Fanatics,” led a resurgence of spirit among parents and fans, and organized events for players and their families.
- Pony Express Baseball, Inc., Board of Directors (2003-2006)
- As one of the original organizers of this travel baseball entity, Don coached and served as a board member.
- North Central High School football, Public Address announcer (2002-2011)
- Tapping into his penchant for sportscasting, Don was “the Voice of the Panthers” at home football games for 10 years and would surprise the crowd by using creative words to describe the action on the field.
- Washington Township Baseball, Inc., Secretary (1999-2005); Vice President (2009-2010); President (2010-2011)
- Don was not just a “fan in the stands.” He was actively involved in the leadership of the governing board of the high school’s baseball program.
- Westminster Legal Ministry Chairman, (1988-2011)
- Through its affiliation with Don’s home church, Second Presbyterian, Don headed a group of volunteer attorneys who provided legal guidance to needy families on Indy’s near Eastside.
Since he started practicing law over 35 years ago, Don has limited his practice to labor and employment law. Don has extensive experience representing clients in the following industries: Credit unions, construction, insurance, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, printing, temporary labor, restaurant, and housing.
- Prosecuted and defended numerous requests for temporary and permanent injunctions in non-compete cases on behalf of employers.
- Defended an insurance company in employment discrimination case that set the standard for determining whether an insurance agent is an independent contractor: Knight v. United Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co., Inc., 950 F.2d 377 (7th Cir. 1991).
- Defended county employer at trial and on appeal against wrongful discharge claim: Moulton v. Vigo Co., 150 F.3d 801 (7th Cir. 1998).
- Represented employer in a religious discrimination case, in which employee unsuccessfully sought court intervention permitting employee to use the phrase “Have a blessed day” in the workplace: Anderson v. U.S.F. Logistics, 274 F.3d. 470 (7th Cir. 2001).
- Represented employer in a wage case, in which the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s award of vacation pay to the employee, and enforced the employer’s written policy that vacation pay was not earned until the employee’s anniversary date: Damon Corp. v. Estes, 750 N.E.2d 891 (Ind. Ct. App. 2001).
- Represented employer hospital in a worker’s compensation case, in which the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that the Worker’s Compensation Board lacked the statutory authority to award interest on worker’s compensation benefits, including overdue medical bills: Christopher R. Brown, DDS, Inc. v. Decatur Co. Memorial Hospital, Inc., 892 N.E.2d 642 (Ind. 2008).
- Defended employer in a class action in a wage and hour case: Artis v. First Revenue Assurance, LLC, (1:09-cv-01555, S. D. Ind. 2009).
Publications & Presentations
The Department of Labor Issues Regulations Implementing New Leave of Absence Law (Fifth in a series), RBE Blog (2020)
- This is the fifth in a series of articles in response to the COVID-19 federal legislation and benefit programs. This article discusses the regulations—published and effective today, April 6, 2020—by the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) as required by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) signed by the President on March 18, 2020. We previously reported on the FFCRA in our first article in this series. READ ARTICLE
COVID-19 Business Resource Developments (Second in a series), RBE Blog (2020)
- This is the second in a series of articles coordinated by RBE’s attorneys to assist our business clients in this unusual time. Legal developments are extremely fluid as Congress, attorneys, and business clients all grapple with the various issues being presented. This article discusses updates on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, unemployment compensation, and the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notice Act (“WARN”) that potentially need to be considered by our clients. READ ARTICLE
Indiana Supreme Court Issues Decision Impacting Employment Agreements, RBE Blog (2020)
- The Indiana Supreme Court recently published a decision that may prompt employers to review their employment agreements to narrow the scope of restrictive covenants (such as non-competition and non-solicitation clauses) if they want those agreements to be enforceable. READ ARTICLE
Employers Need to Proceed Cautiously When Settling Employee Claims, RBE Blog (November 2019)
- An employee has claimed a work-related injury and the employer would like to settle the claim to include a waiver of employment rights, such as a waiver of reinstatement. If the employer does not proceed appropriately, the employee may be able to collect money for the settlement while retaining his or her employment rights. READ ARTICLE
Smith to Focus On New Lawyer Recruitment as DTCI President, Indiana Lawyer (November 2019)
- Indianapolis attorney Donald Smith knows the Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana has value. His goal during his year as the organization’s president is to show others that value, too. Smith, an attorney with Riley Bennett Egloff, became DTCI president Nov. 21. He came into DTCI through the Worker’s Compensation and Employment Law Sections, and since then he has found invaluable networking and educational opportunities. READ ARTICLE
Should an Employer Contest Claims for Unemployment Compensation Benefits? RBE Blog (December 2018)
- Your Company’s delivery driver is caught drinking a beer while in the Company’s truck in the Company’s parking lot during his work break. The Company fires him on the spot. The Company then receives notice that the driver has filed a claim for unemployment compensation with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Should the Company dispute the claim? The answer depends on several considerations. READ ARTICLE
‘Tis the Season…(to review your restrictive employment agreements), RBE Blog (January 2018)
- To get your New Year off to a good start, we suggest you consider entering into restrictive employment agreements with key employees to protect your company’s business and goodwill. If you already have such agreements, but they have not been reviewed recently, it is a good idea to have them reviewed now. READ ARTICLE
Walking a Mile in His Moccasins, Indiana Lawyer, Vol. 28, No. 9 (June 2017)
- An American Indian proverb goes something like this: “Never criticize a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.” As a defense attorney, I may be better able to empathize with the challenges of being a plaintiff’s attorney if I can imagine myself in his or her “moccasins.” Likewise, a plaintiff’s attorney may benefit from a better understanding of the defense attorney’s challenges. This article will help explain the defense attorney’s “moccasins” when it comes to defending worker’s compensation cases.
U.S. Department of Labor Announcement, RBE Blog (May 2016)
- May 19, 2016: The U.S. Dept. of Labor has announced its regulations for the salary level of employees considered “exempt” from the overtime regulations. Previously, a salaried employee could be considered exempt under the regulations as long as the employee fit one of the exemptions (such as executive, administrative, professional, or outside salesperson) and had a weekly salary of at least $455 ($23,660 annually).
Undocumented Worker’s Injury Suit Puts Major Issues Before Justices, Indiana Lawyer (November 2, 2016)
- An undocumented immigrant’s workplace injury — and how much he may be entitled to — has put the rising number of foreign-born workers, the rights they can expect, and the responsibilities of employers squarely before the Indiana Supreme Court. Read More
Is the Definition of a Work-Related Accident Being Changed?, RBE Blog (2015)
- An employee was assigned the responsibility of cleaning an area of a large utility plant. He climbed several flights of open stairs and claimed that he dusted the stairways leading to the roof. To let the dust settle, he and a co-worker exited a door at the top of the stairs that led to an open roof. Instead of waiting in the open air on a clear day, the employee and his co-worker walked 70 feet to an abandoned smoke stack. There was an access hole six feet above the roof level. Read More
Still Learning After All These Years in Practice, Indiana Lawyer, Vol. 25, No. 26, p. 9 (February 25, 2015)
- The practice of law is still exciting and challenging for me, even as I approach my 34th year of practice. It has been the right career for me (even though a recent opportunity to attend a press conference after an IU basketball game reminded me of my earlier desire to become a television sportscaster). I am not so sure I would still be learning after all these years if I had chosen another path.
What Happened to Practicing “Civil” Litigation?, Indiana Lawyer, Vol. 25, No. 1, p.9 (March 12, 2014)
- It is unusual to open a lawyers’ magazine without seeing an article about civility. What happened to “civil” litigation? It must be like the weather – a lot of people are writing about it, but no one seems to be doing anything about it.
Early Mentors Influenced Me as an Attorney, Indiana Lawyer, Vol. 24, No. 1, p. 9 (March 13, 2013)
- How did I turn out like this? After practicing law for 32 years, I decided it was time to look back and examine the reasons that I behave certain ways. As a second-year law student, I was fortunate to land a job as a law clerk with the management labor law firm of Roberts Ryder Rogers & Neighbours.
- "Navigating Uncharted Waters: Helping Employers Understand the Rules of the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act" (April 14, 2020) WATCH RECORDING
- "Collective Bargaining,” DePauw University (January 16, 2012)
- “Physicians’ Employment Agreements: What You Don’t Know Could Hurt You!”, Indiana University School of Medicine (April 12, 2012)
- “What Does ‘Obamacare’ Mean to an Employer with a Collective Bargaining Agreement?”, DTCI Annual Meeting (November 15, 2012)
- “Ethical Dilemmas in Worker’s Compensation,” ICLEF (November 5, 2014)
- “The Birds and the Bees of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace,” presentations to trade groups as well as individual corporations (2016 - )
- “Supervising in a World of Protected Categories,” presentation to ERMCO Institute (2019)
Beyond the Office
Don and his wife, Debbie, are the proud parents of three sons and the very proud grandparents of two grandsons. Two of their sons are medical doctors and the third is in his fourth year of medical school at Indiana University. Don remains a huge sports fanatic, with special interests in his Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Pacers, Indianapolis Indians, and Chicago Cubs (with whom he has played in two fantasy camps). During the college football season, Don particularly roots for DePauw, Miami (FL), and Alabama, teams he “adopted” as a result of where his sons attended school. Don recently has been struck by the “golf bug” and has been taking lessons to cure a seemingly incurable slice off the tee, but it is that “one shot” each round that keeps him coming back for more.
Awards & Recognition
- Martindale-Hubbell AV Rated
- Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ are the gold standard in attorney ratings. An “AV” rating is the most prestigious rating.
- First Baptist Athletics Hall of Fame inductee (2006)
- Don was inducted into the First Baptist Athletics Hall of Fame after coaching basketball there for years. He continues to referee youth basketball. First Baptist Athletics’ motto is “The Place for Good Sports.”
- Indiana Super Lawyers (2004-2006 and 2009-Present)
- Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.
- Indianapolis Bar Association
- Chair, Labor and Employment Law Section (1993)
- Member, Labor and Employment Law Section (1981 – Present)
- Indiana State Bar Association
- Chair, Labor, Employment and Benefits Law Section (2018)
- Council Member, Labor, Employment and Benefits Law Section (2012 – Present)
- Member, Labor, Employment and Benefits Law Section (1981 – Present)
- American Bar Association
- Member, Labor and Employment Law Section (1981 – Present)
- Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana
- President (Current)
- Board of Directors (2013 – Present)
- Chair, Worker’s Compensation Committee (2012)
- Defense Research Institute
- Member (2013 – Present)
- Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, J.D., cum laude (1981)
- DePauw University, B.A. Communications, cum laude (1978)
- Indiana (1981)
- U. S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana (1981)
- U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana (1981)
- U. S. Circuit Court, Seventh Circuit (1983)
- U. S. Circuit Court, Sixth Circuit (1983)