Cozen O’Connor’s employment litigation team represents foreign and domestic corporations, small businesses, individuals, nonprofits, trade associations and governments in all types of employment litigation. We defend clients in wage-and-hour, discrimination, sexual harassment, defamation, ERISA, employment benefits, trade secrets, noncompetition, and duty-of-loyalty claims. We appear frequently before federal and state courts, agencies and departments (including the EEOC, DOL, IRS, OSHA, and ICE), and arbitration panels.
Because labor and employment matters are governed by interrelated federal, state, and local laws, every case requires a tailored approach. Cozen O’Connor attorneys investigate the specifics of each matter, determine how the legal issues connect to the business issues, and develop a strategy to achieve success as it is defined by the client. Employment litigation often involves sensitive personal matters and typically occurs in the context of an ongoing employment relationship. Achieving good outcomes requires technical, legal, and interpersonal skill. Our attorneys bring all of those capabilities to their work.
When an investigation or lawsuit is launched, clients need counsel who can help them determine the best strategic approach—not counsel who automatically push to take every litigation to the bitter end. Cozen O’Connor attorneys are known for providing clients with clear and candid advice about all of their options and for resolving matters quickly and amicably. In the event that a situation does become irretrievably adversarial, our team of litigators is fully prepared to go to the mat. We have a track record of success in complex negotiations, mediations, and trials.
Investigate employee claims and government inquiries
Defend clients against individual and class (collective) action lawsuits
Represent employers in suits alleging discrimination and harassment on the basis of age, race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and other areas protected under federal, state, and local law
Handle cases involving defamation; invasion of privacy; noncompetition agreements; trade secrets; duty-of-loyalty; equal pay; employment benefits; pension and benefit plan fiduciary liability; wage and hour; whistle-blower; retaliation; and wrongful-discharge claims
June 26, 2019
Jeff Pasek discusses the Seventh Circuit's decision in Richardson v. Chicago Transit Authority and what employers need to know when making decisions related to employee disability claims.
March 13, 2019
Employers in the process of preparing their EEO-1 reports for submission by the May 31 deadline may now be scrambling to comply with additional onerous reporting requirements on short notice after D.C. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan’s decision in National Women’s Law Center v. OMB breathed new life into what was believed to be a defunct revision to the report.
July 23, 2015
Michael Schmidt offers tips to employers to avoid violating the Department of Labor’s recently proposed rule of changing overtime regulations.
July 15, 2015
Debra Friedman discusses the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission’s (EEOC) recently issued notice of proposed rulemaking with respect to employer-sponsored wellness programs, focusing on the interplay between the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
July 13, 2015
David Barron and Jeremy Glenn authored an article concerning the Department of Labor’s proposed changes to the federal overtime rules.
June 30, 2015
David Walton and Leigh Ann Benson discuss the importance of employers preventing cybersecurity incidents and what the outcome of the Supreme Court case Spokeo v. Robins would mean for class actions brought by their employees.
April 02, 2015
In an article titled “Trick Or Tweet: The Perils Of Punishing Employee Posts,” Michael Schmidt, vice chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses a company’s ability to take some form of employment-related action in response to an employee’s negative social media post while maintaining compliance with guidance of the National Labor Relations Board.
February 02, 2015
In an article titled ''Complaints from Transgender Employees by the EEOC: How Can a Company Prepare & Respond?'' Jason Cabrera, an associate in Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses how companies should prepare for and learn how to respond to Title VII claims from transgender employees given the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s recent enforcement actions in fall 2014.
January 23, 2015
In an article titled, ''Is OSHA About To Ramp Up Its Whistleblower Program?'' Debra Friedman, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment Department, discusses the significant challenges employers face when a whistleblower complaint is filed with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and recommends that employers prepare themselves by implementing a whistleblower complaint procedure program.
January 20, 2015
Heather Marx, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Commercial Litigation Department, and Kristi Zentner, a member in the Business Law Department, co-authored the “Minnesota Human Resources Manual” for the American Chamber of Commerce. This comprehensive human resources manual explains, in plain English, the duties of the employer during the entire employment process – everything from pre-hire through post-termination. It covers more than thirty primary topics and includes practical advice on what should be done, solid advice on how to do it and a complete explanation of why it is important.
December 18, 2014
In an article titled ''Department of Labor Targeting Oil and Gas Contractors,'' David Barron, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment Department, highlights the increased scrutiny on employers in the oil and gas industry and offers some important tips for maintaining compliance with wage and hour regulations.
December 01, 2014
In an article titled “Steps to a Company Party? Eat, Drink and Be Wary,” A. Martin Wickliff, Jr., a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, suggests a number of steps employers should take to minimize potential legal problems when hosting office happy hours and holiday parties.
November 18, 2014
In an article titled “Pay Transparency: The New Way of Doing Business,” Debra Friedman, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses the federal government’s recent Executive Orders mandating pay transparency for the federal contracting community. This new way of doing business has potentially profound implications for all employers. Companies must be prepared for employees, the federal government and third parties to closely scrutinize their compensation systems and decision-making practices.
October 30, 2014
In an article titled “Attorney: Halloween parties don’t have to be scary for employers,” David Walton, vice chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses the key steps employers should take to avoid any potential legal headaches that might arise from an office Halloween party.
October 20, 2014
In an article titled ‘’Internships: Worthwhile Programs or Liability Traps,’’ Michael Schmidt, vice chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses the recent surge in lawsuits brought on behalf of a company’s current (and former) unpaid interns and the steps companies can take in order to avoid such litigation.
September 16, 2014
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has announced a proposed rule on pay transparency, to be published in the September 17, 2014 Federal Register. The proposed rule would implement Executive Order 13665, which prohibits federal contractors from retaliating against applicants and employees for inquiring about, disclosing or discussing pay information. The proposed rule applies to covered federal contracts and subcontracts exceeding $10,000 in value that are entered into or modified on or after the effective date of the final rule. While the proposed rule could change before it is finalized, it is time for federal contractors to consider their policies and practices on pay information.
September 11, 2014
On September 10, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014. The Act applies to public and most private employers and mandates paid sick leave to workers starting on July 1, 2015. Specifically, California employees will accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a total of six paid sick days per year. Because it establishes leave based on the amount of hours worked, the law will cover part-time, temporary and seasonal workers.
September 08, 2014
Michael Schmidt, vice chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, authored an article for Law360 titled, “5 Things To Consider Before Posting Social Media Policies.” The article addresses the need for employers to develop an appropriate mindset when it comes to managing social media use by their employees and creating their social media policies and practices. Michael reviews five common workplace issues and explores the National Labor Relations Board’s position on each.
August 13, 2014
On August 11, 2014, Governor Chris Christie signed into law the Opportunity to Compete Act, New Jersey’s version of “ban the box.” When the law takes effect on March 1, 2015, companies who employ 15 or more employees will be prohibited from inquiring orally or on a job application about a job applicant’s criminal history until after the employer conducts a first interview. The Act will also prohibit employers from posting job advertisements that exclude applicants with criminal histories from consideration. Employers will be permitted to inquire about an applicant’s criminal history after the first interview. Moreover, employers may still refuse to hire an applicant based upon the applicant’s criminal record, unless that record has been expunged or erased through executive pardon.
August 04, 2014
President Obama does it again, issuing yet another Executive Order aimed at those seeking to do business with the federal government. On July 31, 2014, Obama issued the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, which the White House expects to be implemented in stages on new federal contracts valued at more than $500,000, beginning in 2016. This new Executive Order targets three areas: (1) disclosure to the federal government of a prospective contractor’s labor law violations over the three years preceding the contract; (2) disclosure of information necessary for the employees of federal contractors and subcontractors to verify the accuracy of their paychecks; and (3) for those federal contracts or subcontracts with an estimated value exceeding $1 million, a prohibition against the imposition of pre-dispute arbitration agreements covering claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (Title VII), or for torts related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment.
July 23, 2014
Continuing to use executive authority to act in the absence of Congressional action, President Obama signed an Executive Order on July 21, 2014 that gave new protections against discrimination to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees of federal contractors and subcontractors, and the federal government. (For the federal government, discrimination was already prohibited on the basis of sexual orientation and is now also prohibited on the basis of gender identity.) The new rules relating to federal contractors won’t be effective until additional regulations are issued in the next three to nine months, but the rules relating to employment by the federal government are effective immediately.
July 16, 2014
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett gave final approval to two bills that drastically expand the scope and enforcement provisions of the Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law. Under the amendments, which take effect on August 31, 2014, employees of any business or nonprofit organization that receives public contracts or funding from the commonwealth or its subdivisions will now receive whistleblower protection.
July 15, 2014
In an article published in Bloomberg BNA, Michael Schmidt, vice chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment Department, advises on the "Do's and Don'ts" of company social media policies and reviews recent NLRB positions on five common workplace issues.
July 03, 2014
In an article published in The Legal Intelligencer, Stephen Miller and Kaitlin DiNapoli, attorneys in Cozen O’Connor’s Litigation Department, discuss the U.S. Supreme Court’s exploration of two Fair Labor Standards Act cases that have far-reaching consequences for employers, since back pay, overtime and double damages for employees are on the line. The cases involve the compensability of certain activities—donning and doffing protective gear in the case decided in January and going through a security screen in the new case—that employees must complete to perform their jobs, but are not necessarily the crux of the jobs themselves.
July 02, 2014
The U.S. Supreme Court this week issued its long-awaited decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., regarding the ability of for-profit corporations to refuse to abide by regulations that require them to provide cost-free contraception to their female employees. The Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, holding that the regulations imposing the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act violated another federal law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Although the Court seemed to emphasize the limited nature of its holding, this case has broad implications for all corporations and all types of government regulations.
May 06, 2014
Michael Schmidt, vice chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor and Employment Department, and Jason A. Cabrera, associate in the Labor and Employment Department, co-authored an article for The Legal Intelligencer titled, “Restricted Covenants in the Internet Age.” The article discusses the impact of social media on restrictive convents.
April 18, 2014
There are two trends that continue to gain steam in the employment law world: an increase in employee protections by the new Mayor De Blasio administration in New York City, and an increase in employment law claims made by interns. Both trends have come together in a new law affecting New York City employers beginning on June 14, 2014.
April 09, 2014
On April 8, 2014, President Obama took two significant actions in the employee pay arena. He signed an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against their applicants and employees for inquiring about, disclosing or discussing pay information. He also issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to issue new regulations requiring federal contractors to provide compensation data to the federal government, broken down by gender and race.
March 17, 2014
In a White House ceremony on Thursday, March 13, 2014, President Barack Obama signed a memorandum ordering the Secretary of Labor to “propose revisions to modernize and streamline the existing overtime regulations” governing the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Although the president did not direct specific changes, he clearly stated that the goal of any regulatory changes would be to make more workers eligible for overtime pay under federal law. The president’s directive is
expected to lead to proposed rules that would require employers to pay overtime to millions of workers who are currently classified as exempt employees.
March 01, 2014
In an article titled “Understanding State Anti-Discrimination Statutes,” Debra Friedman, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses state anti-discrimination statues and how important it is for employers that operate in multiple states to be able to navigate which state’s anti-discrimination statutes apply.
January 28, 2014
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law last week a bill that specifically adds pregnancy to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJ LAD) and requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees who request accommodation. The new law, which was passed unanimously by the state Senate and with just one dissenting vote in the state Assembly, makes several major changes to existing law. Employers should be mindful of this new law because it strengthens the already tough NJ LAD and goes farther than the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
January 28, 2014
The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday released its much-anticipated decision in the case of Sandifer v. United States Steel Corporation, and held that Section 203(o) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) — which allows parties to a collective bargaining agreement to decide for themselves through negotiations whether “time spent in changing clothes … at the beginning or end of each workday” is compensable — applies to articles of protective clothing such as flame-retardant jackets, pants, hoods, snoods, wristlets, leggings, hardhats, work gloves and steel-toed boots.
January 17, 2014
Employers operating in New York City should be reminded of two significant additions to the checklist of employment obligations that will become effective in the coming weeks.
December 13, 2013
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has stepped up its efforts in recent years to assert jurisdiction over more health care providers. As a result, a growing number of health care providers are struggling to comply with OFCCP's many regulatory requirements, while others are warily watching developments in this area. Now, federal contractors are faced with new regulations principally aimed at increasing employment opportunities for veterans and individuals with disabilities. These regulations, which cover an estimated 200,000 federal contractor establishments, become effective March 24, 2014, and require contractors to make additional, significant recruitment and outreach efforts to these groups.
December 12, 2013
So far 20 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws permitting and regulating the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Colorado and Washington have gone further and legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Moreover, Americans’ tolerance for the legalization of marijuana is increasing. An October 2013 Gallup poll showed that 58% of Americans favor legalizing marijuana. What does this trend mean for retailers, especially those operating in multiple states? The answer is complex, as the law is evolving.
November 27, 2013
Many associate bullying with kids and schools. State laws, educational awareness campaigns and all-too-frequent tragedies focus our attention on the problem of school bullying. Much less attention is paid to workplace bullying. In fact, in telling my school-age child that there are bullies at some workplaces, her response was: “There are no bullies at work. It is just people complaining.” This misconception is common, and unfortunately extends to many employers. As a result, many employers don’t see the need to take a proactive stance against workplace bullying. Even employers who acknowledge the prevalence of bullying in the workplace often see no need to act because currently there are no federal or state laws that expressly make workplace bullying illegal. This inaction, however, can translate into missed opportunities and increased costs.
October 16, 2013
Most employers tend to focus on federal law as a source of labor and employment obligations. However, employers should also pay careful attention to state and local laws on workplace issues. The first half of this month has already seen two significant developments in New York.
September 12, 2013
New Jersey has joined a growing list of states enacting changes to their unemployment insurance laws to comply with an upcoming federal deadline. Starting October 22, 2013, New Jersey will refuse to relieve an employer’s account of charges for erroneous benefit payments if (1) the payments were made because the employer failed to timely respond to requests for information from the New Jersey Division of Labor and Workforce Development, and (2) the employer has a pattern of failing to respond to such requests.
July 03, 2013
The scene is not uncommon, a beautiful hotel with several floors of luxurious rooms, restaurants and bars, and cascading waterfalls out at the pool. It is not your typical office, yet it is critical that hotel employers understand that the men and women who work in this setting are employees and that the hotel is a workplace. So, as informal, perhaps even as romantic, as the scene may be, employment laws proscribing harassment in the workplace apply in hotels as equally as they do in a medical practice, a law firm or an insurance brokerage house.
June 25, 2013
On June 20, 2013, in a 5-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) does not permit courts to invalidate a contractual waiver of class arbitration on the ground that the plaintiff’s cost of individually arbitrating a federal statutory claim exceeds the potential recovery.
April 02, 2013
On March 29, 2013, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that will raise the New York minimum wage in staged increases over the next three years.
April 01, 2013
Disability discrimination remains a hot button issue in the workplace. Employees and applicants file more disability discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) each year, totaling some 25,000 charges in fiscal year 2011 alone.
March 27, 2013
One of Barack Obama’s first actions when he became president was to sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, resetting the statute of limitations each paycheck for equal-pay gender discrimination lawsuits and making it easier for employees to pursue them.
March 19, 2013
The New York City Council continues to grow the chasm that exists between New York City employment law and its state and federal counterparts. Specifically, on March 13, 2013, the council overwhelmingly enacted (by a 43-4 vote) a local law that precludes employers and employment agencies from refusing to consider or hire an applicant because he or she is unemployed, and from posting advertisements that require job applicants to be employed. This comes less than a month after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg initially vetoed the legislation, which now is set to become effective on June 11, 2013.
March 14, 2013
On March 8, 2013, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new Employment Eligibility Verification Form, Form I-9, and a revised Handbook for Employers, M-274. The main changes to the new Form are that it contains further instructions on how to complete the Form I-9 and also expands the Form itself to two pages. Employers should review the revised Handbook and may begin using the new Form I-9 immediately both for new hires and for work authorization reverification. USCIS is allowing employers two months to transition to the new Form I-9, but beginning on May 7, 2013, employers must use the new Form I-9. Employers do not need to complete a new Form I-9 for current employees with a proper I-9 on file.
March 04, 2013
Effective February 28, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) rescinded its much criticized 2006 Compensation Standards and Voluntary Guidelines (Compensation Standards) utilized in pay discrimination compliance evaluations of federal contractors. The Compensation Standards essentially had applied one analytic approach to pay discrimination, regardless of industry, job type or other data specific to the federal contractor’s pay practices. Not surprisingly, the OFCCP claims that the narrowly defined "cookie cutter" compliance evaluation procedures imposed by the Compensation Standards impeded the OFCCP’s investigation efforts.
January 29, 2013
We have all heard and read about the ubiquitous internet "cloud." But what exactly is the cloud? And what specifically does that mean for e-discovery?
September 18, 2012
Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) just made things a little easier for employers. Effective November 6, 2012, employers in New York will have greater flexibility when it comes to permissible deductions from employee wages.
September 13, 2012
Fluctuating Workweek Overtime Method Not Permissible Under Pennsylvania Law - Labor and Employment Alert - A federal court in Pennsylvania recently held that the "fluctuating workweek method" of calculating overtime compensation violates Pennsylvania’s Minimum Wage Act (PMWA), 34 Pa. Code. § 231.43(d)(3). See Foster v. Kraft Foods Global, Inc., No. 2:09-cv-00453 (W.D. Pa. Aug. 27, 2012).
August 13, 2012
Pennsylvania Adopts FLSA's 8/80 Overtime Rule for Health Care Industry Employers - Labor and Employment Alert - Pennsylvania has taken a major step toward making its overtime requirements for employers in the health care industry consistent with federal rules.
July 02, 2012
Third Circuit Establishes New Test for "Joint Employers" - Labor and Employment Alert - A determination that a company is a “joint employer” can dramatically increase its potential exposure to liability under the Fair Labor Standards Act, because joint employers can be held responsible for each other’s violations of the law.
August 15, 2008
Our Summer 2008 Labor and Employment Law Observer covers a multitude of topics of interest to in-house counsel, human resources professionals and corporate management.
July 01, 2008
Business Groups Challenge Florida "Guns at Work" Law - Inside Counsel - A new state law that will allow Florida residents to keep firearms in their cars at work is being challenged by several employer groups. The law, which takes effect July 1, prohibits public and private employers from having policies prohibiting firearms in their parking lots. It allows employees with valid weapons permits to keep guns locked in their cars in employers’ parking lots.
June 15, 2007
Employment Law: Language debate - Daily Business Review - While the debate over immigration reform heats up in Washington, English-only policies in the
workplace are sparking numerous legal challenges in the courts. Labor and employment attorneys say that, in recent years, a growing number of businesses have created English-only policies, triggering a backlash of discrimination lawsuits by immigrant workers.
November 05, 2020
U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers recognized Cozen O’Connor as a “Best Law Firm” in 25 practice areas nationwide and 115 practice areas regionally.
June 11, 2020
Super Lawyers has named seven Cozen O'Connor attorneys to its 2020 Florida Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists.
November 05, 2019
The U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations and peer review from leading attorneys in their field.
August 28, 2019
Best Lawyers selected 138 Cozen O’Connor lawyers from 21 of the firm’s national offices for inclusion in the 2020 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.
August 01, 2019
Cozen O’Connor is pleased to announce 13 attorneys from California’s Miller Law Group — one of the largest woman-owned employment law firms in the country — have joined its San Francisco and Los Angeles offices.
July 25, 2018
Pozo Further Strengthens the Firm’s Commercial, Employment and Trademark Litigation Bench
February 01, 2018
In the 2018 U.S. News - Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms, Cozen O’Connor is ranked nationally in 17 practice areas and regionally in 64 practice areas.
January 26, 2018
Super Lawyers has recognized 12 Cozen O'Connor attorneys to its 2018 lists of top practitioners in Illinois, including Joe Tilson who was again named one of the "Top 100" Illinois Super Lawyers.
November 23, 2016
Firms included in the 2017 "Best Law Firms" list are recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers.