*Please note: Nationally ranked firms can find editorial analysis here.
Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey
Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey maintains a robust labor and employment practice that remains highly active in litigation. The firm’s lawyers in the practice are recognized for their strong reputation in the state. The practice represents both public and private employers that vary in size and industry.
Giovanna Tiberii Weller has a significant reputation as one of the state’s top labor and employment litigators. Serving as the co-leader the litigation department and the co-chair of the labor and employment group, she maintains a practice is almost entirely dedicated to employment litigation. Her most recent clients have been in the banking and finance and higher education sectors; however, her experience includes handling matters for clients in a wide variety of industries.
Sarah Healey is noted for her significant wins for clients over the last year. In an eight-year- long case, Healey argued the motion for attorney’s fees and costs, which the court granted and awarded the client over $2.2 million, bringing the case to a successful end. In another victory, Healey obtained a summary judgement on behalf of Bridgeport Hospital in a case that involved an eight-count complaint filed by the plaintiff.
Pullman & Comley
Pullman & Comley is a full-service firm with five offices serving the state of Connecticut The firm has a strong reputation in litigation, including a solid labor and employment practice. A local peer gives credence to this: “Pullman is really good. I think they’re solid.” Employment litigation at the firm involves all types of claims, as well as single-plaintiff and multi-plaintiff disputes. Joshua Hawks-Ladds is co-chair of the labor, employment law and employee benefits department at the firm. Over the last year, he has assisted several clients in litigation regarding terminations of high-level management. He represented a major social media company following the termination of its CFO as well as a major hedge fund in the termination of its CEO. In addition to private clients, he also recently assisted a police department that terminated an officer for violations.
Wiggin and Dana
Wiggin and Dana is a dominant force in Connecticut’s labor and employment market. The practice attracts a wide variety of clients, from hospitals to household-name companies. Lawyers within the group assist clients with lawsuits throughout the US, including recent actions taking place in New Jersey and Wisconsin.
Stamford partner Lawrence Peikes was recently retained to represent two multinational, high-profile companies in labor and employment disputes. In a victory for Samsung, Peikes avoided a class action on successful motion to dismiss to compel arbitration in accordance with the company’s agreement. Adding to the significance, the case also established that a non-signatory alleged to be a joint employer has the right to invoke an arbitration agreement.
Peikes’ employment expertise is paired with labor-related experience. He represented Subway in dispute with the Service Employees International Union which filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB. They allege that the Milford-based Franchise World Headquarters threatened union representatives and employees while they engaged in organizing and other protected concerted activity. The case further involves the issue of balancing private property rights and the rights of non-employee union organizers.
Peikes and fellow labor and employment litigator Mary Gambardella are defending Montefiore in a lawsuit that was reopened by the plaintiff after they voluntarily withdrew the claims rather than face sanctions for discovery misconduct. The plaintiff, a former psychiatrist with he hospital system, originally alleged whistleblower and retaliation claims, among others. The lawsuit is being reopened.
Gambardella works with some of the most recognized names throughout the area. Over the last year, she has assisted many of the well-known hospitals. Gambardella handled three separate cases for three hospitals – Yale New Haven, Bridgeport, and Greenwich – and won each case on summary judgment.
The labor and employment practice is further bolstered by several other partners.
Peter Lefeber has handled significant cases for Connecticut-based businesses, universities, and hospitals.
Najia Khalid specializes in assisting clients with immigration issues related to employment.
District of Columbia
Sullivan & Cromwell
The District of Columbia office of Sullivan & Cromwell maintains its expertise in handling internal investigations. In addition to the investigational aptitude, the firm’s practice in the city is also exceptionally suited to address employment litigation needs for clients.
Julia Jordan is the most well-known labor and employment lawyer within the firm’s DC office. Jordan is the co-head of several groups and practices at the firm, including labor and employment law, whistleblower litigation, and the workplace investigations.
Preti Flaherty Beliveau & Pachios
Preti Flaherty Beliveau & Pachios is a full-service law firm with a strong reputation throughout the New England area in the Northeast. In Maine, the firm offers two locations: Portland and Augusta. The employment law group’s chair, Michael Messerschmidt, practices out of the Portland office. He specializes in assisting clients through their disputes with employees. He has worked on behalf of a wide variety of clients, from healthcare to manufacturing. Messerschmidt litigates all types of employment claims and his experience includes labor matters as well.
Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr
Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr has a highly regarded labor and employment practice in its Baltimore office. The practice is known for its employment litigation and investigations capabilities. In particular, the firm’s specialty handling higher education litigation often involves employment claims. The labor and employment practice boasts several notable lawyers, including Harriet Cooperman and Gary Eidelman in Baltimore. Cooperman represents public and private clients in both employment litigation and traditional labor disputes. She has experience in litigating all types of employment claims and recently has been involved in a restrictive covenant case.
Eidelman is a well-known litigator who has been in courts throughout the nation. He has been in two separate contentious disputes involving former employees of the client Willis Re. One case is being litigated in Miami Dade-Circuit court is a restrictive covenant case that particularly involves the enforcement of non-solicitation agreements that were signed by the defendants in the case. Eidelman was one of the partners leading the cross-office team in a victorious emergency temporary injunction against the former employees. The second case was litigated in the District of Puerto Rico. Earlier this year, Eidelman defended Willis Re against two motions filed by the plaintiff, the chairman of the client’s LatAm practice. Both motion attempts were denied, and the case was dismissed with prejudice. The plaintiff filed an appeal to the First Circuit.
Whiteford Taylor Preston
Whiteford Taylor Preston is lauded for its litigation expertise that stretches across many practice areas, including labor and employment. The practice’s notability spans its offices in Maryland and the District of Columbia. The Maryland outfit houses the chair of the practice, Steven Bers, a seasoned litigator who focuses entirely on labor and employment. Bers is widely recognized not only for his employment work, but his maritime law expertise as well – making him especially well-suited for handling employment issues for clients in the industry. His labor and employment practice has encompassed all types of claims related to employment. A case Bers is currently litigating involves alleged violations of wage-and-hour laws.
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough maintains a labor and employment practice that spans across multiple states, ranging from its headquarters in South Carolina up to Massachusetts. The firm’s expanding practice is dedicated to assisting clients in lawsuits arising from the employer-employee relationship.
The Boston office is home to the labor and employment practice chair Bret Cohen. His practice is entirely dedicated to complex employment cases, especially those matters that involve issues related to employee mobility. He both defends and enforces non-competes and other employment-related contracts for clients. A majority of his cases involve high-profile, high-ranking employees and his clients range from Massachusetts-based to nationwide companies.
He is currently handling several actions for Panera in multiple jurisdictions. These matters have garnered media attention over the last year. The matters involve the former CEO, President and Chairman of the client, as well as three employees known as the Technology Executives in the cases. As lead counsel, Cohen has obtained injunctive relief in the matter against the Technology Executives. The temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction enjoined the group from working for Act III, the competitor and business of the former CEO. In addition, Cohen received another victory which enjoined Act III from using, acquiring, or disclosing Panera’s trade secrets and confidential information and ordered their return.
In Missouri, Cohen and the team appealed to the Eighth Circuit, challenging the District Court in Missouri that dismissed the initial action against the former employees on forum non conveniens grounds. The team is also involved in Delaware Chancery court defending the client against the former CEO, President and Chairman who is seeking access to the client’s the records and books.
New Jersey’s full-service firm Gibbons houses a labor and employment practice that dedicates a significant portion of its focus on handling clients’ litigation. The practice’s lawyers handle all types of claims in class-action and single-plaintiff disputes. Clients consistently hold the firm in high regard. One of the clients testifies that the labor and employment practice is “very responsive, engaging, professional and client focused.”
The practice chair Christine Amalfe handles employment litigation for some of the leading companies and universities in the state. One client recently shared their contentment with Amalfe’s handling of an employment case. The client describes her as “appropriately aggressive, thoughtful, and business-focused.” Almalfe is the lead lawyer handling several actions for Seton Hall University. The three separate cases touch on different facets of labor and employment litigation. She is defending against retaliation and disability discrimination claims and a lawsuit alleging violations of Title VII by a student worker. In addition to these lawsuits, Amalfe is also overseeing and managing an internal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment.
Susan Nardone is routinely engaged in litigation on behalf of major employers in the state. She has handled a variety of cases in the last year. Of note, she is defending a healthcare system in a lawsuit filed by a former nurse manager alleging that the termination of their employment violated New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA).
James La Rocca rounds out the firm’s labor and employment practice with his focus on traditional labor disputes as well as employment litigation. He successfully assisted a client that was recently subject to union organizing. In a more contentious dispute, La Rocca represented a company in a grievance hearing that sought to challenge the discharge of an employee. He represented the employer before a panel in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement. The panel found in favor of the client, as did the NLRB after the union filed a charge with the board.
Debevoise & Plimpton
Debevoise & Plimpton’s labor and employment practice has a renowned reputation for internal investigations. The practice’s specialty is noted as “outstanding” by a peer in New York. In addition to the exceptional capabilities in internal investigations, the labor and employment lawyers at the firm are also employment litigators.
Mary Beth Hogan is renowned for her skill as an internal investigator for high-profile clients. She expertly navigates issues for employers who are seeking a seasoned independent investigator. Often, Hogan’s investigations garner media and public attention, which she also navigates carefully and skillfully. Clients trust her to assist them in addressing the sensitive allegations that include sexual harassment, misconduct, and sexual abuse in employment settings. Over the last year, her clients have been Ohio State University, Board of KIPP New York in an investigation of two teachers, and the Board of Intercom for an investigation of sexual harassment allegations against a senior member of management.
In addition to its solid internal investigations capability, the firm’s labor and employment practice is also comprised of employment litigators who handle various claims that arise from the employee-employer relationship. Jyotin Hamid attends to a diverse practice that encompasses employment litigation, as well as commercial and intellectual property disputes. Hamid is in the middle of a case that is testing the retroactive effect of recent laws invalidating mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment claims.
Hoguet Newman Regal & Kenney is well-known for being one of the formidable boutique firms focusing almost exclusively on litigation. The firm is noted for its expertise and successes in insurance, commercial and labor and employment litigation. Its labor and employment practice is equipped with lawyers who often have diverse practices, enabling them to take on complex cases that require a deep knowledge of business and commercial issues.
Damian Cavaleri maintains a unique hybrid practice of both commercial and employment litigation. The hybrid nature of his practice involves him in many restrictive covenants and non-compete matters involving C-Suite and top management. He is currently acting as plaintiff on behalf of Jeff Lucas, a high-level executive, against Verizon, defended by one of the nationally recognized top-tier law firms in labor and employment. The plaintiff alleges that Verizon acted in bad faith and acted fraudulently when he attempted to leave to WarnerMedia. Cavaleri recently successfully remanded the case back to state court after the defendant’s attempt to remove it to federal court. The total damages equate to about $13 million.
Cavaleri’s employment practice also involves the routine disputes afflicting management, such as discrimination, retaliation, and whistleblower claims. He defended Fresenius Medical Care Holdings against alleged “reverse” discrimination claims, asserting that he was discriminated based on his status as a white male. The plaintiff additionally alleged retaliation claims citing the complaints he filed on the conditions of the clinic he was managing. The multi-dimensional case was favorably settled earlier this year.
Randi May is particularly skilled in the practices and motions to avoid litigation, especially when necessary for clients. When avoidance is not possible, May represents clients in federal and state court and before arbitration panels. Her experience has involved all types of employment-related issues – ranging from discrimination to wage-and-hour claims. She also handles matters arising from various restrictive covenants. She often drafts these agreements for clients, which makes her especially adept in litigating these issues. May is often representing C-Suite and management clients.
The labor and employment practice at Kasowitz Benson Torres is routinely active in litigation.. The team is comprised of what one peer describes as “sharp, good lawyers.” Clients seek out the labor and employment partners for their expertise in handling aggressive litigation in the courtroom and conflicts that involve media and public attention as well. Recent clients have included leading real estate companies and firms in the banking and finance industry. The lawyers are also sought out to represent individuals in employment litigation, bringing a unique experience and perspective to employers.
Jessica Taub Rosenberg is one of the firm’s preeminent labor and employment lawyers. Rosenberg handles all types of employment cases from class and collective actions to single-plaintiff matter for high-profile clients in various industries. She continues to handle employment litigation for one of the largest real estate brokerage firms, Douglas Eliman. Rosenberg has been leading the long-time client through a series of actions, including a putative wage and hour class action pending in Superior Court in Los Angeles. She is also involved in another case that spans commercial and employment litigation, related to employee contracts and misappropriation.
Another one of the firm’s highly notable litigators is Mark Lerner who is often handling complex cases for market leading companies and high-ranking individuals. He has partnered with Rosenberg to represent Chelsea Jia in a discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the US subsidiary of leading Chinese-based investment bank China Renaissance Group, and two of its employees. The suit is currently being litigated. Lerner is also involved in a pro bono case representing home healthcare aides who are alleging that the defendants are joint employers and have violated federal and New York wage and hour labor laws.
Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel maintains a labor and employment practice that has a particular specialty in handling complex and sensitive single-plaintiff employment disputes. The practice maintains a long list of high-profile clients that require litigators with deep experience in court and in handling media and public attention.
Kevin Leblang leads many of the most publicly litigated employment disputes. He is currently representing CBS in a dispute that has garnered press coverage. The action was filed by a former CEO of the company, Leslie Moonves, who has alleged claims of defamation and breach of contract following their termination. The firm is well-known for handling employment disputes for clients in banking and finance. Leblang is representing Morgan Stanley in a federal court action arising from a former employee who is alleging discrimination based on military status and race.
Robert Holtzman’s employment practice focuses on resolving disputes between high-ranking employees and employers. His courtroom expertise goes beyond the bounds of New York; Holtzman recently settled a non-compete and non-solicitation dispute that involved actions in New Jersey, Massachusetts and North Carolina.
Eliza Kaiser maintains an active employment litigation practice representing industry-leading companies through disputes with employees. She has represented Sirius XM in multiple disability discrimination cases that arose out of the companies’ transaction with Pandora. One matter resulted in a favorable settlement for the client. In the second matter, Kaiser has filed a motion for summary judgment following several favorable court decisions.
Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello
Movillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello has a dominating reputation as being a white-collar and investigations powerhouse. The firm has also established itself in the labor and employment realm with its expertise in handling some of the most sensitive and complex disputes and investigations. The firm’s employment practice is often called upon by high-profile individuals seeking formidable lawyers in disputes that are bound to gain public attention. In employment litigation, the practice specializes in single-plaintiff cases that involve all types of employment-related claims, but especially issues related to sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace. In addition, the firm maintains a significant sexual harassment investigations practice.
Catherine Foti is one of the most preeminent lawyers handling independent investigations and claims involving sexual harassment and abuse. Her expertise in handling sensitive and often highly confidential matters makes clients seek her out for representation. Foti is also deeply experienced with cases that require the ability to handle aggressive press coverage, media, and public attention. Most recently, she has been retained to represent an employee in the Chamber of the former Governor’s office in connection with the Attorney General’s high-profile sexual harassment investigation stemming from claims against former Governor Cuomo. Foti is also involved in litigation involving claims of retaliation, discrimination and sexual harassment.
Robert Anello is well-known as a trial lawyer with a practice that spans numerous areas. His labor and employment practice predominantly focuses on representing individual plaintiffs challenging their former employers, particularly in matters alleging discrimination, sexual harassment and abuse, and retaliation, among other claims for wrongful termination. Some of the clients that Anello has worked with in the past year include a former CEO and a New York City school teacher who has retained the team for the second time to handle another race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against the Department of Education and the New York City police department. In addition to a significant employment litigation practice, Anello has also been involved in labor disputes, recently representing a labor union challenging a New York City law that seeks to regulate unions, which the team alleges violates the NLRA.
New labor and employment star Christopher Harwood calls upon his experience as a former prosecutor and expertise in civil and criminal litigation to assist clients through complex employment matters. Over the last year, he has worked with his fellow partners on several matters, including representing a former Chief Innovation Officer who alleges that they were retaliated against after raising concerns of about racial discrimination and a hostile work environment. Harwood has also led internal investigations, most recently representing a multinational company investigating the potential liability after former employees allegedly engaged in misconduct.
Sullivan & Cromwell
From its headquarters in New York, Sullivan & Cromwell has maintained a labor and employment practice that handles a significant number of discrimination cases and internal investigations for major companies. The practice is most well-known for its clients in the banking and finance industry.
Tracy Richelle High is co-head of the labor and employment practice group. Her practice involves both defense work and internal investigations. Over the past year, she has been involved in defending a major manufacturer of automobiles in two discrimination class actions. She has also worked with her colleagues in the District of Columbia to conduct internal investigations addressing allegations of sexual harassment that involve senior personnel.
Fellow co-head of the labor and employment group Ann-Elizabeth Ostrager also dedicates her practice to employment litigation and internal investigations. She is the head partner in defending Goldman Sachs in a high-profile gender discrimination class action that has been ongoing for several years. Last year, in a major victory for the client, Ostrager won a motion to compel arbitration and the arbitration clauses in a majority of the agreements would be enforceable.
Walden Macht & Haran
Although one of New York’s preeminent white-collar and commercial litigation boutiques, Walden Macht & Haran has impressively also carved a significant stake in the labor and employment space. The matters are often high-level with additional complexities often due to white-collar and commercial tones in the disputes.
Milt Williams is regarded as one of the seasoned litigators in the labor and employment space. The former in-house counsel at Time has a practice that can handle any combination of employment, white-collar, and commercial law. His high-level employment practice involves representing clients in disputes ranging from complex restrictive covenants to #MeToo-related allegations and discrimination claims. This year, Williams is working on the team that is investigating the allegations of sexual harassment made against former Governor Cuomo. The team represents the Executive Chamber, as well as its current and former employees. He is also involved in a First Amendment retaliation case representing the plaintiff who was is a high-ranking official in the NYC Fire Department. The plaintiff alleges that they were repeatedly denied a promotion in retaliation for both past speech and the failure to engage in compelled speech. In a restrictive covenants case, Williams represents Mount Sinai against a former doctor. Mount Sinai alleges that the former doctor breached his restrictive covenant and contract by joining competitor Northwell Health. The alleged poaching in this case is rare and could set an industry precedent.
Ballard Spahr features litigation practices in various areas of law, including a labor and employment group which maintains a high standing in Pennsylvania. The practice is headquartered in Philadelphia, with many of its most notable lawyers operating out of the office. The labor and employment group has dedicated traditional labor lawyers in addition to employment litigators.
The practice is well-known for its traditional labor work in and outside of Philadelphia. Brian Pedrow recently assisted the City of Baltimore in pre-negotiation research and strategy formulation in its negotiation with the City’s police union. Pedrow then successfully concluded the high-stakes, high-profile negotiation while the City was under a consent decree with the Department of Justice. The success of the negotiation by the City recently reengaging the team to work on a new round of labor negotiations.
Philadelphia’s labor lawyer Shannon Farmer has served as the lead counsel on many of the City’s labor negotiations, arbitrations, and employment disputes. Recently, her work for the City has included several actions. She has conducted a thorough review of over a thousand Facebook posts by more than 300 officers for the City after the posts were identified as offensive by the Plain View database. Her expertise was sought to determine whether they could be disciplined without risking First Amendment issues. She is also leading arbitrations with over 10,000 unionized workers that involves five bargaining units. On the employment front, Farmer is also leading the city in defending a collective action questioning whether the city is violating the FLSA by paying some of the overtime in the next pay period.
David Fryman focuses on assisting clients through complex employment cases and handling traditional labor matters. His recent representation of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company nearly took him to the Supreme Court. The wage-and-hour class and collective action involved the issue of donning and doffing. In 2014, the team succeeded on a motion for summary judgment at the federal court, but on appeal, the Third Circuit revived the proposed class action and reversed the Federal Court’s decision. Fryman petitioned the Supreme Court; however, it fell short by one vote due to retirements causing changes to the court’s makeup. Ultimately, when the case was brought back to the district court, Fryman successfully obtained a settlement agreement for the client, which was granted final approval last October.
Partridge Snow & Hahn
Partridge Snow & Hahn’s labor and employment practice mainly operates out of the firm’s Providence office, with additional lawyers also located in the Boston office. The firm’s labor and employment practice offers capability in all related services and stays active in litigation.
The chair of the labor and employment group Alicia Samolis has been involved in cases for clients beyond Rhode Island with lawsuits in New York and Massachusetts over the last year. Samolis’ employment work also involves litigating all types of related claims. She is currently defending an employee mobility case in which the client is facing alleged claims of tortious interference and raiding. In addition, she is defending a religious school in a unique gender discrimination case involving a former employee who filed claims against the client after the daughter was allegedly disciplined more harshly than male students.
Michael Gamboli is also highly active in employment litigation. His clients range in size and, like Samolis, his practice expands beyond Rhode Island. He is litigating a case involving alleged FMLA violations as well as claims of sex discrimination. Additionally in a gender discrimination matter filed under the Equal Pay Act, the team’s successful motions to dismiss have limited the claims. In addition to single-plaintiff cases, Gamboli is also experienced in class and collective actions; recently, he handled a wage and hour class action in Massachusetts which is awaiting settlement approval from the court.