Kasowitz’s employment practices and litigation group handles a wide variety of complex employment litigation for a broad range of clients, including leading banking, investment management and other financial services institutions, software, consumer electronics and communications technology companies, apparel and retail stores, media and entertainment companies, advertising and marketing firms, and manufacturing and industrial corporations. Kasowitz employment attorneys have extensive experience in all areas of employment law, including statutory discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims, lawsuits relating to trade secrets and unfair competition, non-competes and other restrictive covenants, wage and hour issues, contract and tort claims, employee training and counseling, regulatory agency matters, union matters, government regulations, negotiation of executive employment agreements, consulting arrangements and severance agreements, employment policies and procedures, and advice and counsel. The group also regularly handles sensitive internal investigations as counsel either to corporate clients or to their boards of directors and has successfully executed such assignments for numerous publicly-held and privately-owned companies.
Kasowitz employment attorneys take an extremely practical and results-oriented approach to labor and employment problems faced by clients. Helping clients to crisply define desired outcomes and pursuing a thoughtful yet efficient course to achieve them are what make Kasowitz the choice of Fortune 500 companies, corporate boards and special committees, and prominent senior executives. Given their breadth of experience, knowledge, skill and common sense, Kasowitz attorneys are equipped to provide the strategic legal representation that enables employers to focus on their business rather than on personnel legal issues.
The employment practices and litigation group has been ranked as a Tier 1 practice in the 2012-2013 publication of U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms." Kasowitz has also been named as a 2012 “go-to law firm” for the nation’s top 500 companies in the area of Labor & Employment Law by the publishers of Corporate Counsel magazine.
Examples of noteworthy representations by attorneys in the employment practices and litigation group include:
Employment Discrimination and Harassment Actions
- Fox News Network, in defense of a sexual harassment class action filed by the EEOC in federal court in New York.
- The New York Post, in defense of an employment discrimination and retaliation action brought by a former employee, in which Kasowitz obtained summary judgment dismissing all claims, and defense of two wrongful discharge and discrimination actions filed by current and former employees arising out of the newspaper’s publication of a political cartoon that allegedly was offensive.
- Cisco Systems, Inc., a worldwide leader in network solutions, in defense of a federal court class litigation brought by private plaintiffs and the EEOC alleging that the company discriminated on the basis of race against applicants for sales positions throughout the United States.
- Southern Union Company, one of the nation's leading diversified natural gas companies, in defense of various employment-related matters, including defense of national origin discrimination, age discrimination, whistleblower and retaliation lawsuits, including lawsuits in federal court in Missouri and Louisiana by former employees in which Kasowitz obtained summary judgment dismissing all claims prior to trial. In one matter, Kasowitz obtained an affirmance of a grant of summary judgment by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and a denial of the plaintiff’s Petition for Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court.
- Dow Jones & Company, in defense of a race discrimination lawsuit in New York federal court brought by a former assistant managing editor of The Wall Street Journal.
- Rabobank International, in defense of employment discrimination and retaliation actions, including an age discrimination and retaliation lawsuit in New York federal court brought by a senior executive, in which Kasowitz won summary judgment on certain claims, and a favorable outcome at trial on the remaining claims.
- MacKay Shields, LLC, an asset management firm, in defense of claims by a former senior executive of constructive discharge, disparate pay, racial discrimination and unlawful wage deductions in violation of New York Labor Law in which Kasowitz obtained summary judgment dismissing all claims, which decision was unanimously affirmed by the New York Appellate Division, First Department.
- National Financial Partners Corp., a leading benefits, insurance and wealth management firm, in connection with employment-related matters, including summary judgment dismissal of an age discrimination lawsuit brought against subsidiary ADP Statewide Insurance Agencies Inc.
- News America Marketing In-Store, Inc., a leading provider of in-store advertising, promotion and sales merchandising services, in defense of a disability discrimination and Family and Medical Leave Act retaliation action brought by a former employee, in which Kasowitz obtained summary judgment dismissing all claims.
- The 92nd Street Y, one of New York’s largest not-for-profit community and cultural organizations, for which Kasowitz serves as outside employment counsel, in connection with various employment and union matters.
Restrictive Covenant/Unfair Competition Litigation
- Elliott Management, a hedge fund manager, in connection with the prosecution of claims involving an alleged conspiracy between another hedge fund and a former employee to steal confidential and proprietary trading-related analytical software, in which Kasowitz successfully obtained injunctive relief against the competing fund at the outset of the litigation.
- Ernst & Young LLP, in proceedings against a global professional services firm involving allegations that the defendant diverted key professionals and client relations and aided former partners and senior employees in material breaches of their fiduciary duties and their restrictive covenants.
- Wenner Media LLC (Us Weekly), in litigation against a former executive editor who resigned to launch a celebrity publication in violation of the terms of her employment agreement, in which Kasowitz successfully obtained injunctive relief.
- Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation, a major global apparel maker and retailer, in a matter involving the theft of confidential information and property in which Kasowitz obtained immediate return of the stolen materials and a consent agreement imposing extended restricted covenants to protect Kasowitz’s client against unfair competition.
- TransPerfect Translations, Inc., a leading provider of translation and litigation support services, in a series of cases involving claims against competitors for breaches of restrictive covenants and other common law claims, in which Kasowitz obtained injunctive relief against former employees in Texas and New York, and successfully opposed an application for a temporary restraining order brought by a major New York-based competitor.
- Edelman Public Relations, in an action against two former senior executives and their new employer for claims involving the alleged theft of confidential information, clients and staff, in which Kasowitz obtained injunctive relief and successfully opposed the defendants' motion for summary judgment.
- Avnet, Inc., one of the world’s largest distributors of electronic parts and components, in litigations involving the protection of its client relationships through the enforcement of employee contracts, and the defense against various employment and trade secret claims brought by a competitor in New York federal court.
- Contrarian Capital Management LLC, a hedge fund, in connection with the departure of a former senior portfolio manager who allegedly breached his contractual and fiduciary obligations as part of a scheme to effect a hostile takeover of the fund he had been entrusted to manage.
- Euro RSCG Worldwide, the U.S.-based subsidiary of one of the world's largest advertising agencies, Havas SA, in prosecuting actions against a former senior executive who allegedly attempted to misappropriate the company's proprietary software and engage in various acts of unlawful competition.
- Women Model Management, a leading fashion modeling agency, in prosecuting and defending claims concerning alleged breach of employment and non-solicitation agreements and related tort claims, including a dismissal on summary judgment to Kasowitz’s client in a lawsuit filed in New York by one of its competitor agencies, a “raiding” case against a competitor agency for unfair competition, and multiple actions involving requests for emergency injunctive relief.
- FTI Consulting, Inc., a global business advisory firm, in defense of various contract and restrictive covenant claims brought by a former managing director of the company.
- Representation of major employers and individual senior executives and groups of executives in connection with non-compete disputes. For example, Kasowitz represented a well-known literary agent who was sued by International Creative Management (ICM), one of the country's largest talent agencies, for allegedly breaching his employment contract by commencing employment with a competing agency. Kasowitz successfully defended against the former employer's application for a preliminary injunction, which was denied in all respects following a two-day evidentiary hearing in New York federal court.
Wage and Hour Litigation
- Oracle USA, Inc., one of the world's largest providers of integrated business software and hardware systems, in multiple coordinated putative class actions involving claims of misclassification of alleged nonexempt technology workers.
- Rainbow USA Inc., owner and operator of approximately 1,600 retail apparel stores throughout the United States, in connection with an action brought by several former employees and a class of current and former employees for alleged wage and hour law violations in Illinois.
- Representation of a New York-based Dunkin Donuts franchisee, in defense of putative class and collective action claims for overtime, off-the-clock work, tip-pooling violations and misclassification of employees pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law.
- Borders, Inc., in defense of a WARN Class Action brought by former employees of the company in the United States Bankruptcy Court in New York. Kasowitz secured a very favorable settlement of the class action for Borders early in the case (before even answering the complaint).
- Mimeo, Inc., one of the largest online print media companies in the United States, in a putative class action filed in California, which alleged that Kasowitz’s client had violated state wage and hour laws by failing to: (i) properly classify certain workers as non-exempt; (ii) pay them the requisite minimum wage, premium overtime compensation and wages due at termination; and (iii) comply with California state law requirements for itemized employee wage statements.
- Lord Abbett, a leading asset management firm, in connection with employment-related matters, including employment and separation agreements, enforcement of restrictive covenants and internal investigations.
- Caxton Associates, in connection with defense of a compensation dispute in New York against the investment management firm and its affiliate by the affiliate’s former Chief Executive Officer who sought an ongoing interest in net profits following his termination of employment and an equity stake, for which Kasowitz obtained dismissal on summary judgment.
- CBRE Richard Ellis, a global, real estate services firm, in connection with the defense of an action filed in New York by a former executive seeking alleged unpaid compensation and future commissions.
- Derwick Associates, a leading equipment and service provider to power plant companies in Venezuela and other countries in South America, in connection with litigation seeking $300 million in damages based upon defendants’ alleged intentional, unlawful and malicious public campaign to defame and damage plaintiffs by disseminating knowingly false information concerning Derwick and its founders in print and electronic media, such as Wikipedia and other Internet websites.
- Godiva Chocolatier, in connection with employment-related investigations, disciplinary actions, and negotiation of key agreements.
- Le Pain Quotidien, in connection with general employment and workplace issues.
- Fortis Bank (now BNP Fortis), a large, multinational financial services corporation, in employment-related matters, including the defense of an action filed by a former United States Country Manager for Banking Operations for alleged unpaid compensation.
- Primary outside labor counsel for The 92nd Street Y, representing the company in connection with grievances, arbitrations, unfair labor practice charges before the National Labor Relations Board and collective bargaining.
- Representation of Century 21 Stores in connection with various union-related matters, including collective bargaining.
- Representation of a New York City school bus contractor in negotiations with the city and bus drivers’ union in connection with alleged unpaid contributions to health care and pension benefit plans.
- Representation of executives of leading investment management and financial services firms, prominent hedge funds, and national media and entertainment firms, in connection with the negotiation and drafting of employment agreements and related employment disputes.