Law and the Workplace
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Joseph O’Keefe

Partner

Joseph C. O'Keefe is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and Co-Head of the Restrictive Covenants, Trade Secrets & Unfair Competition Group.

Joe is an experienced trial lawyer who, for more than 30 years, has litigated employment disputes of all types on behalf of employers, before federal and state courts, arbitral tribunals (e.g. FINRA and AAA), and state and federal administrative agencies throughout the U.S. Joe has litigated employment-related lawsuits alleging breach of non-compete agreements, theft of trade secrets, discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblowing, wage and hour violations, Title IX violations, breach of contract, defamation, fraud and other business related torts. Joe’s practice includes representing clients in complex class and collective litigation, including alleged violation of state and federal pay equity laws, violations of wage and hour laws and discrimination claims. Joe's experience includes appellate work in both federal and state courts.

In addition to his extensive litigation practice, Joe regularly advises employers, writes and speaks on a wide range of employment related issues. He counsels clients concerning pay equity, use of Artificial Intelligence in the workplace, management of personnel problems, ADA/FMLA compliance, reductions in force, investigation of employee complaints, state and federal leave laws, wage and hour issues, employment policies and contracts.

Joe represents employers in a variety of industries including financial services, higher education (colleges and universities), pharmaceuticals/medical devices, health care, technology, communications, fashion, consumer products, publishing, media and real estate. He frequently writes articles concerning developments in the law and speaks at seminars concerning legal developments in the labor and employment law field.

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Delaware Supreme Court Validates Forfeiture-For-Competition Provision in Unanimous Reversal of Chancery Court

In a win for businesses that rely on restrictive covenants to protect their assets and investments, on January 29, 2024, the Delaware Supreme Court unanimously reversed a Chancery Court decision that invalidated a “forfeiture-for-competition” provision in Cantor Fitzgerald’s limited partnership agreement. As we previously reported on this blog, last January the Chancery Court invalidated the … Continue Reading

Judge Grants Workday, Inc.’s Motion to Dismiss in Groundbreaking AI Class Action Lawsuit Mobley v. Workday

In a recent development in Mobley vs. Workday, Inc., the novel class action lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California alleging that Workday’s algorithm-based applicant screening tools discriminate against job applicants based on race, age, and disability, the Court granted Workday’s motion to dismiss on January 19, 2024, … Continue Reading

Governor Hochul Vetoes New York Non-Compete Ban

After months of speculation and intense lobbying, New York Governor Kathy Hochul vetoed a bill that would have imposed a near-total ban on employee non-competition agreements in New York State. Governor Hochul has long expressed her support for legislation banning non-compete agreements for “low and middle-income” employees, but generally balked at the idea of a … Continue Reading

New York’s Non-Compete Bill – Gov. Hochul Weighs In

In what we believe are her first public statements on the New York Legislature’s proposal to ban ostensibly all non-compete agreements in New York, Governor Hochul on Thursday, November 30 reportedly told a group of reporters: “What I’m looking at right now is striking the right balance between protecting low and middle-income workers, giving them … Continue Reading

Delaware Chancery Court Points Out “Poor Contract Drafting” in Recent Dismissal

On August 23, 2023, the Delaware Court of Chancery decided Frontline Technologies Parent LLC et al. v. Brian Murphy et al., a case which, in the Court’s view, “presents a textbook example of why parties should ensure their contracts say what they mean and mean what they say.” The lawsuit, filed by Frontline Technologies Group, … Continue Reading

New York State Introduces Bill to Impose Restrictions on the Use of AI Tools in Employment Decisions

A bill introduced in the New York State Senate on August 4, 2023, would impose statewide requirements regulating tools that incorporate artificial intelligence to assist in employee monitoring and the employment decision-making process. (See Bill S07623 (“S07623”)).  The proposed requirements are much broader than those imposed by the New York City Automated Employment Decisions Tools … Continue Reading

EEOC Inks First-Ever AI-Based Antidiscrimination Settlement

On August 9, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and iTutorGroup, Inc. filed a joint notice of settlement and consent decree announcing the settlement of a discrimination in hiring lawsuit. This settlement marks the first instance in which the EEOC settled a lawsuit alleging unlawful discrimination stemming from the use of Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) … Continue Reading

New York’s Non-Compete Bill: Cutting Through the Confusion

The potential New York ban on non-compete agreements, approved by the both houses of the state Legislature back in June, has generated a significant volume of press, commentary, and speculation—but it hasn’t yet been signed into law.  What’s the current status of the bill, and how would it impact existing non-compete agreements if and when … Continue Reading

FTC Orders 20-Year Non-Compete Ban for Anchor Glass

On June 2, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “the Commission”) finalized a Consent Order settling charges against Anchor Glass Container Corp. (“Anchor Glass”) for engaging in conduct which, according to the FTC’s administrative complaint, “constitutes an unfair method of competition with a tendency or likelihood to harm competition, consumers, and employees in the … Continue Reading

NYC’s Groundbreaking Automated Employment Decision Tools Law Takes Effect July 5

As previously reported, the New York City Automated Employment Decision Tools (“AEDT”) Law takes effect on July 5, 2023. The Law will impose certain requirements upon employers or employment agencies who use an AEDT to assist in hiring or promotion decisions. Under the Law: an AEDT must be subjected to a bias audit by an … Continue Reading

Implications of and Open Questions Regarding the N.Y. State Legislature’s Passage of Bill Banning Non-Competes

On June 21, 2023, the New York State Assembly passed a sweeping bill (Bill No. S03100/A1278B — An Act to Amend the Labor Law, in Relation to Prohibiting Non-Compete Agreements and Certain Restrictive Covenants) that, if it becomes law, would impose a near-total ban on new non-compete agreements within the state or otherwise governed by … Continue Reading

Update: New York State Senate Passes Another Bill With A Broad Ban on Non-Competes

We recently reported on New York Bill No. S03100, which, if enacted, would broadly prohibit non-competition agreements in New York. On the same day, June 7, 2023, the New York Senate also passed Bill No. S6748  (the “Bill”), which would similarly prohibit non-competes. The Bill aims to prevent monopolies, monopsonies, and restraints on trade and … Continue Reading

N.Y. State Senate Passes Ban on Non-Competes

UPDATE: On June 20, 2023, the New York State Assembly also voted in favor of this legislation, and the Bill is now headed to Governor Hochul. If signed by Governor Hochul, New York would become the fifth state to institute a broad ban of non-compete agreements (after California, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Minnesota). The Bill … Continue Reading

EEOC Releases Technical Document on AI and Title VII

On Thursday May 18, 2023, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released a new technical assistance document titled Assessing Adverse Impact in Software, Algorithms, and Artificial Intelligence Used in Employment Selection Procedures Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The document was released as a part of the EEOC’s Artificial Intelligence and … Continue Reading

Federal Judge Reverses $105 Million Jury Verdict in Trade Secrets Case

Introduction: Earlier this year, we covered the notable trade secrets verdict in Versata Software Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., No. 2:15-cv-10628 (E.D. Mich. Oct. 26, 2022), in which Versata was awarded $105 million for breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets claims against Ford Motor Co. However, on May 1, 2023, the U.S. District … Continue Reading

EEOC, FTC, and Other Federal Agencies Release Joint Statement on Confronting Bias and Discrimination in AI and Automated Systems

On April 25, 2023, officials from four federal agencies released a joint statement pledging to increase “enforcement efforts to protect the public from bias in automated systems and artificial intelligence” (“AI”). The agencies taking part in this effort include the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), the U.S. Department of Justice … Continue Reading

NTIA Seeks Public Comments on Potential Regulation of AI Systems

In response to the sudden proliferation of AI programs, like ChatGPT, on April 11, 2023, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) – an Executive branch agency responsible for advising the President on telecommunications and information policy issues – announced that it is seeking public comment on “what policies can support the development of AI … Continue Reading

NYC Set to Enforce Law to Regulate Use of Automated Hiring Tools Starting July 5

New York City will begin enforcing the New York City Automated Employment Decision Tools (“AEDT”) Law, on July 5, 2023, delaying the previously announced enforcement date of April 15. On April 6, 2023, after two sets of proposed Rules and a lengthy notice and comment process, that included public hearings in November 2022 and January … Continue Reading

Reminder – NYC Employers: “Automated Employment Decision Tools Law” Will Be Enforced Starting April 15

On Friday, September 23rd, the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (“DCWP”) issued a Notice of Public Hearing and Opportunity to Comment on Proposed Rules related to Local Law 144 (“the Law”), which regulates the use of “automated employment decision tools” by employers. The law was originally set to go into effect … Continue Reading

Applicant Files Class Action Suit Over Alleged AI Tool Discrimination in Hiring

As we have previously reported (here, here and here), there are novel risks associated with employer use of AI tools in the workplace. While such tools have caught the attention of the EEOC and state and local legislatures, we have yet to see a proliferation of litigation in this area. However, that may soon be … Continue Reading

Lessons Learned From 2022’s Trade Secret Verdicts

Before closing the book on 2022, we look back at the most significant verdicts issued in trade secret trials this past year.  In 2022, several juries awarded extraordinary verdicts to plaintiffs. These verdicts suggest a growing trend in damages theories and illustrate the importance of expert testimony in both the prosecution and defense of trade … Continue Reading

New Jersey and New York Introduce Bills to Regulate Sale and Use of “Automated Employment Decision Tools”

As previously reported, employers’ use of artificial intelligence to assist in employment decision-making is being subjected to ever-increasing regulatory scrutiny at all levels of government―local, state, and federal. In the New Jersey General Assembly, A4909 (“A4909”) was introduced on December 5, 2022, proposing a host of legal requirements that would apply to automated employment decision … Continue Reading

Legislation Seeking to Ban Non-Competes Reintroduced in Congress

On February 1, 2023, a coalition of U.S. Senators and Members of the House of Representatives reintroduced a bill titled the Workforce Mobility Act (the “Act”), seeking to prohibit the use and enforcement of post-employment non-competition agreements. The bill had been previously introduced in 2018, 2019, and 2021, but it was stalled each time and … Continue Reading

Delaware Chancery Court Invalidates Forfeiture-for-Competition Provision in Partnership Agreement

On January 4, 2023, in Ainslie, et al. v. Cantor Fitzgerald, L.P., the Delaware Court of Chancery invalidated the forfeiture-for-competition provision in the financial services company’s limited partnership agreement, based on the court’s determination that the agreement’s non-competition provision was unenforceable.  (CA. No. 9436-VCZ (Del. Ch. Jan. 4, 2023).  As a result, the court determined … Continue Reading
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