Law and the Workplace
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Joseph O’Keefe

Joseph C. O'Keefe is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department.

For nearly 25 years, Joe 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. Joe has litigated employment-related lawsuits alleging discrimination and sexual harassment, whistleblowing, non-competition/trade secret matters, compensation disputes, breach of contract, defamation, fraud and other business related torts. Joe’s practice includes representing clients nationwide in complex class and collective litigation, including state and federal wage and hour and discrimination claims. He has tried numerous cases before arbitrators, judges and juries. Joe's experience includes appellate work in both federal and state courts.

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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

AI-Based Discrimination Top of the EEOC’s Draft Enforcement Plan

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has started 2023 with an announcement that it intends to increase enforcement efforts aimed at discrimination resulting from the use of Artificial Intelligence assisted employment related decision tools. On January 10, 2023, the EEOC published its Draft Strategic Enforcement Plan (“SEP”) in the Federal Register for the fiscal years … Continue Reading

NYC Council Considering Proposal To Significantly Limit At-Will Employment and Electronic Monitoring of Employees

A proposed ordinance has been introduced before the New York City Council to generally prohibit private employers from terminating employees without “just cause” or a “bona fide economic reason.”  If enacted, this proposal effectively eliminates the longstanding principle of at-will employment in New York City. The proposed ordinance also would limit the use of electronic … Continue Reading

Updated: New Proposed Rules on New York City Law to Regulate Use of Automated Hiring Tools

***UPDATE: The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection announced Local Law 144 will not be enforced until April 15, 2023.*** This week the DCWP announced that it continues to work on rules for Local Law 144; therefore there will be no enforcement of the Law until April 15, 2023. The Law was previously set to … Continue Reading

FTC Enforcement Action Limits Noncompetition Agreements in “Sale of Business” Transactions

On July 9, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order, in which he described the nation’s antitrust laws as the “first line of defense against the monopolization of the American economy” and encouraged the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to “curtail the unfair use of non-compete clauses and other clauses or agreements that may unfairly limit … Continue Reading

In Colorado, “Low Wage” Now Means Six-Figures For Non-Competes

On June 8, 2022, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed Colorado House Bill 22-1317 (the “Bill”), which was passed by the Colorado Legislature on May 10, 2022. Effective 90 days from the end of the legislative session – on August 10, 2022 – Colorado will join the ranks of Illinois, Washington, and other states that have … Continue Reading

EEOC and the DOJ Issue Guidance for Employers Using AI Tools to Assess Job Applicants and Employees

Employers are more frequently relying on the use of Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) tools to automate employment decision-making, such as software that can review resumes and “chatbots” that interview and screen job applicants. We have previously blogged about the legal risks attendant to the use of such technologies, including here and here. On May 12, 2022, … Continue Reading

New York City Enacts Law to Regulate Use of Automated Hiring Tools

Over the past decade many employers have adopted Artificial Intelligence driven tools to automate various aspects of the workplace, including the recruiting and hiring process.  These tools have come under scrutiny by federal, state and local governments based on research that has suggested the possibility of bias or discrimination arising from the widespread use of … Continue Reading

EEOC Prepares to Tackle Artificial Intelligence and Algorithmic Bias

On October 28, 2021, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) Chair Charlotte A. Burrows announced that the agency is launching an initiative to ensure that artificial intelligence (“AI”) used at all stages of the employment cycle comply with federal anti-discrimination laws.  The EEOC also issued a press release on that same day outlining the agency’s plans … Continue Reading

Guidance: The Intersection of Artificial Intelligence and Employment Law

Employers have increasingly embraced artificial intelligence (“AI”) in the workplace, using the technology to maximize efficiency in nearly every aspect of the employment relationship including hiring, performance management, and discipline.  The use of AI, however, comes with attendant risks. Indeed, while one might assume that AI is an ideal tool to serve as a neutral … Continue Reading

Creation of Fake Online Accounts to Study Algorithmic Bias Does Not Violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, D.C. Court Rules

A federal judge recently held that researchers who violate a website’s terms of service by creating fake online accounts in order to study algorithmic bias in artificial intelligence software do not violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) (decision available here). Brief Background The decision resulted from a lawsuit filed by the American Civil … Continue Reading

Mandatory “Bias Audits” and Special Notices to Job Candidates: New York City Aims to Regulate the Use of Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace

As previously discussed here, the use of artificial intelligence in the workplace has drawn scrutiny from regulatory bodies and activist groups who have expressed concern that such technology may not neutrally screen applicants without regard to protected characteristics. To address these concerns, the New York City Council introduced a bill (Int. 1894-2020) on February 27, … Continue Reading

Vermont Becomes the Fifth State with a Paid Sick Leave Law

A new Vermont law will require most employers to provide paid sick time to employees. Vermont is the fifth state to adopt a paid sick leave law, following Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, and Oregon.  The law will be effective on January 1, 2017. Some Key Provisions of the New Law: While the law takes effect on … Continue Reading

2015 Year in Review—the Top 10 Trends in New Jersey Employment Law

In 2015, there were important developments in New Jersey employment law. This newsletter examines some of those developments in ten key areas— background checks, whistleblowing, paid sick leave, wage and hour, Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”) litigation, arbitration, workplace injury, “Faithless Servant” Doctrine, Family Medical Leave Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of … Continue Reading

New Brunswick Passes Local Sick Leave Ordinance, While New Jersey Legislature Considers Statewide Paid Leave Bills

As 2015 comes to a close, paid sick leave remains a hot issue in New Jersey. The City of New Brunswick recently became the eleventh municipality in New Jersey to mandate paid sick leave, but will be the first city in the state to specify that leave may be used for purposes related to domestic … Continue Reading

Elizabeth Poised to Become the Tenth Municipality in New Jersey to Mandate Paid Sick Leave

Voters in Elizabeth, New Jersey overwhelmingly approved a public question on the ballot requiring private-sector employers in the city to provide paid sick leave to their employees.  Elizabeth follows the lead of multiple jurisdictions (state and local) that have adopted similar measures across the country, including the following municipalities in New Jersey:  Jersey City, Newark, … Continue Reading

New Montana Law Protects Employee Social Media Accounts

Yesterday, Montana became the twentieth state to enact a law protecting employees from employer interference with personal social media accounts.  The law, which takes effect immediately, prohibits employers from requiring or requesting that a current or prospective employee: disclose a username or password to his or her personal social media account; access a personal social … Continue Reading

NJ Businesses and Lawmakers Continue Debate over Municipal Sick Leave Laws

Controversy continues to stir over the growing number of municipal sick leave laws in the State of New Jersey.  To date, nine such localities—Bloomfield, East Orange, Irvington, Jersey City, Montclair, Newark, Passaic, Paterson and Trenton— have required employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees.  No other state in the nation has anywhere near … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Says Trucker Entitled to Overtime

Professional motor carriers generally are exempt from overtime payment under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  The Third Circuit recently held, however, in McMaster v. Eastern Armored Services, Inc., No. 14-1010 (3d Cir. Mar. 11, 2015), that this exemption did not apply to the plaintiff, a motor carrier employee of the defendant who drove vehicles … Continue Reading

Sick Leave Trend Continues in New Jersey, Constitutional Challenge Begins

This week Bloomfield became the ninth locality in the State of New Jersey to require employers to provide sick leave to their employees, joining Jersey City, Newark, Passaic, East Orange, Paterson, Irvington, Trenton, and Montclair. Bloomfield’s new law is quite similar to the other sick leave laws in New Jersey.  Employers in the city with … Continue Reading

NJ “Ban the Box” Law Takes Effect, “Draft Rule” Proposed

New Jersey’s so-called “ban the box” law took effect on March 1, preventing most employers in the State from asking about a prospective employee’s criminal history on the initial job application and until after the first interview of the candidate has taken place.  For more on the new law, please review our prior client alert. … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Nixes EEOC Retaliation Suit

Last week, in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) v. Allstate Insurance Co., No. 2-01-cv-07402 (3d Cir. Feb. 13, 2015), the Third Circuit affirmed that the defendant did not violate federal anti-retaliation laws by offering thousands of terminated at-will employees the opportunity to continue working as independent contractors in exchange for signing a release. By way … Continue Reading

N.J. High Court Adopts Faragher-Ellerth Defense for LAD Sexual Harassment Claims

Last week, in Aguas v. New Jersey, No. A-35-13 (Feb. 11, 2015), New Jersey’s high court for the first time embraced the federal Faragher-Ellerth defense for claims alleging vicarious liability for supervisory sexual harassment under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”). Under the Faragher-Ellerth analysis—which the U.S. Supreme Court crafted almost two decades ago—an employer may … Continue Reading

NJ Supreme Court Hears Argument on Whether Disgorgement of Employee’s Salary Requires Economic Damages

In Kaye v. Rosefielde, a case alleging fraud and malpractice against a former general counsel, the New Jersey Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments on whether the Appellate Division erred in affirming that economic damages are a necessary prerequisite for disgorgement of the general counsel’s salary.  The appellants have argued to the contrary that disgorgement … Continue Reading
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