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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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
***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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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