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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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
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
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
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
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
The New Jersey Supreme Court has agreed to address whether a trial court erred in denying remittitur on a whopping $1.4 million award for emotional distress damages in a racial discrimination suit brought under the Law Against Discrimination. The defendants had argued before the trial court and the appellate division that the award “shocks the … Continue Reading
Existing Michigan law has served to prevent private employers from considering criminal records “set aside” by law (more commonly known as expungement) in hiring and personnel decisions. An amendment to that law, which took effect on January 12, expands the circumstances under which ex-offenders may seek to set aside their criminal records and, thus, may further … Continue Reading
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has approved a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) rule requiring member firms to strengthen their background investigation of applicants seeking registration. We have detailed the requirements of the FINRA rule in our previous blog post. The SEC has “accelerated approval” of the rule, though the agency still will accept … Continue Reading
2014 was another busy year for developments in New Jersey employment law, including in ten key areas—whistleblowing, pre-employment inquiries/background checks, amendments to the Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”), LAD litigation, wage and hour, the Family Medical Leave Act, sick leave, states of emergency, arbitration, and “unemployment discrimination.” Read our Top 10 newsletter to learn more about … Continue Reading
Due to to an increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), New Jersey’s minimum wage will rise to $8.38 per hour starting January 1, 2015. This is the second consecutive year that the state’s minimum wage will increase. Per our prior client alert, last year New Jersey voters approved a constitutional amendment that increased the … Continue Reading
A growing number of states and localities have enacted laws that restrict employers from considering certain types of criminal records in hiring and other personnel decisions. Though many of these laws are more recent, Pennsylvania’s Criminal History Record Information Act (“CHRIA”) has been on the books for more than three decades. The law, which prevents … Continue Reading
Last week, the New Jersey Supreme Court agreed to address whether to uphold a provision in a job application that limited the time in which an employee could sue the company to no more than 6 months after an alleged adverse employment action, notwithstanding a longer statute of limitations (in this case, the 2-year SOL … Continue Reading
Last week, the New Jersey Supreme Court agreed to address whether the protection against marital status discrimination under the state’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD) serves to prevent an employer from discharging an employee “because of the anticipated effect of [the] employee’s imminent divorce on the workplace.” As detailed in our monthly newsletter, the Appellate Division … Continue Reading
Last month, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) issued a proposed rule requiring member firms to strengthen their background investigations of applicants seeking registration. The proposed rule adopts, in large part, an old rule issued by one of FINRA’s predecessors—the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD)—relating to background investigations. FINRA’s proposed rule change intends to … Continue Reading
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)—a federal law that regulates the collection and use of “consumer information”—covers employers who solicit third-party vendors known as consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) to run background checks on applicants and employees. The statute specifically contains a provision that bars state law claims against employers who “furnish information” to CRAs. In … Continue Reading
Four New Jersey municipalities—Passaic, Paterson, Irvington, and East Orange—recently enacted ordinances requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. The Ordinances will take effect in January 2015, or, for employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, upon expiration of the CBA. Similar laws already have taken effect in Newark and Jersey … Continue Reading
Pennsylvania, like many states, has restricted employer use of criminal history in hiring and other employment decisions. Under the Criminal History Record Information Act (CHRIA), Pennsylvania employers may “consider” convictions only if they directly relate to the position for which the applicant seeks employment. In a recent case—McCorkle v. Schenker Logistics, Inc., No. 1:13–CV–3077, 2014 … Continue Reading
Governor Christie has signed The Opportunity to Compete Act, which takes effect March 1, 2015 and prevents many private employers in the State of New Jersey from asking prospective employees about their criminal history on the initial job application. In “banning the box” for private employment, New Jersey joins only a handful of states (Hawaii, Illinois, … Continue Reading
In Rodriguez v. Raymours Furniture Co., Inc., No. A-4329-12T3, 2014 WL 2765273 (App. Div. June 19, 2014), New Jersey’s Appellate Division upheld a provision in a job application that limited the time in which an employee could sue the company to no more than six months after an alleged adverse employment action. This is the … Continue Reading
Tennessee’s governor recently signed three new employment laws. The first, a social media law, takes effect on January 1, 2015,and provides applicants and employees with social media protections similar to those in fifteen other states.The second, a negligent hiring and retention law, designed to provide a measure of protection to employers that hire and retain … Continue Reading
The Newark Department of Child and Family Well-Being (Department) recently issued a press release on the City’s new paid sick leave ordinance (Ordinance) together with FAQ forms for employees and employers. In the release, the Department appears to move the effective date of the Ordinance from May 29, 2014 to June 21, 2014. One of the requirements … Continue Reading
On May 12, 2014, the New Jersey Senate approved a bill—S1440—that would strengthen existing protections for the State’s unemployed. In 2011, New Jersey became the first jurisdiction in the country to limit discrimination against the unemployed by prohibiting job postings that state: (1) current employment is a necessary qualification for the position; (2) an applicant … Continue Reading
In Thompson v. Real Estate Mortgage Network, the Third Circuit adopted a standard of successor liability that will lower the bar for whether an employer can be held accountable under the Fair Labor Standards Act for the wage and hour violations of its predecessor. Read this alert to learn more about the decision. Read … Continue Reading
The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (“Department”) recently updated two of the posters that employers must conspicuously display in the workplace. The first updated poster—the New Jersey State Wage and Hour Law Abstract—reflects the increase in the state minimum wage to $8.25 per hour. The second updated poster concerning Unemployment and Disability … Continue Reading