Law and the Workplace
Joseph O’Keefe

Joseph O’Keefe

Partner

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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New Jersey Bans the Box for Private Employers

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

New Jersey Court Okays Provision in Job Application Reducing Statute of Limitations

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 Enacts Trio of Employment Laws

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

Newark Sick Leave Law Update

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

New Jersey Senate Approves Additional Protections for the Unemployed

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

Third Circuit Embraces “Lower Bar” for Successor Liability under the FLSA

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

New Jersey Employers Must Display Two Updated Posters

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

Will New Jersey Raise the Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers?

On March 24, 2014, the New Jersey Assembly Labor Committee advanced a bill (A857) that, should it become law, would raise dramatically the state’s minimum wage for tipped workers.  Currently, New Jersey employees who receive tips or gratuities must be compensated at no less than the minimum federal tip credited hourly wage of $2.13.  Under … Continue Reading

Newark Follows Jersey City with Sick Leave Law

On January 29, 2014, the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey signed into law an Ordinance requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees, effective May 29, 2014, or, for employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”), upon expiration of the current union contract. Similar laws have been enacted in the … Continue Reading

Social Media Watch: Illinois Federal Court Lowers Bar for SCA Claims

Social media privacy cases continue to grow under the Stored Communications Act (“SCA”) (see our prior alert on the Ehling decision).  The SCA provides a private right of action for unauthorized, intentional access of another’s communications held in electronic storage, allowing the plaintiff to recover actual damages, plus any profits made by the violator, in … Continue Reading

A Woolley Situation: District of New Jersey Refuses to Enforce Arbitration Clause in Employee Handbook

New Jersey employers should consider the risks of including an arbitration agreement in a standard employment handbook in light of a recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in Raymours Furniture Co., Inc. v. Rossi, No. 13-4440, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1006 (D.N.J. Jan. 2, 2014). The court refused … Continue Reading

New Jersey Senate Considering Protections for Employees During States of Emergency

On the heels of one of the most difficult winters in recent memory, a recently-introduced bill (S1717) in the New Jersey Senate would protect employees from adverse actions due to absence from the workplace during a “state of emergency.” According to the bill, a “state of emergency” is a natural or man-made disaster or emergency … Continue Reading

New Jersey “Sandy” Law Preserves Employee Eligibility for Leave and Benefits

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Governor Christie signed a law making it easier for employees who are furloughed or laid off because of a “state of emergency” to meet eligibility requirements under New Jersey’s Family Leave Act or the Security and Financial Empowerment Act. Read this alert to learn more about the new law, … Continue Reading

New Jersey Expressly Protects Pregnancy, Requires Reasonable Accommodation

On January 21, 2014, Governor Chris Christie signed S2995 to amend New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD) by expanding protections against discrimination for employees affected by pregnancy, effective immediately. The amendment makes pregnancy a protected characteristic under the LAD, expressly requires that an employer provide reasonable accommodation to an employee based upon pregnancy-related conditions when … Continue Reading

Jersey City Sick Leave Law and Notice/Poster Requirements Effective January 24, 2014

  On September 26, 2013, the Mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey, signed into law an Ordinance requiring employers to provide sick leave to their employees, effective January 24, 2014. Read this alert for details of the law’s posting and written notice requirements.   Read the full text of this alert.… Continue Reading

New Jersey Issues Forms to Acknowledge Receipt of Pay Equity Notice

As noted in our past client alerts, whenever this notice is distributed to an employee, the employer must include an acknowledgment that the employee has received it, and has read and understood its terms. The acknowledgment must be signed by the employee, in writing or by means of electronic verification, and returned to the employer … Continue Reading

New Jersey Issues Spanish Translation of New Pay Equity Notice to Post and Distribute

Proskauer recently issued a client alert on the release of New Jersey’s new pay equity notice in English. Now available on the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development Web site is the Spanish translation. As a reminder, covered employers must post and distribute the notice in English, Spanish, and any other language for which … Continue Reading

The Beginnings of a New Trend? New Jersey Proposes to Protect Unpaid Interns From Employment Discrimination

On December 5, 2013, the New Jersey State Senate introduced S-3064 to protect unpaid interns from employment discrimination by amending the Law Against Discrimination, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act and the Worker Freedom from Employer Intimidation Act. New Jersey’s employment discrimination laws are already among the most expansive in the country, so if this new … Continue Reading

New Jersey Issues Pay Equity Notice to Post and Distribute

On September 19, 2012, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed A2647 into law requiring employers in the State of New Jersey with 50 or more employees to post and distribute a notice detailing “the right to be free of gender inequity or bias in pay, compensation, benefits or other terms or conditions of employment” under … Continue Reading

Okay to Terminate Employee for Violating No-Alcohol Provision of Return to Work Agreement, Says Third Circuit

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed that an employer may discharge a driver sales representative who suffers from alcoholism for violating a return to work agreement (RWA) that prohibits the use of drugs or alcohol in Ostrowski v. Con-way Freight, Inc., No. 12-3800, 2013 WL 5814131 (3d Cir. Oct. 30, 2013). … Continue Reading

New Jersey Raises Minimum Wage by Constitutional Amendment

A constitutional amendment to raise the New Jersey minimum wage to $8.25 per hour, starting on January 1, 2014, was overwhelmingly approved by voters on November 5, 2013 (by a 61 percent to 39 percent margin). The amendment further mandates an automatic yearly increase based on the Consumer Price Index beginning on September 30, 2014. … Continue Reading

Jersey City Mayor Signs Sick Leave Law, Continues National Trend

On September 26, 2013, the Mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey signed into law an Ordinance requiring employers to provide sick leave to their employees effective January 24, 2014. Similar laws have been enacted in the State of Connecticut and other localities such as New York City; Washington, D.C.; Seattle; San Francisco; and Portland, Oregon. … Continue Reading

New Jersey Issues SAFE Act Poster

On October 1, 2013, the New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act (SAFE Act) will take effect, requiring employers to provide unpaid leave to employees affected by domestic or sexual violence. For more on the requirements of the new law, see our past client alert New Jersey’s New Law Requires Unpaid Leave for Victims of … Continue Reading

New Jersey Pay Equity Measure Says No Reprisals Against Employees Requesting Information About Co-Workers

On August 28, 2013, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed A-2648 to add a new non-retaliation pay equity measure to the Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”) (hereinafter, the “amendment” or “law”). The amendment prohibits an employer from retaliating against any employee who requests information concerning the job title, occupational category, rate of compensation (including benefits), gender, … Continue Reading
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