This attorney has been selected for the recognitions mentioned herein, which have been conferred by the corresponding publications and/or organizations noted. An overview of the award selection methodologies for these recognitions can be found here. Links to certain specific methodologies are embedded in individual entries. Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

Overview

With 30+ years of experience, Joe O’Keefe is a first-chair trial lawyer who represents employers in complex and multifaceted disputes — including class actions and multidistrict litigations — that often require coordination and collaboration with other legal practice teams and external experts. Joe’s mission is to deliver responsive and effective representation, customized to meet the unique needs of each client.

His exceptional communication and presentation skills aid Joe in persuading judges, juries, arbitrators, mediators and other stakeholders. Clients appreciate his relationship skills, professionalism, dedication and creative approaches to meet their needs and goals.

Employment Litigation

Joe has handled matters to defense verdicts, decisions, or awards before judges, juries, and arbitral tribunals such as FINRA and AAA, in appeals in federal and state courts, and with state and federal agencies throughout the United States. He has represented employers in lawsuits alleging breach of noncompete agreements; theft of trade secrets; discrimination and retaliation based on gender, race, age and disability; sexual harassment; whistleblowing; wage and hour violations; Title IX violations; breach of contract; defamation; fraud; and other business-related torts. His practice includes representing clients in complex class and collective litigation, including alleged violations of state and federal pay equity laws, violations of wage and hour laws, and discrimination claims.

Joe represents clients from diverse sectors and industries, including financial services, higher education, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, health care, technology, telecommunications, high-end fashion, consumer products, publishing and media, advertising, and real estate.

Strategic Counsel for Employers

In addition to his litigation skills, Joe provides strategic and practical counsel to employers on a wide range of matters. One area is the integration of artificial intelligence in the workplace, the emerging AI regulatory framework, and employers’ related risk management and legal issues.

Other areas where Joe advises employers include employee mobility and restrictive covenants, DEI programs, pay equity, management of personnel problems, ADA/FMLA compliance, workforce reductions, investigation of employee complaints, state and federal leave laws, wage and hour issues, employment policies, and contracts.

Representative Experience

Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

  • A two-week jury trial in the District of New Jersey involving complex issues of immigration law, business valuation and compensation arrangements, with a verdict in favor of the client on the central claim.
  • Represented plaintiff employer in action seeking to enforce restrictive covenants against former sales representatives. Successfully obtained a rare summary judgment on behalf of plaintiff employer as to liability, leaving open only the question of damages.
  • Negotiated successful resolution of action seeking to enforce restrictive covenants allegedly breached by client when it hired plaintiff’s employee. Identified significant discovery violations and spoliation of evidence by plaintiff corporation during deposition of plaintiff’s 30(b)(6) witness, providing leverage needed for the successful outcome.
  • Defense award in a FINRA proceeding, representing a financial services firm and individual financial services representatives in a raiding and business tort matter brought by a regional competitor.
  • Favorable resolution of FLSA and state wage and hour law class action against a large hospitality industry client.
  • Successfully negotiated settlement of pay-equity class action brought on behalf of female professors at a university on highly favorable terms and obtained court approval of settlement.
  • Defense verdict in an eight-week New Jersey Superior Court jury trial concerning alleged discrimination based on age, disability and religion.
  • Summary judgment in favor of the client in a gender discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit with salacious allegations, which was affirmed by the Second Circuit.
  • Prevailing on a motion to dismiss in New York Supreme Court, and affirmance by the Appellate Division, First Department, and by the New York Court of Appeals, on collateral estoppel grounds, in a matter brought by a university professor alleging sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation.
  • Prevailing on a motion to dismiss in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in a matter alleging federal, state and city law claims of race discrimination and retaliation against a health care services provider.
  • Summary judgment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in a matter alleging gender discrimination against a property and casualty insurer.

Thought Leadership & Recognition

Joe is a frequent speaker and writer, sharing insights and guidance on cutting-edge issues in labor and employment law, such as the fast-evolving laws associated with trade secrets and restrictive covenants, and the myriad challenges employers face with the rapid adoption of artificial intelligence in the workplace. Besides writing numerous articles, blog posts, and other materials on these topics as well as pay equity, 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 also frequently speaks at seminars and conferences, and in webinars, podcasts, interviews, and other media platforms.

Joe has been recognized as a leader in the labor and employment bar by client-interviewing rankings such as The Legal 500, Benchmark Litigation, Super Lawyers, and Best Lawyers in America. Joe also is frequently interviewed and quoted in the media.

Personal Interests

In his free time, Joe enjoys spending time with his family in Vermont during summers and winters, hiking in the Green Mountains, boating on Lake Champlain, and skiing.

Related Industries

Credentials

Bar Admissions

New York

Court Admissions

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Education

George Washington University Law School
J.D. (1991)

College of the Holy Cross
B.A. in Political Science (1988)

Insights & Events

Other Perspectives

Leadership & Community

Pro Bono

Joe has represented multiple pro bono clients appearing as amici in high profile matters involving gun safety, voter disenfranchisement, and DHS rules concerning student visas. 

Professional Associations

  • American Bar Association

Honors

  • Benchmark Litigation — “Labor & Employment Stars,” 2019-21, 2024
    This award is conferred by Benchmark Litigation. A description of the selection methodology is available here. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.
  • Best Lawyers in America — Employment Law - Management, 2023-24
    This award is conferred by Best Lawyers. A description of the methodology is available here. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.
  • The Legal 500 United States — Labor & Employment: Disputes (including Collective Actions): Defense 2019-21; Litigation: Trade Secrets, 2021
    This award is conferred by The Legal 500. A description of the selection methodology is available here. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.
  • Super Lawyers — 2015-17, 2024
    This award is conferred by Thomson Reuters. A description of the selection methodology is available here. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.
  • The Legal Aid Society [New York] — Pro Bono Award, 2006-07
    This award is conferred by The Legal Aid Society. A description of the selection methodology is available here. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.
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