Labor and Employment Practices Liability
The experienced lawyers at Smith Sovik handle a wide range of labor and employment matters for many corporations and businesses throughout the Northeast. We help clients develop employee handbooks and company policies, investigate claims of misconduct, provide advice on employee discipline or termination, represent clients at mediations and arbitrations, and defend clients in federal and state courts, and state, federal and local administrative agencies.
The employment litigation team at Smith Sovik includes Steven W. Williams, Jose Perez, Kristen Benson and Suzanne Lehman. Steve heads up the labor and employment department and is a senior partner at Smith Sovik. He has been with the firm for over sixteen years. Steve was previously an officer in the U.S. Navy’s Judge Advocate Corps, where he gained invaluable experience handling employment matters relating to civilian employees. Steve currently represents national retail companies and restaurant chains throughout New York and New Jersey. He is rated as an “AV” attorney by Martindale and Hubbell and has been named among the nation’s “Best Lawyers” and “Super Lawyers.”
Kristen Benson is a partner at Smith Sovik and has been with the firm for 10 years. Kristen is a trial attorney who has successfully represented clients in matters pending before the New York State Division of Human Rights and federal and state courts in New York and New Jersey.
Prior to joining Smith Sovik in 2007, Jose Perez represented large corporations in labor and employment lawsuits venued in Venezuela. Jose has represented employers in civil rights actions (including race, gender, national origin, disability, equal pay, harassment, and retaliation), wrongful discharge, wage and hour (FLSA), Family and Medical Leave Act, and other employment-related charges and litigation.
Suzanne Lehman has represented clients in all phases of employment litigation from initial investigation through appeals. Prior to joining Smith Sovik, Suzanne worked in Atlanta, Georgia, for Elarbee, Thompson, Sapp & Wilson and Epstein Becker & Green, where her practice focused exclusively on defending employers.
We pride ourselves in concisely and effectively communicating with our clients. We recognize that employee issues often arise unexpectedly and require swift action by the employer. When issues such as discrimination, sexual harassment or hostile work environment arise, we respond immediately with recommendations on strategy and plan of action so our clients can quickly and efficiently dispose of a potential claim. Our aggressive, pro-active approach often terminates potential claims before they are commenced.
Many clients include mediation and/or arbitration clauses in their employment agreements. Smith Sovik has consistently overcome challenges to the enforcement of such agreements. We aggressively investigate each matter so as to provide the best possible defense during the arbitration or other alternative dispute resolution process.
Smith Sovik’s lawyers represent clients before all federal, state and local agencies that are responsible for investigating and adjudicating claims of discrimination. For example, we have successfully defended countless claims before the EEOC, the NYS Division of Human Rights, the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, and the New York City Commission on Human Rights. We know the myriad state and local statutes that apply to employment related matters, including but not limited to NY’s Human Rights Law, NJ’s Law Against Discrimination, and New York City’s Human Rights Law. We also know the unique processes associated with each agency and the individuals assigned to handle claims at the various agencies.
Our attorneys have vast experience in defending clients against claims based on a wide range of employment statutes, including but not limited to Title VII, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Equal Pay Act (EPA), 42 U.S.C. Section 1981 (1981 claims), Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Our experience allows us to advise clients on how to navigate various and redundant employment-related statutes.
Smith Sovik defends employment lawsuits throughout the state and federal courts of New York and New Jersey. When a case is sued in state court, we immediately address the advantages and disadvantages of removing the claim to federal court. We quickly evaluate new claims and lawsuits so our clients can determine the most cost-effective approach to handling each matter. Depending on the unique facts and circumstances of each claim, a client may want to settle the matter quickly or defend it aggressively. This allows our clients to quickly dispose of cases either via settlement or verdict. When a client chooses to litigate, it can rest assured that its case is being defended by a seasoned and successful trial lawyer. Smith Sovik has a longstanding and well earned reputation as being one of the premier trial firms in New York State.