What I do

I negotiate, mediate, and litigate employment law cases. It’s all I do. I have more than 20 years experience doing this and my practice is limited to federal, New York State, and New York City’s Human Rights Laws.

Based in the Hudson Valley, I serve the entire state. I am helping more employees keep their jobs and careers. Most often, early intervention is key. Employees who call employment lawyers at the first sign of potential trouble do best.

Common scenarios include when your company merges with another. Or you begin reporting to a new manager. Such changes can damage even a long term employee’s career. Especially in New York, one of the few remaining markets where some employees have served one master for decades. That’s right, the common law Master Servant Doctrine applies to all New Yorkers.

Consulting with employment lawyers at the first sign of friction can help. Especially if you are placed on a PIP or corrective plan. PIPs, final warnings, corrective action plans

My employment law practice focuses on:

Keeping up with these areas of law is a full time job regardless of how long a person has been admitted to any bar. 

My experience

As a law student, I worked for a law firm which represented injured employees. I enjoyed helping people. That made state civil service a natural fit. I served as human resources’ in house counsel. That experience motivated the opening of my first law firm. I represented sexual harassment victims, disabled workers, employees with unpaid overtime claims, and negotiated severance packages. Shortly thereafter I joined a professional employer organization. There, I oversaw and conducted  hostile workplace investigations. I recognized a need to help discriminated couples and launched my second law firm. Urba Law PLLC is my third firm. My practice is limited to New York employment law litigation, mediation and negotiation. Clients throughout New York have reviewed the work I have done for them.  https://www.urbanylaw.com/client-reviews/

Where I work

I am Westchester County based although I serve the entire state of New York. I often meet clients in Tarrytown. I also meet clients in New York City (Midtown). I serve clients in upstate and western New York as well. 

I am admitted to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. https://www.urbanylaw.com/proud-of-our-2nd-circuit-coa/ I am also admitted to  the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. All federal court case filings are done electronically. The reality is that most of my client correspondence is handled the same way.

Why Employment Law Reality Check

Employment law is all about reality. Without strong, verified facts, employment law claims fail. I remember a lawyer asking “what planet is that guy from” years ago. The lawyer’s comment stuck. Only someone from another planet would have made a comment supporting false facts .

Fake facts and wrongful terminations are nonsense. A fact is indisputable by definition. It is either verifiable or it is not. A person who insists that a verified fact is fake might be viewed as someone from another planet.

Similarly, employment terminations are not wrongful nor must they be fair. Terminations are either lawful or they are not. Employees have to prove that their terminations broke contracts or were against the law. Some employees are covered by private contracts. Others by collective bargaining agreements. We examine the contract language and look for broken promises. We analyze the facts to determine whether there was employment discrimination. Even if we all agree that a termination was wrong, was it unlawful or illegal? The reality is that only unlawful or illegal terminations are actionable.

The purpose of the reality check is to help potential clients, as well as attorneys who do not focus on employment law, understand that proving an illegal or unlawful employment environment or an employment action is challenging even for experienced counselors. This is regardless of the type of employment action being pursued.

Categories of Unlawful Actions

Most of the clients I represent fall under two categories of unlawful employment law actions. The first group are discriminated employees. Discrimination results from being disabled or regarded as disabled. The Americans with Disabilities Act, the Federal Rehabilitation  Act, and state human rights laws apply. Other employees belong to one or more protected classes under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title VII, prohibiting employment discrimination.

The second group are primarily economically harmed employees or employers. The Fair Labor Standards Act and state labor laws protect these employees. Others might be accused of taking trade secrets or breaking non-compete or non-solicitation agreements. The recently passed Defend Trade Secrets Act might apply. Private breach of employment contract actions are also possible. Barring negotiation, most other disputes are litigated, mediated, or go to arbitration.

Litigation, Mediation, Arbitration

Federal court employment law litigation often lasts years. Being in federal court is expensive. Regardless of who wins the other side can appeal.

Employment dispute mediation can work. But it’s not guaranteed. It takes the cooperation of both sides. And it requires an experienced employment law mediator to make it effective.

Arbitration is not the first choice of most employees. But those who have agreed to it have little choice. The process is faster than litigation but the results are never certain. There are no juries. One arbitrator listens to testimony, accepts evidence and makes a decision which is usually final.

A better choice is to negotiate following a well drafted demand letter.

Demand Letters

A typical employment law claim might include the following:

  • Serving a demand letter on an employer
  • Attempting to negotiate (no employer can be forced to settle)
  • Filing charges with the EEOC, the New York State Division of Human Rights, or New York City’s Commission
  • Requesting a NORTS letter
  • Filing a federal complaint
  • Responding to motions
  • Conducting discovery
  • Trying the case
  • Responding to post trial motions.

The process takes time. Early resolution is often a good idea. Although that is not always an option for government, union, education, and health care employees.

“At will” v. Government, Union or Contract Employees

Most employees are protected from employment discrimination. New York State now protects even sole employees from sexual harassment. Other discrimination usually requires 4 employees under state laws or 15 employees under federal laws. There are always exceptions.

Employees with private contracts of employment can rely on the terms of their signed agreements for protection.

Employees who work collectively or together sometimes have unions. Those unions negotiate agreements which cover everyone. They are collective bargaining agreements. Every member of the union relies on the same agreement for some job protection.

Historically, the most protected employees worked for the government and were members of unions. This might be one reason why so many viewed them with envy.

The reality check is that employees who are not civil servants, union members, or under private employment contracts can be fired for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all.

Employers who manufacture false reasons for terminating employees sometimes need to defend claims of pretext to avoid being liable for discrimination.

What is pretext related to employment discrimination?

Pretext is a made up reason. Not a fake fact. It’s a lie.

Employment lawyers have to prove actual motivations. Sometimes they do so with evidence which shows that stated reasons were not true. This is showing pretext. But an employee must still prove the elements of whatever discrimination theory the employee is pursuing. An employer’s lies by themselves don’t count.

V. Jonas Urba, a New York employment lawyer, serves the entire state. Call (914) 366-7366 to speak with an actual attorney about your employment law issue.https://www.urbanylaw.com/about-contact/