Jonathan L. Sulds

Jonathan L. Sulds

Shareholder

Jonathan L. Sulds is Co-Chair of the firm's Global Labor & Employment Practice. He has been representing leading employers since 1974 in virtually every aspect of their engagement, protection, management and reward of workforce resources. Jon regularly represents employers in the areas of collective bargaining and traditional labor relations, Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) litigation, wage and hour matters, discrimination complaints, restrictive covenant, duty of loyalty and trade secret litigation, Dodd Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) and other whistleblower matters, global and domestic executive employment arrangements, and corporate campaigns. Jon is also involved in the labor and employment aspects of corporate transactions and class and collective actions that arise in these contexts.

Just recently, for example, as lead counsel, Jon obtained dismissal of an ERISA stock drop class action, Martone v. Whole Foods Market  Inc., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133703 (W.D.Tex 2016). As lead trial counsel he obtained dismissal of a NLRB complaint alleging that no lawful impasse had occurred in negotiations he had led as chief spokesperson where the terms of the employer's last and final offer were implemented (Time Inc, 02-CA-134835, et al.; JD(NY)-30-16, 2016 NLRB LEXIS 574 (NLRB Div. of Judges Aug. 9, 2016). Then he negotiated a collective bargaining agreement based on those implemented proposals, which the client described as providing it "with the operational flexibility necessary to succeed in today's transformative media environment," and the union lauded for providing "stability," (New York Post, September 30, 2016). Also last year, as lead trial counsel, Jon obtained a complete defense verdict after 20 hearing days before a JAMS arbitrator, dismissing a senior, highly salaried former employee's systemic disparate impact, age discrimination and retaliation claims.

Since the 1970s, Jon has been involved in a variety of additional high profile matters. He negotiated the project labor agreement for the new stadium for one of America's most famous sports franchises. He has been lead counsel for a leading national employer in two nationwide wage and hour class and collective actions seeking to challenge the exempt status of nearly every managerial position at the company, and currently represents that employer in wage and hour class actions in various states as well as a leading retailer in three separate but overlapping class actions raising novel issues about fluctuating work weeks. For one of America’s most watched television programs and its production companies and network, Jon gained EEOC dismissal of a multicomplainant charge targeting consideration of arrest records. He currently represents one of the country's largest supermarket companies in a putative ADA leave class action. Elsewhere, Jon represented the administrative committee of a retirement savings plan for a major energy company in the voting of company shares held in plan participants' accounts in a contested proxy contest, then represented that same committee in a parallel ERISA-based "stock drop case." In addition, Jon gained dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the dominant player in a niche of the financing industry against a startup that had hired the plaintiff's founder and CEO, its CFO and a majority of the plaintiff's sale force. Jon also advised one of America's iconic brands on the strategy it used to end an internet and regulatory agency-based corporate campaign that had sought to sully his client's reputation in order to pressure it into giving in to undisclosed parties' own institutional objectives. In another area, Jon led a 40-lawyer team spanning 10 GT offices advising a major media company on personnel restructurings and a similar team advising a major investment bank in the same area.

In addition, among other matters, Jon represented the nation's leading telecommunications company in several "BlackBerry" wage and hour cases. He also advises a leading national employer on structuring collective bargaining and multiemployer pension plan and health care strategies, successfully negotiating multiple collective bargaining agreements throughout the country, allowing the employer to withdraw from one of America's most underfunded pension plans and then crafting an approach which substantially reduced the original withdrawal liability demand from that fund.

Jon is a frequent lecturer and writer. His breadth of experience is reflected in the treatise that he authors, New York Employment Law (Matthew Bender/LexisNexis, 2d Ed, updated annually).

One major financial services client recently remarked to a leading publication, "for employment litigation we use Jonathan Sulds... We really want experts. Looking for a litigator is like looking for a surgeon. You don't want to need one but if you need one you want to be sure you have the best one." (LA Daily Journal, November 8, 2016)

Concentrations

  • Traditional labor law
  • ERISA litigation
  • Equal employment litigation
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Discrimination and harassment laws
  • Whistleblower matters
  • Employee benefits proceedings
  • Collective bargaining
  • Wage and hours
  • Plant closings and mass lay-offs
  • Labor aspects of corporate/bankruptcy transactions
  • Employer protective covenants
  • Executive employment arrangements
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Capabilities

Experience

  • Sklar v. NY Life Insurance Co., 34 Fed. Appx 403 (2d Cir. 2002) [Affirming summary judgments - ADEA]
  • Priore v. NY Yankees, 307 A.D. 2d 67, 761 N.Y.S. 2d 608 (1st Dept. 2003) [Employer not liable where co-worker harassment alleged; reversing trial court and granting summary judgment.]
  • Nieves v. Angelo Gordon & Co., 2007 US Dist. LEXIS 27006 (S.D.N.Y. April 10, 2007) [Summary judgment - ADEA]; aff'd 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 14584 (2d Cir. 2009) 
  • Chief spokesperson for leading magazine publisher's restructuring of all aspects of decades-old collective bargaining agreement; project labor agreement for sports venue; representing nation's primary installer of alarm systems resulting in full flexibility to compete on non-union basis.
  • Deal structure for package delivery company's acquisition of freight companies (including MPPAA).
  • Collective bargaining and labor relations structuring as condition to asset/stock acquisitions and on behalf of debtors and committees of creditors and bondholders in connection with emergence from bankruptcy.
  • Advised one of America's iconic brands on the strategy it used to end an internet and regulatory agency-based corporate campaign that had sought to sully the client's reputation in order to pressure it into giving in to undisclosed parties' own institutional objectives.
  • Litigation, labor relations and interface with governmental and public affairs, as well as strategic counsel to employers in various industries including consumer goods, defense, health care and utilities.
  • Counsel to investment banks, private equity funds, hedge funds, insurance brokerages, manufacturing and industrial concerns. Current/recent matters in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Indiana and Texas.
  • Martone v. Whole Foods Market Inc. 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133703 (W.D.Tex 2016) [Stock drop]
  • Stelly v. Ins. Serv. Office, 599 Fed. 409 (BNA) 2939 (2d Cir. 2015). [Dismissal of class action challenging conversion from pension plan’s defined benefit structure as violation of ERISA. Appx. 60 Employee Benefits Cases]
  • Montesano v. Xerox Corp Ret. Income etc., 256 F. 3d 86 (2d Cir. 2001) [Affirming grant of judgment on pleadings dismissing nationwide class of contingent workers' claims for benefits and pursuant to § 510 ERISA]
  • Davenport v. Harry N. Abrams, 249 F. 3d 130 (2d Cir. 2001) [Affirming summary judgment - contingent worker failed to exhaust remedies]
  • Bakner v. Xerox Corp Employee Stock Ownership Plan, 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21540 (W.D. Tex 2000); Lawrence v. Xerox etc., 56 F Supp. 2d 442(D. N.J. 1999) [Nationwide putative Varity class action; class certification denied, claims dismissed via motion]
  • I.A.P.E. v. Dow Jones, 671 F. Supp. 1365 (S.D.N.Y. 1987) [Plan sponsor not a fiduciary]
  • In Re Royal Dutch/Shell Transport ERISA Litigation, 04-1398 (D.N.J. 2005) [stock drop]
  • Design of global regimens
  • Negotiating and drafting executive employment and compensation arrangements for:
    • CEO, major trade group;
    • Global head of structured finance for top tier investment bank;
    • CEO, international airline;
    • Americas managing director for top five private equity fund;
    • Head of Capital Markets for leading middle market investment bank;
    • General counsel for Fortune 100 global services company;
    • President of cable television network.
  • In addition, represent employers in the chemicals, biotech, hedge fund and private equity industries in the structuring of executive employment agreements.
  • Hertz Corp. v. C'mmr of Labor, 2 N.Y. 3d 733, 778 N.Y.S. 2d 743 (2004) [New York's Court of Appeals unanimously holds class of individuals are independent contractors and not employees, reversing administrative agency findings]
  • Montesano v. Xerox Corp Ret. Income etc., 256 F. 3d 86 (2d Cir. 2001) [Affirming grant of judgment on pleadings dismissing nationwide class of contingent workers' claims for benefits and pursuant to § 510 ERISA]
  • Davenport v. Harry N. Abrams, 249 F. 3d 130 (2d Cir. 2001) [Affirming dismissal of contingent worker claim for benefits on exhaustion grounds]
  • Representing private equity and hedge funds in design and documentation; lead counsel in court and arbitration proceedings involving such arrangements.
  • Budet v. Tiffany & Co., 155 A.D. 2d 408, 547 N.Y.S. 2d 81 (1st Dept. 1989) [Employer free to choose employees whom it will include in management purchase of company shares in buy-out situation]
  • Counsel to telecommunications company in "BlackBerry" collective actions.
  • Represents over 300 store specialty sports retailers in nationwide collective action.
  • Represented leading home furnishings retailer in nationwide class and collective action.
  • Acted as lead counsel for the nation's leading package deliverer in multiple wage and hour class and collective actions.
  • Lead counsel, putative nationwide class actions of all managerial employees for Fortune 50 Company.
  • Department of Labor (DOL) investigation of exempt status of financial planners; district determination to commence litigation reversed by regional solicitor.
  • Nationwide grocery chain "off the clock" and related ERISA prohibited transaction claims
  • Obtaining dismissal of SOX complaint filed by senior financial official of bus manufacturer who claimed safety issues had not been disclosed.
  • Dismissal of pilot's whistleblower claim against aviation services company and fund owner of airplane
  • Representing audit committee of biotech company charged by resigning general counsel with failure to make proxy disclosures with respect to research results.
  • Internal investigations in various industries including entertainment, oil production and financial services.

°Some of the above representations were handled by Mr. Sulds prior to his joining Greenberg Traurig LLP.

Recognition & Leadership

  • Listed, The Best Lawyers in America, Employment Law - Management; Litigation - Labor and Employment, 2012-2017
  • Listed, Super Lawyers magazine, New York Metro Super Lawyers, 2009-2016
  • Listed, Chambers USA Guide, 2007-2017
  • Listed, The Legal 500 United States, 2014-2017
  • Listed, Lawdragon and Human Resource Executive magazine, "The Nation’s Most Powerful Employment Lawyers – Top 100," 2017
  • Listed, Lawdragon and Human Resource Executive magazine, "Nation’s Top 20 Lawyers in Traditional Labor & Employment Law," 2016
  • Listed, The American Lawyer and Corporate Counsel magazines, "Top Rated Lawyer" — Labor and Employment, 2013
  • Team Member, a Law360 "Employment Practice Group of the Year," 2011 & 2013
  • Rated, AV Preeminent® 5.0 out of 5

AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell DistinguishedSM and Martindale-Hubbell NotableSM are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell® certification procedures, standards and policies.

  • Member, Board of Trustees, Kaufman Music Center, New York City

Credentials

Education
  • J.D., cum laude, Harvard Law School, 1974
  • M.A., with distinction, Colgate University, 1971
  • B.A., magna cum laude, Colgate University, 1971
    • Phi Beta Kappa
    • Danforth Graduate Fellow
    • Herbert Lehman Fellow
Admissions
  • New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit