Mark W. Lerner, head of the firm’s Employment Practices and Litigation Group, has been recognized by Chambers USA, The Legal 500, Benchmark Litigation, and Super Lawyers as a top practitioner in the field of Labor and Employment Law. Lawdragon lists Mark as one of the Most Powerful Employment Lawyers in the U.S.
A former federal prosecutor, Mark regularly tries cases – including winning two major trials in 2017 for Douglas Elliman Realty and Saw Mill Capital. His trial capability and the threat it implies enable him often to resolve cases early.
Mark focuses his practice on advice and litigation relating to non-competition agreements, employee raiding and lift-outs, discrimination and harassment claims on behalf of management, theft of company information, executive compensation disputes, terminations and lay-offs, and wage and hour actions.
Saving firms or non-profits from existential internal threats, Mark also conducts major and comprehensive internal investigations of employee wrong doing and advocates with the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorneys’ offices, District Attorneys’ offices, the FBI, FINRA and the Department of Labor.
In the industries of apparel, energy, financial services, hedge funds, private equity, real estate brokerage, development and management, print and television media, philanthropy and many others, Mark has mastered the industry’s employment structures and issues.
Non-Competition Agreements and Restrictive Covenants
- Douglas Elliman Realty in a successful suit against one of Elliman’s former managers and a competitor firm involving a wrongful scheme to move a dozen agents to the competitor firm. Kasowitz won a $3.8 million jury verdict on behalf of Elliman, including $2.5 million in punitive damages.
- Northwell Health, one of the largest hospital systems in the U.S., in a lawsuit to enforce employment agreements, including covenants not to compete.
- XPO Logistics, a Fortune 200 company, in enforcing non-competition agreements.
- Geneva Energy Markets in defense of claims that the firm hired employees with enforceable non-competition agreements.
- Perella Weinberg Partners, a leading independent global financial services firm, in navigating issues involving post-employment non-competition and non-solicitation covenants.
Discrimination and Sexual Harassment
- Defense of an employee at Dentons, the international law firm, against sexual harassment, in a highly publicized purported “#MeToo” claim.
- The New York Post in defense of a race discrimination lawsuit brought by reporters, in which we obtained summary judgment dismissing all claims.
- HedgeServ, a fund administrator with over $300 billion in AUM, in discrimination and other employee matters. Kasowitz obtained dismissal of an EEOC matter and settled another discrimination claim.
- Fox News Network in defense of a sexual harassment class action filed by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in New York federal court.
- Phillips-Van Heusen, a major global apparel maker and retailer, in a pregnancy discrimination claim.
Private Equity Compensation and Other Disputes
- Saw Mill Capital in defense of claims for carried interest and other compensation by a former partner, resulting in a complete victory for Saw Mill Capital after a trial.
- John Brice, former Chief Investment Officer and board member of private equity fund CarVal Investors in a case against CarVal after it terminated Mr. Brice’s employment and threatened to withhold $230 million in compensation. After winning a preliminary injunction, Kasowitz settled the matter favorably.
- Bridgewater Associates in employment matters involving protection of Bridgewater’s intellectual property.
- Senior Managers of Och-Ziff Capital in their dealings with the company’s founding partners and board of directors.
Wage and Hour Litigation
- Douglas Elliman Realty in defeating a two-stage federal and state lawsuit in which a real estate sales agent claimed to be an “employee” and not an independent contractor under the FLSA and NY Labor Law. At stake was the classification of Elliman’s 6,000 agents. Kasowitz defeated all claims.
Other Employment Issues
- H.I.G. Capital, a private equity firm, in defense of a WARN Class Action brought by former employees of a bankrupt portfolio company.
- The 92nd Street Y in various employment matters, including labor grievances and arbitrations.
Criminal or Regulatory Matters
- Representation of witnesses in federal investigation of diversion of funds from an Asian sovereign wealth fund.
- Defense of a newspaper in federal grand jury investigation into circulation reporting.
- Defense in SDNY of indicted real estate broker for bank fraud.
- Defense in FINRA of head of 200-trader mortgage backed securities trading desk accused of mismarking trading books.