Jay W. Waks

Retired Partner

Jay W. Waks is a retired partner at the firm. He was a partner from 1981-2014, at which time he stepped down under the terms of the Partnership Agreement. Mr. Waks was at the firm for 42 years, starting as an associate out of law school, during which time he served in the following capacities:

  • Chair of the firm’s Alternative Dispute Resolution practice group.
  • Chair of the firm’s Employment & Labor Law practice for 25 years.
  • Member of the firm’s International practice group, Asia Pacific practice group.

Mr. Waks is respected for his defense of US and international companies and is known for his successes in high-profile public sector cases.


Mr. Waks had over 42 years of experience with the firm, representing major U.S., Canadian, Latin American, Asian, Australian and European companies in a broad range of employment and labor relations litigations, negotiations and arbitrations, and compliance matters affecting their business interests in the US and abroad. He concentrated on complex employment rights, discrimination, benefits, fair labor standards and SOX and other whistleblower retaliation litigation, including defense of collective or representative actions, formulation of employment policies (including sexual harassment avoidance and glass ceiling, family leave, ADA, substance abuse, workplace surveillance and privacy matters), executive employment and termination matters and investigations, trade secret and restrictive covenant agreements and their enforcement in court and before alternative tribunals, employment arbitration, independent contractor agreements and governmental audits, resolution of employment law and benefits problems arising from corporate reorganizations and workforce reductions, employment legislation, government contract compliance, collective bargaining and arbitration, alternatives to litigation of employment and other business disputes, preventive employee relations programs, international labor and employment matters, and practice before the NLRB, EEOC, OSHA, U.S. Labor Department, and state and city regulatory agencies.

Mr. Waks had represented US. and international clients in virtually every business sector, both public and private, including: aviation & aerospace; apparel; autos; audio-visuals; broadcasting; chemicals; communications; construction and maintenance; consulting; cosmetics; defense and national security; e-commerce; education (private primary, secondary and university); electronics; emergency services; energy; entertainment; financial services (U.S. and international banking, brokerages, insurance, investment banking, hedge funds, private equity); food and beverage; gaming; government; health care; high-tech; homebuilding and furnishings; hospitality, hotel and restaurant; import/export; law firms; luxury handbags; manufacturing; media and news; medicine; mining; mortgage; municipal and state employment (in New York City, New York State and California); needle trades; not-for-profit entities; off-track betting; petroleum; pharmaceuticals; plastics; printing and publishing; private clubs; professional partnerships; public housing; real estate and REITs; retail; sales; security services; steel; textiles; trade associations; wine and spirits; and wireless communications.

The litigations that Mr. Waks handled in various federal and state courts (and in arbitration) involved cutting-edge issues in regard to, e.g., overtime compensation (FLSA) collective actions and related state law class actions; application of FLSA to public sector; collective bargaining aspects of Chapter 9 bankruptcy of state public benefits corporation; enforcement of restrictive covenants (and forfeiture issues); defense of employment discrimination class actions; individual and multiple claims of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination; equal pay, race, national origin, age and disability bias; SOX whistleblower retaliation; employment rights under executive employment agreements, severance and benefit plans; application of U.S. employment statutes to expatriate foreign executives; constitutional law; WARN Act notification pay claims; and Taft-Hartley Act claims, among others.

In his representation of profit and not-for-profit clients in labor matters, Mr. Waks confronted some of the most aggressive national and local unions. He has considerable experience in dealing with corporate campaigns that unions have been mounting in an effort to have venture funding sources and the public put pressure on clients. He also has dealt with complex issues of health care and other benefits, directly at the bargaining table and, from time to time, behind the scenes, working with our more specialized benefits lawyers in finding solutions to issues.

Mr. Waks had considerable success as amicus curiae counsel before the United States Supreme Court. He represented the Center for Public Resources (now, CPR Institute) as amicus in Gilmer v. Interstate/Johnson Lane Corporation (1991), in which the Supreme Court broke new ground in upholding arbitration of federal age discrimination claims, adopting the position he advocated on behalf of CPR. A decade later, Mr. Waks represented the American Arbitration Association as amicus in Circuit City Stores v. Adams (2001), in which the Supreme Court upheld the enforcement of employment contracts (except for transportation workers) under the Federal Arbitration Act, an issue sidestepped in Gilmer. The third and final section of the Court’s majority opinion in Circuit City Stores focused approvingly on a number of the substantive points made in the AAA’s amicus brief in regard to what the Court considered to be the “real benefits to the enforcement of arbitration provisions . . .  [in] the employment context” in reaching its conclusion.

Mr. Waks organized and chaired the firm’s Alternative Dispute Resolution practice group, bringing together those lawyers in all of our offices who, over many years, have assisted our clients in fashioning innovative and cost-effective ways to successfully resolve their business disputes, rather than go through traditional litigation, or who serve as neutrals in mediations, arbitrations and other ADR proceedings.

Reflecting the breadth of his experience in employment law litigation and counseling, Mr. Waks has lectured on a wide range of employment and labor matters and litigation practice for national and international conferences sponsored over the years by American Chamber of Commerce in Germany, Federal Bar Council, American Arbitration Association, Scheinman Institute, American Conference Institute, American Lawyer/Law Journal Seminars, New York State and City Bar Associations, American Bar Association, Federal Bar Council, ALI-ABA, Law Education Institute/ABA Section on Labor & Employment Law’s National CLE Conference on Labor and Employment Law, American Employment Law Council, CPR Institute, Glasser LegalWorks, American Arbitration Association, Southwestern Legal Foundation, BNA Books, Practising Law Institute, California Business Law Institute, Wisconsin Bar Association, New York County Lawyers Association, and Strategic Research Institute, among others. In these programs, Mr. Waks typically addresses such subjects as class actions and complex employment litigation, cross-border employment issues of discrimination and restrictive covenant enforcement, employment ADR, Dodd-Frank, SOX and other whistleblower retaliation litigation, sexual harassment, age and other discrimination litigation, enforcement of restrictive covenants, forfeiture of benefits and protection of trade secrets, ethical considerations in employment litigation and the use of statistics and statistical experts in employment cases. The National Law Journal (April 9, 2001) article that he co-authored on the use of statistics in employment litigation was relied upon by the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut in Robertson et al. v. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. (2001), in denying race discrimination class certification.

In addition, for 16 years, the Law Journal’s Annual General Counsel Conference, considered by many to be the premier forum of its type, featured Mr. Waks as its opening speaker on cutting-edge employment law, litigation and class action developments as to which he has been actively litigating or advising.

Mr. Waks has contributed commentary to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, International Herald Tribune, BNA Daily Labor Report, BNA Employment Discrimination Report, N.Y. Observer, New York Law Journal, Newsweek, Crain’s, Reuters, L.A. Times, Newsday, New York Magazine, The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, and various online, overseas, regional, trade and other publications. He has appeared on national Internet, cable, and TV news broadcasts and national and international radio broadcasts discussing key employment law issues.

Mr. Waks, as Chair of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York’s Committee on Labor and Employment Law, was responsible for its 1993 Report on Law Firm Policies on Workplace Sexual Harassment, its study of the Application of the RICO Act to Labor-Management Relations, and the adoption of its groundbreaking NASD and NYSE Arbitrator Training Programs to educate securities industry arbitrators on the fundamentals of employment and labor law, among other projects.

In 2014, the CPR Institute and Cornell’s Scheinman Institute published Cutting Edge Advances in Resolving Workplace Disputes, edited by Mr. Waks, CPR Board members and the chair of its Employment Disputes Committee, along with Nancy Vanderlip and Cornell Professor David Lipsky. Mr. Waks is also principal author of the pioneering 1995 report (and its later revisions) of the CPR Institute, titled Employment ADR Program, on the subject of “The CPR Program to Resolve Employment Disputes Through Mediation and Arbitration,” as well as the “CPR Model Pre-Dispute Procedure to Adjudicate Employment Termination Disputes” and, with Dr. Mary T. Rowe of MIT, authored the CPR Model Procedure for Mediation of Termination and Other Employment Disputes. As a member and later Chair of the CPR Institute’s Employment Disputes Committee for more than two decades, Mr. Waks is responsible for CPR’s 2002 report, How Companies Manage Employment Disputes, A Compendium of Leading Corporate Employment Programs, and its 2005 Resource Book for Managing Employment Disputes.

Mr. Waks has been an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association and is a member of the mediation/arbitration employment disputes panel of the CPR Institute. He has served as mediator in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey and the Southern District of New York and has been engaged privately to mediate and arbitrate executive employment disputes, class/collective actions and other complex employment cases.


  • JD, Cornell Law School, 1971, Editor & Officer, Cornell Law Review; AmJur Award; Kelly Prize
  • BS, Cornell University, 1968, Co-Editor In Chief of ILR Forum; Campbell Award

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