Inspired by a steelworkers’ strike in 1975 directly impacting his family, Rich understood from a very early age the serious, and often dire consequences, labor disputes can wreak on both sides of the picket line and for every individual involved. His personal experience channeled Rich onto a one-way career path in labor law, which began when he attended the Cornell School of industrial and Labor Relations and ultimately brought him to Jackson Lewis in 1989 straight out of law school.
With a particular focus in healthcare and human services, retail and manufacturing, Rich has handled complex collective bargaining agreements covering thousands of employees and defended over 100 arbitrations running the full gamut of labor contract issues. Knowing that labor peace consistently meets the goal of undisrupted company productivity, he counsels that a good result is often obtained by compromise where both parties can live well with the negotiated contract for the next three years.
Rich also recognizes the unique business stresses arising during union organizing and provides clients confronting unionization with practical and strategic advice championing their right to communicate a desire to remain union-free. He challenges employers to adopt long-term strategies for maintaining successful employee relationships to reduce the perceived need among staff to pursue third party representation.
Consistent with his immersion in the retail arena, Rich served for many years as co-leader of the firm’s retail industry group as well as the firm’s retail liaison with L&E Global - a world-wide alliance of premier labor and employment firms providing specialized, business-focused advice on global employment law matters.
With great commitment to practicality, Rich also counsels his clients on their most difficult employment decisions including the legal risks arising from discharge and layoff decisions, as well as responding to harassment claims. He ensures his advice is intrinsically tied to his clients’ short- and long-term business goals and consistent with the organization’s culture.
Rich is a frequent speaker before national and regional trade associations, not-for-profit associations, and other business groups. Understanding people are at the heart of his legal practice, he utilizes humor and real-world experience to educate human resource and general counsel groups on the following topics:
- Labor union activity including anticipating corporate campaigns;
- Disability, leave, direct threat and reasonable accommodation concerns;
- Sexual and other forms of workplace harassment;
- Identifying vulnerability to workplace violence;
- Ensuring wage and hour compliance including exemption issues; and
- Client specific seminars covering the intricacies of hiring, evaluating, disciplining and terminating staff while minimizing litigation risk.
Rich’s passion for workplace law also permeates his personal life. Sharing an obsessive love for the television show The Office with his son Harrison, for almost five years, Rich wrote a weekly column entitled “The Next Day At The Office” addressing, in a humorous way, the legal workplace issues as portrayed in the program.
Honors and Recognitions
- The Best Lawyers in America©, “Employment Law – Management” (2024)
- Labor Relations Institute, Top 100 Labor Attorneys in the United States (from among close to 9,000 attorneys practicing before the National Labor Relations Board)
Pro Bono and Community Involvement
- Ronald McDonald House of Greater Hudson Valley, Board President