By Paul Lane, originally published in Buffalo Business First on Oct 25, 2019, 1:26pm EDT.

labor-law-books Labor law trends will steer toward making conditions better for employees, Buffalo-area attorneys said. (BOBBUSHPHOTO)

Labor law trending toward more discrimination cases, high-tech engagement

An increase in discrimination cases and personal attention to the workforce are among the trends Buffalo-area lawyers see coming in labor law in the next decade.

Some respondents to the Business First Labor and Employment Law Firms were asked what the biggest issues are that they see coming in the 2020s. Following are their replies.

“The framework of current labor and employment law originated in the New Deal and was tailored to the job structures of that era. However, the definition of today’s workplace is evolving. Artificial intelligence, automation and the gig economy are reshaping today’s workplace. The lines between digital workers’ professional and private lives are becoming blurred. The hourly wage or salary-based earnings is shifting to performance-linked payments. These issues, along with distinguishing between an employee and an external freelancer, will likely be at the heart of the changes in labor and employment law in the coming decade,” said Robert Boreanz, partner, Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria.

“The trend in employment discrimination cases going into a new decade are (those pertaining to) sexual harassment, LGBT rights, age claims, religious discrimination and race claims. For each of these protected classes, retaliation claims are on the rise. It is about power and the abuse of power. Employees now believe their complaints might be heard in the #MeToo era,” said Lindy Korn, founder, Law Office of Lindy Korn.

“Heading into the next decade, I expect a shift from the ‘business as usual’ mantra to a more employee-focused and -engaged workplace setting. Attracting the best talent will rely heavily on social media advertisements, tech-led applications, virtual interviews and quicker, competitive employment offers. In addition, I anticipate more emphasis on the retention of in-demand employees via personalized training and development, pay equity, flexible work schedules, engagement and inclusion efforts, as well as other family- and employee-friendly policies,” said Amanda Lowe, partner, Phillips Lytle LLP.

“Historically, employment and labor relations law and policy were developed … at the national level through statutes such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, the National Labor Relations Act … and the like. They, for the most part, allowed businesses to implement a single, cohesive employment and labor relations strategy in the United States and contributed to a level competitive environment for employees across the country and within the enterprise,” said Thomas Eron, chair, labor and employment law department; and James Rooney, Buffalo office managing member, Bond Schoeneck & King.

Following is more information on the firms represented on The List.

Largest Buffalo labor and employment law firms