James R. Grasso, Phillips Lytle Partner

James R. Grasso

Buffalo; New York City; Canada
(716) 847-5422
(519) 570-4800, (212) 508-0475
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Mr. Grasso represents management in the private and public sectors in all aspects of labor and employment law. He counsels clients on workplace policies and practices and legal compliance issues, and represents employers in litigation concerning employment discrimination, harassment, wage and hour matters, wrongful termination, employment contract disputes, and confidentiality and non-compete agreements. Mr. Grasso appears regularly before state and federal courts in New York and before federal, state and local administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, New York State Division of Human Rights and New York City Commission on Human Rights. His practice also includes representing management in union organizing campaigns and collective bargaining negotiations and defending management in labor arbitrations and before the National Labor Relations Board and New York State Public Employment Relations Board. He is a member of the Canadian Cross Border Team.

Admitted to Practice

  • New York
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of New York
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

Honors & Awards

  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America©
    • Named the Best Lawyers® Labor Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Buffalo, 2021
  • Selected for the Upstate New York Super Lawyers® list, 2007-2008, 2011-2020


  • State University of New York at Buffalo Law School, J.D., magna cum laude, 1990
  • Hobart College, B.A., cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, 1986

Professional Associations

  • American Bar Association
    • Labor and Employment Law Section
      • Equal Employment Opportunity Committee
    • Litigation Section
  • Bar Association of Erie County
    • Labor and Employment Committee
  • Buffalo Niagara Human Resource Association
  • Defense Research Institute
    • Employment Law Committee
  • Labor and Employment Relations of Western New York
  • New York State Bar Association
    • Labor and Employment Law Section
    • Trial Lawyers Section
  • Society for Human Resources Management

Representative Cases

  • Burch v. Pioneer Credit Recovery, Inc., 551 F.3d 122 (2d Cir. 2008)
  • Allaire v. HSBC Bank USA, 2004 WL 2203986 (2d Cir. 2004)
  • DiStefano v. HSBC Bank USA, 2004 WL 1563103 (W.D.N.Y. 2004)
  • Aratari v. Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, 2004 WL 1812677 (W.D.N.Y. 2004)
  • Samborski v. West Valley Nuclear Services, Co., Inc., 2002 WL 1477610 (W.D.N.Y. 2002)
  • Fulham v. HSBC Bank USA, 2001 WL 1029051 (S.D.N.Y. 2001)
  • In re Mercy Hospital, 336 NLRB 1282, 2001 WL 1699611 (2001)
  • Woolcott v. E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Company, Inc., 1997 WL 251475 (W.D.N.Y. 1997)

Present Activities

  • Kevin Guest House, Board of Directors
  • O.P.E.N. (Organization of Public Employer Negotiators)
  • National Public Employer Labor Relations Association

Past Activities

  • Bornhava, Board of Directors
  • City of Buffalo Charter Review Commission, Special Counsel
  • Cleveland Hill Educational Foundation
  • Niagara Frontier Industry Education Council
  • St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, Board of Directors