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 employers in all aspects of labor and employment law. He has extensive experience counseling employers on employee discipline, workplace policies and practices, employee confidentiality and non-compete agreements, reasonable accommodation under the ADA and other workplace compliance matters. His expertise includes conducting workplace investigations and defending employers against employment discrimination and harassment lawsuits, wage and hour and wrongful termination claims, and in employment contract disputes. Mr. Grasso also assists employers in defending against union organizing campaigns and unfair labor practice charges, and represents management in collective bargaining negotiations and labor arbitrations. He regularly appears on behalf of employers in federal and state courts and arbitration proceedings, and before the EEOC, NLRB, USDOL, OSHA and New York State Division of Human Rights.

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

Chambers USA Badge 2021 - Grasso
  • Listed in Chambers USA: Americas Leading Lawyers for Business, 2021
  • 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