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Jessica Golden Cortes is a partner in the Labor & Employment Practice Group of Davis & Gilbert. Ms. Cortes regularly counsels and actively litigates on behalf of her clients in all aspects of employment law, and frequently conducts employment trainings across the country, educating her clients in subjects such as respect in the workplace, unconscious bias, diversity, equity and inclusion and manager best practices. Representative counseling services include:

  • Conducting internal company investigations of discrimination complaints;
  • Advising clients on:
    - Hiring, terminations and reductions in force
    - Restrictive covenants 
    - Wage and hour issues 
    - Federal and state family and medical leave laws
  • Drafting employment policies, handbooks and employment and separation agreements.

In addition, Ms. Cortes represents employers in federal and state courts, federal, state and local administrative agencies and in arbitrations and mediations nationwide in the areas of race, sex, age, disability, failure to hire and other discrimination claims, and in breach of contract disputes arising primarily from alleged breaches of continuing post-employment obligations and for cause terminations.  She has successfully defended several of the firm’s clients against claims of discrimination before the EEOC and state agencies in multiple states, including New York, Connecticut, California, Ohio and Michigan.

Ms. Cortes has been recognized by The Legal 500 United States in the area of labor and employment: workplace and employment counseling area for eight consecutive years (2013-2020). She has also been recognized as a leading lawyer for labor & employment law by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business (2012-2016) and has been selected as a Super Lawyer (2018-2020) and Rising Star (2013-2016) by New York Metro Super Lawyers. Ms. Cortes was also named a winner in the Esquire Industry Practice category for SmartCEO’s 2015 CPA & ESQ Awards.

Ms. Cortes was appointed Chair of the NYC SHRM Legal & Legislative Special Interest Group (SIG) for the 2020-2021 programming year.

Before joining Davis & Gilbert, Ms. Cortes was a litigation attorney at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP.

REPRESENTATIVE ENGAGEMENTS

  • Successfully compelled arbitration of a former employee’s claim on behalf of a major financial institution in a ruling that was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
  • Represented Specific Media in certain aspects of its acquisition of music and social media platform MySpace.
  • Successfully defended a nationwide advertising agency in a bench trial where a staffing agency claimed entitlement to a fee for placement of an employee.
  • Successfully defended a nationwide temporary staffing agency against claim of retaliation and won unanimous jury verdict, including winning pre-trial motion to exclude expert testimony relating to controversial fMRI lie detection evidence.
  • Successfully defended a worldwide software solutions company against claims of national origin and race discrimination in arbitration proceeding and won full dismissal of all claims.
  • Successfully obtained a judgment from the New York Supreme Court, First Department, on behalf of an advertising agency, affirming summary judgment in a constructive discharge/breach of contract case.
  • Represented a nationwide consulting firm as third-party in arbitration involving restrictive covenant and breach of contract issues, including successfully arguing discovery-related motions, and defending witnesses at depositions and hearing.

SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS

"The Journey to Achieve Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace," Davis & Gilbert Counsel 2U®: Labor & Employment Webinar, October 1, 2020

"Reimagining the New Normal: Back to Business 4.0," Davis & Gilbert: Back to Business Interdisciplinary Webinar, September 17, 2020

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: The Ethical and Legal Components,” Finance, Technology, People and Innovation Webinar, September 16, 2020

"Restart, Reopen and Re-entry: Back to Business 3.0," Davis & Gilbert: Back to Business Interdisciplinary Webinar, July 22, 2020

"Bias & the Virus: Keeping Inclusivity Alive While Trying to Survive," The Women in Law Summit Series: Diversity, Inclusion and Self Care Virtual Summit, June 30, 2020

"HR Considerations Now," presentation to PeerExchange, June 29, 2020

"Restart, Reopen and Re-entry: Back to Business 2.0," Davis & Gilbert: Back to Business Interdisciplinary Webinar, June 3, 2020

"FFCRA: One Month In," Davis & Gilbert Counsel 2U®: Labor & Employment Seminar, May 7, 2020

"Gender Identity and Expression in the Workplace," Practising Law Institute's Employment Law Institute 2018, October 16, 2019

"Expansion of Anti-Harassment Laws in New York and Recent Updates," Davis & Gilbert Labor & Employment Seminar, September 2019

"Dealing with Unconscious Bias & Discrimination," The Women in Law Summit Series: Women, Diversity & Change, May 8, 2019

“New York Legal Update,” Society for Human Resource Management: Pro Bono Special Interest Group, April 23, 2019

"Creating a Culture of Respect," JCCs of North America Professional Conference 2019, February 27, 2019 

“Be in the Know – Annual Legal Update,” Society for Human Resource Management: HR-PRO, February 7, 2019

"Lessons Learned from Female and Minority Leaders, Litigators & Deal-Makers," The Women in Law & Leadership Summit, November 14, 2018

"Gender and Transgender Issues in the Workplace," Practising Law Institute's Employment Law Institute 2018, October 18, 2018

"How to Navigate Harassment Claims in the "MeToo" Environment," Davis & Gilbert Labor & Employment Seminar, April 2018

"New York Paid Family Leave and Remote Work Arrangements," Davis & Gilbert Labor & Employment Seminar, October 2017

"Key Strategies for Effective Internal Investigations," Practising Law Institute's Employment Law Institute 2017, October 19, 2017

"The All-Day Legislative & Legal Conference," New York City SHRM's Legislative & Legal SIG, October 18, 2017

"In-House Think Tanks on Employment Discrimination," American Conference Institute’s 9th Annual Forum on Defending and Managing Employment Discrimination Litigation, September 26-27, 2017

"Hot Topics in Labor & Employment Law: The Trump Administration, Upcoming NY State and City Law Changes, Benefits Regulations and More," Davis & Gilbert Labor & Employment Seminar, March 2017

PUBLICATIONS

Co-Author, "SDNY Holds that DOL “Jumped the Rail” and Strikes Down Certain DOL Rules on FFCRA Leave," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, August 2020

Co-Author, “Planning for Safe Employee Re-Entry,” D&G Labor & Employment Back to Work FAQ, April 2020

Co-Author, "COVID-19: As Cases Continue to Spread, Will Court Cases Begin to Spread?" D&G Employment Litigation Alert - Back to Work Series, April 2020

Co-Author, “Expense Reimbursements for Work-from-Home Arrangements during COVID-19,” D&G Labor & Employment COVID-19 FAQ, April 2020

Co-Author, "Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act: What You Need to Know," D&G Corporate Alert, April 2020

Co-Author, "Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act)," D&G Memorandum, April 2020

Co-Author, "New York State Implements Sick Leave for Employees Required to Quarantine or Self-Isolate By Government Order," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, March 2020

Co-Author, "Revisions to Proposed Family First Coronavirus Response Act: Potential Relief for Employers," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, March 2020

Co-Author, "The Families First Coronavirus Response Act: What Employers Need to Know," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, March 2020

Co-Author, "U.S. Department of Labor Finalizes Rule to Determine Joint Employer Status," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, February 2020

Author, "Coronavirus: Protective Measures for the Workplace," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, February 2020

Co-Author, "Illinois Workplace Transparency Act Goes Into Effect January 1, 2020," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, December 2019

Author, "DOL Confirms Federal Salary Level for Overtime-Exempt Employees," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, September 2019

Co-Author, "New York City Bans Discrimination Based on Reproductive Choice," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, September 2019

Contributing Author, "Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: What US: Multi-State Companies Need to Know," Sexual Harassment in the Workplace published by International Lawyers Network's Labor & Employment Group, 2019 

Co-Author, "New York City Law Expanding Employers’ Lactation Accommodation Obligations Goes Into Effect on March 18, 2019," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, March 2019

Co-Author, "California Employers Required to Provide Sexual Harassment Prevention Training to All Employees by January 1, 2020," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, November 2018

Co-Author, "Second Circuit Rules That Title VII Prohibits Discrimination on Basis of Sexual Orientation," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, May 2018

Co-Author, "New Jersey Enacts New Equal Pay Protections Effective July 1, 2018," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, May 2018

Co-Author, "California Enacts New Employer Requirements Effective January 1, 2018," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, December 2017

Author, "New Rights For New York City Freelancers Effective May 15, 2017," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, March 2017

PRESS

Quoted, Social Media Leadership Council, "17 Musts for Your Social Media Policy," July 2019

Quoted, PR Daily, "Is It All Right to Swear on the Job?" June 18, 2018

Quoted, Communications Leadership Council, "8 Things to Know Before You Use an Employee's Photo," June 5, 2018

Quoted, Law360, "DOL To Appeal Invalidation Of White Collar Overtime Rule," October 30, 2017

Featured, PRCouncil, "New York and California Minimum Exempt Salary Obligations in Effect," January 9, 2017

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS/AFFILIATIONS

Society For Human Resource Management
NYC Society For Human Resource Managemt Legal & Legislative Special Interest Group, Chair
Wesleyan Lawyer’s Association, President

BAR ADMISSIONS

New York
U.S. District Court, Southern and Eastern Districts of New York
U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

EDUCATION

Fordham University School of Law, J.D., 2001
Wesleyan University, B.A., with high honors, 1998


REPRESENTATIVE ENGAGEMENTS

  • Successfully compelled arbitration of a former employee’s claim on behalf of a major financial institution in a ruling that was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
  • Represented Specific Media in certain aspects of its acquisition of music and social media platform MySpace.
  • Successfully defended a nationwide advertising agency in a bench trial where a staffing agency claimed entitlement to a fee for placement of an employee.
  • Successfully defended a nationwide temporary staffing agency against claim of retaliation and won unanimous jury verdict, including winning pre-trial motion to exclude expert testimony relating to controversial fMRI lie detection evidence.
  • Successfully defended a worldwide software solutions company against claims of national origin and race discrimination in arbitration proceeding and won full dismissal of all claims.
  • Successfully obtained a judgment from the New York Supreme Court, First Department, on behalf of an advertising agency, affirming summary judgment in a constructive discharge/breach of contract case.
  • Represented a nationwide consulting firm as third-party in arbitration involving restrictive covenant and breach of contract issues, including successfully arguing discovery-related motions, and defending witnesses at depositions and hearing.

SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS

"The Journey to Achieve Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace," Davis & Gilbert Counsel 2U®: Labor & Employment Webinar, October 1, 2020

"Reimagining the New Normal: Back to Business 4.0," Davis & Gilbert: Back to Business Interdisciplinary Webinar, September 17, 2020

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: The Ethical and Legal Components,” Finance, Technology, People and Innovation Webinar, September 16, 2020

"Restart, Reopen and Re-entry: Back to Business 3.0," Davis & Gilbert: Back to Business Interdisciplinary Webinar, July 22, 2020

"Bias & the Virus: Keeping Inclusivity Alive While Trying to Survive," The Women in Law Summit Series: Diversity, Inclusion and Self Care Virtual Summit, June 30, 2020

"HR Considerations Now," presentation to PeerExchange, June 29, 2020

"Restart, Reopen and Re-entry: Back to Business 2.0," Davis & Gilbert: Back to Business Interdisciplinary Webinar, June 3, 2020

"FFCRA: One Month In," Davis & Gilbert Counsel 2U®: Labor & Employment Seminar, May 7, 2020

"Gender Identity and Expression in the Workplace," Practising Law Institute's Employment Law Institute 2018, October 16, 2019

"Expansion of Anti-Harassment Laws in New York and Recent Updates," Davis & Gilbert Labor & Employment Seminar, September 2019

"Dealing with Unconscious Bias & Discrimination," The Women in Law Summit Series: Women, Diversity & Change, May 8, 2019

“New York Legal Update,” Society for Human Resource Management: Pro Bono Special Interest Group, April 23, 2019

"Creating a Culture of Respect," JCCs of North America Professional Conference 2019, February 27, 2019 

“Be in the Know – Annual Legal Update,” Society for Human Resource Management: HR-PRO, February 7, 2019

"Lessons Learned from Female and Minority Leaders, Litigators & Deal-Makers," The Women in Law & Leadership Summit, November 14, 2018

"Gender and Transgender Issues in the Workplace," Practising Law Institute's Employment Law Institute 2018, October 18, 2018

"How to Navigate Harassment Claims in the "MeToo" Environment," Davis & Gilbert Labor & Employment Seminar, April 2018

"New York Paid Family Leave and Remote Work Arrangements," Davis & Gilbert Labor & Employment Seminar, October 2017

"Key Strategies for Effective Internal Investigations," Practising Law Institute's Employment Law Institute 2017, October 19, 2017

"The All-Day Legislative & Legal Conference," New York City SHRM's Legislative & Legal SIG, October 18, 2017

"In-House Think Tanks on Employment Discrimination," American Conference Institute’s 9th Annual Forum on Defending and Managing Employment Discrimination Litigation, September 26-27, 2017

"Hot Topics in Labor & Employment Law: The Trump Administration, Upcoming NY State and City Law Changes, Benefits Regulations and More," Davis & Gilbert Labor & Employment Seminar, March 2017

PUBLICATIONS

Co-Author, "SDNY Holds that DOL “Jumped the Rail” and Strikes Down Certain DOL Rules on FFCRA Leave," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, August 2020

Co-Author, “Planning for Safe Employee Re-Entry,” D&G Labor & Employment Back to Work FAQ, April 2020

Co-Author, "COVID-19: As Cases Continue to Spread, Will Court Cases Begin to Spread?" D&G Employment Litigation Alert - Back to Work Series, April 2020

Co-Author, “Expense Reimbursements for Work-from-Home Arrangements during COVID-19,” D&G Labor & Employment COVID-19 FAQ, April 2020

Co-Author, "Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act: What You Need to Know," D&G Corporate Alert, April 2020

Co-Author, "Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act)," D&G Memorandum, April 2020

Co-Author, "New York State Implements Sick Leave for Employees Required to Quarantine or Self-Isolate By Government Order," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, March 2020

Co-Author, "Revisions to Proposed Family First Coronavirus Response Act: Potential Relief for Employers," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, March 2020

Co-Author, "The Families First Coronavirus Response Act: What Employers Need to Know," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, March 2020

Co-Author, "U.S. Department of Labor Finalizes Rule to Determine Joint Employer Status," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, February 2020

Author, "Coronavirus: Protective Measures for the Workplace," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, February 2020

Co-Author, "Illinois Workplace Transparency Act Goes Into Effect January 1, 2020," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, December 2019

Author, "DOL Confirms Federal Salary Level for Overtime-Exempt Employees," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, September 2019

Co-Author, "New York City Bans Discrimination Based on Reproductive Choice," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, September 2019

Contributing Author, "Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: What US: Multi-State Companies Need to Know," Sexual Harassment in the Workplace published by International Lawyers Network's Labor & Employment Group, 2019 

Co-Author, "New York City Law Expanding Employers’ Lactation Accommodation Obligations Goes Into Effect on March 18, 2019," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, March 2019

Co-Author, "California Employers Required to Provide Sexual Harassment Prevention Training to All Employees by January 1, 2020," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, November 2018

Co-Author, "Second Circuit Rules That Title VII Prohibits Discrimination on Basis of Sexual Orientation," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, May 2018

Co-Author, "New Jersey Enacts New Equal Pay Protections Effective July 1, 2018," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, May 2018

Co-Author, "California Enacts New Employer Requirements Effective January 1, 2018," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, December 2017

Author, "New Rights For New York City Freelancers Effective May 15, 2017," D&G Labor & Employment Alert, March 2017

PRESS

Quoted, Social Media Leadership Council, "17 Musts for Your Social Media Policy," July 2019

Quoted, PR Daily, "Is It All Right to Swear on the Job?" June 18, 2018

Quoted, Communications Leadership Council, "8 Things to Know Before You Use an Employee's Photo," June 5, 2018

Quoted, Law360, "DOL To Appeal Invalidation Of White Collar Overtime Rule," October 30, 2017

Featured, PRCouncil, "New York and California Minimum Exempt Salary Obligations in Effect," January 9, 2017

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS/AFFILIATIONS

Society For Human Resource Management
NYC Society For Human Resource Managemt Legal & Legislative Special Interest Group, Chair
Wesleyan Lawyer’s Association, President

BAR ADMISSIONS

New York
U.S. District Court, Southern and Eastern Districts of New York
U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

EDUCATION

Fordham University School of Law, J.D., 2001
Wesleyan University, B.A., with high honors, 1998