Wayne N. Outten: An Advocate for Workplace Fairness

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Personal Life

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Wayne N. Outten, Managing Partner and Founder of Outten & Golden, LLP" title="Wayne N. Outten, Managing Partner and Founder of Outten & Golden, LLP" />Wayne N. Outten is the managing partner and founder of New York’s Outten & Golden LLP . Over the past thirty years, he has built a national reputation representing employees (particularly executives, bankers, and professionals) in all areas of employment law, including executive employment and severance agreements.

Wayne’s high-profile cases include an arbitration award of $18.1 million in a breach of contract case against Deutsche Bank (with partner Larry Moy) and a $72 million arbitration award in a breach of contract case against another major international bank (with partner Larry Moy and Tammy Marzigliano) - one of the largest arbitration awards in an employment case. He also secured a $12 million settlement in federal court in an individual gender discrimination case against Morgan Stanley.

Over the years, Wayne has been awarded several distinctions. For the past twenty-one years, he has held an “AV” (preeminent) Martindale-Hubbell rating, which is the highest rating presented to any individual lawyer. Since 1987, Wayne has been chosen for inclusion by his colleagues as one of the “Best Lawyers in America.” Best Lawyers listed him “Lawyer of the Year 2010” in the area of Labor and Employment Law-New York City and as “Lawyer of the Year 2012” for Litigation-Labor and Employment in New York City.

He has been selected as one of New York’s Super Lawyers, where he is labeled one of the Top 100 New York Metro Super Lawyers for the past seven years. He has been recognized several times by the International Who’s Who of Management Labour & Employment Lawyers (the only employee-side attorney in U.S.).

Since 2005, the top-notch attorney has been selected for listing in Lawdragon, where he was selected for the Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America in 2006, as well as the Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Lawyers in America in 2007 - and several times since then.

In 2008, Drexel University recognized Wayne as a Distinguished Alumnus of LeBow College of Business. In August 2009, New York University School of Law presented him with the ALMO (Alumni of the Month). In 2001, he received the Award for Dedicated Service from the National Employment Lawyers Associate/New York Affiliate.

Wayne and his firm have received numerous awards in recent years, including the 2011 Francis Perkins Public Service Award (ABA Labor & Employment Law Section), Samuel M. Kaynard Award for Excellence in the Fields of Labor & Employment Law (Hofstra Law School), Distinguished Community Leader Award (CUNY School of Law), Public Interest Award of the Public Interest Law Student Association (CUNY School of Law), Partner in Justice Award (MFY Legal Services, Inc.), and Award for Pro Bono Assistance (Legal Services NYC). In 2011, he was an Honoree at the Fifth Anniversary Celebration of A Better Balance.

In 1992, Wayne co-founded Workplace Fairness, an educational/charitable organization; he has remained an officer since then. Workplace Fairness developed a website to provide information to employees about their rights: workplacefairness.org.

The Super Lawyer has lectured widely on employment law, particularly on retaliation and whistleblower claims, on employment and severance agreements, and on negotiation, mediation, and arbitration of employment disputes. Wayne is an accomplished author whose work often appears in popular and legal publications.

Wayne was born in Dover, DE and raised in Pocomoke City, MD. He graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration from Drexel University in 1970 and earned his J.D. from New York University School of Law in 1974, where he was an Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Fellow. After graduating from law school, Wayne (and wife Ginny) traveled to Portland, Oregon, where he served as a law clerk from 1974 to 1976 for U.S. District Court Judge Gus J. Solomon.

After his clerkship, Wayne planned on returning to Philadelphia to go into private practice, but instead he accepted an instructor position at NYU School of Law, teaching an introductory seminar on legal research, analysis, and writing. While teaching at his alma mater, Wayne’s mentor, Professor Norman Dorsen, asked him to write a book for the "Rights of" series of the American Civil Liberties Union. (Dorsen was president of the ACLU.) Wayne decided to write a book on employee rights, though he knew nothing about the topic; after five years of research and writing, the first edition of "The Rights of Employees and Union Members" was published in 1984. The book altered Wayne’s career path because he came to love employment law, especially representing employees.

In 1979, Wayne became an associate and later a partner at Lankenau Kovner & Bickford, LLP, where he developed an employment law practice. In 1998, he founded Outten & Golden LLP, which focuses exclusively on representing employees; he remains the managing partner of that firm.

When Wayne isn’t working, he enjoys working out at the gym, spinning, strength training, and traveling. He enjoys spending time at his country home near Bishopville, Maryland, as well as traveling to national parks, especially in Colorado and Utah. The employment attorney also loves to travel to Europe; he plans on visiting Sicily, Florence, and Rome in May. Wayne enjoys reading historical biographies (e.g., Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and John Adams).

Wayne’s Successful Law Career

When asked if he could tell us about his most memorable law school experience, Wayne recalled the following experience: “I was selected for the Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Fellowship. It was instrumental in my career. I worked under Professor Dorsen, who became my mentor."

Why did Wayne decide to become an attorney? “During college, I didn’t know any lawyers. I didn’t know what they did. I attended Drexel in the late '60’s, during the civil rights and anti-war movements. That’s what moved me to become a lawyer, because I observed that lawyers changed the world and made a difference. I wanted to do something socially useful - to make a difference - and it seemed like lawyers were doing that.”

What is the best part of his job? “The best parts of my job are finding and retaining excellent lawyers and being the leader of a firm of talented lawyers who are dedicated and passionate about their work.”

The Drexel alumnus discussed what he is known for professionally. “I think I am considered by my peers and clients as a very good all-around lawyer - capable, knowledgeable, and reasonable. I am a zealous advocate for my clients, and I am known to fight for the rights for employees in general.”

What area of the law is Wayne most passionate about? “Employment law on behalf of employees. Although I have been a litigator for three decades, the things that I have become really good at are problem-solving, coaching, counseling, and negotiating with respect to employment disputes.”

Is there an area of practice Wayne would like to develop further into? “My sub-specialty is international employment law. Our firm represents U.S. employees working abroad. It’s a special niche, and I would like to expand our practice in that niche.”

In regards to his strengths and weakness, he acknowledged, “I am an accomplished problem solver. I am very good at identifying and developing possible solutions and coming up with strategies and tactics for solving problems. I am also a very good writer and editor.” As for his weakness, he said, “My researching skills have atrophied because I don’t do much research.”

So what does Wayne think about the employment law field today? What would he change about it? “It’s a endlessly fascinating field, and I can’t image doing anything else. From a societal view, I'd like to see better access to justice for people who can’t afford an attorney.”

If he weren’t a lawyer, what would Wayne probably be doing? “I can’t even imagine. As the oldest son, I was expected to go into the family business in Pocomoke City, Maryland that my dad started after World War II.”

The Super Lawyer was asked, where do you see yourself in five years time? “I will be 70. If my health is as good as it is right now, I will still be practicing law at Outten & Golden, but I might give up being managing partner. It’s possible that I will not be working full-time and that I will work remotely part of the time from our country house near Bishopville, Maryland.”

How does the former law teacher want to be remembered? “Professionally, I would like to be remembered as a leading advocate for employee rights and workplace fairness. I would also like to be remembered as the founder and leader of Outten & Golden. The firm is going to survive and thrive longer than I do. I am proud of the team of talented lawyers we have assembled. They will continue to do excellent work at Outten & Golden.”

Wayne’s Clerkship, Teaching at NYU School of Law, Publishing his Book, and High-Profile Cases

After graduating law school, Wayne traveled to Portland, Oregon, for a two-year clerkship with Federal District Judge Gus J. Solomon. How was this experience? “It was an extraordinarily valuable experience. I learned a lot from Judge Solomon in two years. He was a disciplined writer and editor. I learned a lot about writing from him.”

Wayne planned to move to Philadelphia to go into private practice, but decided to teach an introductory seminar on legal research, analysis, and writing at NYU School of Law. Why did he accept the position? “I met my wife in Philadelphia and we thought we would settle there. But I got an offer to teach at NYU Law, and I was so interested in teaching writing that we ended up in New York.”

After five years of researching and writing, Wayne published the first edition of "The Rights of Employees and Union Members" in 1984. What did he learn while researching and writing that book? “Most people develop knowledge and experience and then write based on that. Well, I didn’t know anything about employment law when I started the book. By writing the book, I learned the subject and gradually became an expert.

Will the former law teacher write another book on employee rights? “The second edition of the book came out in 1994. Since then, I have written countless papers and book chapters, but I don’t intend to write any more books.”

Since 1998, Outten & Golden has grown to thirty-five lawyers, with satellite offices in Stamford, Connecticut and Chicago, Illinois. Does Wayne expect the firm to expand and hire more attorneys? “I doubt we will open more offices. We probably will hire more lawyers gradually, but I doubt that we will continue to grow at the rate we did during the past fifteen years.”

Wayne recovered $12 million in a gender discrimination/retaliation case against Morgan Stanley in federal court. What did he learn from that this case? Wayne said it was beneficial co-litigating the case with the EEOC. He also learned about dealing with the media because the case received a lot of media attention. Was the employment attorney pleased with the outcome of this case? He replied, “Yes, absolutely.”

Wayne and his colleagues secured an $18.2 million arbitration award in a breach of contract case against Deutsche Bank and a $72 million arbitration award against another major international bank.

Were these Wayne’s greatest achievements as an attorney? “The $72 million award was, to the best of my knowledge, the largest arbitration award in an employment case. Of course, I was very pleased with the case, especially the result. But my most substantial achievement has been creating and building Outten & Golden over the past fifteen years. O&G will continue to help employees over the long term - way beyond my legal career.”

Wayne’s Mentors, Pro Bono Work, Non-Profit Organizations and Goals

Wayne considers Professor Dorsen a mentor. Does he have other mentors? “Judge Solomon, plus Victor Kovner and John Lankenau, who were the leaders of the firm I used to work for before I founded O&G.”

Wayne explained that, under his firm's formal mentoring program, he currently mentors two associates. On an informal basis, he tries to mentor other attorneys inside and outside the firm - to help them be the best they can be.

Outten & Golden handles many pro bono cases. For example, the firm represented a gay, HIV-positive administrative assistant who was terminated from his position because of his perceived disability and sexual orientation. The firm also represented four low-wage factory workers whose manager sexually harassed them and a low-wage immigrant restaurant worker who was terminated after he fell and injured himself. Wayne said the firm contributes one percent of its gross revenue every year to public interest organizations. Outten & Golden received the Frances Perkins Public Service Award from the ABA's Labor & Employment Law Section; that award recognizes the firm's commitment to providing pro bono legal services to individuals who can’t afford an attorney.

Is Wayne involved with any non-profit organizations? “Yes. I was a founding member of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) in 1985; and in 1986, I founded the New York affiliate of that organization. I also co-founded WorkPlace Fairness, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, which is dedicated to teaching people about employee rights. Also, I have been very involved in the ABA's Labor & Employment Law Section for thirty years. I am vice-chair right now. I was a member of the Board of the New York Civil Liberties for about twenty years, and I am now on the board of the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island.”

Does the workplace advocate have any goals for the future? “Professionally, I have achieved my main goal - to practice in an area in which I can help people. My goal for the future is to continue strengthening and enhancing Outten & Golden.”

Outten & Golden LLP

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