Kristen E. Smith
Kristen works with employers, large and small, to help ensure compliance with the complex maze of labor and employment laws. She provides practical, tailored advice to help clients avert costly and damaging employment-related claims. Kristen’s prior experience working in human resource management with several large corporations (including Exelon and Bose) gives her a unique and helpful perspective into the day-to-day realities of being an employer. She merges this practical knowledge with her legal experience to provide each client with a realistic, pragmatic approach to solving employment law challenges. For example, Kristen helps employers solve confusing employee accommodation and leave issues, conducts wage and hour and employment policy audits, and assists in the implementation of reductions in force. Some of the laws that she counsels employers on include:
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When employers, despite their best compliance efforts, are faced with employment-related claims, Kristen defends these claims. Kristen is an experienced employment litigator, defending employers before the New York State Division of Human Rights, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the New York State Department of Labor, Unemployment Insurance Division. She also defends employment-related lawsuits filed in state and federal court, and has successfully defended multiple suits before the Second Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals. She also participates in the mediation of employment claims. Some of her representative employment litigation matters include:
- Obtained summary judgment dismissing federal court action in its entirety against a large healthcare client. The matter involved allegations of sexual harassment, race and age discrimination, and retaliation. Successfully argued the appeal before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the dismissal of the case.
- Was granted summary judgment for school district in a case filed in federal court and involving allegations of gender-based discrimination and harassment, as well as constitutional due process violations.
- Secured dismissal of a disability discrimination and Family Medical Leave Act lawsuit against a large healthcare client prior to discovery, saving the client thousands in litigation costs.
Kristen works with both non-union and union employers, and has experience in the arbitration of labor relations disputes and the negotiation of collective bargaining agreements.
She is a frequent presenter and trainer, regularly appearing at events sponsored by the Central New York chapter of the Society of Human Resource Management (CNY SHRM). She trains human resource professionals at all levels, and also provides in-house training to employees and supervisors about a wide variety of topics, including workplace harassment, wage and hour compliance, and employee performance management.
Honors and Affiliations
- Listed in:
- New York Super Lawyers 2016®, Upstate New York Rising Star, Employment and Labor
- New York Super Lawyers 2015®, Upstate New York Rising Star, Employment and Labor
- Onondaga County Bar Association
- Justinian Honorary Law Society
- Order of the Coif
- Editor-in-Chief, Syracuse Law Review
- Associate Editor, The Labor Lawyer
- 2017 Labor & Employment Law Update - What Employers Need to Know, Reagan Companies' Academy of Risk Management Seminar, 3/2/17
- Labor & Employment Law Update: Navigating Change in 2017, CNY SHRM, 1/26/17
- Other Employment Laws You Need to Know, National Business Institute, 11/14/16
- Legal Issues Regarding Company Wellness Programs, Syracuse Media Group, Healthiest Employers of CNY, 11/4/15
- The Fair Labor Standards Act: Understanding the Proposed Regulatory Changes, and Avoiding the Minefield of Wage & Hour Liability, CNY SHRM, 10/8/15
- Ask the Experts, 2015 Central New York SHRM Conference, 6/12/15
- Solving the Puzzle of Complex Accommodation Issues in the Evolving Workplace, SHRM Tompkins County, 11/6/14
- Complex Issues in Accommodating a Diverse Workforce, New York State Society for Human Resource Management (NYS SHRM) Annual Conference, 9/30/14
- Employment Law Basics for Supervisors, Managers & Business Owners, Central New York Society for Human Resource Management (CNY SHRM), 9/25/14
- Top Ten Employment Law Trends and Issues for 2014, Central New York Society for Human Resource Management (CNY SHRM) Legal Update, 1/22/14
- Identifying & Addressing Common Human Resource Management Pitfalls, Bond's Tenth Annual Best Practices for Nonprofits, 1/16/14
- The NLRB’s New, Aggressive Focus on Non-Union Employers, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 3/7/13
- "Know the Law: Background Checks Continue to Trip Up Employers," HR Specialist, New York Employment Law, 5/14
- Kristen Smith and John Gaal, "Federal Agencies Extend Their Reach," New York Law Journal, 1/22/13