Arnold Shep Cohen, Newark "Lawyer of the Year" for Employment Law – Individuals 2017
"My overall goal as an employment lawyer is to help to improve the dignity of the workplace whenever possible."
Cohen has been in practice for more than 35 years and concentrates his practice on private and public sector employment issues, employee benefits, and labor law. For the past 19 years, Cohen has been the host of a weekly radio show called “The World of Work” on WDVR-FM, and he teaches courses at the Rutgers School of Law on arbitration, labor negotiations, and alternative dispute resolution, and has been an adjunct law professor at the university for more than 30 years.
“My whole life revolves around work and work-related issues,” Cohen admits. “My father was a milkman and a member of the Teamsters Union, and I have always been attracted to helping workers make their lives better.”
In one of Cohen’s major cases, IFPTE, Local 195 v. The New Jersey Department of Corrections, he convinced the New Jersey Supreme Court that it should reverse a 140-year common law precedent on the theory of “no work no pay.”
“The decision opened up a whole new area of potential relief for public employees,” notes Cohen. “Prior to this decision, public employees did not have a common-law back-pay remedy when a public employer breached a contractual obligation. The supreme court found this to be an anachronism, and now if a public sector employee is improperly deprived of work, that worker can get pay as a remedy in a legal action. All public employers will now have second thoughts about violating the contractual rights of their employees because they can be hit with back-pay. It is a major victory for public employees statewide.”
Cohen is an officer on the board of trustees of the Botto House and the American Labor Museum, a fellow in the College of Labor and Employment lawyers, is admitted to practice in both New Jersey and New York, and has six reported decisions with the New Jersey Supreme Court. He is a recipient of the Good Corporate Citizenship Award by the United Negro College Fund and a recipient of the Aberdeen David Award by District 1199J for his contributions to the labor movement. Cohen is married with three children. He has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America for employment law – individuals since 1995.