Joel M. Cohn is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP in Washington, D.C. He represents management in federal and state court complex employment litigation.

Practice & Background

Mr. Cohn has substantial experience defending wage and hour and employment discrimination collective and class actions. His experience includes federal court jury trials and arguments in most of the U.S. courts of appeals. Mr. Cohn has worked extensively with expert witnesses in the areas of statistics and surveys. He has represented employers in the retail, food processing, financial services, manufacturing and restaurant industries.

Mr. Cohn leads the firm’s national wage and hour practice. He is a member of the board of editors of The Fair Labor Standards Act (BNA, 2015) and is a member of the editorial advisory board of the Employer’s Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act (Thompson Publishing Group). He is a frequent participant in programs discussing wage and hour issues.

Mr. Cohn joined Akin Gump in 1983 after serving as a staff attorney in the Appellate Litigation Division at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and in the Office of Representation Appeals at the National Labor Relations Board.

Following law school, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable Milton D. Korman of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Mr. Cohn is a member of the American Bar Association and its Section of Labor and Employment Law.

Representative Matters

Mr. Cohn’s representations include:

  • acting as strategic counsel for national retailer in series of wage and hour collective and class actions
  • acting as national trial counsel for major retailer in all wage and hour collective and class actions
  • successfully trying Fair Labor Standards Act collective and Department of Labor actions before federal juries in Alabama and Pennsylvania
  • successfully representing California Highway Patrol in state-wide Title VII promotion and assignment discrimination class action before a federal jury in Los Angeles; the jury verdict and judgment on parallel disparate impact claim were affirmed by the Ninth Circuit
  • defeating class and collective action treatment in multiple lawsuits alleging wide range of wage and hour claims under federal and state law including misclassification, off-the-clock work, unpaid overtime for preliminary and postliminary activities, missed or interrupted rest breaks and meal periods, failure to calculate correctly the regular rate, and failure to compensate for travel time
  • obtaining summary judgment in multiple lawsuits alleging wide range of wage and hour claims under federal and state law.

Awards & Accolades

  • Akin Gump’s labor and employment practice named as Law360 Employment Practice Group of the Year four times in the past seven years, including in 2009, 2013, 2015 and 2016
  • Washington, D.C. Super Lawyer (2014-2016)
  • Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business (2006-2017) – labor and employment.

Speaking Engagements

Mr. Cohn has been a frequent speaker at programs focused on wage and hour issues.