Joseph M. Sokolowski
Assistant: Amy Meyers, 612.492.7826
“My grandfather was a professional boxer, my grandmother was a lawyer, my father is a judge, I’m a litigator. Any questions?”
Joe Sokolowski is a litigator with 26 years of experience in defending employment litigation for employers in federal and state courts. Joe also represents employers before local, state and federal administrative agencies. He advises management on all aspects of their employment practices and provides employment law training on a variety of employment topics.
Joe defends employers in collective/class action litigation involving state and Federal (FLSA) wage and hour claims across the country. Joe also represents individuals and organizations in business tort litigation involving non-compete agreements, trade secrets and confidential information, as well as antitrust and trade regulation matters.
Joe has obtained jury verdicts of “zero” in defending companies with over 1 billion dollars in assets and obtains summary judgment regularly in dismissing plaintiff employment claims in the state and federal courts. Joe has helped employers gain no probable cause findings in hundreds of discrimination charges before administrative agencies and has represented many clients in resolving litigation through alternative dispute resolution.
Joe developed his strong work ethic working and paying his way through high school, college and law school, with the following odd, and not so odd, jobs: paper boy, janitor, gas station attendant, highway worker, steel company laborer, Alaskan fish processor, assembly line worker, journalist and law clerk.
FLSA Collective/Class Actions
- Nerland et al. v. Caribou Coffee Co., Federal District Court (MN) – defended international coffee retailer in store manager exemption FLSA collective/class action.
- Kalish et al. v. High-Tech Institute, Federal District Court (MN) – defended national career college in instructor classification FLSA collective/class action.
- Pallansch et al. v. Nations CareLink LLC, Federal District Court (MN) – defended national health screening company in off the clock/on call FLSA collective action.
- Hale et al. v. ABRA Autobody and Glass, Federal District Court (MN) – defended national auto repair company in FLSA collective/class action exemption case.
- Ahle et al. v. Veracity Research Co., Federal District Court (MN) – defended national private investigation company in misclassification FLSA collective/class action.
- Thomas et al. v. Cascade Mortgage Co., Federal District Court (MN) – defended mortgage lender in minimum wage/overtime FLSA collective/class action case.
- White et al. v. Skyway Lounge, Inc., Federal District Court (MN) – defended nightclub in entertainer misclassification FLSA collective/class action case.
Noncompete, Trade Secret, Business Litigation
- Wells Fargo (Acordia of MN) v. Cobb Strecker, AAA Arbitration (Financial Services Industry) – arbitrated insurance broker’s solicitation of bond brokers resulting in significant award.
- Bell America Mortgage LLC v. Lakeland Mortgage et al., Hennepin County District Court (Financial Services Industry) – sued competitor in mortgage loan industry to enforce noncompete agreements resulting in significant monetary settlement.
- United Products Corporation v. Alcoa Home Exteriors, Minnesota Court of Appeals (Home Improvement Industry) – advised Alcoa on hiring of national competitor’s employee, defeated motions for injunctive relief, and sustained decisions on appeal.
- Vital Images v. Visage Imaging, Inc., et al., Federal District Court (MN) (Medical Device Industry) – obtained TRO to prevent competitor’s violation of noncompete agreement in medical imaging industry, resulting in permanent consent injunction.
- Hagen v. Burmeister, Minnesota Supreme Court (Insurance Industry) – sustained Appellate Court ruling of no liability for insurance company hiring of competitor’s employee.
- Arizant Healthcare Inc. et al. v. Gust, Federal District Court (MN) (Medical Device Industry) – obtained summary judgment dismissal of breach of noncompete and trade secret/confidential information claims against 80% market share competitor.
- Gallipot v. Independent Pharmacy Products, Anoka County District Court (Pharmaceutical Industry) – obtained TRO enjoining former employee and competitor from misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of noncompete agreement for pharmaceutical company.
- Network USA v. Network Professionals, Hennepin County District Court (Professional Networking Industry) – successfully tried noncompete litigation to defense verdict, dismissing all claims.
- National Insurance Broker – advised international insurance broker on noncompete contracts and business practices to establish producer offices.
- Matilla v. One Call Concepts, Federal District Court (OR) (Utility Location Industry) – obtained summary judgment dismissal of disability and sex discrimination claims.
- Wikstrom v. Reell Precision Mfg., Ramsey County District Court (Manufacturing Industry) – obtained directed verdict in jury trial and dismissal of all claims brought by former CEO for various discrimination, contract and quasi contract claims.
- Stryker v. Wells Fargo (Acordia of MN), Hennepin County District Court (Financial Services Industry) – obtained dismissal of contract and quasi contract claims.
- Lutfey v. Porous Media (Pentair), Ramsey County District Court (Medical Device Industry) – obtained summary judgment dismissal of disability discrimination and equity claims.
- Walker v. Saks Fifth Avenue, Federal District Court (MN) – race discrimination case dismissed by plaintiff’s counsel after summary judgment.
- Thomas v. 3M, et al., Federal District Court (MN) (Manufacturing Industry) – obtained summary judgment dismissal of race discrimination claims.
- Peterson v. One Call Concepts; O’Brien v. One Call Concepts, Federal District Court (MN) (Utility Location Industry) – obtained summary judgment dismissal of FMLA claims in separate lawsuits.
- Edstrom v. Liberty Diversified Industries, Federal District Court (MN) (Manufacturing Industry) – obtained summary judgment dismissal of age discrimination claims.
- Marks v. CPU Options, Federal District Court (MN) (Computer Industry) – religious discrimination claims dismissed on summary judgment.
- Green v. Sports Restaurants, Hennepin County District Court – obtained summary judgment dismissal of sex harassment claims.
- OAS v. Litton Systems, Hennepin County District Court (Home Appliance Industry) – obtained jury verdict of no liability for international home appliance manufacturer on warranty and related claims.
- Sun Patio v. Alcoa (Rio Algon), Wright County District Court (Aluminum Industry) – defended Alcoa and obtained jury verdict of “zero” on boat manufacturer’s contract and warranty claims and obtained recovery on Alcoa’s counterclaims.
- In Re Milk Products Litigation, Federal District Court (MN) and Minnesota Appellate Court – obtained Rule 12 dismissals for dairy producers in state and federal court for price fixing allegations under Sherman Act.
- Represented company before Department of Justice (Wash. DC) as part of antitrust investigation of General Mills/Pillsbury merger.
Articles & Presentations
PUBLICATIONS & PRESENTATIONS
- Co-Presenter, “Non-competes Under Siege: How to Protect Your Business from Competition,” Fredrikson & Byron’s 33nd Annual Employment & Labor Law Seminar, November 3, 2017
- Co-Presenter, “Trade Secrets and Noncompetes from a Litigator’s Perspective,” Fredrikson & Byron’s 32nd Annual Employment & Labor Law Seminar, October 26, 2016
- Co-Presenter, “Lessons Learned from Sysdyne v. Rousslang,” Fredrikson & Byron’s 31st Annual Employment & Labor Law Seminar, November 6, 2015
- “Do’s and Don’ts of Hiring Your Competitor’s Employees,” Fredrikson & Byron’s 30th Annual Employment & Labor Law Seminar, October 28, 2014
Honors & Education
- William Mitchell College of Law, J.D., 1986
- St. John’s University, B.A., 1980
- Minnesota, 1986
- Minnesota Supreme Court, 1986
- Federal District Court, District of Minnesota, 1986
- Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, 1986
- The Best Lawyers in America, Litigation - Labor and Employment, 2015-present
- Minnesota State Bar Association, North Star Lawyer, 2012
- Martindale-Hubbell, AV® Peer Review Rated, 1998-present
- Minnesota Super Lawyers, Super Lawyer-Employment Litigation, 1998-present
- Minnesota Law and Politics, Top 40 Best Employment Lawyers in Minnesota
- Board of Directors, Meritas (f/n/a Commercial Law Affiliates, world’s largest affiliation of A-V rated independent law firms), 1999-2002
- Chair, Meritas Labor and Employment Section, 1996-1999
- Member, American Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law Section
- Member, Minnesota State Bar Association; Member, Hennepin Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law Section
- Board of Directors, University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital