Over the course of my 20+ years practicing law, I have had the honor of working with many individuals at the cutting edge of all aspects of intellectual property. I consider myself very lucky that most of these folks, in addition to being luminaries in the industry, are good people and have welcomed me into their professional world with open arms. To celebrate these individuals, I am inaugurating a series of interviews.
My next interviewee, Eric Sarver, is a dynamic, up and coming, and savvy employment and business law attorney who always has a very good sense of what his clients need. Moreover, he is a consummate networker and connector — always on the lookout to make a connection for clients and friends. Appropriately, I first met Eric at a networking group we both belong to and quickly became a fan. I am honored he agreed to this interview.
If You Had Two Sentences to Tell Someone Why They Should Listen to What You Had to Say — What Would They Be?
The reason why someone — be they a business owner or a company’s management team — ought to listen to my legal and business advice is that I offer well-thought-out feedback based on my legal analysis, my understanding of the “big picture” practical and business considerations, and a wealth of experience in my field of employment law and business law.
Tell Me About Yourself and Include 2 Obvious Things and 2 Things a Casual Observer Would Have Never Guessed.
I am an extroverted, friendly, and ambitious person who genuinely cares about and enjoys helping the people in my life (a casual observer would pick up on these traits). In addition — as a casual observer can see and hear — I am very high-energy, and I’m not usually at a loss for words. Two things about me that a casual observer may never have guessed are that: (1) I have a Buddhist practice, which involves meditation (during which I remain silent), and have completed some day-long and even four-day silent retreats); and (2) back in my college days, I was a big grunge rock fan with long hair, torn jeans, a goatee [no mustache], and faded flannels (although if you saw how long my hair and beard have gotten while staying at home during this pandemic, you might have guessed, or at least could envision, this last fact about me).
What Do You Think Are Two or Three Most Important Skills You Bring to the Practice Employment Law and How Did You Acquire Them?
I bring my in-depth analytical skills, my thoroughness and close attention to detail, and a strong aptitude for negotiating — all of which are crucial when practicing employment law, whether I am defending a company from a labor or employment law action, or helping a company proactively by ensuring their policies are compliant with labor and employment laws.
What Are Two of the Biggest Employment Legal Challenges Today Facing Employers and Employees?
Without a doubt, two of the biggest challenges facing employers today are that (1) the labor and employment laws, regulations, and interpretations of law by the Courts, as related to harassment, discrimination, FLSA wage, and hour issues and NLRA protected activity, are constantly evolving, and are placing stricter obligations upon employers; and (2) the government agencies charged with overseeing and enforcing certain labor laws, such as The New York State Department of Labor, do not do enough to get the word out to employers about their lesser-known required legal obligations. Many of my clients are shocked to learn some of the rules governing the hiring of unpaid interns, the level of notice to appear on an employee’s paycheck, or that certain requirements were not met in situations where an employer attempted to do right by their employees.
The biggest challenges that I see facing employees today are that (a) they often lack the information on how to properly document trespasses against them by their employer, whom to bring complaints to, or how much to say to their colleagues, when faced with an employment law issue such as unpaid commissions, potential implicit bias or discrimination, or challenges relating to their employment contracts; and (2) employees often lack the resources for the prolonged and expensive litigation track that they sometimes have to proceed with, in order to protect their legal rights and obtain compensatory damages for the unlawful treatment they may have suffered in the workplace.
To Apply a Technology Metaphor to Employment Law, What Is the Next Big Thing, the Next Big Disruptor — That You Think Will Impact Your Practice?
The biggest disruptor for employment lawyers such as myself right now is the COVID-19 pandemic. The workplace has been changed drastically, employer/employee and co-worker dynamics have shifted, and there has been much new legislation, some of which impacts employers’ obligations and ability to take certain actions that they normally can take in the furtherance of their business. I’m referring to several issues, from the newly developing “Zoom workforce” to employees’ requests for leave, furloughing of workers, and so forth.
When You Say (or Wish You Could Say) to Your Clients, “Pay Me Now or Pay Me Much More Later,” What Are You Asking Them to Do Now, and What Will They Have to Pay You for Later?
What a great question! At times, I have had to say some rendition of that phrase “pay me now or pay me much more later.” What I’m asking them to do now — and to pay me for now — usually involves their hiring me to take some action that is needed — addressing a situation with employee conflict, responding to notices from the NYS Department of Labor, or otherwise paying attention to a growing problem they have, which many business owners wish to sweep under the rug and hope that the issue goes away on its own (spoiler alert: it rarely does). In asking to “pay me now”, am also asking them to strongly consider my advice now, and not to delay too long while they ask their cousin/brother/plumber/next-door neighbor to weigh in, thereby changing their minds on the steps that they need to take to proactively stave off a labor law/employment law problem (see my response to question 1, about why clients would be prudent to listen to what I’m telling them).
The “…or pay me later” part of that expression refers to the additional legal fees which I will have to charge a client when their avoidance leads to a bigger problem: they ignore those repeated demand letters and their prior employee files a federal lawsuit, or they now have to pay me to appeal a decision by The NYS Department of Labor that they could have prevented by hiring me to address/respond to an administrative agency inquiry in a timely manner.
What Excites You About Employment Law Today?
What most excites me about employment law today are the ever-changing decisions by the courts on the interpretation of long-existing statutes (involving wage and hour law, for example), the new industries such as the gig economy and how that impacts companies from a worker classification perspective, and the fascinating human stories that come out of the increasing “David vs. Goliath” fights that we are seeing emerge from within giant tech companies.
What Are Your Pet Peeves Committed by Among Clients, the Other Side, and Opposing Counsel?
What? I have zero pet peeves about my clients and I love them all! Oh wait, now that I think about it, I have two major pet peeves: (1) when clients stall or delay for long periods of time in getting back to me — usually when we are at a crucial juncture and I am making progress on their behalf; and (2) when clients run my advice by a non-attorney friend or family member or do a Google search, and use what they are told or read to steadfastly reject what I am advising them to do. To be clear, I don’t mind at all when clients seek console or wish to bounce a decision off of people they trust; I’m open to answering questions or explaining my conclusions. The pet peeve comes when the client is absolutely convinced that their cousin — an architect from Nevada, for example —insists that the client/defendant in a matter ought to counter in a settlement negotiation by offering the plaintiff a negative number (I had a client whose cousin actually told him that this was a brilliant tactical move; it’s not).
The Other Side:
Pet peeves include parties who try to take advantage of my clients and dishonest opposing parties.
The biggest pet peeve would be the opposing counsel who attempts to be belligerent and overly aggressive right from the start. I prefer dealing with intelligent and articulate opposing counsel who can clearly defend their position, argue the merits of their case, and interact assertively but with dignity, respect, and professionalism.
What Are You Most Looking Forward to Doing When the Current Covid-19 Craziness Is Over?
What I am most looking forward to being able to do — it’s a tie between (a) visiting closely with family and friends (once we are safe and need not social distance, which hopefully will happen), and (b) getting a haircut and beard trim by my barber, so that the casual observer would not assume that I am still a grunge rocker. It was kind of a cool look in my early 20’s but less so in my… current age group.
Eric M. Sarver, Esq. / The Law Offices of Eric M. Sarver:
Eric M. Sarver is an employment law and business law attorney licensed to practice in the federal and state courts of New York for more than 21 years. Eric founded The Law Offices of Eric M. Sarver in April of 2001, after previously working as an associate attorney at a Park Avenue law firm and a subsequent position within a prominent civil rights firm. Eric Sarver has a track record of success representing clients in complex employment law and labor disputes in mediation, arbitration or in the courts — both in defense of management and on behalf of employees. The Law Offices of Eric M. Sarver further handles complex business law transactions and commercial litigation. Mr. Sarver has been invited as a guest speaker on employment law and business law for seminars, panels, and conferences, including the International Franchise Expo at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in NYC. He has been interviewed and quoted in various news publications on current employment and labor law matters of national interest. For more information on Eric Sarver’s education and experience see these links:
David L. Cohen, P.C. – Kidon IP
123 West 93rd Street
New York, NY 10025