Joseph J. Centeno
Chairman, Labor Relations & Employment Law
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Phone: 215-665-3107


Joseph J. Centeno is Chairman of Obermayer's Labor Relations & Employment Law Department and a member of the firm's Management Committee. His national practice includes collective and class action litigation, employment litigation, labor relations, policies, leave, termination of employment, joint employment, diversity, Title IX and executive employment agreements, and he counsels employers on virtually all employment and labor related laws and regulations. He has extensive jury trial experience and has been lead trial counsel in numerous high stakes trials. He also has broad experience in defending claims before state and federal agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, where he served as a Commissioner by mayoral appointment.

Mr. Centeno further represents public and private employers in matters relating to labor organizing, negotiations, arbitrations and issues before the National Labor Relations Board.

Representative engagements include the following:

  • Represented major employers in FLSA collective and class actions for “misclassification” and “off the clock” claims.
  • Represented major financial institution in collective action alleging retaliation relating to U-5 filings and discriminatory discharge.
  • Represented global manufacturing company in multiple labor arbitrations.
  • Represented global supply company in restrictive covenant litigation.
  • Represented national health care company in multi-jurisdictional labor and employment matters.
  • Represented global manufacturing company in litigation brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  • Special Labor Counsel to municipalities and townships as lead negotiator for collective bargaining agreements.
  • Represented a major university in handling federal employment discrimination litigation.
  • Represented a national retailer in negotiating and drafting an employment agreement for the CEO.

Mr. Centeno has been successful in appeals before the United States Supreme Court on an employer's obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Medical Leave Act. Mr. Centeno also has been successful before the Superior Court of Pennsylvania on issues relating to trade secret protections.

Mr. Centeno is active in Obermayer’s management. Mr. Centeno is the former Chairman and Founder of the firm's Diversity Committee and Co-Chair of the Education Law Practice Group.  He also leads the firm’s Wage & Hour Practice Group.  Mr. Centeno is also a national advocate for diversity in the legal profession.  He has served as the President of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.  He also serves on the Comcast NBCU Joint Diversity Council and as Outside General Counsel to the Minority Corporate Counsel Association.  As Chairman, his department has grown to 50% diverse.

Honors & Awards

  • AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Diversity In the Bar publication’s “Best of the Best” Labor and Employment Lawyers
  • Fellow, Temple Academy of Advocacy
  • Filipino American Association of Philadelphia, Inc. (FAAPI) Centennial Award for Public Interest Law (2012)
  • Named as one of Pennsylvania's "Super Lawyers®" (2007, 2009-2017)
  • The Legal Intelligencer, Diverse Attorney of the Year, 2011
  • National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Best Under 40, 2006

Professional & Civic Activities

  • Minority Corporate Council Association, Outside General Counsel and Assistant Secretary
  • Comcast-NBCU Joint Diversity Council, Member
  • National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, President (2009-2010), Nominations Committee and Leadership Advisory Council
  • Commissioner, Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (2004)
  • Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania, President (2005)
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association, Minority Bar Committee, Member
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association, Judicial Independence Committee, Member
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Judicial Selection and Retention Committee
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Board of Governors (2005-2006)
  • Philadelphia Diversity Law Group, Board Member
  • National Employment Law Council, Board Member
  • Don Liu Scholarship, Scholar Section Committee and Board Member
  • American Bar Association, Chairperson to Young Lawyer's Subcommittee to the Employment and Labor Relations Committee (Litigation Section)
  • National Association of College and University Attorneys
  • Amherst College Alumni Association
  • Homeless Advocacy Project

Click here for a description of the standard or methodology on which the awards and honors are based. No aspect of this advertisement is approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.