Charles Joseph

Charles Joseph

Since 1997, Joseph & Kirschenbaum has defended workers and their rights in the face of discrimination, exploitation, and abuse.

Firm Overview

I am a founding partner of Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP (1997), and I am admitted in both New York and federal courts. I am both a class action litigators, in other words, I claims on behalf of large groups of similarly-situated individuals, as well as an attorney with individual cases. My focus includes workplace discrimination, sexual harassment and hostile work environment, whistleblower claims, and wage and hour cases. I have devoted my career to helping workers who had been wronged by unfair employment and wage practices. I have been included in the New York City Super Lawyers list since 2014 -- as determined by a Thomson Reuters' selection that includes independent research and peer review.

For more information on Super Lawyers, visit
Main Office
Joseph & Kirschenbaum, LLP
32 Broadway, Suite 601
New York  NY  10004
  • (212) 651-4238
Sexual Harassment
The Workers' Rights Defenders: We're In Your Corner
Sexual harassment and hostile work environments are a serious problem in the United States. Harassing conduct can occur in any type of job in any industry. Victims often develop health problems from the stress. Some eventually quit their jobs despite having done nothing wrong. Too many suffer in silence for fear of being labeled as overly-sensitive or trouble-making.

There are three kinds of damages that can be awarded in sexual harassment cases.

Lost Wages damages are a reflection of the amount of money the plaintiff is projected to lose because he/she lost a job. A plaintiff must actively look for a job, and it is critical that you detailed keep records of your job search.

Emotional Distress damages can range from nothing, to $20,000 for routine distress, to as much as $250,000 in especially severe and prolonged cases. Very large emotional distress awards generally require significant medical treatment for conditions such as crippling anxiety or lasting depression. It is important when speaking to healthcare professionals about what you are going through that you be honest and neither exaggerate nor downplay what you are feeling and any symptoms you are experiencing.

Punitive damages are awarded in situations where an employer's high degree of reprehensibility is clear. Deceit and malice can cause serious emotional injury, and employers who have knowingly and willfully engaged in such wicked, blameworthy and disgraceful behavior can be financially punished by the court far in excess of lost wages and emotional distress. While punitive damages are the exception to the rule, they are not as rare as commonly thought.

Any correspondence you receive from your employer regarding the harassment as well as a log of occurrences and physical evidence can help substantiate your case. Employers often claim they did not know harassment was a problem in their workplace because it was never brought to their attention. Good documentation on the part of the employee makes it difficult for employers to get away with this shady tactic.

If you are the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you can consult with an attorney who has experience handling hostile work environment claims. I understand the nuances of state and federal sexual harassment law and the damaging anxiety and fear you may experience. Our firm has helped thousands of individuals put a stop to employer abuse and gain compensation for the damage they have already suffered. You should feel free to contact me to talk about your situation.
Overtime Pay
The Workers' Rights Defenders: We're In Your Corner
Workers of all types -- salaried and unsalaried, blue-collar, white-collar, and service workers -- routinely are victims of wage theft by their employers. Some of the otherwise most reputable and well-known companies engage in this illegal practice. Often workers do not even realize that they are being deprived of thousands of dollars to which they are entitled under federal, state, and local law. Our firm has been recognized by federal courts as among the strongest voices in the country advocating relentlessly for victims of wage theft.

There are several categories of wage theft, including:

General Wage and Hour

Most workers in New York are entitled to at least $8.75 per hour as well as time-and-one-half for hours worked in excess of 40 per week. The federal minimum wage is $7.25, and in New Jersey the rate is $8.38.

Wage and Hour for Restaurant Workers

Tipped restaurant workers are by law subject to a lower minimum wage (federal and New Jersey $2.13; New York $7.50).Only service staff, e.g., servers, bussers and runners, are allowed to share in the tip pool; managers, kitchen and other "back of the house'' workers may not. A common scheme employed by restaurants is to illegally put kitchen workers and managers in the tip pool to subsidize their wages. The owner thus steals from some employees to pay others. At the same time, employers will often shave off hours from both tipped and non-tipped workers to avoid overtime or merely to pay for less time. Federal and state law provide effective means and very steep penalties, plus interest, to combat tip theft and time shaving.

More information on minimum wage for restaurant workers can be found here:

Prevailing Wage

Construction and maintenance workers working on government and government-related jobs have extensive rights to very high minimum levels of pay and benefits. The government mandates that contractors and subcontractors pay non-unionized workers the equivalent of a union wage. These rights apply whether or not they are members of a union.

For example:

An asbestos handler in New York City, is entitled to an effective prevailing wage of $52.45 an hour.
A bricklayer, $80.18 an hour.
A boilermaker, $95.69 an hour.
A painter, $67.30 an hour.
A heavy-construction, $77.03 an hour.
An ironworker, $106.09 an hour.
A telecommunications worker, $53.54 an hour.

Overtime on prevailing wage jobs is time and one half or double the prevailing wage. Definitions of overtime vary depending on the classification, but generally applies to hours in excess of 40 per week, holidays, and in some cases week-ends. Some categorizations even have mandated vacations.

If not paid promptly, the amount owed is doubled and more. As a result, a worker on a taxpayer-funded job can be owed well over $100,000, if he/she did not receive the prevailing wage.

More information on prevailing wage in New York can be found here:

Misclassified Workers

Most salaried workers do not receive overtime for staying late, coming in early, or working weekends. In some cases, for instance, if you make serious decisions for your employer, if you are an executive or a professional (e.g., doctor, lawyer, accountant), you may not be entitled to overtime. But if you don't fit within one of the narrow exceptions, the fact that you are salaried and not paid hourly does not get your employer off the hook. Employers often manipulate 'exempt' classification and inflate job titles to avoid paying mandatory overtime to salaried workers. That your employer classifies you as exempt does not mean you are. This is not your employer's decision to make; your actual job duties and the law are the only things that count. This type of misclassification is a very common corporate scheme for exploiting workers. The law is hard on perpetrators of this theft and generous to the misclassified worker.

Independent Contractor Issues

Employers with increasing, even alarming, frequency are engaged in another form of misclassification, that of denying that their employees are in fact employees by misclassifying them as independent contractors. They do this to avoid paying overtime and benefits and generally to escape the protections of employee rights' laws.

Equal Pay Act Violations

Gender inequality in compensation for work is prohibited not only by the Civil Rights Act, but also by special regulation under amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act known as the Equal Pay Act. The Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act each offer different remedies and carry different limitations and requirements. Acting quickly can be essential to effectively pursuing these rights.

How did your firm decide on the primary area of practice(s)?

Our firm fights for those whose rights have been violated. The legal system offers protection to many who suffer without knowing help is available. We are committed to battling workplace discrimination, exploitation and harassment. We are dedicated, devoted, relentless and tireless in using the laws already on the books to make life and work more fair for any client we agree to represent. This has earned us the respect and admiration of our clients, the courts, defense counsel and our fellow workers' rights attorneys and organizations.

What distinguishes your law firm from others?

Results count. We have recovered in the range of $100,000,000 for our clients. Our practice is no secret, we have broken new ground in the law. We are frequently featured in local and national news. Indeed, in a recent article in Palm Beach Illustrated, my partner, Maimon Kirschenbaum, was described as a "Giant Killer" for his unwavering advocacy for hospitality workers' rights.
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What experience or education distinguishes your lawyers from others

The law firm of Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP comprises five attorneys. Each is well versed and experienced in employment law generally and also maintains individual areas of concentration. Together, our legal team's experience and talents give our firm the ability to competently represent employees and applicants in a wide array of employment law matters before both federal and NY administrative panels and courts.
My focus includes workplace discrimination, sexual harassment and hostile work environment, whistleblower claims, and wage and hour cases.

Charles Edward Joseph

I was awarded a Juris Doctor in 1990 from New York University School of Law and am currently pursuing a Master's degree in history from the University of Edinburgh School of History, Classics and Archaeology with a focus on the history of the early Middle Ages in northwestern Europe. I am fluent in both Hebrew and Yiddish as well as English.

Before forming Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP, I was a litigation attorney with Debevoise & Plimpton, where I practiced for more than six years, largely on behalf of corporate clients.

I was honored for my pro bono work by the Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights for my efforts in obtaining political asylum for China's leading literary dissident, refugees from Pakistan, Sudan and Ukraine as well my work getting the wife and seven children of a Haitian rural organizer out of hiding from a Ton-Ton killing squad and legally into the United States. I have also worked on behalf of The Center for Constitutional Rights to bring a mass-murdering eastern European political leader to justice under The Torture Victim Protection Act.
  • New York University School of Law
    Juris Doctor , 1990
  • Rabbinical College of America
    Bachelor in Religious Studies , 1986

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