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Robert C. Whitaker, Jr.

Robert C. Whitaker, Jr.

Partner

P: (315) 565-4500 (ext. 4557)
F: (315) 565-4600
rwhitaker@hancocklaw.com

Robert C. Whitaker, Jr. is a partner in the Labor & Employment, Construction and Intellectual Property Practices. He is the Leader of the Military Law Practice and Chair of the Firm’s Hiring Committee. Mr. Whitaker focuses his practice on representing private employers in all aspects of state and federal labor and employment law. Mr. Whitaker regularly defends employers before state and federal agencies and in the courts regarding claims under Title VII, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, New York State Human Rights Law and all other New York state labor laws.  He also has experience litigating other employment disputes regarding employment contracts, including enforcement of non-compete agreements and other restrictive covenants.  In addition, he regularly enforces copyrights in federal court on behalf of national and international musical composers, authors and lyricists.

Prior to joining the Firm, Mr. Whitaker served as a Defense Attorney for the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps (Navy JAG Corps), representing active duty military personnel in military federal courts throughout the southeastern United States. He also served as Deputy Staff Judge Advocate and Prosecutor for the Commanding General of the 2nd Marine Logistics Group in Al Anbar, Iraq. Since joining the Firm, Mr. Whitaker has continued to serve in the Navy Reserve where he holds the rank of Lieutenant Commander.  In this capacity, Mr. Whitaker has served as an instructor at the Naval Justice School teaching newly commissioned attorneys how to best litigate administrative separation boards and perform legal assistance services.  Mr. Whitaker continues to represent clients in matters involving Veteran Benefits, Administrative Separation Boards, Courts-Martial, Boards of Inquiry, Non-Judicial Punishment (Article 15s) and correction of military records, including discharge upgrades. 

 

  • Obtained summary judgment for employer, resulting in dismissal of state and federal law claims of age and disability discrimination (U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York 2017).
  • Obtained defense jury verdict for large corporate client dismissing all claims of retaliation by a former employee under the ADA, ADEA and NYS Human Rights Law (U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York 2017).
  • Obtained summary judgment for employer, resulting in dismissal of all discrimination claims under the ADA and Title VII (U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York 2016).
  • Obtained a favorable jury verdict as co-counsel for a pharmacist who was unlawfully discriminated and retaliated against by his employer based on a disability. The jury awarded the client just over $2.6 million in total damages (U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York 2015).  
  • Obtained summary judgment declaring an employment agreement and the related restrictive covenants void and unenforceable as a matter of law, allowing a nurse practitioner to work for a new employer (NYS Supreme Court, 2015).
  • Successfully defended large manufacturer against action seeking to void various restrictive covenants in employment agreement (NYS Supreme Court, 2014).
  • Obtained a full dismissal of discrimination claims based on pregnancy and disability following an administrative trial before a New York State Division of Human Rights Administrative Law Judge (2013).
  • Obtained a favorable jury verdict as co-counsel for a senior administrator of a large police department against various claims of discrimination and retaliation pursuant to the ADA, Title VII, First Amendment § 1983 and New York State Human Rights Law (U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York 2010).
  • Obtained a favorable jury verdict against the State of New York for a pro se plaintiff in a pro bono matter, based on claims of First Amendment retaliation and Eighth Amendment unlawful conditions of confinement (U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York 2010).
  • Obtained a full dismissal of discrimination claims, based on gender and disability following an administrative trial before a New York State Division of Human Rights Administrative Law Judge (2009).
  • Obtained numerous findings of No Probable Cause for employers against charges of retaliation and discrimination, based on gender, race, religion and disability before the New York State Division of Human Rights as well as administrative dismissals by the EEOC.
  • Successfully represented various employers during investigations by the New York State Department of Labor for alleged wage and hour violations, resulting in either closure of the investigation without further action or favorable settlements.
  • Successfully represented various employers in numerous hearings and appeals before the New York State Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board, resulting in the denial of unemployment benefits to former employees. 
  • Obtained numerous dismissals for various employers against charges of workers compensation discrimination following administrative hearings before the New York State Workers Compensation Board.
  • Obtained multiple judgments (including reimbursement of attorney’s fees), permanent injunctions and favorable settlements for numerous national and international artists and musicians in federal court for copyright infringement pursuant to the Copyright Act.
  • Successfully led a class action petition to a Navy BCNR, resulting in the retroactive promotion and back pay of 30 Naval Officers.
  • Successfully petitioned a Navy BCNR, resulting in a full reinstatement of lifetime pension benefits, including back pay, for the surviving widow of a veteran.
  • See the Military Law Practice page for more information on Mr. Whitaker's representation of active military personnel and veterans. 
  • Welsh v. Rome Memorial Hosp., 2016 WL 6603216 (N.D.N.Y. Nov. 8, 2016) (Granting summary judgment for the employer and dismissing all claims under the ADA and Title VII).
  • Matter of Megan Jock v. Fastrac Markets, LLC, Case No. 10147787 (New York State Division of Human Rights 2013) (Dismissing claim of unlawful discrimination based on pregnancy and related medical conditions and claim for failure to provide a reasonable accommodation following an evidentiary hearing before an Administrative Law Judge).
  • New York State Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board, Case No. 569724 (April 9, 2013) (Reversing Administrative Law Judge’s decision and denying former employee benefits because the employee was terminated for disqualifying misconduct and finding the employee made a willful misrepresentation while applying for benefits).
  • New York State Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board, Case No. 568220 (March 26, 2013) (Reversing Administrative Law Judge’s decision and denying former employee benefits where employee refused a valid offer of reemployment without good cause).
  • New York State Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board, Case No. 567410 (February 21, 2013) (Reversing Administrative Law Judge's decision and denying former employee benefits because the employee quit without good cause and failed to utilize the union's grievance procedure).
  • Granite Music Corp. v. Center Street Smoke House, Inc., 786 F.Supp.2d 716 (W.D.N.Y. 2011) (Awarding client statutory damages of $10,000 per copyright violation, permanent injunction and attorney’s fees.)
  • Michelle Sullivan v. Central New York Weight Loss, LLC, Case No. 10125679 (New York State Division of Human Rights 2009) (Dismissing claims of unlawful discrimination based on gender and disability following an evidentiary hearing before an Administrative Law Judge).
  • Selected, Upstate New York Super Lawyers (2017)
  • Selected, Upstate New York Super Lawyers - Rising Star (2013-2016)
  • Recipient, Syracuse Vet Center Award (2013)
  • Recipient, Robert J. Connelly Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy
  • Member, Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County
  • Member, Onondaga County Volunteer Lawyers Project
  • Member, Syracuse City Court Small Claims Arbitration Program
  • Member, New York State Bar Association
  • Member, Onondaga County Bar Association
  • Member, Northern District of New York Federal Court Bar Association
  • Lorman Educational Services, "Unemployment Insurance 101: Assessing and Responding to Claims for U.I. Benefits" (November 2011)
  • Higher Education Legal Update Conference, “Social Media Use on Campus and in the Workplace” (March 2011)
  • Lorman Educational Services, “Fair Labor Standards Act” (February 2011)
  • Mohawk Valley SHRM, “Labor & Employment Law Update: COBRA Updates Under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act” (March 2009)
  • University at Buffalo Law School, J.D., 2005
    • Editor, Buffalo Law Review 
  • State University of New York College at Oswego, B.A., cum laude, 2002
  • Military Trial Courts
  • New York
  • United States District Court (NDNY)
  • United States District Court (WDNY)