Samuel J. Cordes

E-mail MeSamuel J. Cordes

Location:
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Phone:
866-570-1680
412-567-5444
Fax:
412-325-3348
Email:

Getting to Know Sam Cordes:

I became a lawyer because...I wanted in a small way to make a difference in people's lives. Growing up in a working class neighborhood, I often saw the little guy pushed around in disputes with government or large corporations--especially when his or her job was on the line. I became a lawyer because I wanted to help those people push back.

What I like most about the law is: Two things. First, I like taking employment discrimination cases to trial. Nothing in the world equals the feeling of telling your client's story and knowing you are helping to guide a jury - who has the power that very day to do justice - to right the wrong done to your client.

The second thing I like about the law is crafting legal arguments on paper. The law is a jigsaw puzzle in many ways--made up of many little intricate pieces called precedents. Writing a good legal brief is just like putting all the pieces together so the court sees a picture favoring your client.

My most rewarding case...involved an employee who was fired after 30 years because of his age. The president of his employer, a large corporation, told the lower managers that the company's older work force was blocking opportunities for younger workers and that the company needed to get rid of the blockers. We were able to persuade the court to allow documents and other evidence of the president's comments to be introduced at trial, even though the documents were written a year after the company fired my client. The jury awarded my client a quarter million dollars, and the judge ordered the company to pay all of the client's attorney fees, costs and interest on the award. The case was appealed and we won before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The Supreme Court of the United States allowed the decision to stand. I was very pleased for my client and gratified that this verdict will help protect the jobs of older workers in the future.

I was honored to be described... in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review as "The Archangel of employment rights in Western Pennsylvania". "Excellent. One of the best. An extremely creative lawyer, which makes him dangerous for the opposition."

In the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as follows: "He seems to have that unusual quality of being extremely smart in the scholarly sense that produces top-quality briefs and thoughtful discussions on paper. As a trial lawyer, some people have referred to him as a bulldog. He is a very tenacious, aggressive person. He has that practical street-smart sense. You don't see that combination in too many lawyers."

In the 2003-2004 edition of Chambers USA-America's Leading Business Lawyers as Smart, and highly rated for employment litigation. "Juries love him."

My favorite quote is: "Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort." From President Franklin Roosevelt's first Inaugural Address.

When not at work, I enjoy...Not at work??? What's that? Just kidding -- I like music--jazz, new age, classical, 60s rock are favorites, theater, movies, college basketball, taking long walks, and reading historical fiction.

Areas of Practice

  • Civil Rights
  • Class Actions
  • Communications & Media Law
  • Constitutional Law
  • Discrimination
  • Education Law
  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) -- Employee
  • Employment Law -- Employee
  • Labor Law
  • Legal Malpractice
  • Litigation & Appeals
  • Military Law
  • Sexual Harassment
  • State, Local & Municipal Law

Litigation Percentage

  • 95% of Practice Devoted to Litigation

Bar Admissions

  • Ohio, 1988
  • Pennsylvania, 1989
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Pennsylvania, 1989
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of Ohio, 1988
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, 1990
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit, 1989
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 3rd Circuit, 1989
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1998

Education

  • University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    • J.D. magna cum laude - 1988
    • Honors: Order of the Coif
    • Honors: W. Edward Sell Award for Highest Grade in Corporations
    • Honors: Herman L. Forman Award for Highest Grade in Labor Law
    • Law Journal: Journal of Law and Commerce, University of Pittsburgh, Senior Editor
  • Point Park College
    • M.A. summa cum laude - 1985
  • Point Park College
    • B.A. magna cum laude - 1980

Published Works

  • "Employers Minefield, Employees' Opportunity; Courts Now Give Teeth to Employer's Burden in Employment Discrimination Actions", Pa. Law Weekly 12, July 3, 2001
  • "Replacement No Longer Element of Employment Discrimination Prima Facie Case", Lawyers J., Vol. 2, No. 22, 2000
  • "Third Circuit Slowly Expanding Scope of Relevant Discrimination Evidence", Pennsylvania Law Weekly, June 3, 1997
  • "Congress Overrules Leading Supreme Court Case on Admissibility of Evidence in Sexual Harassment Litigation, Pittsburgh Legal Journal, November 1, 1994

Representative Cases

Classes/Seminars

  • Sexual Harassment Evidentiary Issues, Duquesne University, Employment Law Forum, Pittsburgh, PA, 1994
  • Negligent Employment Law, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Employment Law Institute, Philadelphia, PA, 1996
  • Sexual Harassment Litigation: A Plaintiff's Perspective, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Philadelphia, PA, 1996
  • Hot Topics In Employment Law: Surviving Summary Judgment in Employment Discrimination Cases, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, 1996
  • Trying A Sexual Harassment Suit, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, 1996
  • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Law, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, 1996
  • Speaker, Employment Discrimination Law and Litigation, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, 1996 - 2010
  • Third Annual Employment Institute: Sending A Message: Trying Punitive Damages Issues, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, 1997
  • The Trial Of A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit, Pennsylvania Bar Association, Pittsburgh, PA, 1997
  • Evidence Issues In Employment Litigation, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, 1997
  • Trial Of Sexual Harassment Lawsuit , Pennsylvania Bar Institute, broadcast throughout Pennsylvania over closed-circuit radio, won an award for excellence in continuing education, 1998
  • Fourth Annual Employment Law Institute: Motions Practice In Employment Litigation, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Philadelphia, PA, 1998
  • Motions Practice In Employment Litigation: Retaliation Claims, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, 1998
  • Fifth Annual Employment Law Institute: Surviving Summary Judgment In Employment Discrimination Actions, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Philadelphia, PA, 1999
  • Evidentiary Issues In Employment Litigation, Pennsylvania Bar Institute (West), Pittsburgh, PA, 1999
  • Employment Law In Pennsylvania, Practicing Law Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, 2000
  • Sixth Annual Northeast Employment Law Institute: Trying A Pretext Case , Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Philadelphia, PA, 2000
  • Sixth Annual Northeast Employment Law Institute: Ethics And The Media For Employment Lawyers, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Philadelphia, PA, 2000
  • Summary Judgment In Employment Litigation, Allegheny County Academy of Trial Lawyers, Pittsburgh, PA, 2000
  • Ethics and the Media For Employment Lawyers, Pennsylvania Bar Institute: Employment Law Institute (West), Pittsburgh, PA, 2000
  • Trying A Pretext Case, Pennsylvania Bar Institute: Employment Law Institute (West), 2000
  • Education Law In Pennsylvania, Practicing Law Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, 2001
  • Use and Abuse of Expert Witnesses in Employment Litigation, Pennsylvania Bar Institute: Seventh Annual Northeast Employment Law Institute, Philadelphia, PA, 2001
  • Trial Of Age Discrimination, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, 2001
  • Punitive Damages After Kolstad: The Trial Issues, Pennsylvania Bar Institute: Seventh Annual Northeast Employment Law Institute, Philadelphia, PA, 2001
  • Interference or Retaliation: Litigating Under the FMLA's Confusing Remedial Scheme, Pennsylvania Law Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, 2001
  • Surviving Summary Judgment In Employment Discrimination Actions, Pennsylvania Bar Institute: Employment Law Institute (West), Pittsburgh, PA, 2001
  • "Litigating against government employers under the Constitution." "Interference or Retaliation: Litigating Under the FMLA's Confusing Remedial Scheme", Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Annual Employment Law Institute, Philadelphia, PA, April 2002
  • Sexual Harassment Update, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh PA, July 2002
  • "Motions in Limine in Employment Litigation", Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Employment Law Institute (West), Pittsburgh, PA, November 2002
  • "Surviving Summary Judgment in Employment Discrimination Actions", Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Ninth Annual Employment Law Institute, Philadelphia, PA, April 2003
  • Trial of Sexual Harassment Lawsuit, Broadcast throughout Pennsylvania over closed-circuit video, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, November 2003
  • Litigating employment issues under the U.S. Constitution, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Employment Law Institute (West), Pittsburgh, PA, December 2003
  • “New and Evolving Damage Issues in Employment Discrimination Cases”, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Tenth Annual Employment Law Institute, Philadelphia, PA, April, 2004
  • “Wrongful Termination in Pennsylvania”, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, June 2004
  • Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Employment Law Institute (West), Pittsburgh, PA, November 2004
  • Evidence for Employment Lawyers, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, June 2005
  • Course Planner, Summary Judgment Motions in Employment Law, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, PA, July 2005
  • “Update on Americans with Disabilities Act;” “Surviving Summary Judgment in ADA Cases: Global Warfare on Paper", Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Employment Law Institute (West), Pittsburgh, PA, November 2005
  • Basics of Employment Law, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, January 2006
  • Wrongful Termination in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, PA, June 2006
  • Sexual Harassment Update, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Harrisburg, PA, August 2006
  • Suing the Government: Constitutional Litigation under 42 U.S.C. §1983, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Employment Law Institute (West), Pittsburgh, PA, November 2006
  • Employment Law Update, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, February 2007
  • Summary Judgment in Employment Litigation, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, April 2007
  • Program Coordinator, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Employment Law Institute (West), Pittsburgh, PA, November 2007
  • Trial Advocacy for the Plaintiff’s Employment Lawyer; Themes and Values in Employment Discrimination Cases, National Employment Lawyers Association, Washington D.C., March 2008
  • Managing Intermittent Leave and Other Hot FMLA Issues, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, August 2008
  • Fire at Will, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, July 2009
  • Valuing Employment Cases, Federal Bar Association, Pittsburgh, PA, September 2009
  • Surviving Summary Judgment in Employment Litigation, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, October 2009
  • Program Coordinator, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Employment Law Institute (West), Pittsburgh, PA, November 2009
  • Handling the Sexual Harassment Case, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, March 2010
  • Employment Law Basics, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, August 2010
  • Program Coordinator, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Employment Law Institute (West), Pittsburgh, PA, November 2010
  • Fire at Will in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, 2010
  • Summary Judgment in Employment Discrimination, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, 17 Annual Northeast Regional Employment Law Institute, Philadelphia, PA, April, 2011
  • Fire at Will in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, October 2011
  • Trying a Plaintiff’s Employment Law Case, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Employment Law Institute (West), Pittsburgh, PA, November 2011
  • Navigating the Rising Tide of Retaliation Claims, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Employment Law Institute (West), Pittsburgh, PA, December 2011
  • The Summit for Workers' Rights, National Employment Lawyers Association, 2013 - Present
  • Trying A Pretext Case, National Employment Lawyers Association, National Convention, Denver, CO, June, 2013
  • The Next Big Fight in Employment Discrimination Law: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Employment Law Institute (West), Pittsburgh, PA, November 2013
  • Gross and Nassar: Supreme Court Rejects “Motivating Factor” Standard and Applies “But-For” Causation Standard to Age and Retaliation Claims, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Employment Law Institute (West), Pittsburgh, PA, November 2013
  • Pregnancy Discrimination: Determining the Legal Boundaries, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Employment Law Institute (West), Pittsburgh, PA, November 2014
  • Avoiding Summary Judgment in Employment Law, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA, February 2015

Honors and Awards

  • Top 100 Super Lawyers in Pennsylvania, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016
  • Top 50 Super Lawyers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 2005, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016
  • Pennsylvania Super Lawyers, Employment Law and Litigation, 2004 - 2015
  • Pittsburgh Labor and Employment Lawyer of the Year-2012, from Best Lawyers
  • eBossWatch nationwide list of Top Employment Lawyers, 2012 - 2015
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America, Employment Law, 2003 - 2017
  • Academy of Trial Lawyers Allegheny County
  • AVVO. Highest Possible Rating, Superb
  • Fellow of National College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
  • AVVO Clients' Choice Award Employment Law, 2015
  • Best Lawyers "Lawyer of the Year" , 2017 - Present

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • National Employment Lawyers Association, Co-Chair, Trial Practice Committee
  • Allegheny County Bar Association, Member
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association, Member
  • American Bar Association, Member

Past Employment Positions

  • Schwartz Kelm Warren & Rubenstein
  • U.S. Army, SP4, 1970 - 1972