Samuel J. Cordes has tried to successful verdict more than 35 employment discrimination cases during the past 15 years. During the same period he has successfully litigated 25 appeals before federal and state appellate courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
He was lead counsel in both the largest individual Age Discrimination and the largest individual Pregnancy Discrimination verdicts ever awarded in the Western District of Pennsylvania. Sam also won the first employment case under the Americans with Disabilities Act to be tried to verdict in the Western District of Pennsylvania.
He was lead counsel in a case that changed the City of Pittsburgh’s race based hiring practices in its police department; and another that changed the City of Pittsburgh’s gender based hiring practices in its fire department.
A sexual harassment case he brought on behalf of a paramedic resulted in an order requiring the City of Pittsburgh to retrain its entire Fire Department on complying with sexual harassment laws.
A case Sam brought on behalf of a US Airways worker resulted in a court order changing the way that airline handled severance benefits for displaced workers.
Other cases Sam has brought on behalf of female teachers and female school administrators who were paid less than their male counterparts for the same work have had “a significant impact” on the way schools look at how they treat women’s salaries, according to the solicitor for one of the school districts involved. Sam’s efforts on behalf of a number of women clients who were sexually harassed by state court judges for whom they worked have resulted in mandated training for those courts and the judges on sexual harassment law.
Some of his appellate cases have changed or advanced employment law in this part of the country, and made it easier for employees to win their claims.
For example, in Ryder v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 128 F.3d 128 (3rd Cir.1997), cert denied, 522 U.S. 1116 (1998), and Brewer v. Quaker State Oil Refining Corp., 72 F.3d 326 (3d Cir. 1995), Sam convinced the U.S Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to permit evidence of the corporate culture of an employer to be used to paint a picture of the discriminatory atmosphere where hiring and firing decisions are made.
In Pivirotto v. Innovative Systems Inc., 191 F.3d 344 (3d Cir. 1999), Sam persuaded the Third Circuit to change the way sex discrimination cases are proven, and change them in a way that makes it much easier for women to win a case where no direct evidence of discrimination exists.
In Fiscus v. Wal-Mart, 385 F.3d 378 (3d Cir. 2004), Sam won a case that made it much easier for employees to win a Disability Discrimination case when they have less obvious disabilities.
In Armour v. County of Beaver, 271 F.3d 417 (3d Cir. 2001), cert denied, 535 U.S. 1079 (2002), and Boyle v. Allegheny County, 139 F.3d 386 (3d Cir. 1998), Sam’s efforts resulted in the Court of Appeals making it much more easy for employees to win Political Patronage discharge lawsuit.
In Bradley v. Kemper, 121 Fed, Appx. 468 (3d Cir. 2005), Sam’s efforts resulted in a change in the law making it much easier for women who believe they were sexually harassed to win a retaliation lawsuit.
In Fowler-Nash v. Democratic Caucus of Pennsylvania House of Representatives, 469 F.3d 328 (3d Cir. 2006), Sam’s efforts resulted in broadly expanded rights for employees of elected state legislators to challenge their discharges when they are dismissed because they refuse to break the law.
In Marion v. The Honorable Ralph Pratt, 202 F.3d 254 (3d Cir. 1999); Halterman v. Fayette County, 181 F.3d 85 (3d Cir. 1999); and Robinson v. Pittsburgh, 120 F.3d 1286 (3d Cir. 1997), Sam’s work provided increased protection from sexual harassment for employees of elected state court judges; employees of elected county row officers, and female city police officers. Because of Sam’s efforts, it is easier for all women to win a sexual harassment lawsuit.
Sam’s work in Hopp v. Pittsburgh, 194 F.3d 434 (3d Cir. 1999), and Commonwealth v. Flaherty, 983 F.2d 1267 (3d Cir. 1993) put an end to long term practices of race based hiring in the Pittsburgh police department.
Sam’s efforts in Snooks v. Duquesne Light Corp., 314 Fed. Appx. 499 (3d Cir. 2009); and Colussi v. Woodruff Family Services, LLP, 173 Fed. Appx. 118 (3d Cir. 2006) expanded the evidence a court must examine when deciding whether to allow a jury to hear an employee’s discrimination lawsuit. The rulings in these cases will make it easier for employees to be allowed to present their case to a jury.
In Risk v. Burgettstown Borough, 2010 WL 489475 (3d Cir. Feb 12, 2010), Sam convinced the Court of Appeals to uphold the jury’s verdict in favor of a religious police officer who was fired when he complained that the borough would not let him wear a Cross pin and requested an accommodation to attend Sunday church services. That case will make it easier for employees to keep their employer from bringing irrelevant facts about them during discrimination cases, and will better protect religious employees from retaliation for requesting religious accommodations.