Joseph P. Harkins is a litigator who defends employers in individual and class action cases in all areas of employment law in judicial, administrative, and arbitral settings. Joe also serves as Associate General Counsel to Littler on human resources matters.

Joe frequently defends employers in claims of sex, sexual orientation, transgender status, race, age, disability and leave discrimination, as well as retaliation before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, state fair employment practices agencies, and in federal and state courts. Joe also litigates wage and hour collective actions and FCRA and COBRA class actions. He has civil jury trial experience in several jurisdictions and has conducted numerous labor arbitrations and arbitration enforcement actions. Additionally, Joe represents employers before the U.S. Department of Justice in citizenship discrimination proceedings.

In addition to litigation, Joe advises private sector employers, nonprofit associations, law firms and background check companies on federal and state laws regulating employee screening. Overall, he counsels employers on:

  • Family and Medical Leave Act / Americans with Disabilities Act compliance
  • Fair Labor Standards Act compliance
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act compliance
  • Reductions-in-force
  • Older Workers Benefit Protection Act
  • Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act
  • Disparate impact analyses under various anti-discrimination statutes

Prior to his 32 years as a management labor and employment lawyer, Joe served for six years as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, New York. There he gained extensive jury trial experience, including the prosecution of homicide cases for two years. Based on this experience, Joe often advises employers when they or their employees interact with the criminal justice system.

During law school, Joe served on the staff of the law journal, Law and Policy in International Business.


Named, International Who's Who of Management Labour and Employment Lawyers

Who's Who Legal

2014 and 2015

Named, Who's Who in American Law


Harold Helm Fellow

McGill University

Named, Super Lawyer

Washington, D.C.

Super Lawyers


News, Analysis & Press

Preventing Sexual Harassment at the Ranch

BEEF Magazine

July 19, 2018

Practice Management: Unwanted Advances

Med Esthetics

May 3, 2018

Md.: Employers May Be Liable for Treble Damages for Misclassification Claims

Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

August 20, 2014

The Silencing of Sexual Harassment

Bloomberg Businessweek

November 17, 2011

Joe Harkins Comments on Absentee Workers

Christian Science Monitor

July 2, 2007

Joseph Harkins clarifies new O.T. rules

Restaurant Hospitality

April 1, 2005

Speaking Engagements

Hot Topics in Working Hard and Hardly Working: Paid Leave Laws, USDOL PAID Program, and Wage Payment and Collection Act Enforcement

2018 Mid-Atlantic Employer Conference, Washington, D.C.

June 5, 2018

The Insider Threat: Protecting Information Assets Through Data Stewardship and Continuous Risk Monitoring

December 1, 2016

2016 Mid-Atlantic Employer Conference

Washington, DC

June 7, 2016

Raffa Learning Community: Background Checks and Ban-the-Box Laws

Washington, DC

April 7, 2016

2014 Mid-Atlantic Employer Conference

Washington, DC

June 10, 2014


  • J.D., Georgetown University, 1982cum laude
  • A.B., Princeton University, 1976cum laude

Bar Admission

District of Columbia
New York


  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court, District of Maryland