Eugene K. Connors

Partner

Education

  • Columbia University School of Law, 1971, J.D.
  • College of the Holy Cross, 1968, B.A., English

Professional Admissions / Qualifications

  • Pennsylvania

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • All State Courts - Pennsylvania
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Third Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - District of Columbia Circuit

Key to assessing a lawyer’s ability, quality, and performance is how colleagues in the legal profession "rate" that lawyer. Based on analyses from other lawyers, particularly employment and labor lawyers, Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, for instance, has listed Gene in all of its editions — from its first to its most recent — and named him among the top employment and labor attorneys in Pennsylvania and termed him a "Pennsylvania Leader." Based on similar input from fellow lawyers and also from clients, Gene is listed in such publications as The Best Lawyers in America and The US Legal 500; and Philadelphia Magazine each year has termed Gene a "Pennsylvania Super Lawyer" and he is also listed in Super Lawyers, Corporate Counsel Edition.  Also listing Gene for more than 25 years are publications such as Marquis Who’s Who in American Law.

Gene guides small and not-so-small local, national and international companies on how to best balance employer-employee needs to eliminate employment concerns while maximizing management options. Examples include acquiring, consolidating, relocating, automating, "right sizing," or closing businesses; retaining or regaining union-free status; and negotiating hundreds of agreements with affordable, flexible working conditions critical to global success. Beyond strategic planning and problem avoidance, Gene represents employers before federal and state courts; federal, state and local administrative agencies; arbitrators; and mediators.  In 1979, for instance, Gene, then a Reed Smith associate lawyer, convinced the United States Supreme Court to overturn a 9-0 full-bench federal appeals court employment discrimination decision adverse to his employer-client in Novotny v. Great American Federal S&L Assn, 442 U.S. 366 (1979).

He has partnered with employers on most employment and labor laws and issues in almost every industry.  Examples include airlines, apparel, automotive, beverage, building management, chemical, construction, education, elevator, entertainment, information systems, financial services, food, health care, metals, not-for-profit, oil, plastics, railroad, religion, retail, sports, technology, and trucking.

Publications by Gene include a synopsis of federal, Pennsylvania, and local employment laws; workplace privacy rights, options, and issues; monitoring use and abuse of the Internet, electronic mail, and voicemail; social media legalities and practicalities; effective internal investigations; acquiring, selling, relocating, automating, or closing businesses; effective employer-employee relationships; hiring and firing; alternative dispute resolution; and maintaining or regaining union-free status. Gene also edits Reed Smith authored blog posts for Forbes.com and Reed Smith’s own blog, Employment Law Watch.

Gene, a citizen of both the United States and the Republic of Ireland, may conduct business here and abroad for U.S. and European Union (EU) employers.

Employment History

  • 1971 - Reed Smith
    • Former Hiring Partner/Recruiting Committee Chair, Pittsburgh Office
  • 1969 - Poletti Freidin Prashker Feldman & Gartner (New York)
    • A firm that represented major airlines and other companies in labor and employment matters and with four "name" partners who had clerked for justices of the United States Supreme Court

Honors & Awards

  • Recognized in Chambers USA as one of America's leading labor and employment lawyers (2014)

Professional Affiliations

  • Allegheny County Bar Association – Member of Labor and Employment Section
  • American Bar Association – Member of Labor and Employment Section
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association – Member of Labor and Employment Section
  • Pennsylvania Bar Institute – Planning Committee Member and long-time Faculty Member at the annual Employment Law Institute for this educational area of the Pennsylvania Bar Association
  • Pittsburgh Human Resources Association – former Treasurer and Board Member
  • Smaller Manufacturers Council – former Board Member
  • Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) – longstanding Member and for several years conducted labor and employment issue sensitivity workshops to help individuals prepare for SHRM certification exams
  • St. Francis College (Loretto, Pennsylvania) – Adjunct Professor, Human Resources Master of Arts Program; Gene's courses include problem-solving courses in "hot" employment concerns, alternative dispute resolution, fair employment practices, and collective bargaining (1978 - present)

Interests

Certified by the Professional Ski Instructors of America and a member of its Eastern and Northern Rocky Mountain Divisions for almost 20 years. Gene also applies "problem avoidance" to alpine ski teaching at Holiday Valley Ski Area in Ellicottville, New York!

Client Comments from The Best Lawyers in America

"Gene Connors has served our company for almost 20 years. Throughout that time, he has been the consummate business partner! Gene has provided excellent advice and support for our company. He has proactively addressed labor issues by providing a strategic perspective based on his expertise and experience. When problems have developed, Gene has committed himself in a totally unselfish manner to resolving those issues in an optimal way for all involved. Gene has always demonstrated professionalism in his work. He has treated all parties with respect and dignity. However, what Gene has done best for our company is to deliver! Gene has delivered an impressive track record of success. He has prevented unnecessary labor costs, legal costs, and work stoppages by performing well in his role. Throughout his tenure and because of his desire to support all stakeholders associated with our business, Gene has made many friends and has gained the respect of those on all sides of the table. That is why we at Bombardier not only continue to rely on him, but do so willingly and happily! Gene is a great person, an excellent lawyer, and, I am happy to say, a good friend! I recommend him to anyone who needs labor law expertise. I also strongly promote him as one of the Best Lawyers in America!!!" [CEO of Global Corporation]

"Gene is the most experienced and capable labor agreement lawyer I have worked with. His many years of experience in negotiating labor agreements have given him a vast knowledge base that he uses to perfection. He is smart and able to listen to both sides, then develop language that includes perspectives of both sides while preserving the intent of the owner. Gene is very personable and is able to put all parties at the table at ease with his approach. I am in awe of someone so talented and quick thinking; he truly is one of the best lawyers in America."  [Operations Head of World-Wide Firm]

"It is a pleasure to work with Gene. He is bright, savvy, and has good business sense. His talent allows us the opportunity to explore new and different approaches to issues and he is consistently focused on what we can do, as opposed to what we cannot. He has gained the confidence and trust of business leaders throughout the organization and has evolved into a valued business partner.”  [HR Head of Global Company]

“Over the past 15 years I have worked with Gene on various labor relation assignments, from anti-union campaigns to sexual harassment. I have found Gene's ability to relate to people from the shop floor to corporate executives, in a way that is non-threatening and caring; this enables him to get the most out of his communications. His approach puts people in their comfort zone and they give up information that I have found that other attorneys have a difficult time obtaining."  [Manufacturing Manager of Multi-State Construction Firm and Former VP/Operations for Global Toy Company]

"Gene Connors, in my view, is an extremely intelligent, outstanding lawyer. His depth of knowledge is unparalleled and he is always timely in his responses. Gene is also extremely practical and thorough. He has a strong business orientation; he is always looking at what is best for your business, including cost effectiveness! He has an incredible work ethic and is also a great problem-solver. When confronted with a difficult situation he immediately brainstorms alternative solutions. I would not hesitate to talk with him about any labor/employment issue. I have worked with Gene for many years, and in addition to being one of the best, he is a genuine pleasure to work with."  [VP/HR for World-Wide and Nationwide Entities]

"Gene Connors is the best labor attorney that I have had the opportunity to work with in my 30-year career. His legal knowledge, expertise, and experience lead him to excel in difficult situations. His effective communication skills and sense of humor, along with this cunning tactfulness, provide effective solutions to both Company and Labor. He has the unique ability to facilitate consensus among all parties, even at their worst. I admire his industriousness and tireless efforts on our behalf. Most importantly, he understands the practical implications of decisions/agreements in the workforce and to business. I would recommend Gene without reservation."  [VP/HR for World-Wide Firm]

"Working with Gene for the past several years has been a real joy. He is both proactive and practical with his advice and I consider him not just an attorney, but a valuable business partner as well. While there are many capable attorneys I can choose to work with, I continue to rely on Gene because of his rare combination of knowledge and common sense. Best of all, Gene keeps me out of trouble, and makes me laugh while doing it."  [Chief Employment Counsel for Global Retailer]

"Mr. Connors was a pleasure to work with, and very committed to our business needs. This was the first time I worked with Mr. Connors and after a few meetings, he made me feel like I knew him for 20 years. I am very glad he was on our side of the table; I saw a well-prepared, extremely diligent attorney committed to our position. Most of all, Mr. Connors responded to my e-mails and calls immediately. Great Support !!!!"  [Facilities Director of Global Company]

"Gene Connors has a full understanding and appreciation of Labor Law and the Labor Relations field of practice; he can articulate such in a way that is easy to understand and guide your strategy. We have utilized Gene during some of our "toughest" issues because of his no-nonsense style and ability to communicate such to all parties involved."  [VP/HR of Nationwide Utility]

"Gene Connors saw our company through a union election and was successful in having the company remain calm and not reactive. One of the petitioners was terminated for cause and given an apprenticeship elsewhere by the union. Consequently, all of our negotiating sessions were honored with the presence of a representative of the union's international. Gene's humor eventually broke down the international representative, who begged Gene to stop picking on him. The contract that we signed with the union allowed the company to set work rules, shortened the pay scale steps that we were using, gave our hourly people the budgeted raise, and provided a 401K match that was below the non-bargaining unit match. At the end of the contract we decertified. Throughout the contract, we followed Gene's advice. Again, we were not reactive. We avoided confrontation and had few grievances. Gene's strategy to make the union look impotent was masterful. Since the union, Gene's advice has been timely and minimized our total expense and frustration. Employee handbooks, problem solutions, and general advice have all been top notch. "  [President of Family Owned Business]