ProfessionalsMaria Helen Keane
As counsel in the Litigation Department, Maria H. Keane has extensive civil litigation experience in a broad range of areas, including a concentration on employment law matters, as well as experience in complex commercial litigation and antitrust matters. She has handled all phases of pre-trial, trial and appellate work in federal and New York State courts, as well as matters before the EEOC and New York administrative agencies and in arbitration.
In her employment law practice, Ms. Keane handles all types of employment litigation and counsels clients in employment matters. She has represented clients in such diverse industries as banking and finance, entertainment, health care, consumer products, insurance and advertising. Ms. Keane has represented employers in massive class action litigation alleging race, ethnicity and gender discrimination, as well as FLSA collective and class action litigation. She has also defended employers against discrimination and wrongful termination actions brought by individuals on the basis of age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual harassment and retaliation. Ms. Keane has represented employers and employees in arbitration involving employment contract disputes, restrictive covenants and business torts. She also has extensive experience handling sensitive workplace investigations on behalf of public companies, financial institutions, private equity funds, non-profit institutions and their executives, principals, and boards. Ms. Keane has provided counseling to employers on a wide range of employment-related issues, including allegations of employment discrimination, sexual harassment and wrongful discharge, contract negotiations, restrictive covenants, anti-discrimination and harassment policies, employee handbooks, hiring, discipline and discharge, wages and benefits, workplace privacy and social media policies. Ms. Keane has also conducted employment law seminars for managers and supervisors.
Cases representative of Ms. Keane’s experience in defending employers in employment litigation and arbitrations include:
- Peters v. Nomura Securities International, Inc., No. 20-00926 (FINRA Arbitration) (allegations of breach of contract and defamation)
- Siyam v. SS&C Technologies, Inc., 3:19-cv-18535 (D.N.J.) (allegations of misclassification of accounting employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act and New Jersey state law)
- Parneros v. Barnes & Noble, Inc., 1:18-cv-07834 (S.D.NY.) (allegations of wrongful termination and defamation)
- Leach , et al. v. NBCUniversal Media, LLC, et al., 1:15-cv-07206 (S.D.NY.) and June v. NBCUniversal Media, LLC, et al., No. 16-CV-1409 (S.D.N.Y.) (putative collectives and class actions alleging violations of federal and state wage and hour laws)
- Marin, et al. v. Dave & Buster’s Inc., et al., No. 15-Civ. 3608 (S.D.N.Y.) (putative class action alleging discriminatory conduct in violation of Section 510 of ERISA)
- Martin, et al. ReliaStar Life Insurance Company, et al., Civil No. 09-1578 (D. Minn.) (putative class action alleging racial discrimination)
- Amar, et al. v. Canon U.S.A. Inc. and Canon Business Solutions, Inc., Civil File No. 08-CV-4329 (E.D.N.Y.) (putative class action alleging racial discrimination)
- Amochaev, et al. v. Citigroup Global Markets Inc., No. C 05-1298 (N.D. Cal.) (putative class action alleging gender discrimination)
- Gutierrez, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, Civil Action No. 01-5302 (D.N.J.) (putative class action alleging racial and ethnic discrimination)
Ms. Keane’s experience advising clients in employment-related internal investigations includes, among others, representing 21st Century Fox in investigations concerning allegations of sexual harassment, racial discrimination and hostile work environment based on gender; and representing the National Football League in an investigation concerning workplace misconduct within the Miami Dolphins organization. In 2020, Ms. Keane was also a key member of the Paul, Weiss team that produced an independent review of the New York State court system’s policies and practices regarding issues of institutional racism.
Ms. Keane’s trial experience includes an international arbitration on behalf of individuals regarding the terms of an employment contract; a lengthy hearing before an Administrative Law Judge of the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, in which Ms. Keane successfully represented the mother and two siblings of a young woman who was killed in her office at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001; a six day bench trial in federal court, in which Ms. Keane and a colleague successfully defended a state governmental agency, an elected official and several agency employees against claims of wrongful termination brought by a former employee; a post-conviction hearing in Texas state court on behalf of a death row inmate; and a jury trial in federal court, in which Ms. Keane and several colleagues represented plaintiffs in a contractual dispute among partners. She also played a substantial role in successfully defending a major floor manufacturer against antitrust claims in a four month jury re-trial in federal court. The prior trial had resulted in a $239 million plaintiff’s verdict.
Ms. Keane serves as the Legal Representative of Future Claimants of the Manville Trust and is the Chair of the Board of Trustees for the New York City Montessori Charter School. She is also a member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, where in past years, she served as the Chair of the Committee on Public Service and Education, and as a member of the Committee on Federal Legislation, the Committee on Professional Responsibility and the Special Committee on Women in the Profession.
Ms. Keane was an associate editor of the Fordham Law Review.