Caroline M. Austin concentrates her practice in employment litigation, employment policy development, preventative counseling and training designed to avoid litigation, unionization and employee attrition. Appearing before federal and state courts and administrative agencies, Ms. Austin represents clients in connection with a broad range of labor and employment matters, including age, race, gender, national origin and disability discrimination, sexual and racial harassment, restrictive covenants, breach of contract, and wage-and-hour laws.
Ms. Austin served as law clerk to Honorable Daniel H. Huyett, 3rd, Senior Judge, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Ms. Austin is a 1994 graduate of Temple University, Beasley School of Law, where she was associate research editor of The Temple Law Review, and a graduate of Lehigh University.
Areas of Practice
- Employment Litigation
- Employment Counseling and Advice
- Restrictive Covenants
- Wage and Hour Class/Collective Action
- Obtained on behalf of a hospital an order granting summary judgment on a former employee's lawsuit in which he alleged that the hospital terminated him in retaliation for complaining about a supervisor's sexual harassment. The court concluded that summary judgment was warranted for the hospital because the plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of retaliation and, even if he had established a prima facie case, plaintiff failed to establish that the legitimate reasons given for his termination were a pretext for unlawful retaliation.
- Mediation and settlement that the client found favorable of class-action charges filed against it with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by current employees involving claims of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, age discrimination and retaliation under Title VII.
- Obtained order from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granting summary judgment for hospital on claims of age and religious discrimination. Order was affirmed on appeal.
- Obtained order from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granting the defendant client's motion to dismiss with prejudice on the plaintiff's Section 1981 claim alleging that the client terminated a contract with plaintiff due to the racial make-up of plaintiff's workforce.
- Represented national weight-loss company in employment litigation filed against it throughout the United States.
- Obtained dismissal of disparate impact claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act on behalf of a hospital.
- Obtained order from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granting summary judgment for client on former employee's age discrimination claim. The employee, who had been terminated at age 70 and had no documents in his file that reflected poor performance, alleged that he was told during the termination meeting that the company wanted "to get a bunch of younger guys" to do the work.
- Won motion to dismiss entire complaint filed with Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission alleging claims of discrimination, retaliation and failure to accommodate.
- Obtained order from the Superior Court of New Jersey granting summary judgment for nursing home on a plaintiff's claims of age and disability discrimination.
- Obtained order from the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania granting summary judgment for defendant/client on the plaintiff's ERISA claims and awarding the client substantial attorneys' fees as the prevailing party.
- Obtained favorable resolution for food-service distributor in complaint against competitor for former employee's breach of non-solicitation provisions and tortious interference with contract claims.
- Obtained decision by plaintiff to voluntarily dismiss claims for unfair competition, tortious interference and misappropriation of trade secrets against corporate client and its newly hired employees after initial discovery and without any monetary payment by client.
Obtained summary judgment for non-profit organization in putative class and collective action alleging independent contractor misclassification and race discrimination, resulting in dismissal of all FLSA and Pennsylvania state law minimum wage and overtime claims, ERISA claims, and race discrimination claim.
- Represented StoneMor in a Fair Labor Standards Act collective action in Alabama and succeeded in having the case dismissed with prejudice. Plaintiffs had alleged that they were not paid minimum wage or overtime.
- Obtained summary judgment in favor of prominent Philadelphia-based cosmetology school in wage-and-hour class and collective action case in which plaintiffs — current and former cosmetology students — alleged employee status and failure to pay minimum wages under the FLSA, Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act and Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law.
- Successfully defended owner of nursing home (client) against a TRO and Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by the Union representing employees of the nursing home to enjoin the sale of the nursing home where the owner of the nursing home did not condition the sale on the buyer assuming the collective bargaining agreement.
- Defended health system against claims pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act and various state law claims alleging failure to pay for all the time worked and pleaded as a collective and class action.
- Defended a national weight-loss company in a class action brought by the EEOC alleging discrimination on the basis of gender.
- Represented JPJ Group (formerly LSE:JPJ), a leading global online bingo-led operator, in addressing employment issues surrounding its £490m acquisition of online gaming company Gamesys Holdings Ltd.
- Advised the owner of a charitable donation logistics company and its affiliate, a thrift retailer, in connection with its multimillion-dollar sale to a private equity joint venture; the transaction included a syndicated equity financing and a sale-leaseback of seller’s real property assets.
Represented Unilife Corp. (Nasdaq: UNIS / ASX: UNS) in connection with its announced effort to seek strategic alternatives, culminating in a strategic collaboration with Amgen Inc. (Nasdaq: AMGN) for Unilife's wearable injectable drug delivery systems to use with Amgen's biologics and other medicines. The deal provides Unilife with investments of up to $90 million from Amgen and restructures Unilife's existing debt with OrbiMed.
- Represented Edison Partners VIII, L.P. in its $8.5 million investment in the Series B Preferred Stock of iQ Media Group Inc.
- Represented the owners of a construction management and consulting company, in the employment aspects of the sale of all of the membership interests to a subsidiary of a NYSE listed global provider of architecture, design, engineering, and construction services.
- Represented Polder Housewares and its affiliates in the employment aspects of the sale of substantially all of their assets to a buyer which is majority owned by entities affiliated with Topspin Partners, a suburban New York based private equity fund.
Employment Litigation - Title VII/Section 1981
Employment Litigation - ADEA
Employment Litigation - Disability
Employment Litigation - ERISA
Wage and Hour Collective Actions/Employment Class Actions
- New Jersey
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
- U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
- Temple University Beasley School of Law, J.D., 1994
- Associate Research Editor, The Temple Law Review
- Moot Court Honor Society
- Lehigh University, B.A., 1991
- Duane Morris LLP
- Partner, 2009-present
- WolfBlock LLP
- Partner, 2003-2009
- Associate, 1998-2002
- Hoyle, Morris & Kerr
- Associate, 1994-1997, 1998
- Law Clerk, Honorable Daniel H. Huyett III
- Senior Judge, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1997-1998
Honors and Awards
- Recipient of the firm's Cheryl Bryson Leadership Award, 2017
Listed in Pennsylvania Super Lawyers, 2012-2014, 2017-2021
- Pennsylvania Super Lawyers, Rising Star, 2005 Employment Litigation
- AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®
Civic and Charitable Activities
Member of the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Career Center (MCC), 2003-2007, a non-profit educational institution, offering education and individualized support services to adults with limited access to academic resources with the objective of preparing individuals for employment and economic independence.
Head Coach, Cherry Hill FC Girls Travel Soccer, 2009-2019
- Co-author, "Pennsylvania Supreme Court Holds That Employers Must Pay Employees Whenever They Are Required to Be on Premises," Duane Morris Alert, July 28, 2021
- "Understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act," Philadelphia Bar Institute's Employment Law Institute, July 2020
- Co-author, "White House Issues Guidelines on Relaxing COVID-19 Precautions," Duane Morris Alert, April 17, 2020
Co-author, "Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules Employers Have a Legal Duty to Protect Employees’ Personal Information from Data Breaches," Duane Morris Alert, November 28, 2018
Co-author, "New Delaware Law Broadens Protections for Workers Against Sexual Harassment," Duane Morris Alert, September 4, 2018
Co-author, "Supreme Court's Same-Sex Wedding Cake Decision Avoids Constitutional Issues, Focuses on State Commission's 'Hostile' Conduct," Duane Morris Alert, June 6, 2018
Co-author, "Some, But Not All, of Philadelphia's Wage Equity Ordinance Declared Unconstitutional," Duane Morris Alert, May 8, 2018
Author, "Supreme Court Rules Car Dealership Service Advisors Exempt from FLSA Overtime Pay, Exemptions Should Be Plainly Construed," Duane Morris Alert, April 10, 2018
- "The Risky Business of Using Contingent Workers," Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, February 2009
- "Civil Rights: Title VII Protection for Centerfold," 66 Temple L. Rev. 1039, 1993
Selected Speaking Engagements
- Speaker, "State of the Workplace in 2021: Reopening in a Partially Vaccinated Environment and the New Administration," Duane Morris LLP, Webinar, May 19, 2021
- Speaker, "State Law Updates, Including COVID-19 Workplace Laws and Regulations," The New Reality of Workplace Law and Practice in the COVID-19 Era, Duane Morris LLP, Webinar, November 12, 2020
- Speaker, "Reopening the Workplace During the COVID-19 Pandemic – What Employers Need to Know," Duane Morris Institute Webinar, May 12, 2020
Speaker, "Nipping Retaliation Claims in the Bud," Duane Morris' Developments in Workplace Law and Practice, Philadelphia, May 7, 2019
Instructor, "Cybersecurity: A New Legal Duty to Protect Personal Information," Duane Morris Institute, January 16, 2019
Moderator, "Lessons from the Magistrate Judges," Pennsylvania Bar Institute 24th Annual Employment Law Institute, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, April 26, 2018
- Speaker, Duane Morris' Developments in Workplace Law and Practice, Philadelphia, May 3, 2017
- Speaker, "Dealing with the Problem Employee," Pennsylvania Bar Institute, September 2015
- Speaker, Duane Morris' Developments in Workplace Law and Practice 2015, Philadelphia, May 14, 2015
- Presenter, "Religious Discrimination — Your Faith or Your Job," Pennsylvania Bar Institute, April 28, 2015
- Speaker, "Developments in Workplace Law and Practice," Duane Morris' Developments in Workplace Law and Practice 2014, Philadelphia, May 8, 2014
- Speaker, "Title VII Essentials," Pennsylvania Bar Institute, April 25, 2014
Speaker, "Entrepreneurial Law Clinic - Interns, Consultants, and Employees: The Costs of Misclassification," Drexel University, The Laurence A. Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship, December 3, 2013
- Speaker, "Dealing with the Problem Employee," Pennsylvania Bar Institute, September 2013
- Speaker, "Title VII Update," Pennsylvania Bar Institute 19th Annual Employment Law Institute, April 2013
- Moderator, "2011 Labor and Employment Roundtable," The Legal Intelligencer, September 26, 2011
- Speaker, "Making Sense of Age Discrimination Laws," Pennsylvania Bar Institute, April 2011
- Speaker, "Developments in Employment Discrimination Statutes and Cases," Duane Morris' Developments in Workplace Law and Practice 2010, Philadelphia, April 29, 2010
- Speaker, "Protecting Your Business: Cutting Edge Issues Relative to Non-Competes, Non-Solicitation Clauses and Confidentiality Provisions, Association of Corporate Counsel," DELVACCA Chapter, April 2010
- Speaker, "Defense Lawyer's Golden Oldies," PBI 15th Annual Employment Law Institute, Defense Strategies to Employment Litigation, April 2009