James P. Hollihan practices in the areas of commercial and business litigation, with a particular emphasis on employment litigation. Mr. Hollihan's employment practice includes experience in defending claims asserted against clients for race, sex, age and disability discrimination; sexual harassment; wrongful discharge; and breach of employment contracts. In addition to his experience in employment matters, Mr. Hollihan has also had experience litigating other types of complex business cases, including accountant malpractice actions, breach of contract claims, cases involving violations of federal and state securities laws, enforcement of restrictive covenants arising out of employment relationships, insurance coverage disputes, and ERISA litigation.
Mr. Hollihan is a 1980 magna cum laude graduate of Duquesne University School of Law, where he was editor-in-chief of the Duquesne Law Review, and a magna cum laude graduate of Duquesne University.
- Represented a large retail bank against age and disability discrimination claims brought by a branch manager who was discharged for opening multiple, non-productive checking accounts in the names of family members as a means of inflating the branch’s performance data. The district court’s decision granting summary judgment in favor of the bank was affirmed by the Third Circuit.
- Represented a retail bank against age and sex discrimination claims asserted by a sales representative who was discharged for failing to meet performance objectives. The district court denied the bank’s motion for summary judgment based upon alleged statements attributed to the plaintiff’s supervisors, which the court found to constitute direct evidence of discrimination. Notwithstanding those alleged comments, and the district court’s decision to give a Price Waterhouse mixed motive jury instruction, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the bank on both the age and sex discrimination claims.
- Represented a Fortune 100 insurance company against claims asserted by a vice president whose employment was terminated for poor performance. The plaintiff alleged that his discharge was based on his age and was in retaliation for his threatening to pursue an age discrimination claim. Despite the trial judge's conclusion that there was sufficient direct evidence of discrimination to support his giving a mixed motives Price Waterhouse instruction to the jury on both the age and retaliatory discharge claims, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the company with respect to both claims.
- Represented a steel manufacturer in a case involving age discrimination claims asserted by four individuals whose employment as supervisors was terminated as part of a company-wide reduction in force. Following a consolidated non-jury trial, the district court entered findings of fact and conclusions of law in favor of the company with respect to the claims of all four plaintiffs.
- Represented a refractory manufacturer in separate actions filed by two technical employees who asserted claims that the company discriminated against them because of age by terminating their employment as part of a reduction in force. The cases were tried separately and defense verdicts were returned by juries in both actions.
- Represented a pump manufacturer against claims that the termination of the plaintiff’s employment constituted age discrimination and also violated the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. Following a one-week trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the company with respect to all claims asserted by the plaintiff.
- Represented an insurance company against a claim asserted by an employee who alleged that she had been discriminatorily denied a promotion to a supervisory position because of her race. Following a non-jury trial, the district court entered judgment in favor of the company. The plaintiff appealed to the Third Circuit, arguing that the district court had incorrectly rejected expert testimony proffered by the plaintiff based on statistics showing that black employees were underrepresented in supervisory and management positions within the company. The Third Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of the company.
- Represented a pipe coupling manufacturer against an age discrimination claim asserted by a plant maintenance manager whose employment was terminated for poor performance. Following trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the employer.
- Represented an insurance company against sex discrimination claims asserted by a former sales representative who claimed that she had been discriminated against and constructively discharged following her announcement that she was pregnant. Following discovery, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the company based on the plaintiff’s failure to file a timely charge with the EEOC. In its decision, which was subsequently affirmed by the Third Circuit, the district court rejected the plaintiff’s “equitable tolling” argument that her failure to file a timely charge should be excused because she had telephoned EEOC representatives within the 300-day period and had relied on statements by them that her telephone inquiry and request for investigation satisfied the charge-filing requirements under Title VII.
- Represented a chemical manufacturer in five separate actions brought by current and former female employees, in which the employees alleged that they had been discriminated against because of their sex in various promotion and compensation decisions. The plaintiffs supported their individual discrimination claims with proffered testimony by a statistical expert concerning alleged disparities between the number of males and females in management positions in the company, as well as differences in compensation received by males and females in similar job classifications. The company filed a Daubert motion to exclude this statistical testimony based on the argument and testimony of its own expert that the methodology employed by the plaintiffs’ expert was unreliable. Following a two-day hearing, the district court granted the company’s motion and ruled that the testimony by the plaintiffs' expert was inadmissible. The cases eventually were resolved prior to trial.
- Represented an automobile manufacturer in a race discrimination class action commenced by 23 individuals employed in production and supervisory positions in the company’s assembly plant, in which these employees asserted broad-based discrimination claims concerning hiring, discipline, compensation, promotion, and job assignment issues. Representation included coordinating all discovery relating to both class certification and substantive issues; principal responsibility for preparation of briefs and court appearances throughout the litigation; negotiation of a settlement of the class action in conjunction with the company’s permanent closing of the assembly plant; and implementation of the settlement agreement, including obtaining court approval and coordinating notices to class members.
- Represented Fortune 100 insurance company in approximately 350 ERISA cases involving claims for benefits under ERISA-covered group disability insurance policies. Some of the issues addressed in these cases include (a) standard of review applicable to dispute (i.e., de novo versus deferential arbitrary and capricious standard); (b) choice of law issues concerning applicability of state laws prohibiting use of discretionary review clauses in ERISA covered insurance policies; (c) ERISA preemption of state law claims found to be related to ERISA plan; (d) effect of the Social Security Administrator’s decision granting SSDI benefits on a plan administrator’s decision concerning benefit eligibility; (e) propriety of insurer’s reliance on opinions about disability of non-treating physicians over contrary opinions expressed by claimant’s treating physicians; (f) propriety of insurer’s claim denial based on absence of objective medical or clinical evidence supporting description of impairments expressed by claimant or treating physicians based on claimant’s subjective complaints.
- Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
- Supreme Court of the United States
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
- Duquesne University School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude, 1980
- Editor-in-chief, Duquesne Law Review
- Duquesne University, B.S., magna cum laude, 1976
Allegheny County Bar Association
Honors and Awards
- AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
Co-author, "Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules That Pittsburgh Paid Sick Leave Law Can Take Effect," Duane Morris Alert, July 24, 2019
Co-author, "United States Supreme Court Rules That Class Arbitration Must Be Expressly Authorized," Duane Morris Alert, April 29, 2019
Quoted, "Duane Morris Employment Partner Returns To Firm," Law360, June 5, 2018