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Joseph J. Centeno

Joseph J. Centeno

Executive Shareholder

Labor, Employment, Benefits & Immigration Section Co-Chair

Philadelphia, PA
New York, NY

How Joe Helps Clients 

Joe Centeno chairs the firm’s Labor, Employment, Benefits & Immigration Section, and he is a nationally recognized leader in labor and employment law.  His practice includes high stakes collective and class action litigation, including Fair Credit Reporting Act, employment litigation, #MeToo claims, restrictive covenants, labor relations, policies, leave, termination of employment, joint employment, diversity and inclusion strategy and planning, Title IX investigation and compliance, and C-suite executive employment agreements.

Joe is frequently asked to represent public companies with employment issues arising from named executive officers regarding claims, including Sarbanes Oxley and Dodd-Frank, employment agreements and separation. Joe counsels employers on virtually all employment and labor-related laws and regulations. He has extensive jury trial experience and has been lead trial counsel in numerous high-profile trials and arbitrations. He also has broad experience in defending claims before state and federal agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board, many state and city Human and Relations and Civil Rights Commissions and agencies, and the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, where he served as a Commissioner by mayoral appointment. In 2023, Joe served on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania's Advisory Committee on Local Civil Rules. 

Joe has been nationally recognized by Best Lawyers in AmericaNational Asian Pacific American Bar AssociationPhiladelphia Business JournalMinority Corporate Counsel Association and Pennsylvania Super Lawyers. He co-chairs Buchanan’s Labor, Employment, Benefits & Immigration section, which is recognized as a national Tier 1 practice by U.S. News - Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms." Joe has been honored as a leader in the field of Labor & Employment Law in Pennsylvania by Chambers USA since 2021. During the research process, one of Joe’s references remarked, "Joseph is a consummate partner in the truest sense - he thinks big picture, and understands what we are looking for in an attorney-client relationship." In 2022, Joe was named a 'Best Law Firm Mentor' by The Legal Intelligencer as part of the publication's Professional Excellence Awards. Additionally, Joe was recognized as a 'Best Mentor: Law Firm' finalist by The American Lawyer in 2022. In 2023, Joe was recognized by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association as a Rainmaker of the Year honoree. Most recently, in 2024, he was named a BTI Client Service All-Star. 

Joe also serves on Buchanan’s executive leadership team, the firm’s compensation committee, the firm’s hiring committee, and the firm’s nominations committee.  He previously served on the firm’s Board of Directors and promotions committee. 

What Clients Can Expect

Clients can expect highly responsive, strategic guidance and aggressive advocacy from Joe. He is passionately client-focused and brings 33 years of legal, human resources and business experience to every matter.

Client commitment, every day in every way.

Outside the Office

Joe is passionate about increasing diversity in the legal profession. He has served as the President of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association and as a member of the Comcast NBCUniversal Joint Diversity Council. Joe currently serves as Outside General Counsel and Assistant Secretary to the Minority Corporate Counsel Association. He loves golf and has taken multiple overseas golf trips with friends. He is also a member of a baseball fantasy league that began in law school and continues to this day.

Honors & Awards

  • Named 2023 Rainmaker of the Year honoree by Minority Corporate Counsel Association (2023). 
  • Recognized as a 2022 "Best Mentor: Law Firm" finalist, The American Lawyer (2022)
  • "Best Law Firm Mentor," The Legal Intelligencer (2022)
  • Chambers USA, leading Labor & Employment lawyer in Pennsylvania since 2021
  • "Best of the Bar 2018," Philadelphia Business Journal
  • "Best Lawyers in America" Employment Litigation category (since 2018); Employment Law - Management category (2023)
  • AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Diversity In the Bar publication’s “Best of the Best” Labor and Employment Lawyers
  • Filipino American Association of Philadelphia, Inc. (FAAPI) Centennial Award for Public Interest Law (2012)
  • Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, 2019 and 2020
  • Named as one of Pennsylvania's "Super Lawyers®" (2005, 2007, 2009-2020, 2022)
  • The Legal Intelligencer, Diverse Attorney of the Year, 2011
  • National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Best Under 40, 2006

Proof Points

  • Represented major employers in FLSA collective and class actions for “misclassification” and “off the clock” claims.
  • Represented pharmaceutical company regarding claims of discrimination from C-Suite executive.
  • Represented global manufacturing company regarding Sox claims from C-Suite executive.
  • Represented national company regarding Dodd-Frank claims from accounting executive.
  • Represented major financial institution in collective action alleging retaliation relating to U-5 filings and discriminatory discharge.
  • Represented global manufacturing company in multiple labor arbitrations.
  • Represented global supply company in restrictive covenant litigation.
  • Represented national healthcare company in multi-jurisdictional labor and employment matters.
  • Represented global manufacturing company in litigation brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  • Special Labor Counsel to municipalities and townships as lead negotiator for collective bargaining agreements.
  • Represented major universities in handling federal employment discrimination litigation.
  • Represented a national retailer in negotiating and drafting an employment agreement for the CEO.