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Joseph  J. Centeno

Joseph J. Centeno


Co-Chair, Labor, Employment, Benefits & Immigration Section

Philadelphia, PA
New York, NY

How Joe Helps Clients 

Joe Centeno's practice includes collective and class action litigation, including Fair Credit Reporting Act, employment litigation, high stakes #MeToo matters, 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 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.

Joe has been nationally recognized by Best Lawyers in America, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Philadelphia Business Journal, Minority 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." In 2021 and 2022, Joe was honored as a leader in the field of Labor & Employment Law in Pennsylvania by Chambers USA. During the research process, one of Joe’s references remarked, "Joseph is a consummate partner in the truest sense - he thinks big, 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.

What Clients Can Expect

Clients can expect highly responsive, strategic guidance and aggressive advocacy from Joe. He is passionately client-focused and brings 25 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

  • 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 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 a major university in handling federal employment discrimination litigation.
  • Represented a national retailer in negotiating and drafting an employment agreement for the CEO.