James Francis Barna Esq

James Francis Barna Esq

Employment Attorney, EPLI, employment contracts, wages/overtime, discrimination
  • Employment Law, Appeals & Appellate
  • Maine, Mississippi, New York, Tennessee
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Summary

JIM BARNA BRINGS A WEALTH OF EXPERIENCE TO EMPLOYMENT LAW REPRESENTATION. Throughout his career, Jim Barna has focused his practice on employment law. Jim did his undergraduate studies at Syracuse University and Stony Brook University. Jim attended law school at Washington University in St. Louis, a Top Twenty law school with an extensive employment law curriculum. While in law school, he had the opportunity to work for a national leader in employment law and womens rights litigation, Mary Anne Sedey. “From Mary Anne Sedey, I saw that big cases can bring big changes, and that a life devoted to seeking justice can coincide with success for clients and attorneys.” After he graduated from law school in 1996, Jim spent ten years working for nationally recognized employment law firms in Memphis, Tennessee, a center of labor and employment law work. During that time, he handled litigation matters in 22 states, and the District of Columbia. Jim has owned practices in Maine and New York since that time, continuing to represent corporate employers as well as employees. His specialties include contract negotiations for executives and physicians, EPLI (employment practices liability insurance) defense, workplace discrimination, harassment, other workplace related legal issues, and labor law. In 2002, Jim was associate counsel, and coauthor of the victorious merits brief, in the first Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) case to be heard by the United States Supreme Court, Ragsdale v. Wolverine World Wide, Inc., 535 U.S. 81 (2002). He is a member of the Bar of the United States Supreme Court. Jim is holds law licenses in New York, Maine, Tennessee, and Mississippi, and represents clients throughout the United States.

Practice Areas
  • Employment Law
  • Appeals & Appellate
Additional Practice Area
  • Labor Law
Fees
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Contingent Fees
    Contingent fees accepted for particularly strong cases.
  • Rates, Retainers and Additional Information
    Fees can be flat fee, hourly, contingent, or a combination of these depending on the needs of the client and the strength of the case.
Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
Maine
Mississippi
New York
Tennessee
Languages
  • English: Spoken, Written
Professional Experience
Owner
The Barna Law Firm
- Current
Special Counsel
Costello Cooney Fearon PLLC
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Mr. Barna was a member of Costello, Cooney & Fearon, PLLC’s Labor and Employment practice group. He has a broad range of experience advising clients in both the private and public sectors. In addition to his employment litigation experience, he advises clients in improper and unfair labor practice hearings and representation proceedings before the NLRB and PERB. He counsels clients with wage and hour and benefits issues. He advises clients on how to avoid expensive and lengthy employment litigation by drafting human resource policies and procedures, including documentation of employee performance problems. Mr. Barna frequently represents corporate clients with insured employment claims (EPLI representation). He also represents executives, physicians and professionals in their employment law claims.
Principal
The Barna Law Firm
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Principal
Down East Law & Litigation
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General legal practice serving individuals and businesses in Eastern Maine. Represented clients in litigation, employment law, wills, administrative law, landlord and tenant law, and criminal law.
Senior Associate
Weintraub Stock & Grisham
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Corporate employment law and litigation practice. Represented corporate and governmental clients in litigation and administrative proceedings in state and federal jurisdictions throughout the United States. Litigation practice included trials and appeals, including matters before the United States Supreme Court. Advised clients on compliance with federal and state statutes and regulations. Represented and advised clients in unfair labor practice charges, union election campaigns, and labor arbitrations.
Attorney
Waggoner Law Firm
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Trial practice in association with two other attorneys representing clients in personal injury, criminal, and employment discrimination matters. Handled matters before state and federal courts and agencies.
Associate
Ford & Harrison
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Management employment law and labor relations practice. Represented clients in employment litigation and administrative proceedings. Advised clients on compliance with employment laws and regulations, as well as discrimination laws.
Education
Washington University School of Law
J.D. (1996)
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Honors: Articles Editor of Law Review
Activities: Published twice during law school
State University of New York - Stony Brook
B.A. | Multidisciplinary Studies
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Syracuse University
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Professional Associations
American Bar Association
Member
- Current
Onondage County Bar Association
Member
- Current
National Employment Lawyers Association- New York
Member
- Current
New York State Bar Association
Member
- Current
Certifications
Notary Public
Onondaga County, New York, Clerks Office
Legal Answers
16 Questions Answered

Q. In NY State, in the public sector unionized workplaces, how do the parties (workers and employers) enforce their rights?
A: This is a very broad question that can be answered in many ways, but broadly in New York there is legislation (the Taylor Law) that sets up a system of procedures and protections for public sector employers and employees. Under this system, employees have to serve a probationary period after they are hired, but after that probationary period, most employees are protected by "just cause" job protections. That is, the employer must have an objectively good reason to terminate an employee, which must be based on good evidence. Employee discipline can be challenged in a grievance procedure, which ultimately leads to an arbitration procedure before a neutral party (not a government official). Most employees in government service are in a union, which bargains with the state employer for pay and benefits. If bargaining is unsuccessful, the parties can refer the issues to an administrative judge who decides the disputed issues. In exchange for public employers agreeing to bargain with the unions, public unions by law are not allowed to strike.
Q. FMLA and Workmass Compisation
A: There is no requirement under the Family and Medical Leave Act to be compensated for time off for treatment. However, your employer is supposed to coordinate the protections of the FMLA and Workers' Compensation. If your employer chooses to compensate for FMLA leave, or if you have paid sick leave or vacation benefits that you wish to use for this leave, your employer is supposed to allow this.
Q. My wife works at Lombardo's Bridie Manor and my boss The Owner Lawrence Lombardo takes 75% of Gratuity from wait staff.
A: Under New York law, an employer is prohibited from taking a portion of employees' tips, or from requiring that they be shared with nonservice employees in a restaurant setting. There is one exception to this rule: With regard to a banquet or special function, the employer may share a percentage of the service charge with nonservice employees, and retain a small handling charge for the restaurant. Taking seventy-five percent of the gratuity is likely employer theft. My office serves all of Central New York.
Q. This morning I got fired from work due to the assumption of taking marijuana plants from an adjacent property to work.
A: You don't have any sort of wrongful termination action against your employer. The courts have no tolerance for marijuana at work. If you have proof that you did not take marijuana to work, submit it to your employer and you may get your job back. Otherwise, more information would be needed to make an assessment. I represent employees in Upstate New York.
Q. Can a company/organization offering a personal training/coaching credential barre me due to criminal allegations?
A: You will need to contact an attorney due to two considerations. In New York, there is a statute that deals with discrimination against people due to their criminal history. New York has a general maxim that your conviction in the past should not affect your opportunities for future advancement. This statute may provide you some relief. In addition, if you have been conviction-free since that PA charge, you may want to pursue whether that conviction can be expunged from your record. Each state has a legal process for this.
Q. If a manager creates an unequal metric for demotion, does it constitute discrimination? Why or why not?
A: Regrettably, what you describe is unfairness, and a business using evaluation criteria that are not aligned with employee and company goals. To be discrimination with regard to the the employment laws the evaluation metric would need to disadvantage a category of employees based, for example, on their race, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation or offender status. Unfairness to disadvantage certain categories is discrimination. Unfairness not intended to disadvantage based on category is not discrimination.
Q. Took a low pay entry level job. Turns out I am also the manager, solely responsible for all staff & operations. Legal?
A: There is nothing particularly wrong from a legal standpoint. The position is not what was advertised, which happens often. Your choices include trying to get your employer to alter the duties of the job, trying to make a considerate exit from the position, or just quitting.
Q. h1b: non compete: what happens to h1 state in garden leave.
A: You are asking very fact specific questions that implicate both employment law and immigration law. The level of detail of your questions reminds me of a law school exam question. Online forums by their very nature are only appropriate for general questions. More specific questions like yours require a lawyer's paid expertise. You need to contact an immigration lawyer with employment law experience, or an employment lawyer with immigration experience. Don't risk online answers when your immigration status is at risk.
Q. Can an employer offer severance to union employees while no offering anything to the nonunion employees?
A: This is the power of a labor union. When an employer eliminates union jobs, the employer must negotiate the effects of the job elimination, and frequently awards severance. With nonunion employees, the employer does not need to provide severance. The employer is not required to treat union and nonunion employees similarly.
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Contact & Map
Cazenovia, New York
9 Rippleton Road
Cazenovia, NY 13035
USA
Telephone: (315) 440-6950
Syracuse, New York
9 Rippleton Road
Cazenovia, NY 13035
USA
Telephone: (315) 440-6950