For more than four decades, Faye Riva Cohen has provided personalized, creative, and zealous legal representation to clients in the areas of Employment and Labor Law, Civil Rights and Discrimination, Estate Planning and Litigation, Real Estate, and Family Law. She enjoys a well-earned reputation for successfully litigating multi-faceted, complex cases against large and powerful adversaries, often in David and Goliath situations.
Faye founded the Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen—one of the original woman-owned law firms in Philadelphia—with the mission of providing sophisticated, comprehensive counseling to individuals and businesses. Her diverse experience in multiple legal practice areas enables her to recognize and address all aspects of a legal matter.
Throughout her storied career, Faye has:
- Achieved justice and financial security for workers wrongfully terminated due to discrimination and retaliation
- Won hard-fought battles that created legal precedent and advanced anti-discrimination and civil rights laws
- Protected the rights of disabled individuals in the workforce before administrative agencies and in the courts
- Successfully counseled small businesses on intricate issues relating to formation, real estate, contracts, employment, and many other complexities
- Secured favorable resolutions in high-asset divorce cases
- Favorably resolved many significant legal matters that threatened a client’s financial security, stability, and peace of mind
Faye also is a frequent local and national lecturer on civil rights and discrimination matters. She has written, both as a primary and contributing author, approximately 140 legal articles published in prestigious publications and is the author of the influential Tough Lawyer Lady blog.
Fighting for justice with determination is in Faye’s DNA.
Faye is the child of Holocaust survivors who were interred in concentration camps during World War II. She was born in Bergen-Belsen, Germany, a former concentration camp turned relocation center. Her family immigrated to the United States and, at a young age, she was required to assume adult responsibilities to assist her parents, whose education had been interrupted by the war. As a result, she developed self-confidence, fearlessness, aggressiveness, and empathy, which inform the type of service her Firm provides to its clients.
While attending the University of Minnesota, and the University of Denver College of Law, Faye eagerly accepted new challenges, both in the academic and extracurricular fields. At Minnesota, she was an elected representative to student government and served on a number of academic committees. At Denver, where she was one of five women in her class, she wrote for the law review, served on a number of academic committees, and was the law school’s representative to the first national women’s law conference. After being admitted to the bar, she became a trailblazer in Wilkes-Barre, PA, where she was the only practicing female attorney. After she moved to the Philadelphia area, she chaired her local political organization, was the first woman municipal solicitor in her area, was the first woman attorney for her county’s political organization and founded a women’s political group.
Civil Rights & Discrimination
- At the beginning of her career, and during the heyday of the civil rights movement, Faye was at the forefront of implementing the nation’s newly enacted civil rights laws. She was co-counsel with a legendary Philadelphia civil rights lawyer and tried the first age discrimination cases in the United States against a large international corporation. She also served as co-counsel with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on a number of discrimination cases against several unions.
- She performed extensive work for several years in a case of first impression based on a violation of the civil rights of a transgender person who attempted suicide while in police custody. Her client ultimately received a $3.5 million settlement.
- At the request of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which was interested in the same issue being argued before the Washington, D.C. Court of Appeals, Faye opposed the U.S. Department of Justice’s attempt to nationally limit the time period in which government employees can pursue a discrimination lawsuit after their cases were pending at the administrative level. At the Court’s request, she briefed the case three times and orally argued it. The court ruled in favor of Faye’s client, which resulted in preserving the legal rights of many thousands of current and future government employees.
- Faye achieved a favorable verdict against the U.S. Department of the Interior on behalf of a park ranger who accused his supervisor of discrimination. In that case, Senior U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Robert F. Kelly said:
“Ms. Cohen has demonstrated significant legal experience both in and out of the civil rights field. In this case she has achieved a near remarkable result.”
- A settlement was negotiated for a worker whose employer alleged that it validly terminated him for threats of workplace violence. The termination resulted in cancellation of the employee’s health insurance, making mental health treatment unaffordable, and resulted in his suicide attempt. The judge agreed with Faye’s argument that the employee was disabled, and his employer should have accommodated him instead of terminating him. The legal media widely covered the case.
- In an Americans with Disabilities Act case, Faye represented a disabled veteran. An employer that was aware of his disabilities and in the business of helping the disabled, had agreed to hire and train the veteran in cooperation with a government program. However, the employer terminated the veteran prematurely, for a vague reason. Faye reached a settlement that compensated the veteran for his damages.
- A lawsuit was jointly brought by an employee and the human resources director of the company that employed her in federal court based on violations of wage and hour laws, discrimination, and retaliation. The company they sued laid both of them off shortly after the director determined that the employee was underpaid and informed the CEO that she felt the employee was entitled to a raise. Both employees received settlements.
- Our client suffered from an aggressive brain tumor that required immediate medical treatment. A third-party administrator acting on behalf of the client’s self-insured employer mishandled the client’s medical claim for months and eventually denied coverage, alleging that the doctor-recommended treatment was experimental. The client had no choice but to pay $60,000 for his treatment. The employer agreed to reimburse the client for much of his out-of-pocket treatment costs and legal fees. The insurance carrier also paid for ongoing treatment, which saved the client’s life.
- Our client provided exceptional service to her employer for more than 30 years, but her working situation deteriorated when the employer assigned her to a new male supervisor who demeaned her and other women and eliminated her from important business meetings and conferences. Soon after the client complained to human resources about the supervisor the company terminated her. Faye negotiated a large, lump-sum severance package for her client which included nine months of salary, attorney’s fees, continuing medical benefits, payment of a discretionary bonus, and a significantly reduced non-compete agreement.
- In a case that received national publicity, Faye achieved a unique and favorable jury verdict in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas for a Drexel University Ph.D. student whose faculty adviser shared the student’s work with a private company with which he worked.
- Faye represented a Ph.D. candidate who ended his studies after a serious illness led to depression. Several years later, after the client recovered from his illness and tried to resume his studies, the university refused his request because he had not informed the university as to why he had left and had not completed his studies in a required time frame. The university and its attorney agreed that the client should be granted a special accommodation on account of his illness and be permitted to finish his degree. The client was overjoyed with the result, which was accomplished without litigation.
Social Security Disability Overpayments
- Faye represented a highly educated client who received Social Security disability benefits for many years for mental health conditions despite working at a job his employer specifically created for him. The employer did not correctly report the nature of the client’s earnings, which led to the Social Security Administration requesting a $180,000 overpayment reimbursement. The client was desperate and near-suicidal when he came to Faye. She was able to get the overage greatly reduced and extend the client’s time to begin repayment by several years.
- Faye represented a deaf person who received Social Security disability benefits, which he terminated after he earned an advanced degree and was able to support himself. Years later, the Social Security Administration requested a $70,000 overpayment reimbursement. Faye challenged that request, based on inconsistencies in the agency’s documentation and the excellent records the client kept. An administrative law judge determined that the client did not have to repay the funds.
Faye is a prolific writer and has written over 140 articles. Here are some examples:
- “When you Should Accept an Early Retirement Offer,” PBA Labor & Employment Law Section E-Newsletter, Fall 2019
- “Layoffs and Mergers and Consolidations and Acquisitions … Oh My!,” The Legal Intelligencer, October 28, 2019
- “Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress,” The Legal Intelligencer
- “Deciphering The Rules Governing Venue in Actions Involving Corporations,” The Legal Intelligencer
- “Expansion of The Statute of Limitations in Medical Malpractice Cases,” The Legal Intelligencer
- “Lawyer Temps – Here to Stay,” The Pennsylvania Lawyer
- “Various Ways Insurance Carriers Disclaim Coverage of their Insureds,” The Legal Intelligencer
- “Considering Additional Types of Disability or Legal Relief for Your Social Security Disability Clients,” National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives
- Inside the Minds, Child Custody Litigation and Settlements, Chapter Contributor, “Custody Cases: Fighting for the Best Interest of the Child,” Thompson Reuters/Aspatore Books
- “Employers Need to Balance Motive, Knowledge and Religion in Dress Codes to Avoid Charges of Religious Discrimination,” Upon Further Review
- Coronavirus: When You Suspect (or Know) a Worker is Infected, National Business Institute, April 3, 2020
- Employment Arbitration Clauses: What You MUST Include in Light of Recent Rulings, National Business Institute (also selected as a West LegalEdcenter live webcast presentation), February 22, 2019
- Employment Law: Advanced Issues and Answers, National Business Institute, August 1, 2018
- Advanced Employment Law: What You Need to Know, National Business Institute, November 2, 2016
- Employment Law for Accountants, Center for Professional Education, October 26, 2016
- Religious Accommodation in the Work Place, National Business Institute, January 11, 2016
- Religious Discrimination in Employment, National Business Institute, March 26, 2015
- Human Resource Law: What You Need to Know Now, National Business Institute, February 18, 2015
- Social Security Disability Bootcamp, National Business Institute, April 22, 2014
- Employee Health and Patient Safety – Flu Summit, Albert Einstein Hospital, Silberman Auditorium, Belmont Behavioral Health, May 24, 2013
- Social Security Disability Bootcamp, National Business Institute, February 14, 2012
- Unemployment Insurance 1010: Assessing and Responding to Claims for U.I. Benefits in Pennsylvania, Lorman Education Services, October 11, 2011
- Social Security Disability Law Conference, NOSSCR, May 13, 2011
- Considering Additional Types of Disability or Legal Relief for Your Social Security Disability Clients, Philadelphia Bar Association, July 6, 2010
- Unemployment Insurance 101: Assessing and Responding to Claims for U.I. Benefits, Lorman Education Services, April 16, 2010
- FMLA Hot Topics 2009 Conference, Council on Education in Management, December 16, 2009
- Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Council on Education in Management, May 22-23, 2007
HONORS & AWARDS
- Rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell since 2000
- Pennsylvania Super Lawyer 2007, 2014-2020, Labor and Employment
- Maryss Award for Family/Civil Law in Philadelphia, 2010
- Mantua Community Improvement Committee Valor Awards for “Vision,” 2010
- Featured in the article, “Pushing at the Edges: An Oral History of Women Who Began Practicing Law in the Early 1970s,” Pennsylvania and Delaware Super Lawyers magazines, 2017
- Avvo.com rated 9.5/10