The Town of Rhinebeck is just as famous for its treasured services as it is for its specialty stores.
The firm of Charny & Associates is among those treasures, because of its singular devotion to, and expertise in, every facet of workplace law. Since opening their Rhinebeck practice in 2008, Nathaniel Charny and his two colleagues – attorneys Thomas Feeney and Russell Wheeler — are proud of their success for a clientele garnered entirely by word-of-mouth referrals.
“We’re growing, and that is driven by three factors,” Charny explained. “All we do is labor and employment law, so we have definite expertise in the area; workplace issues are always going to happen; and we’re really, really good at it.”
Charny earned his law degree from SUNY Buffalo in 1991 and clerked for a federal judge in Pittsburgh for two years before moving to New York City. “I have always practiced labor and employment law,” he said. “I wanted my practice of law to make a positive impact in the world. By helping people navigate what are almost always complex workplace situations and vindicating their rights, I think that contributes positively.”
Thomas Feeney has been working with Charny & Associates since its founding, with a particular focus on wage and hour and disability discrimination. He received his Juris Doctor from Fordham University School of Law in 2004.
Russell Wheeler joined the firm in 2011. He received his law degree from American University, Washington College of Law in 2002 and clerked at the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia. “I have landed with a firm that not only allows me to work in my home town but also gives me great satisfaction in being able to help employees as they maneuver through their workplace problems,” said Wheeler.
Having 20 years of experience in one area gives Charny a keen perspective. “The workplace moves in cycles, and we’re now coming out of a recession. I’m thrilled to see more clients with new employment contracts for our review. However, there will always be workplace situations where people need help,” he added. “For example, the law gives clients with disabilities certain protections; they ask, ‘What is the employer obligated to do for me?’ These are very complex and nuanced areas, and we’ve been very successful in our ability to help folks stay employed and, if necessary, negotiate a dignified separation from employment.”
Charny & Associates is particularly proud of its service as Special Litigation Counsel for the Worker Justice Center of New York (WJC) in Kingston (www.wjcny.org). “The firm’s work with WJC often involves extremely dramatic discrimination issues, mostly arising from undocumented and exploited workers, even elements of human trafficking,” Charney said, adding, “We’re really proud of our participation with WJC. It’s a major component of who we are.”
The firm’s paralegal, Stephanie Minerley, who formerly worked at the Red Hook Library, finds an interesting parallel between library research and legal. “This is more than just work,” she said. “This is a passion for me, and you can tell it’s a passion for the lawyers in the office, which makes it a really inspiring atmosphere.”