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Influential Appellate Advocate: Josef S. Glynias

Jessica Shumaker//January 28, 2019

Influential Appellate Advocate: Josef S. Glynias

Jessica Shumaker//January 28, 2019

josef-glyniasJosef S. Glynias

Husch Blackwell

St. Louis native Josef S. Glynias didn’t initially intend to become a lawyer.

He said he was familiar with the work of lawyers and exposed to the legal world early on because his father is a lawyer.

“I always liked it, but I didn’t want to readily accept it,” he said.

When he went to college, he headed in a different direction, studying journalism with an emphasis in advertising at the University of Missouri. He interned for an ad agency, but he said he found his time there “wasn’t the romantic experience I was expecting it to be.”

At its end, he said he decided he’d join a friend studying for the LSAT and take the test, too. He said he found the studying process to be fun.

“After that, I realized what the practice of law was fit me pretty well, and I never looked back,” he said.

Glynias went on to law school at Washington University at St. Louis. He worked as a summer associate for Blackwell Sanders, now Husch Blackwell, which helped him to join the firm after his graduation in 2003.

As a summer associate, he quickly found his niche in employment law. He said he learned that the employers he represents want to treat employees well, create a good environment for their workers and follow the law.

Sometimes the latter point can be especially difficult, he said.

“The law is like a labyrinth at times,” he said. “Providing them that counsel was gratifying. Plus, the reality is [that] the best way to protect jobs is to help the good employers that create jobs.”

In 2018, Glynias served as lead counsel in a significant case in which he represented longtime client ConAgra Foods before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In the suit, ConAgra employees in Arkansas brought claims of Fair Labor Standards Act violations against the company. They argued that they should be paid for time putting on and removing personal protective gear outside of their plant’s production areas and also for time checking their tools in and out.

Neither situation was covered by a 2012 collective-bargaining agreement between the employee’s union and the company, however.

Further complicating the matter: a 2016 Arkansas Supreme Court ruling in an unrelated case that the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act required employers to pay for time employees spent putting on and removing protective equipment, regardless of any collective-bargaining agreement.

But Arkansas legislators then rewrote the law. Glynias faced the challenge of getting a federal appeals court to interpret the new law instead of following the recent ruling from the state Supreme Court. The 8th Circuit looked at the new law and ruled in favor of ConAgra.

“It’s a challenging issue as to whether a federal court of appeals will reach a conclusion different than the state Supreme court on an issue a state Supreme Court had reached two years previously,” he said. “The 8th Circuit, I think, reached a great result, following the will of the General Assembly.”

While the case centers on Arkansas law, Glynias said it will have far-reaching effects for the wider 8th Circuit, which includes Missouri.

Glynias said the efforts of his colleagues, including A.J. Weissler, Brittany Falkowski and Mark Arnold, were key to the success of the case.

“It was very much a group effort,” he said.

Outside of the office, Glynias enjoys spending time with family and coaching his children’s sports teams.

“All of my time that’s not here is dedicated to chasing them down courts and fields, which is fun,” he said.

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