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Elizabeth D. McPhail


Elizabeth represents both public and private sector employers regarding the full range of labor and employment-related issues. Elizabeth counsels management clients in a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, health care, nonprofit and social services, long-term/nursing care, and food preparation, regarding their rights and obligations under various labor and employment statutes, including counseling them regarding wage and hour issues, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the National Labor Relations Act, the Taylor Law, and state and federal anti-discrimination laws. In essence, Elizabeth helps employers avoid costly and time consuming issues involving their employees and resolve problems with those employees if avoidance proves impossible.

Elizabeth provides employment services to union and non-unionized clients regarding disciplinary action and terminations, defending discrimination claims, attending unemployment hearings, assisting with mass layoffs or reductions in force, drafting employment agreements and separation/severance agreements, and counseling clients about the application of various state and federal employment laws. She provides a wide range of labor services to union employers in the public and private sectors, including advice about negotiations, defending labor arbitrations, processing grievances, and general advice about navigating the union environment.

Elizabeth also counsels school districts on a variety of topics, including negotiations with labor organizations, conducting discrimination investigations, teacher disciplinary issues, and general board of education governance.

Elizabeth counsels Canadian clients on a broad range of labor and employment legal issues related to expansion and acquisitions (due diligence) into the U.S. market.


Clemson University, B.A., cum laude

University at Buffalo School of Law, J.D.


  • New York
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of New York


  • Listed, Best Lawyers in America (Employment Law – Management) 2019 - 2024
  • Buffalo Business First's 40 Under Forty Award, 2011

News & Insights


  • Past Chair of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy Board of Trustees

  • Board Member and Board Officer of the Zonta International Empowering Women Through Service and Advocacy Club of Grand Island

  • Board Member Board of Directors Planned Parenthood of Western New York; Professionals Committee Member


Elizabeth is a member of the New York State Bar Association and Bar Association of Erie County.

Multimedia & Podcasts

  • Post-pandemic unionization trends — and how to navigate a union organizing campaign (podcast)

    Post-pandemic unionization trends — and how to navigate a union organizing campaign (podcast)

    Starbucks, Amazon, Chipotle, Trader Joe’s and other household names have been in the news lately for their union organization campaigns, a post-pandemic trend that likely won’t change anytime soon, according to Elizabeth McPhail, partner with Hodgson Russ. She said some of these unionization efforts are a “product of the social justice movements” and they’re changing labor union organizing.

    In the latest episode of the Thought Leaders in Law and Business podcast, presented by Hodgson Russ and The Business Journals, Buffalo Business First Publisher John Tebeau interviews McPhail and her colleague Asia Evans, associate and member of the labor and employment practice at Hodgson Russ, on what employers should consider when navigating a union organizing campaign.

    “When you get a union organizing campaign and they are coming with social justice issues and cultural connectivity (concerns), if the response is just, we're paying 50 cents an hour more than the competitor down the road and their union, and we're not union free, that is not a message that's going to resonate with employees,” McPhail said.

    Listen to this episode to learn more about:

    New organizing trends and how campaigns have changed post-pandemic.The importance of understanding employees’ wants and needs.Regulatory concerns to consider when responding to efforts to unionize.Anti-unionizing efforts that don’t violate labor laws.Bargaining with employees in good faith.Lessons learned from high-profile organizing campaigns (Starbucks, Amazon, etc.).The prominent senator Evans worked with during one of her internships.

Thought Leaders in Law and Business Podcast
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Elizabeth D. McPhail / News & Insights