Brian D. Lipkin

Top rated business litigation attorney in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Houston Harbaugh, P.C.
Brian D. Lipkin
Houston Harbaugh, P.C.

Practice Areas: Business litigation, Employment litigation, Employment & labor; view more

Licensed in Pennsylvania since: 2016

Education: Boston College Law School

Languages Spoken: English, Spanish

Selected to Rising Stars: 2013 - 2015, 2017 - 2023
Free Consultation

Houston Harbaugh, P.C.

Three Gateway Center
401 Liberty Avenue, 22nd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222 Visit website


Brian works with businesses and individuals to find creative solutions to challenging problems. He serves clients as counselor, outside general counsel, and trial lawyer.

Business Litigation

An experienced trial lawyer, Brian represents businesses in all types of litigation. Brian works with clients on contract, environmental, product liability, and real estate disputes. He represents businesses in intellectual property disputes involving patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. When disputes arise between business owners, Brian helps clients to understand and enforce their rights. Brian also serves as local counsel to out-of-state lawyers.

Brian has tried cases to juries with excellent results.

To represent clients effectively, Brian enjoys learning about their businesses. For example, Brian completed fall protection training to become certified to climb billboards, escorted a client’s mascots through an international toy fair, and traveled with a client to interview witnesses at a motorcycle expo.

In addition to representing businesses in litigation, Brian serves as outside general counsel in negotiating contracts and providing advice.

Brian has been selected for inclusion in the Pennsylvania Rising Stars list. He practices in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, as well as Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith Litigation

Brian represents insurance companies in coverage disputes. He has researched and written many insurance coverage opinions.

When clients need to litigate insurance coverage disputes, Brian takes an efficient, practical approach. Brian also defends insurance companies against bad faith claims.

Brian advises businesses in evaluating their insurance coverage positions and identifying potential gaps in their risk management programs. He has experience with many types of insurance policies, including commercial crime, employment practices, excess/umbrella, general liability, marine, and professional liability policies.

Employment and Labor Litigation

Brian defends businesses against discrimination and retaliation claims filed by their employees. He represents businesses in non-compete, trade secret, wage and hour, and whistleblower cases. In addition to litigating cases in state and federal courts, Brian handles administrative proceedings before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

Brian has significant experience in occupational safety and health matters. He has successfully tried citations before the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and represented businesses in achieving many favorable settlements. Brian enjoys helping businesses to enhance their workplace safety programs.

Brian also advises businesses on employment and labor issues. He works with clients to develop affirmative action plans, employee handbooks, job descriptions, pay equity audits, policies, and restrictive covenants. Brian represents businesses and executives in negotiating employment agreements and severance agreements.

When clients have unionized workforces, Brian provides advice on collective bargaining agreements, labor disputes, and unfair labor practice charges.

Practice areas

Business litigation, Employment litigation: defense, Employment & labor: employer, Insurance coverage

Focus areas

Trade secret, Non-compete agreements, Employment discrimination, Wrongful termination, Retaliation, Employment law - employer, Unions, Wage & hour laws, Whistleblower, Sexual harassment, Labor law, Insurance, Bad faith insurance

  • 50% Business litigation
  • 30% Employment litigation: defense
  • 10% Employment & labor: employer
  • 10% Insurance coverage

First Admitted: 2009, Massachusetts

Professional Webpage:

  • Pennsylvania Super Lawyers, Rising Star, 2017-Present
  • , 10/10 Rating, AVVO, 2002
  • , Massachusetts Super Lawyers, Rising Star, 2013-2015
Educational Background:
  • Tufts University - Bachelor of Arts in Political Science & Spanish, 2005
  • Plaintiff's verdict - Kenney v. Conway, Dedham District Court No. 1354SU256, 2015
  • Defense verdict - U.S. ex rel. Jones v. Brigham and Women's Hospital - U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts No. 1:07-cv-11481, 2013
Scholarly Lectures/Writings:
  • When you are preparing or revising an employee handbook, this checklist may be helpful., Author, Is Your Employee Handbook Up to Date? Compare It With This Checklist, The Legal Intelligencer, 2018
  • Last week, the federal government issued new COVID vaccine rules that will apply to many federal contractors and subcontractors. These are the highlights., Author, Does Your Business Contract With the Federal Government? Here’s What You Need to Know About New COVID Vaccine Rules, JD Supra, 2021
  •  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the federal agency that enforces workplace safety and health rules. On May 19, OSHA issued two enforcement memos outlining its plans to inspect workplaces during the COVID-19 pandemic. These memos took effect on May 26.  As workplaces reopen, here is what employers can expect:, Author, What to Expect When You're Expecting OSHA to Visit Your Reopened Workplace, The Legal Intelligencer, 2020
  • In 2021, employers can expect a few significant developments from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)., Author, OSHA in 2021: Planning for the Year Ahead, The Legal Intelligencer, 2021
  • When an employee quits, the employer might dig through its files, dust off an old noncompete agreement, and see what rights (if any) it has under the agreement. Does this scenario sound familiar? Unfortunately, by the time an employee has quit, it’s too late to go back and correct an outdated or insufficient agreement. So, we recommend that each fall, employers look through their existing noncompete agreements (and other restrictive covenants, such as nonsolicitation agreements), and fix these eight common problems: Problem No. 1: Over the years, the employee signed multiple, conflicting agreements. Fix: When an employee signs a new agreement, it should clearly state that it replaces all previous agreements. Problem No. 2: The employee did not receive consideration—such as a new position, raise, bonus or promise of employment for a fixed time period—in exchange for signing the agreement. Fix: If an employer realizes that an employee may not have received adequate consideration, the employer can pay a bonus in exchange for signing a new agreement. By timing its review of restrictive covenants in the fall, an employer can prepare for employees to sign updated agreements when they receive year-end bonuses or raises. Problem No. 3: The agreement doesn’t detail what the employee is restricted from doing. Fix: We often see agreements that prohibit an employee from going to work for a “competitor.” The problem with this language is that it inevitably leads to a dispute about whether the new and old employers really compete with each other. If an employer is concerned about employees leaving for specific companies, those companies should be named in the agreement. The employer should add that the named companies are only examples, and that the employee is also prohibited from going to work for other companies doing business in a defined industry. Problem No. 4: The employee’s position, or the employer’s business, has changed since the agreement was signed. Fix: The employer should consider the restrictions in the original agreement, and confirm they still make sense. For example: since signing the agreement, does the employee still work in the same line of business, in the same geographic area? Does the employee still hold the same position, or have they changed responsibilities or gotten a promotion? What about the employer—has it moved, closed locations or opened new locations that now need to be protected? Has the employer entered new lines of business, or is it preparing to do so? Does it face any new competitive threats? Problem No. 5: The agreement limits an employee’s ability to compete, but it’s missing other restrictions. Fix: Employers often refer to all types of restrictive covenants as noncompete agreements. But a restriction on an employee’s ability to compete may not go far enough, so the employer should consider adding other restrictions. Nonsolicitation provisions can restrict employees from going after customers, other employees and referral sources. The employer can even require an employee to stay away from named customers and individuals, but should add that they are only examples. Employers should also consider including confidentiality provisions, (which do not need to be supported by consideration). Problem No. 6: The agreement doesn’t define what it means for an employee to “solicit.” Fix: To avoid any doubt, the agreement should restrict an employee from attempting to do business with any customer, other employee or referral source—even if the other person contacts the employee first. The agreement should also restrict the employee from engaging in solicitation indirectly, through another person. Problem No. 7: The agreement contains unenforceable restrictions. Fix: Pennsylvania courts enforce restrictive covenants, to the extent they are necessary to protect a legitimate business interest. The employer should think about whether it could explain to a future judge why it really needs the restrictions to protect its business. Does the employee’s position even require restrictive covenants? For instance, a sandwich chain infamously required its kitchen workers to sign noncompete agreements. If an agreement is needed, does it limit the employee’s activities for six months or one year?  Courts in Pennsylvania generally enforce these time periods with respect to covenants not to compete and solicit. Longer time periods have also been enforced, but they can be harder for employers to justify. Does the employer need to limit the employee’s activities worldwide or nationwide, or would a narrower geographic area be sufficient? An employer could consider restricting activities within particular states, counties or cities. Restrictions could also apply for a certain number of miles from locations of the employer and employee. We recommend that employers include a “blue pencil” provision, stating that if a judge finds the restrictions are too broad, their scope should be limited so that they can be enforced. Problem No. 8: The agreement doesn’t contain a mandatory “forum selection” provision identifying where any disputes over the agreement must be litigated. Fix: The employer should add this provision, and identify the state and federal court that are most convenient for the employer. For a court to enforce this provision, the selected location would need to be reasonably related to the employer or employee. By fixing these common problems, employers can put themselves in the best position to enforce noncompete agreements and other restrictive covenants in the future., Co-Author, Employers Should Fix These 8 Common Problems With Restrictive Covenants, The Legal Intelligencer, 2019
  • I moderated a program on "big data.", Moderator, I Like ‘Big Data’ and I Cannot Lie: How Numbers Can, and Should, Affect the Practice of Law in the Future, Allegheny County Bar Association Bench-Bar Conference, 2018
  • Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees may take an unpaid, job-protected leave of absence for certain family and medical reasons. Employers often find it challenging to keep track of their obligations under the FMLA. This article will help employers to avoid common problems by reviewing 10 of the top dos and don'ts., Author, Tune Up FMLA Compliance With Top 10 Dos and Don'ts, The Legal Intelligencer, 2017
Bar/Professional Activity:
  • Secretary - Allegheny County Bar Association - Young Lawyers Division, 2019
  • Treasurer - Allegheny County Bar Association - Labor and Employment Section Council, 2022
  • State of New Hampshire
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
  • State of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia
  • State of West Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the Western, Middle, and Eastern Districts of Pennsylvania
  • Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First and Third Circuits
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • Council Member - Allegheny County Bar Association - Labor & Employment Law Section, 2021
  • Mushroom Family Learning Center - Board of Directors, 2021
  • Mushroom Family Learning Center - Board of Directors, 2020
  • Co-Chair - Education Committee - Allegheny County Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division, 2019
  • Mushroom Family Learning Center - Board of Directors, 2019
  • Secretary - Allegheny County Bar Association - Young Lawyers Division, 2018
  • Pittsburgh Young Professionals, 2018
  • Council - Allegheny County Bar Association - Young Lawyers Division, 2017
  • Member - Programming Subcommittee - Allegheny County Bar Association Bench Bar Conference, 2017
  • Bar Leadership Initiative - Allegheny County Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division, 2016
  • Co-Chair - Massachusetts Practice and Procedure Committee, Boston Bar Association, 2014
Other Outstanding Achievements:
  • Speaker: Is your company hiring employees correctly?, 2021
  • Speaker: Is your company disciplining and firing employees correctly?, 2021
  • Speaker: Is your company paying workers correctly?, 2021

Office location for Brian D. Lipkin

Three Gateway Center
401 Liberty Avenue, 22nd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Phone: 412-288-2256


10 Years Rising Stars
  • Rising Stars: 2013 - 2015, 2017 - 2023

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