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Joseph V. Kaplan, employment attorney, dies at 66 of COVID-19

Joseph V. Kaplan. (Submitted photo)

Joseph V. Kaplan. (Submitted photo)

Joseph V. Kaplan, an attorney who represented federal employees and moonlighted as a songwriter and actor, died April 22 from COVID-19. He was 66.

The Philadelphia native spent his more than 40-year legal career defending employees, according to a blog post on the website of Passman & Kaplan P.C. in Washington, where he was a founding principal. He was a member of the Maryland and District of Columbia bars.

A 1978 graduate of the Gonzaga University School of Law, Kaplan went on to earn an LL.M. degree from the George Washington University National Law Center, now the George Washington University Law School, where he focused on labor and employment law.

Kaplan began work in 1979 with the National Treasury Employees Union, where he was involved in labor litigation and negotiations. He entered private practice in 1986 as an associate with Passman & Broida in Washington. After a brief stint running his own legal practice, Kaplan in 1990 merged his firm with Edward Passman’s under the name Passman & Kaplan P.C.

“He and I have been partners since Jan. 1, 1990,” Edward H. Passman said Friday. “He was a terrific partner and a good friend.”

Passman noted that Kaplan served as the longtime president of the board of directors of Hexagon, a Washington nonprofit that creates and performs satirical and political musical revues to raise money for charities.


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  1. Mark and Pam Wagner

    So sorry to heat about his passing. My sympathies to Ellen, Robbie and the family. I’ve been saying prayers at synagogue and will continue to do so. It truly is unfair for him to be unnecessarily taken away.

  2. So sorry to hear about Joseph Kaplan’s passing. He was an honorable member of the bar and contributed much to Federal sector employment law over the years. My sympathies and thoughts for his family. He will be deeply missed.

  3. A gentleman and a scholar in every sense of the phrase. May his memory be for a blessing.

  4. An angel looking out for the betterment of humans, their dignity and their integrity in every way possible while doing thing in decency and in order. My friend has left a legacy to follw.

  5. Millicent Carvalho-Grevious

    A champion and generous trainer —he was a great person. Rest In Peace and God bless

  6. Michelle Payton-Kenner

    I learned today that Joe had passed and I am totally blown away! He was a gentlemen, kind and thoughtful. I need some advise on a case and he provided me some excellent feedback. We have lost a champion in the area of civil rights, equal employment, ADR and employment law! He will be deeply missed.

  7. Matt Rennert Stolper

    I just heard my old friend Joe Kaplan passed away. I am so saddened by this news.

    I first met Joe almost 40 years ago when I was a young recently graduated attorney with the National Treasury Employees Union. He took me under his wing and mentored me both professionally and personally. I carry many of those lessons with me to this day. He also had an encyclopedic knowledge of rock and roll trivia that was superior to anyone I have known! I regret letting our friendship lay fallow in recent years.

    Joe, my old friend, you are a mensch – rest in peace.