John B. Lewis

Partner

Cleveland
T 216.861.7496  |  F 216.696.0740

John Lewis concentrates his practice on the resolution of complex employment, labor and regulatory disputes, including the defense and oversight of class action litigation. The majority of John’s time is devoted to litigation, appellate practice and alternative dispute resolution procedures involving federal and state anti-discrimination, wage and hour and fair housing laws, the Railway Labor Act, the Civil Rights Acts, the Federal Reserve Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Federal Railroad Safety Act, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and wrongful discharge, individual employment contract, trade secret, non-competition and work-related tort claims. He has participated in more than 80 cases before federal and state appellate courts. John has also defended insurance companies and retailers against claims that their policies and practices discriminate against minority customers or have an unlawful disparate impact on them.

Highly regarded in his field, John is an elected member of The American Law Institute and a Fellow of the College of Labor & Employment Lawyers. He is listed in Chambers USA, The Best Lawyers in America®, Who's Who in America, and Who's Who in American Law, and was named one of the "Nation’s Most Powerful Attorneys – Top 100" by Human Resource Executive Magazine. John regularly contributes to BakerHostetler's Employment Class Action blog and is a frequent speaker and author on employment, anti-discrimination, and class action law topics. He is also the author of the Employment Practice Self-Assessment Guide, Fourth Edition, published by Aegis Insurance Services, Inc.

Select Experience

  • Lead defense counsel in action alleging disability discrimination, breach of contract and breach of duty of fair representation claims under the Railway Labor Act. Prevailed at the District Court and Sixth Circuit levels.
  • Member of team that persuaded the Ohio Supreme Court to adopt the federal standards for class certification under Ohio Rule 23. 
  • Successfully defended multi-party arbitral award involving seniority issues, resulting in published Sixth Circuit opinion outlining the applicable deferential standard of review.
  • Secured defense verdict in action brought by the EEOC alleging that railroad discriminated against minority employee in granting leniency reinstatement.
  • Presented oral argument in case before state appellate court where the judges found insufficient allegations of injury in putative class action.
  • Successfully defended wage and hour action by enforcing the class action waiver in a mandatory arbitration agreement.
  • Represented telecommunications company before Sixth Circuit, persuading the panel that an alleged past act of discrimination impacting a seniority system was not actionable.
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Experience

  • Lead defense counsel in action alleging disability discrimination, breach of contract and breach of duty of fair representation claims under the Railway Labor Act. Prevailed at the District Court and Sixth Circuit levels.
  • Member of team that persuaded the Ohio Supreme Court to adopt the federal standards for class certification under Ohio Rule 23.
  • Successfully defended multi-party arbitral award involving seniority issues, resulting in published Sixth Circuit opinion outlining the applicable deferential standard of review.
  • Secured defense verdict in action brought by the EEOC alleging that railroad discriminated against minority employee in granting leniency reinstatement.
  • Presented oral argument in case before state appellate court where the judges found insufficient allegations of injury in putative class action.
  • Successfully defended wage and hour action by enforcing the class action waiver in a mandatory arbitration agreement.
  • Represented telecommunications company before Sixth Circuit, persuading the panel that an alleged past act of discrimination impacting a seniority system was not actionable.
Reported Decisions
  • Stammco, L.L.C. v. United Telephone Co. of Ohio, 136 Ohio St. 3d 231, 2013-Ohio-3019, 994 N.E. 2d 408 (Ohio Sup. Ct. 2013). (Stammco II) (Adopted federal standards for class certification under Ohio Rule 23).
  • Standard Fire v. Knowles, 133 S. Ct. 1345, (2013) (Amicus Brief in Class Action Fairness Act case).
  • Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, 133 S. Ct. 1426, 185 L.Ed. 2d 515, (2013) (Amicus Brief in case considering plaintiffs' damages model in class action).
  • Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co., 191 LRRM (BNA) 3062 (N.D. Ohio 2011), aff'd 700 F.3d 891 (6th Cir. 2012). (Defended petition to review multi-party arbitral award).
  • Emswiler v. CSX Transportation, Inc., 691 F.3d 782 (6th Cir. 2012). (ADA, exhaustion and Railway Labor Act preemption issues). 
  • Aracri v. Dillards, Inc., 17 WH Cases 2d (BNA) 985 (S.D. Ohio 2011). (Analyzed arbitration requirements and duty to engage in class/collective arbitration).
  • Thomas v. Jackson Hewitt, Inc., 192 Ohio App. 3d 732, 2011-Ohio-618, 950 N.E. 2d 578. (Presented argument in case where appellate court found insufficient allegations of injury in putative class action). 
  • Stammco, L.L.C. v. United Tel. Co. of Ohio, 125 Ohio St. 3d 91, 2010-Ohio-1042, 926 N.E. 2d 292 (Ohio Sup. Ct. 2010). (Stammco I) (Persuaded Ohio Supreme Court that class action definition was improper). 
  • Nerswick v. CSX Transportation, Inc., 692 F. Supp. 2d 866 (S.D. Ohio 2010), aff'd 441 F. App'x 320 (6th Cir. 2011). (Defended Section 1983 action against railway police). 
  • Corell v. CSX Transportation, Inc., 378 F. App'x 496, 109 FEP Cases (BNA) 689 (6th Cir. 2010). (Defended alleged gender discrimination action and challenged pretext analysis). 
  • Ratkosky v. CSX Transportation, Inc., 2009-Ohio-5690, 2009 Ohio App. LEXIS 4782, 29 IER Cases (BNA) 1693 (Ohio App. 2009). (Defamation and Railway Labor Act preemption). 
  • Bloedow v. CSX Transportation, Inc., (Bloedow II), 638 F. Supp. 2d 831 (N.D. Ohio 2009). (Res judicata and statute of limitations issues). 
  • Baldock v. CSX Transportation, Inc., 21 AD Cases (BNA) 990 (S.D. Ind. 2009). (Defended ADA action by bipolar applicant). 
  • Mattox v. Dillards Inc., 2008-Ohio-6488 (Ohio App. 2008). (Persuaded appellate court to enforce arbitration agreement without evidentiary hearing). 
  • Leffman v. Sprint Corporation, 481 F.3d 428 (6th Cir. 2007). (Defended seniority system against alleged past act of discrimination). 
  • Denczak v. Ford Motor Co., 215 F. App'x 442, 18 AD Cases (BNA) 1731 (6th Cir. 2007). (Analysis of ADA accommodation requirements). 
  • Housing Advocates, Inc. v. Farmers Ins. Co., 2006-Ohio-2467 (Ohio App. 2006). (Defended multiple insurance companies against allegations that they discriminated against minorities by charging higher rates in major metropolitan areas). 
  • Housing Advocates, Inc. v. American Fire & Cas. Co., 2006-Ohio-4495 (Ohio App. 2006). (Defended allegations of race discrimination against multiple insurance companies in sale of homeowners insurance). 
  • American Train Dispatchers Ass'n v. CSX Transportation, Inc., 177 LRRM (BNA) 3237 (N.D. Ohio 2005). (Defended action to review arbitration award). 
  • Bloedow v. CSX Transportation, Inc., 319 F. Supp. 2d 782 (N.D. Ohio 2004). (Duty of fair representation and breach of contract under Railway Labor Act). 
  • Anthony v. United Telephone Co. of Ohio, 227 F. Supp. 2d 763 (N.D. Ohio 2002), aff'd, 2004 U.S. App. LEXIS 21315 (6th Cir. 2004). (Defended ADA and FMLA action). 
  • Rogers v. Norfolk Southern Corp., 304 F. Supp. 2d 961 (S.D. Ohio 2003). (Defended ADA and Ohio disability action). 
  • Gulan v. Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, 8 WH Cases 2d (BNA) 1701, (N.D. Ohio 2003). (Defended FMLA action). 
  • Norfolk Southern Railway Co. v. International Longshoreman's Assn, Local 1913, 190 F. Supp. 2d 1021 (N.D. Ohio 2002). (Brought action that declared controversy a "minor dispute" under the Railway Labor Act). 
  • Robinson v. Nationwide Mutual Ins. Co., 87 FEP Cases (BNA) 1592 (Ohio App. 2001). (Defended Age discrimination action). 
  • Smoot v. United Transportation Union, 991 F. Supp. 913 (N.D. Ohio 1998), aff'd in part, 246 F.3d 633 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 534 U.S. 1001 (2001). (Duty of fair representation action with wiretap counterclaims). 
  • Barilla v. Patella, 144 Ohio App. 3d 524, 760 N.E.2d 898 (Cuyahoga Cty. 2001). (Age discrimination, defamation, negligent identification and tortious interference claims). 
  • State ex Rel. Warren Newspapers, Inc. v. Petro, 80 Ohio St. 3d 261 (1997). (Public Records Act action). 
  • Midland American Sales-Weintraub, Inc. v. Osram Sylvania, Inc., 874 F. Supp. 164 (N.D. Ohio 1995). (Tortious interference with contract). 
  • Henegar v. Banta, 27 F.3d 223 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 503 U.S. 1057 (1994). (Railway Labor Act preemption and defamation claim). 
  • Bresnick v. Beulah Park Ltd. Partnership, 67 Ohio St. 3d 302, 617 N.E. 2d 1096 (1993) (Amicus brief in action involving race track owner's common law rights). 
  • USA v. Alcan Aluminum Corporation, 964 F.2d 252 (3d Cir. 1992). (Amicus brief in environmental action). 
  • Elek v. Huntington Nat'l Bank, 60 Ohio St. 3d. 135, 573 N.E. 2d 1056 (1991). (Amicus brief for Civil Trial Lawyers Association in discrimination action). 
  • International Longshoreman's Ass'n. v. Lower Lake Dock Co., 927 F.2d 900 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 813 (1991). (Defended injunctive action with joint employer issues). 
  • Murray v. Thistledown Racing Club, 770 F.2d 63 (6th Cir. 1985). (Established prima facie case for reverse race discrimination action).

Recognitions

  • Lewis, John BChambers USA: Labor & Employment in Ohio (2003 to 2014)
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (1995 to 2015)
    • Cleveland: Employment Law – Management
    • Cleveland: Labor Law – Management
    • Cleveland: Litigation – Labor and Employment
  • Who's Who in America (1994 to 2012)
  • Who's Who in American Law (2002 to 2012)
  • Human Resource Executive "Nation's Most Powerful Employment Attorneys – Top 100" (2011 to 2014)
  • Martindale-Hubbell: AV Preeminent
  • Ohio "Super Lawyer" (2004 to 2014)

Services

Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
  • Missouri
  • Ohio

Education

  • LL.M., Columbia University, 1978
  • J.D., University of Missouri School of Law, 1972
  • B.A., University of Missouri, 1969

Blog

In The Blogs

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Employment Class Action Blog
Sixth Circuit Remands Memphis Title VII Disparate Impact Case, Yet Again
November 26, 2014
It’s hard not to feel sorry for the residents of Memphis, Tennessee.  Depending on which source you consult, its violent crime rate hovers between three and four times the national average, and various publications describe it as one of...
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Employment Class Action Blog
Fifth Circuit Rejects NLRB's D.R. Horton Decision - Too Soon For Champagne?
By John B. Lewis
December 4, 2013
Posted by John LewisCo-Authored By: Todd A. Dawson Arbitration is quickly becoming a major vehicle to resolve individual employee disputes.  Now another obstacle to enforcing those arbitration agreements and class action waivers may have...
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Employment Class Action Blog
Cullen v. State Farm - The Ohio Supreme Court
By John B. Lewis
November 19, 2013
Posted by John LewisThis blog post was co-authored by: Patrick T. Lewis, Michael D. Meuti and Robert J. Tucker On November 5, 2013, the Supreme Court of Ohio adopted the class certification principles announced in the U.S. Supreme Court's...
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Employment Class Action Blog
LexisNexis v. Crockett -- Sixth Circuit Performs A Gateway Analysis In Class Arbitration Controversy
By John B. Lewis
November 11, 2013
Posted by John LewisA Sixth Circuit panel has ruled that courts rather than arbitrators should determine whether class arbitration is authorized when the arbitration agreement “says nothing about classwide arbitration.”  Citing First...
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Employment Class Action Blog
Sixth Circuit Approves Fee Award Against the EEOC for Meritless Criminal Record Action
By John B. Lewis
October 15, 2013
Posted by John LewisA divided Sixth Circuit panel affirmed the district court decision in EEOC v. Peoplemark, Inc., (Case No. 11-2582) assessing fees and costs against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) totaling...
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John Lewis Discusses Arbitration Agreements and Class Action Waivers