John B. Lewis

Partner

Cleveland
T 216.861.7496  |  F 216.696.0740

"John Lewis is a 'really outstanding labor lawyer.'"

— Chambers USA 2015

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, trade secret, non-competition and work-related tort claims. He has participated in more than 85 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, preemption, arbitration, defamation, and class action law topics. He is also the author of the Employment Practice Self-Assessment Guide, Fifth 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
  • Campbell-Ewald Company v. Gomez, 136 S. Ct. 663 (Jan. 20, 2016), (Amicus Brief concerning use of offer of judgment in Telephone Consumer Protection Act case).
  • Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo, 136 S. Ct. 1036, 2016 WL 1092414 (March 22, 2016), (Amicus Brief dealing with use of statistics for determining liability and damages and inclusion of uninjured class members in a class action under Rule 23 or a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act).
  • 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, 685 N.E. 2d 1223 (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 appeal asserting direct right to bring court 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

  • Chambers USA: Labor & Employment in Ohio (2003 to 2016)
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (1995 to 2017)
    • 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 2016)
  • Martindale-Hubbell: AV Preeminent
  • Ohio "Super Lawyer" (2004 to 2016)

Memberships

  • American Law Institute
    • Restatement of the Law, The U.S. Law of International Commercial Arbitration: Members Consultative Group
  • William K. Thomas Inn of Court: Master Bencher
  • American Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law Section
  • Ohio State Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law Section
  • Ohio Management Lawyers Association
  • The Supreme Court Historical Society
  • Selden Society

News

Press Releases

Blog Articles

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, Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia 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
Reining In Individual Arbitration – Ninth Circuit Rules Class Waivers Unenforceable
By John B. Lewis, Carrie A. Valdez
August 24, 2016
In a 2-1 ruling, the Ninth Circuit became the second federal court of appeals to agree with the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) position that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) prohibits class action waivers in employees’...
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Employment Class Action Blog
Eighth Circuit Stays the Course in the Cellular Sales of Missouri Opinion, Rejecting the NLRB’s Arguments Against Class Waivers
By John B. Lewis
June 6, 2016
Following in the wake of an earlier opinion, the Eighth Circuit rebutted the National Labor Relations Board’s (“Board”) arguments that by requiring employees to enter into arbitration agreements with a class and collective action waiver...
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Employment Class Action Blog
Lewis v. Epic Systems Opinion – Seventh Circuit Swimming Against the Tide on Mandatory Individual Arbitration
By John B. Lewis
May 31, 2016
In a sweeping May 26 opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit shook up the arbitral landscape and created a remarkable circuit split regarding the enforceability of arbitration agreements with class action waivers in the...
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Employment Class Action Blog
Standing Together to a Point: Spokeo Holding Reflects Broad Supreme Court Agreement on Standing Rules in Actions Raising Statutory Violations
By John B. Lewis
May 17, 2016
Amid the meteoric rise of statutory damage class action filings, the Supreme Court laid out ground rules on Monday for when a case meets both components of the injury-in-fact requirements of Article III. In a 6-2 opinion in Spokeo, Inc. v...
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Employment Class Action Blog
Collado v. J & G Transport, Inc. – When a Waived Right to Arbitrate is Revived
By John B. Lewis
April 26, 2016
Some may have thought that once waived, the right to arbitrate is gone forever. No so! The Eleventh Circuit decision in Collado v. J & G Transport, Inc., No. 15-14635 (11th Cir. April 21, 2016) is but the latest example. In that case...
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John Lewis Discusses Arbitration Agreements and Class Action Waivers