John B. Lewis

Partner

Cleveland
T +1.216.861.7496
F +1.216.696.0740

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

— Chambers USA 2015

Overview

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 Federal Railroad Safety Act and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, as well as wrongful discharge, trade secret, noncompetition and work-related tort claims. He has participated in more than 90 cases before federal and state appellate courts, including filing amicus briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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, arbitration, preemption, 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

  • Prepared amicus briefs and presented oral argument before the Ohio Supreme Court regarding when waiver of the right to arbitrate occurs in the putative class action context.
  • Lead defense counsel in an 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 a team that persuaded the Ohio Supreme Court to adopt the federal standards for class certification under Ohio Rule 23.
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Experience

  • Prepared amicus briefs and presented oral argument before the Ohio Supreme Court regarding when waiver of the right to arbitrate occurs in the putative class action context.
  • Lead defense counsel in an 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 a team that persuaded the Ohio Supreme Court to adopt the federal standards for class certification under Ohio Rule 23.
  • Successfully defended a multiparty arbitral award involving seniority issues, resulting in a published Sixth Circuit opinion outlining the applicable deferential standard of review.
  • Secured a defense verdict in an action brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that a railroad discriminated against a minority employee in granting a leniency reinstatement.
  • Presented oral argument in a case before a state appellate court where the judges found insufficient allegations of injury in a putative class action.
  • Successfully defended a wage and hour action by enforcing the class action waiver in a mandatory arbitration agreement.
  • Represented a telecommunications company before the Sixth Circuit, persuading the panel that an alleged past act of discrimination impacting a seniority system was not actionable.
Reported Decisions
  • Gembarski v. PartsSource, Inc., 157 Ohio St. 3d 255, 2019-Ohio-3231 (Ohio Sup. Ct. 2019). (Amicus briefs and oral argument on behalf of Ohio Management Lawyers Association).
  • Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, 138 S. Ct. 1612 (2018) (Amicus brief on behalf of seven organizations concerning the viability of an arbitration agreement with class action waiver despite the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act.)
  • Campbell-Ewald Company v. Gomez, 136 S. Ct. 663 (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) (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 oral 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 and Memberships

Recognitions

  • American Inns of Court, Achieving Excellence Program: Platinum Level (2018 to 2019)
  • Chambers USA: Labor & Employment in Ohio (2003 to 2017)
  • The Best Lawyers in America® (1995 to Present)
    • Ohio: Employment Law – Management
    • Ohio: Labor Law – Management
    • Ohio: Litigation – Labor and Employment
  • Best Lawyers® "Lawyer of the Year" (2018)
  • Human Resource Executive "Nation's Most Powerful Employment Attorneys – Top 100" (2011 to 2017)
  • Martindale-Hubbell: AV Preeminent
  • Ohio "Super Lawyer" (2004 to 2021)
  • Lawdragon, 500 Leading U.S. Corporate Employment Lawyers (2020)
    • Hall of Fame member - 500 Leading U.S. Corporate Employment Lawyers (2021)

Memberships

  • American Law Institute: Life Member
    • Restatement of the Law, The U.S. Law of International Commercial Arbitration: Members Consultative Group
  • William K. Thomas Inn of Court
    • President (2018 to 2019)
    • 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

Blog Posts

Featured Video

John Lewis on: What is the Federal Arbitration Act?
Play Video

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, Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh 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
  • J.D., University of Missouri School of Law
  • B.A., University of Missouri

Blog

In The Blogs

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Employment Class Action Blog
The Fifth Circuit Now Considers Who Are ‘Parties' in an FAA Action to Compel Arbitration
By John B. Lewis
November 19, 2021
By John B. Lewis In two prior blogs, we have focused on a dispute over federal court jurisdiction to confirm or vacate an arbitration award under Section 9 and Section 10 of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). The dispute resulted in a...
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Employment Class Action Blog
The Supreme Court Argument Only Underscored the Complexities of Federal Court Jurisdiction Over Arbitration Awards
By John B. Lewis
November 9, 2021
By John B. Lewis One might expect that the plain text of a statutory provision would be in line with the overall goal of the law. But when that statute is the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), it’s not necessarily the case. And many people...
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Employment Class Action Blog
The Fifth Circuit Again Considers the ‘Forby' Case and When the Right To Arbitrate Is Waived Based on an Amended Complaint
By John B. Lewis
October 8, 2021
By John B. Lewis As we have said in the past, determining when a party waives its right to arbitrate is never easy and the nuanced standards vary among the circuits. Now a case that has come to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth...
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Employment Class Action Blog
While the Ninth Circuit Added Clarity in Its Recent Uber Opinion, Legislative Challenges to Mandatory Arbitration May Be Ahead
By John B. Lewis
August 11, 2021
A U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit panel ruled that Uber Technologies drivers don’t fall within the Section 1 exemption of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) to mandatory arbitration because they are not a class of workers...
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Employment Class Action Blog
Arbitration Agreement with Conflicting Provision in Two Languages Saved by FAA Default Rule
By John B. Lewis
July 22, 2021
The California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District recently added clarity to a somewhat puzzling trial court decision that had sent an employment dispute to nonbinding arbitration. See Western Bagel Co. Inc. v. Superior Court...
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