Practice and Industry Groups

Gray I. Mateo-Harris

Associate Chicago

Gray I. Mateo-Harris is an Associate in the Chicago office.  She represents employers in a variety of litigation and counseling matters involving employment and traditional labor law.  As a native Spanish speaker from the Dominican Republic, Gray enjoys providing Spanish language representation to clients in matters involving Spanish language witnesses and documents, including document review, depositions, mediations, administrative proceedings, internal investigations and EEO and other training.  Her clients include companies from a range of industries, such as software services, meat processing, financial services, retail, nursing homes, education and manufacturing.

She has extensive experience defending employers in litigation at the state and federal court level, including through trial and appeal.  Such experience includes defending employers in contract- and tort-based actions as well as with respect to claims arising out of state statutes such as the Illinois Human Rights Act, the Illinois Minimum Wage Law, the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, and federal statutes such as the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Gray also routinely represents employers before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Illinois Department of Human Rights, the Illinois Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board, as well as in arbitrations and mediations. 

Gray devotes a significant part of her practice to representing employers in traditional labor matters, including in organizing drives, union election proceedings, collective bargaining negotiations, grievance and contract arbitrations, labor due diligence reviews and unfair labor practice and other proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board.  Her practice also includes counseling employers on all stages of the employment relationship, including by drafting and negotiating offer letters and employment, restrictive covenant, severance and separation agreements, as well as drafting and implementing critical workplace policies and procedures, conducting employee and management EEO and other training, and strategically advising on workforce restructuring and union avoidance issues.

Gray was featured on June 23, 2015 on Univision television Spanish news as part of its A Tu Lado / On Your Side segment and was profiled in the June 2012 InsightsVoces section of Hispanic Executive Magazine.  She was recognized as a 2016 and 2017 Super Lawyers Rising Star as well as a 2017 Leading Lawyers Emerging Lawyer. Both distinctions are awarded to only the top 2.5% and 2%, respectively, of Illinois attorneys under age 40.

She has given several presentations and co-authored numerous articles on various employment-related topics, including federal EEO laws, union avoidance, the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act, the Military Family Leave provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, workplace technology issues, significant labor and employment law changes posed by the Obama administration, as well as Illinois-specific topics such as the protected classes covered by various local human rights laws, special leave of absence protections, restrictive covenants and the new concealed-carry and medical marijuana laws.

Gray has provided pro bono representation to various not-for-profit organizations on employment matters, and has represented indigent clients through the Circuit Court of Cook County Domestic Violence Clinic and the Northern District of Illinois Judicial Settlement Assistance Program.  She currently serves as a board member and Co-Chair of the Personnel Committee for Rape Victim Advocates, the largest rape crisis center providing advocacy and direct services in Illinois for survivors of sexual violence.  She also serves as board member, Programming Liaison and immediate past Chair of the Associate Board of the Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms, an organization that sponsors programs for its member law firms, minority partners, associates and law students in order to provide the Chicago legal community with the tools necessary to increase and sustain diversity in Chicago’s law firms.  She is also actively involved with the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, the Black Women Lawyers Association and the American Bar Association.

Gray routinely mentors traditionally underrepresented students interested in the legal profession through the Chicago Committee, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, and University of Illinois College of Law.  Gray recently served on the College of Law’s Latino/a Law Students Association Scholarship Committee, helping to endow the College’s first ever scholarship for Latino/a students.     

Before joining the firm, Gray worked as an Associate in the Labor & Employment Practice Groups of Proskauer Rose LLP and Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP.  Gray previously clerked at Baker and McKenzie and for the District of Columbia Employment Justice Center.  She represented the federal government while clerking for the Employment Litigation Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Nutrition Service branch.  Gray also drafted and published Final Agency Decisions on employment matters during her time with the USDA Office of Civil Rights.  In addition, Gray worked as Mediation Coordinator and certified Chief Mediator for the University of Illinois Office for Student Conflict Resolution. 

Gray earned her J.D., cum laude, from the University of Illinois College of Law in 2008 and her B.S., cum laude, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2005, where she triple majored in Psychology, Speech Communications and Gender & Women Studies after studying abroad in Granada, Spain.  While in law school, she served as Notes Editor for the Journal of Law, Technology and Policy, where her note, “The New Face of Child Pornography: Digital Imaging Technology and the Law” was published in the Spring 2008 issue.  She received a Rickert Award for Excellence in Advocacy after serving as Editor and Coach of the Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition.  After placing second at the Regional Moot Court level, she advanced to the final level at the National Moot Court competition.  She also served as a legal fellow in the University of Illinois Civil Litigation Clinic representing low-income clients in a variety of civil matters.  Gray received the CALI Award for Academic Excellence in Employment Discrimination Law, the American Association for Justice Alia Herrera Award for her essay on alternative dispute resolution, the Women’s Bar Foundation Scholarship, and the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois Scholarship. 


Experience

Employment Law: Litigation Experience

  • Represented international software services provider in Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, breach of contract and unjust enrichment state lawsuit, including through a successful motion to dismiss.
  • Represented national faith-based pension fund and various executive-level individuals in breach of contract, negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy state lawsuit, including through a successful motion to dismiss.
  • Represented beef, chicken and pork slaughtering and processing company as second chair trial attorney in temporary restraining order proceedings and through trial in breach of contract, tortious interference with contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of the duty of loyalty and conversion federal lawsuit, including by drafting bench memoranda and other filings, conducting witness preparation, taking and defending depositions and conducting witness examination and cross-examination at trial.
  • Represented nationwide refiner of precious metals in the company’s Illinois Trade Secrets Act, breach of contract, tortious interference with contract, tortious interference with business expectancies and slander per se state lawsuit against a former employee, including through defeating a motion to dismiss.
  • Represented international developer and retailer of software solutions and executive-level individual in whistleblower state lawsuit, including through a successful motion to dismiss.
  • Represented nursing home entity in defense of Family and Medical Leave Act discrimination, interference and retaliation federal lawsuit, including through a judicial settlement conference.
  • Represented global financial services firm in gender and pregnancy discrimination state lawsuit, including through a successful motion to dismiss and for summary judgment.
  • Represented national manufacturer and distributor of syrups in breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, constructive trust, declaratory judgment and accounting state lawsuit, including by taking the deposition of plaintiff’s treating physician and a successful motion for summary judgment.
  • Represented national faith-based pension fund in disability discrimination federal lawsuit.
  • Represented national accounting firm in gender discrimination, Equal Pay Act and retaliation federal lawsuit both at the district and appellate levels, including through successful motions to dismiss, for summary judgment and for sanctions.
  • Represented national retailers of bedding in wage and hour class action federal lawsuit pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Illinois Minimum Wage Law and the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, including through a successful motion to dismiss.
  • Represented international manufacturer and retailer of landscaping pavers and retaining walls in wage and hour class action federal lawsuit.
  • Defended various companies in numerous charges of discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation based on race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity / transgender, pregnancy, disability, age and other categories protected under federal and state laws before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Illinois Department of Human Rights, the Illinois Human Rights Commission and several other state agencies, including representing the company at fact-finding conferences and mediations.
  • Represented residential and office space provider against wage claim before the Illinois Department of Labor.
  • Represented several individuals in contested unemployment appeal hearings.
  • Represented employees pro bono in national origin discrimination, race discrimination and retaliation lawsuits through the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Settlement Assistance Program.

Traditional Labor Law: Litigation Experience

  • Represented large community care organization and its hospitals in unfair labor practice charges before the National Labor Relations Board concerning operational decisions to close hospital units given low patient census and alleged refusal to provide requested information to the Union.
  • Represented major cable and satellite television news channel in a variety of unfair labor practice charges regarding employee classification matters and in related appellate proceedings.
  • Represented worldwide manufacturer and distributor of steel and steel related products in various unfair labor practice charges before the National Labor Relations Board concerning allegations of retaliation and discrimination motivated by union animus.
  • Represented multinational confectionary, food and beverage company in various unfair labor practice charges before the National Labor Relations Board concerning allegations of retaliation and discrimination motivated by union animus.
  • Represented largest manufacturer of building products in North America in various unfair labor practice charges before the National Labor Relations Board concerning a myriad of allegations including the removal of union literature, unlawful surveillance, the maintenance of unlawful solicitation and distribution policies, and discrimination and retaliation motivated by union animus. 
  • Represented manufacturer and supplier of products and services used worldwide in building and construction in a trial, as well as with respect to various unfair labor practice charges, before the National Labor Relations Board concerning several allegations including the Company’s alleged unilateral change to the status quo insurance benefits and lockout / tagout policy of bargaining unit members, as well as in the company’s own charge against the union for failure to bargain in good faith.  
  • Represented nursing home conglomerate in unfair labor practice charges before the National Labor Relations Board concerning allegations of retaliation and discrimination motivated by union animus as well as unlawfully discouraging union support.   
  • Represented a national, wholesale distributor of convenience store items in unfair labor practice charge before the National Labor Relations Board.
  • Represented beef, chicken and pork slaughtering and processing company in grievance arbitration concerning the impact of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s revised regulations concerning donning and doffing time and meal breaks for inspectors on the work day of bargaining unit members, including by drafting a post-hearing brief.
  • Represented national steel service center in breach of contract grievance arbitration.
  • Represented international manufacturer of beef food products in unjust discipline grievance arbitration.
  • Represented international retailer, maintenance and repair service provider and rental services provider of specialized equipment in unjust discharge grievance arbitration.
  • Represented four Illinois charter schools before the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board in connection with their teachers’ unionization efforts.

Employment Law: Counseling Experience

  • Provided in-house legal services on a part-time basis to leading provider of railcars and related freight car management services to the North American rail industry, including by drafting memoranda to management-level employees, letters to vendors, land sale and lease agreements, consulting agreements and business associate agreements under HIPAA.
  • Represented Illinois LLC in negotiating and drafting various agreements governing existing corporate and employment relationship(s) as well as in the formation of a new corporate entity to be certified as a Minority Owned Business Enterprise. 
  • Prepared employment agreements, restrictive covenant agreements and offer letters on behalf of several companies.
  • Prepared and conducted various anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training sessions for numerous companies.
  • Prepared various employee handbooks and policies for numerous companies.
  • Counseled and prepared employers and their employees for the taking of their depositions as well as their direct and cross examinations at trial.
  • Counseled multiple companies through the adoption and implementation of various policies.
  • Counseled companies through the terminations and reductions in force process.
  • Counseled companies through the evaluation of accommodation requests under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the new Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act.
  • Counseled company and several individuals through the unemployment hearing and appeal process.
  • Counseled several individuals as to breach of contract, discrimination, and various common law claims.

Traditional Labor Law: Counseling Experience

  • Represented four Illinois charter schools in first contract collective bargaining negotiations and related matters.
  • Represented various companies in successive collective bargaining negotiations and related matters.
  • Advised companies with respect to the implementation of myriad workplace policies and potential issues under the National Labor Relations Act.
  • Counseled companies with respect to union avoidance, organizing drives and election procedures.
  • Counseled companies with respect to National Labor Relations Board investigations and in connection with grievances, arbitrations, workforce restructuring and discipline of bargaining unit members.
  • Conducted labor due diligence reviews in connection with corporate transactions.
  • Conducted union avoidance and related training for employees and management.

Professional Activities and Speeches

Professional Activities:

  • American Bar Association
  • Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois
  • Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Black Women Lawyers Association
  • Rape Victim Advocates (Board Member and Co-Chair, Personnel Committee)
  • Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms (Board Member, Programming Liaison and Immediate Past Chair of the Associate Board)

Speeches:

  • Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms - ''The State of the Hispanic American Attorney'' - Chicago - October 07, 2015
  • Univision Television Spanish News A Tu Lado / On Your Side - ''Conoce Los Derechos De Un Sindicato” / “Know The Rights of a Union'' - Chicago - June 23, 2015
  • Chicago Association of Legal Personnel Administrators (CALPA) - ''Diversity Issues in Hiring'' - Chicago - June 09, 2015
  • McDonald's Corporation - ''Labor and Employment Law Update'' - Oak Brook - August 11, 2014
  • McDonald's Corporation - ''2012 Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Avoidance Training'' - Oak Brook - June 18, 2012
  • The Greater North Michigan Avenue Association - ''2011 Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Training'' - Chicago - December 07, 2011
  • Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Expo - ''Social Media – How to Leverage Online Tools to Help Expand Your Business'' - Chicago - August 04, 2011
  • 2010 Society of Human Resource Professionals Social Media Bootcamp - ''An Employer’s Guide to Successfully Navigating Social Networking Issues'' - Chicago - August 24, 2010

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