Michael D. Ray

Shareholder Charlotte | Chicago

Michael (“Mike”) Ray represents and counsels employers on the full spectrum of labor and employment matters. Mike regularly litigates class and collective actions under federal and state law, has successfully tried multiple cases to a full defense verdict, and has served as first-chair trial counsel in multiple proceedings and forums. Mike has particular experience in high-stakes litigation and strives to help employers reach practical and creative solutions to their problems. Mike understands that there is no “one size fits all” approach to labor and employment matters, and he regularly partners with companies to achieve strategies and solutions that meet both their legal and business objectives.

Mike has been named an Illinois Super Lawyer “Rising Star” every year since 2013. The Rising Star distinction is awarded to attorneys under the age of 40 based on various indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. This recognition is awarded to no more than 2.5% of practicing Illinois attorneys.

In addition to his practice, Mike is a regular speaker and author on the labor and employment issues facing employers.

Prior to joining Ogletree Deakins nearly a decade ago, Mike served as a law clerk for current Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Thomas Saylor.


Experience

Trial Experience:

Mike has tried cases to verdict in courts across Illinois. Highlights of his trial results include:

  • Served as trial counsel for a manufacturer in a multi-plaintiff action under the Fair Labor Standards Act. After Mike and his Ogletree colleagues obtained decertification of the 400+-member class, Mike and his trial team obtained a full defense verdict at trial on the remaining plaintiffs’ claims. 
  • Served as court-appointed trial counsel for an incarcerated inmate alleging violation of his Constitutional rights. In that case, Mike won a directed verdict on his client’s claims at the close of the evidence.
  • Served as trial counsel for a large chemical company in state court injunction proceedings involving more than 1,000 picketers and demonstrators outside the company’s facility, and resulting in the judge issuing a restraining order in his client’s favor.
  • Mike has often served as lead counsel for companies of all sizes in labor arbitration matters with successful results.

Class and Collective Actions:

Mike regularly represents employers in class and collective actions under state and federal laws.  Mike has represented employers in a myriad of different industries and has significant experience in high-stakes and “bet the company”-type litigation. He has defended clients faced with both statewide and nationwide class actions. Mike has defended clients across many different industries including manufacturing, retail, temporary staffing and many others. Examples of his work include:

  • On behalf of a large window manufacturer, obtaining summary judgment on named plaintiff’s claims in a case of first impression under the Illinois Employee Classification Act resulting in dismissal of the state-wide class action, and successfully defending that result before the Illinois Appellate Court, resulting in a published opinion.
  • Defending multiple clients facing large class actions under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, including a statewide class action with 50,000-plus member class and multiple class actions with class sizes well in excess of one thousand members and reaching favorable resolutions of those matters.
  • Defending employers in connection with multiple nationwide class actions filed under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and reaching favorable resolutions to those cases.
  • Defending employers in collective actions under the FLSA and obtaining decertification and/or partial decertification of the class.
  • Defending employers against class action claims under the Illinois Day and Temporary Labor Services Act and successfully resolving those matters, including several matters resolved on a “walk-away” basis.

Wage and Hour Compliance

In addition to his litigation practice, Mike regularly helps companies navigate through complicated wage and hour issues. In addition to providing general advice and counsel on wage and overtime matters, Mike regularly leads audits of wage and hour practices and procedures, to ensure that employers fix any potential issues before they can lead to litigation. Further, Mike also represents and counsels employers in connection with audits conducted by the United States Department of Labor and the Illinois Department of Labor.

Employment

Mike regularly defends employers against discrimination and retaliation claims in the federal and state courts. Mike has obtained summary judgment at the district court level and has defended those judgments on appeal in the Seventh Circuit and other courts of appeal. Several of the cases Mike has argued and prevailed on in the appellate courts have resulted in published decisions. Mike also regularly defends employers before various federal and state agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Illinois Human Rights Commission, and the Illinois Department of Human Rights. In addition to litigating employment matters, Mike also regularly provides advice and counsel to companies on employment issues to help those clients avoid litigation in the future.

Traditional Labor

Mike’s traditional labor practice involves representing clients in arbitrations, labor injunction proceedings, and before the National Labor Relations Board.

Professional Activities and Speeches

Professional Activities:

  • American Bar Association
  • College of Wooster “W” Association (Association of Former Wooster Intercollegiate Varsity Athletes)

Speeches:

  • Performance Driven Forum - ''Everything I Need to Know About Ethics in the Workplace I Learned at the Movies'' - Greer - June 22, 2017

Published Works

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Our Insights

Media

Media Quotes

December 2013 - ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law (Contributing Editor) - "The Developing Labor Law - 2013 Supplement"
March 01, 2013 - SHRM website - "Fired Principal Lacks First Amendment Claim"
October 2011 - Compliance Online - "IRS Offers Employers a Worker Classification Do-Over"

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