Michael Gray's practice focuses on representing corporate clients with labor and employment matters, including class action and multiplaintiff employment discrimination lawsuits, state law overtime class actions, FLSA collective actions, and trade secret and restrictive covenant matters. He represents employers throughout the U.S. in bench and jury trials, administrative hearings, arbitrations, and appellate courts in matters arising under federal and state antidiscrimination laws, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the FMLA, ERISA, Sarbanes-Oxley Act, labor management relations laws, and state law wrongful discharge, statutory, contract, and tort claims. Michael also advises clients on preventive measures, including reviewing employment policies, counseling on disciplinary actions and investigations, negotiating severance and release agreements for executive terminations, and conducting employment practices reviews.
Michael brings a creative, business-minded approach to problem-solving and litigation. In recognition by Chambersand Legal 500, clients praised him by stating "he's the guy I want in front of the judge" and "quickly gets down to the nuts and bolts and gets people focused on what's important — his approach is unique and he gets exceptional results."
Michael leads the Labor & Employment Practice in the Chicago Office. He is a frequent speaker for the ABA's Labor and Employment Section, the National Employment Law Institute, and NYU's Center for Labor and Employment Law. He is a member of the advisory board of The Cornell Institute for Hospitality Labor and Employment Relations and chairs the Practising Law Institute's Understanding Employment Law annual program in Chicago. Michael enjoys working with Chicago community organizations and contributes pro bono legal services to Lambs Farm, The Newberry Library, and the Anixter Center.
Advocate Health Care Network defends against statewide wage-hour class and collective action
WHM LLC obtains summary judgment on Florida wage-hour class action
Restaurant companies obtain dismissal of purported statewide minimum wage class action by Florida court
HONORS & DISTINCTIONS
Named one of the "Nation's Most Powerful Employment Attorneys" by HR Executive magazine and Lawdragon for the last five years
Recognized as one of 14 Leading Lawyers nationally for employment litigation by The Legal 500 US
Consistently ranked as a top employment lawyer by Chambers USA, The Legal500US, Best Lawyers, and Illinois Super Lawyers
Fellow, The College of Labor & Employment Lawyers
Northwestern University (J.D. 1992; Editorial Board, Journal of International Law and Business); University of Michigan (B.A. 1989)
Illinois; U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Central, and Southern Districts of Illinois and the Northern and Southern Districts of Indiana; and the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Third, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Circuits
For more than 40 years, Willis Goldsmith has represented management before state and federal trial and appellate courts in matters arising under the NLRA, Section 301 of Taft-Hartley, ERISA, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and OSHA, as well as in injunction, breach of contract, and employment cases. He also regularly represents management in collective bargaining and in labor contract administration.
Among his noteworthy matters is Chamber of Commerce v. Brown, which Willis argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court, reversing an en banc decision of the Ninth Circuit, held that a California statute that prevented employers from using state funds to lawfully deter union organizing was preempted by the NLRA, noting federal labor policy favoring employer speech regarding union organizing.
Willis was Partner-in-Charge in New York from 2008 through 2012, when he was required to step down from that position pursuant to the terms of the Partnership Agreement; from 1991 to 2006, he chaired the Firm's Labor & Employment Practice. He is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers; a Member of the Labor Law Advisory Committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; an Advisor, American Law Institute Restatement of the Law Third Employment Law; a Member of the Advisory Board of the NYU School of Law Center for Labor and Employment Law, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, and the Labor and Employment Law sections of the New York State Bar Association (Section Secretary, 2013-2014) and of the ABA. He is a Director of the Corporation of Yaddo, the upstate New York artists' retreat, and a Member of the Board of New York Appleseed.