Lisa Handler Ackerman Of Counsel

     

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Lisa Handler Ackerman is a dynamic litigator who focuses on employment defense as well as insurance coverage matters. Lisa’s innate ability to communicate and connect with others has earned her the respect of clients and colleagues as well as judges and adversaries.

A significant portion of Lisa’s practice involves counseling employers on personnel issues and defending them in employment-related claims, including class actions and multiparty lawsuits. A number of her recent cases have centered on “hot button” employment issues such as invasion of privacy claims, including claims brought under the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), wage and hour laws, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as it relates to employees and equal access, and whistleblower claims. She has litigated employment cases in state and federal courts and taken appeals up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the coverage area, Lisa has substantial experience representing insurance carriers in matters arising from a myriad of policy types, providing opinions on defenses and handling litigation nationwide. She also has defended clients in general litigation matters, including negligence, premises liability, wrongful death and breach of contract cases.

Lisa is the representative of the Chicago office to Wilson Elser’s national diversity and inclusion initiative, WAVE (Women Attorneys Valued & Empowered), and she is the immediate past chair of the Labor and Employment Committee of the Chicago Bar Association. Lisa regularly publishes articles and gives presentations on a variety of topics relative to her extensive labor and employment practice.

Areas of Focus

Employment & Labor
On behalf of employers, Lisa has extensive experience defending cases brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act, the FMLA, the ADA and its 2008 amendment, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act, and state law fair employment statutes. She also handles tort, contract and whistleblower claims. In addition, Lisa has successfully defended employers in charges of discrimination filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), U.S. Department of Labor, and various state agencies throughout the country.

Lisa also has extensive experience representing clients in claims brought under the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), including counseling clients on BIPA compliance and defending such claims in state and federal court.

Lisa regularly advises employers on personnel issues such as hiring and firing, layoffs, disciplinary actions, compliance with state and federal wage and hour laws, harassment investigations, and covenants not to compete. She also works with clients to draft and implement employment policies designed to minimize the risk of employment litigation. 

Insurance Coverage
As coverage counsel, Lisa monitors and evaluates the underlying litigation, advises clients on settlement strategies, and attends mediations on behalf of insurance companies. She has analyzed complex coverage issues arising under employment practices, commercial general liability, and products liability policies, as well as errors and omissions policies covering a broad range of professionals. Her experience includes umbrella and excess policies.

Representative Matters

Obtained dismissal of punitive damages from claim alleging violation of the Illinois Whistleblower Act, and successfully opposed Motion to Certify for Interlocutory Appeal. 

Successfully enforced client’s arbitration agreement, including a class action waiver, in two class action lawsuits brought against nationwide client: a wage and hour claim brought in the federal district court for the Northern District of Illinois, and a BIPA claim brought in the Circuit Court of Cook County. 

Obtained dismissal of common law retaliatory discharge claim in Complaint and as re-pled in Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint. 

Successfully negotiated, and obtained court approval of, a seven-figure settlement of class action claims brought under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law, collective action brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and individual multi-Plaintiff claims of harassment, retaliation, battery, and violation of the Illinois Gender Violence Act. 

Obtained dismissal of action brought under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act alleging that client permitted barriers to access in place of public accommodation. 

Successfully negotiated, and obtained court approval of, a seven-figure class action settlement arising under failure to hire claims brought under Title VII and Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 2, 2016). 

Successfully negotiated, and obtained court approval of, settlement of a class action alleging violations of the Illinois Minimum Wage Law, the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, the Illinois Day and Temporary Labor Services Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and individual, multi-Plaintiff claims of retaliation. 

Obtained dismissal of claim alleging violation of the Illinois Gender Violence Act against Defendants- corporations. 

Successfully dismissed Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act claim thereby substantially shortening the statute of limitations as to the putative class’ wage and hour claims.

Defended an FMLA claims administrator in a putative nationwide class action lawsuit brought in federal court in Illinois. Plaintiff alleged that defendant incorrectly administered his FMLA claim on behalf of his former employer as well as the FMLA claims of the administrator’s nationwide clients, named in the lawsuit as Doe defendants. Plaintiff also sued our client in a national class action for intentional interference of employment, claiming that plaintiff and the putative class members were terminated from their jobs because of the FMLA administrator’s failure to properly administer FMLA requests. Successfully convinced the court to dismiss the FMLA interference claim against our client on the basis that it is not a covered employer under the FMLA; to dismiss the Doe defendants for lack of subject matter jurisdiction as plaintiff has no cognizable injury against the companies that did not cause him injury; and to strike the national class action allegations from the intentional interference claim against our client.

Defended a large Chicago hotel in an ADA lawsuit filed by a disabled guest in federal court in Illinois alleging our client allowed the existence of barriers to access. Resolved matter through the successful negotiation of a consent decree. This lawsuit is one of many filed across the country on behalf of certain disability advocacy groups and the groups’ members, who allegedly make one visit to places of public accommodation such as shopping centers and hotels and take note of ways in which the places fail to provide disabled persons with equal access to all of their facilities. It is important to obtain an early and favorable resolution, as we did in this case, because such ADA actions largely are driven by the ability of plaintiff’s attorneys’ to recover attorney’s fees.

Defended a car dealership in a multi-plaintiff, putative class action lawsuit alleging failure to pay overtime wages under the FLSA and Illinois Minimum Wage Law. Plaintiffs conceded to motion to dismiss claims of unjust enrichment, breach of contract and quantum meruit as being preempted by the statutes.

Defended a construction company in a multi-plaintiff lawsuit filed in federal district court in Illinois alleging sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violation of federal and state wage and hour laws. Defeated plaintiffs’ motion to begin notice of a collective action under the FLSA early on in the case, avoiding the burden and expense of class-wide discovery.

Defended an insurance agency in a multi-plaintiff class action lawsuit filed in federal district court in Illinois under federal and state wage and hour laws alleging that our client failed to pay overtime. Convinced the court to de-certify its prior decision to certify the class action claim under the Illinois Minimum Wage Law.

Obtained dismissal of an Illinois state court action filed by a former employee against our client, an international retail company, for battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress allegedly caused when she was hugged by a co-worker.

Obtained dismissal of common law retaliatory discharge claim against individual defendants in a lawsuit in Indiana state court.

Represented a national investment manager and benefits provider before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Successfully opposed plaintiff’s appeal seeking to reverse the district court’s order granting our client summary judgment on plaintiff’s claim she was terminated because of her age.

Represented a frozen food manufacturer before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court, defeating plaintiff’s appeal seeking to reverse the district court’s order granting summary judgment to our client on plaintiff’s claims of sex, color, race, national origin and age discrimination, and successfully opposing plaintiff’s petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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