JAMES S. WHITEHEAD is senior counsel in Sidley’s Chicago office. He joined the firm in 1975 after clerking for the Honorable John Paul Stevens on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and became a partner in 1981.
Mr. Whitehead has practiced in all areas of employment and labor law for over 35 years. He has extensive experience in the defense of employers in employment litigation in federal and state courts and administrative agencies throughout the nation, including the defense of discrimination, harassment, wage-hour, and other federal and state statutory and common law employment claims.
Many of the employment cases in which Mr. Whitehead has been involved have been brought as class or collective actions. As a result, he has extensive experience in opposing class certification motions, has worked directly with expert witnesses in the fields of statistics and industrial psychology in response to class motions and in preparation for trial, and has both tried class action cases and resolved class actions through negotiated settlements.
Mr. Whitehead has extensive experience in representing the nation’s Class I railroads in both employment and labor relations cases arising under the Railway Labor Act and other federal transportation statutes. In addition, Mr. Whitehead has represented the entire rail industry in judicial actions that have established that state statutes and administrative actions are preempted by the Federal Railroad Safety Act.
Mr. Whitehead also has represented employers in over 60 labor and employment cases at the appellate level, including cases in the United States Supreme Court, the Illinois Supreme Court, the Illinois Appellate Court, and nine of the federal circuits.
Mr. Whitehead serves as a Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School where he teaches classes in Employment & Labor Law, Employment Discrimination Law, and Labor-Management Relations Law. He also provides training to firm clients on avoiding employment law claims.
On a pro bono basis, Mr. Whitehead represents employees in employment-related matters through court appointments and as a result of his affiliation with the Center for Disability and Elder Law. In addition, he and a team of firm attorneys are engaged in representing an Alabama death-row inmate in post-conviction proceedings.