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300 S. Wacker Drive
Suite 3400
Chicago IL 60606
TEL: 312.786.6164
FAX: 312.986.9192
Practice Areas
Education
  • J.D., cum laude, Indiana University School of Law, 1999
  • B.A., Indiana University, 1995 (political science)
Bar & Court Admissions
  • Illinois
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois – Trial Bar
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern and Southern Districts of Indiana
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Jeff Nowak

Partner
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Jeff Nowak is a partner in the Labor & Employment practice group at Franczek Radelet P.C. where he provides private and public-sector employers with advice and counsel on how to minimize legal risk so they can run the most profitable business and efficient operations without being side-tracked by discrimination claims, strikes, or other workplace issues. From sensitive employee termination issues to high-level harassment investigations to protection of their trade secrets, Jeff partners with our clients to help them meet their business objectives. If litigation is unavoidable, Jeff is a zealous advocate for our clients, having built a successful track record in dismissing employment claims against employers at the earliest stage possible and at the lowest cost. 

Jeff is widely recognized as one of the nation’s foremost FMLA and ADA leaders, regularly counseling clients on compliance with FMLA and ADA regulations, conducting FMLA/ADA audits and training, and successfully litigating FMLA and ADA lawsuits. Jeff is the author of the highly regarded FMLA Insights blog (www.fmlainsights.com), which has earned him entry into the ABA Journal’s Blogger Hall of Fame.

Jeff is a highly-sought after speaker on FMLA/ADA issues, most notably serving on the faculty of the National Employment Law Institute (NELI). Jeff is regularly quoted by business and legal publications on employment-related issues. Among the notable, Jeff authored a column published by the Chicago Tribune regarding the difficulty employers have in complying with the FMLA, and he was quoted in a Wall Street Journal article regarding the increase in FMLA-related lawsuits. In 2012, Jeff was named by Law Bulletin Publishing as one of Illinois’ top “40 Attorneys Under 40” to watch. In 2017, Jeff was named a Leading Lawyer by Law Bulletin Publishing. In 2018, Jeff was recognized as a leading practitioner by Chambers USA.

Prior to joining the firm, Jeff practiced at McDermott Will & Emery LLP (1999–2003). Jeff is the past chair of the Chicago Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Committee. He also has served on the Illinois Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Section Council, and the ABA’s Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee.

In addition to practicing law, Jeff also is heavily involved in his community. Jeff has served as an elected Village Trustee for the Village of LaGrange, Illinois, and on the board of directors for Marist High School, a Catholic college-preparatory school on Chicago’s southwest side and his alma mater. A self-proclaimed baseball fanatic, avid White Sox fan and former high school/semi-pro baseball umpire, Jeff recently became president of the La Grange Little League, fulfilling a dream that rivals his daytime job.

Representative Experience  click to view

  • Obtained summary judgment in race and gender discrimination case on behalf of a local non-profit organization, a decision that was affirmed by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago)
  • Obtained summary judgment in a national origin discrimination case also upholding the use of an English-only policy during work time (Zaveri v. Northwest Community Healthcare)
  • Secured favorable settlement of complicated FMLA lawsuit on behalf of national airlines (Bailey v. Southwest Airlines)
  • Prevailed on summary judgment in a race and ADA discrimination and FMLA case (Davis v. Extended Stay America)
  • Obtained voluntary dismissal of FMLA lawsuit on behalf of third party administrator (under 29 C.F.R 825.106(b)(2)) within weeks of filing of the complaint (Tillotson v. The Manitowoc Company and Matrix Absence Management)
  • Prevailed on summary judgment in race discrimination and retaliation action on behalf of local luxury hotel. (Carter v. Thompson Hotels/Sax Hotel)
  • Obtained early dismissal of reverse race discrimination employment discrimination action where federal court ruled that plaintiff did not allege facts amounting to an actionable discrimination claim. (Pazur v. Target Corporation)
  • Secured extremely favorable settlement for national laboratory after taking Plaintiff’s deposition in an age discrimination lawsuit brought by high-level director.
  • Secured complete dismissal of ADA and FMLA claims in a federal court lawsuit filed by a former college registrar. (Wirey v. Richland Community College)
  • Served as lead defense counsel in a successful jury trial representing the University of Chicago. The Plaintiff, a former Ph.D. student, alleged that the University violated provisions in its student handbook when it suspended him after he made continuous inappropriate communications to University administrators. Following a nine-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the University. (Vernon v. University of Chicago)
  • Obtained dismissal of several time-barred claims in a USERRA action brought by a faculty member against a private university.
  • Obtained Plaintiff’s voluntary dismissal of worker’s compensation retaliatory discharge case in its entirety shortly after taking Plaintiff’s deposition. (Wiles v. Schneider Electric)
  • Served as one of the lead defense counsel in a 20-plaintiff Title VII sexual discrimination and sexual harassment case on behalf a Fortune 100 national retail company. Responsible for the majority of Plaintiffs’ depositions and led the day-to-day management of the case. Favorable settlement achieved during discovery.
  • Obtained summary judgment in worker’s compensation retaliatory discharge case on behalf of Target Corporation. (Epstein v. Target Corporation)
  • Won FMLA and ADA case, when summary judgment was affirmed where Court found that Plaintiff did not place employer on notice of the need for FMLA leave. (Moody v. Colson Caster Corp.)
  • Prevailed in contentious multi-day labor arbitration for Chicago-area municipality where the employer placed employee on leave and later terminated his employment due to his inability to perform essential duties of position. Favorable decision avoided five years of back and additional potential damages.
  • Obtained summary judgment in a multi-plaintiff age discrimination, harassment and retaliation case, case dismissed upon conclusion of Plaintiff’s depositions. (Underwood et al. v. The Fairmont Hotel)
  • Obtained summary judgment in age discrimination case, and successfully advanced a breach of the duty of loyalty claim against employee for allegedly using employer’s property and resources to create a competitor company. (Ladenberger v. General Signal Corp.)

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