Christopher Ward is a partner and labor and employment attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP representing and counseling employers throughout the country, with particular emphases on class action litigation, wage and hour issues, and labor relations matters. His practice additionally focuses on hospitality litigation and advising health care industry employers on labor and employment concerns. He is a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice.
Christopher has extensive lead trial and appellate counsel experience in federal and state class action litigation, including multiple matters where the strategies he designed and implemented strategies resulting in successful outcomes at class certification and on-the-merits judgments for the employer against novel class theories of law. He regularly handles wage and hour matters, including wage and hour class and collective actions under both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the provisions of the California Labor Code and Business & Professions Code. Christopher also routinely counsels clients on wage and hour compliance matters, including compliance with municipal wage orders, particularly those governing wage and hour matters at airports throughout the country.
Christopher also has substantial experience in traditional labor matters, with a significant emphasis on labor relations in the commercial aviation industry under the Railway Labor Act. He has litigated multiple “test case” matters addressing the evolution of Railway Labor Act versus National Labor Relations Act jurisdiction over airline service providers and secured critical precedent-setting decisions for such clients. Christopher's work in the labor relations arena also includes representing employers in administrative matters and litigation before both the National Mediation Board, the National Labor Relations Board and the United States Courts of Appeals.
Christopher represents employers in litigation and administrative matters relating to all aspects of federal, state and local discrimination and harassment laws, including first chair responsibilities in multiple bench and jury trials. He regularly assists clients with family and medical leave issues, both through counseling and litigation, and has further represented employers in whistleblower claims under numerous federal and state laws such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, in both administrative and court proceedings. Christopher also has experience with federal OSHA and Cal/OSHA investigations and representing employers in OSHA-related litigation.
Pro bono service makes up an important part of Christopher's practice, and he frequently counsels not-for-profit employers on employment-related matters, and has represented them in employment-related litigation. He has also repeatedly acted as pro bono defense counsel in both the United States District Courts and the United States Courts of Appeals, and through such work, he established, through multiple published opinions, important standards requiring uniformity in criminal sentencing and ensuring that criminal sentences have a legitimate factual and evidentiary basis. Christopher has also served on the board of directors of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.
Presentations and Publications
Christopher is a regular presenter at employment law conferences and national webinars and is the chief architect of the mold-shattering format for Foley’s annual HR/Labor & Employment Summit hosted at the Chicago House of Blues combining practical insight with a casual, engaging format. He has contributed to the employment law treatise, The Law Guide - Employee Relations Law for Illinois Employers, published by MRA - The Management Association, Inc. Christopher has served as the editor of Labor & Employment Law Perspectives (LaborEmploymentPerspectives.com), the Foley Labor & Employment Practice’s weekly blog providing timely insight on emerging legal and business developments and continues to be a regular contributor to the blog.
Chris was selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® in the field of Employment Law-Management (2023). In every year from 2012 to 2019, he has been named to the list of Illinois Super Lawyers–Rising Stars. The Rising Stars® list represents the top 2.5 percent of lawyers under 40 years old in Illinois based upon a survey of his peers.* Christopher was further extremely honored to be named the 2012-2013 recipient of the Foley & Lardner LLP Larry Arnold Award, recognizing the attributes of Determination, Toughness, Creativity and Strong Work Ethic. He was named to The National Law Journal’s 2022 "Employment Law Trailblazers" list.
Christopher graduated from Northwestern University (B.A., cum laude), where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and the University of Illinois College of Law (J.D., magna cum laude).
Christopher is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the Seventh, Ninth and D.C. Circuit Courts of Appeal, the Northern, Southern, Eastern and Central Districts of California, the Northern and Southern Districts of Illinois, and all state courts in California and Illinois.
Christopher is fluent in Spanish.
* The Illinois Supreme Court does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and no certificate, award or recognition is a requirement to practice law in Illinois.