John F. Birmingham Jr



John F. Birmingham, Jr. is a labor and employment lawyer, a former member of Foley’s Management Committee, former chair of the firm’s national Labor & Employment Practice and a partner in the Detroit office. John concentrates on class actions, non-competition and trade secret matters, employment-related litigation, appellate law, investigations, and labor law. He regularly counsels clients on a vast array of labor and employment issues and develops problem prevention and resolution strategies. He performs high-level investigations and counsels boards and executives on crisis management and disaster mitigation. In addition, he is a member of the Privacy, Security & Information Management and Immigration, Nationality & Consular Law Practices, and the Automotive and Manufacturing Industry Teams.

John has successfully represented clients in several class actions, trials, and arbitrations. He has argued many appellate cases including those before the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and drafted a Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. He has also represented clients on unfair labor practice charges before the National Labor Relations Board and the United States Court of Appeals. John represents clients at trial, administrative tribunals, arbitration or other ADR format involving a wide variety of cases (EEO, ADA, ERISA, FMLA, common law contract and torts, and several other areas). He has acted as a neutral case evaluator and assisted in case resolution. John also is a fair housing expert, counseling and representing clients in the agency and court proceedings.

Representative Class Actions and Other Cases

  • Defense of HVAC manufacturer and distributor in ERISA pension calculation class action
  • Represented Tier I automotive supplier in age discrimination and promotion class action, resulting in a denial of class certification
  • Represented Tier I automotive supplier in age discrimination and reduction in force collective action
  • Represented a large packaging company in wage and hour “off the clock” collective action
  • Defense of automotive supplier in a class action involving ERISA pension accrual claim
  • Represented automotive supplier in 11 Plaintiff harassment case
  • Represented homebuilder in FLSA wage and hour action resulting in a denial of class certification and dismissal
  • Represented homebuilder in union corporate campaign involving sabotage through appeal establishing new law with respect to the violation of Computer Fraud & Abuse Act
  • Defense of OEM in nationwide consumer fraud class action involving OnStar technology

Representative Trade Secret/Non-Compete Cases

  • Represented Fortune 50 pharmacy benefits management company in large tortious interference/corporate raiding/trade-secret/non-compete case resolved favorably in 2012 after extensive litigation
  • Secured injunction for the auto-motive manufacturer in non-compete/trade secret matter involving solicitation
  • Represented information technology firm in non-compete/trade secret matter; secured court order prohibiting certain competition for one year
  • Represented medical care provider in defense of corporate raiding matter involving 25 plus medical professionals
  • Designed non-compete and trade secret process for multiple Fortune 500 companies
  • Obtained preliminary injunction for auto supplier precluding work for a competitor after hearing
  • Represented HVAC company in non-compete matter resulting in a preliminary injunction precluding Plaintiffs from working in industry
  • Represented battery manufacturer in non-solicitation case involving corporate raiding claim with favorable resolution negotiated after discovery
  • Selected and served as a case evaluator in trade secrets/non-solicitation case

Representative Appellate Cases

  • Pulte Homes, Inc. v. Laborers' Int'l Union 648 F.3d 295 (6th Cir. 2011) (establishing a cause of action for email barrage under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act)
  • Walton v Ford Motor Company, 424 F. 3d 481 (6th Cir. 2006) (validating call-in procedure for FMLA)

Thought Leadership

John frequently presents seminars for clients, chambers of commerce, industry groups and other organizations. He authored a chapter in the book Resolving Employee Disputes & Litigation titled, "A Strategic Approach to Achieving the Best Results in Resolving Employment Disputes."


John has been Peer Review Rated as AV® Preeminent™, the highest performance rating in Martindale-Hubbell's peer review rating system and has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© since 2011, recognizing his labor and employment work. He has been named Detroit Labor Law–Management “Lawyer of the Year” (2016) by Best Lawyers®. In addition, he was selected for inclusion in the list of Michigan Super Lawyers® (2006, 2010 - 2017).

John was named one of the “Leaders in the Law” for 2014 by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

Admissions and Professional Memberships

John is a member of the American Bar Association, Detroit Bar Association, Oakland County Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan, as well as the Federal Bar Association and the Rochester Chamber of Commerce. He also is admitted to practice in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and the United States District Court for the Eastern and Western District of Michigan.

John is an arbitrator in the American Arbitration Association.


John obtained his J.D., magna cum laude, and Order of the Coif, from the University of Michigan Law School, and received his B.A., with honors, at Michigan State University.

Community Activities

John serves on the Advisory Board at New Day Foundation.

Selected Publications

  • Featured, “John Birmingham – Managing Labor Law With Great Confidence,” Leading Lawyers Magazine, Michigan Edition, June 2017
  • “Increasing Legal Scrutiny of Website Accessibility in the Real Estate Industry,” CFSL Bulletin, June 2, 2016
  • “The Dirty Little Secret about Trade Secrets,” Industry Week, March 4, 2014
  • “It’s Time to Reinvest in Michigan Manufacturing,” Detroit Free Press, October 31, 2013
  • "Next-Generation Manufacturers Must Protect Secrets," Law360, September 24, 2013
  • "If You Want Your Employees to be Accessible 24-7: Be Prepared to Pay," Michigan Lawyers Weekly, November 2011
  • "Social Media and the Workplace: Twittering Away Trade Secret and Confidential Information," Supply Management, March 2011
  • "Preserving the Attorney-Client Privilege in the Employment Environment," Michigan Bar Journal, January 2009
  • "The Interactive Accommodation Process: Cooperate or Pay the Price," Michigan Bar Journal, October 1998
  • "After ‘After-Acquired Evidence’: Current Status and Issues," Labor and Employment Law Notes, Spring 1997


Extortion vs. Settlement Negotiations
01 April 2019
Labor & Employment Law Perspectives
Demonstrators in the Midst? Handling Political Activity in the Workplace
Fall 2018
Labor and Employment Lawnotes
Employee Need Not Give Severance Back Before Moving Forward
27 August 2018
Labor & Employment Law Perspectives
Avoiding Investigation Mistakes in the `Me Too’ Era
05 March 2018
Labor & Employment Law Perspectives
China General Chamber of Commerce Forum
11 November 2013
Detroit, MI
Data Security and Management
11 June 2013
Northville, MI
2012 Labor and Employment Summit
25 October 2012
Chicago, IL
AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion et al. and the Federal Arbitration Act
30 June 2011
Web Conference