Christopher Ward is a trial lawyer and labor and employment attorney representing employers throughout the country. Christopher focuses on wage and hour and privacy-related class action litigation, high-stakes jury and bench trials, labor relations counseling, litigation, arbitration, and collective bargaining. He has extensive experience representing employers in the aviation, transportation, manufacturing, hospitality, and health care industries. He is a partner in the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice.
Christopher has extensive first-chair trial and appellate counsel experience in federal and state class action litigation and has tried multiple employment cases to full defense verdicts and other successful outcomes. As a class action lawyer, he has extensive experience defending “bet the company” matters and has designed and implemented complex strategies that resulted in successful outcomes at class certification and on-the-merits judgments for the employer against novel theories of law.
He regularly handles wage and hour matters 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. A leading strategist and thought leader, he regularly contributes to conversations around the rapidly evolving and complex landscape of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), and frequently works on defending and resolving BIPA class action matters.
Christopher 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 the 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 the National Mediation Board, the National Labor Relations Board, and the United States Courts of Appeals.
Christopher also 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 with representing employers in OSHA-related litigation.
Awards and Recognition
- Recognized as a 2022 “Employment Law Trailblazer” by the National Law Journal for his pioneering work in the area of law firm mental health and wellness, such as founding Foley’s “Best Self” and leading the firm’s intentional effort to change conversations about mental health and wellness and increase their focus as part of organizational culture
- Named to the list of Illinois Super Lawyers–Rising Stars (2012-2019) – The Rising Stars® list represents the top 2.5% of lawyers under 40 years old in Illinois based upon a survey of his peers*
- Named the 2012-2013 recipient of the Foley & Lardner LLP Larry Arnold Award, recognizing the attributes of Determination, Toughness, Creativity, and Strong Work Ethic
- Selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® in the field of Employment Law – Management (2024)
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. He continues to be a regular contributor to the blog. Christopher also is a member in the by-invitation-only American Employment Law Council and the Labor and Employment section of the American Bar Association.
- Spanish (fluent)