James A. McKenna is a Shareholder in the Chicago, Illinois, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He specializes in the litigation of employment disputes, including class actions, wage and hour claims, Fair Credit Reporting Act claims, and non-competition counseling and litigation.
Mr. McKenna has over 30 years of experience in civil litigation, representing small and mid-sized businesses, as well as Fortune 500 companies, in a wide range of complex matters involving: commercial litigation, labor and employment, class action and derivative litigation, trade secrets and unfair competition, arbitration and mediation, bankruptcy and workout litigation, antitrust, and intellectual property.
Mr. McKenna has handled employment discrimination claims at the state and federal levels. Among other things, he was co-lead trial counsel and argued the appeal in Kirkpatrick v. Pfizer, Inc., 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 16484 (10th Cir. 2010), was lead defense counsel during the trial in EEOC v. Chicago Miniature Lamp, 947 F.2d 292 (7th Cir. (1991), and personally tried 27 individual reinstatement claims in a nationwide Title VII class action.
Mr. McKenna also has substantial experience in class action and derivative litigation, in which he has defended claims brought under federal and state wage and hour laws, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, employment discrimination laws, ERISA, the securities laws, and state fraud and consumer protection laws. His clients in this area have included General Dynamics, Gulfstream Aerospace, Northwest Airlines, United Airlines, Molex, and the trustees of a large pension fund.
Mr. McKenna is a co-chair of the firm's Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) litigation practice. He has handled the defense of numerous FCRA class actions, has counseled numerous other clients on FCRA compliance issues, and has lectured and written frequently on the FCRA and class actions.
Mr. McKenna has counseled clients and represented both plaintiffs and defendants in numerous matters involving employee covenants not to compete, theft of trade secrets, unfair competition, false advertising claims under the Lanham Act, and technology outsourcing. He also litigated one of the first cases applying the Illinois Computer Crime Prevention Law to the theft of trade secrets by a former employee. Mr. McKenna also has substantial experience trying cases in arbitrations and handling mediations.
Mr. McKenna is one of only 113 attorneys in the U.S. named to the 2007 BTI Client Service All-Star Team for Law Firms, published by BTI Consulting, the leading provider of strategic research to the legal industry. The award recognizes lawyers who deliver “the best client service to Fortune 1000 clients.” Lawyers appear on the list only when they have been named by clients in an unprompted manner through BTI's independent research.
While attending law school, he was note and comment editor of the Northwestern University Law Review.
Honors and Recognitions
•BTI Client Service All-Star (2007)
•“Conducting Background Checks in Compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, ” HR Leader (HRMAC, July 2013)
•The Illinois Law of Trade Secrets (co-editor, 2007)
•“Remote access technology for your law practice, ” IBSA's Standing Committee on Legal Technology, Vol. 15, No. 2 (2007)
•“Reverse Freedom of Information Act Suits: Confidential Information in Search of Protection, ” Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 70, Pg. 996 (1976)
•“The Constitutional Protection of Private Papers: The Role of a Hierarchical Fourth Amendment, ” Indiana Law Journal, Vol. 53, Pg. 55 (1977)
Speeches and Presentations
•“Million Dollar Misdemeanors: Avoiding Liability for Background Checks Under Title VII and the Fair Credit Reporting Act” (Oakbrook, IL, June 2013)
•“The Ins and Outs of the Fair Credit Reporting Act” (Chicago, May 2013)
•“Employment Law Decisions, Supreme Court Term 2011-12” (Chicago and Oakbrook, IL, July 2012)
•“Class Arbitration of Employment Law Disputes After Stolt-Nielsen and Conception” (Chicago, December 2011)
•“Getting Off On the Right Foot: How to Vet Job Applicants Without Breaking the Law” (Chicago and Oakbrook, IL, July 2011)
•“Employment Law Decisions, Supreme Court Term 2009-10” (Chicago and Oakbrook, IL, July 2010)
•“Employment Law Decisions, Supreme Court Term 2008-09” (Chicago and Oakbrook, IL, July 2009)
•“Discovery in Commercial Arbitration” (Chicago, May 2006)
In the News
August 17, 2015
Jackson Lewis Attorneys Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America 2016
August 17, 2015
WHITE PLAINS, NY (August 17, 2015) Jackson Lewis P.C., one of the country's preeminent workplace law firms, is pleased to announce 137 of the firm's attorneys have been named to the 2016 edition of Best Lawyers. In addition, 10 attorneys were named “Lawyer of the Year” in their respective
June 21, 2013
U.S. Supreme Court Re-Affirms Class Action Waivers in Arbitration Agreements
June 21, 2013
Again applying the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) to uphold agreements requiring parties to arbitrate their disputes rather than litigate them in court, the U.S Supreme Court has held that the FAA prohibits courts from invalidating a contractual waiver of class arbitration because the cost of arbitrating a federal statutory...
June 11, 2013
U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Deference Owed to Arbitrator Decisions, Allows Arbitration to Proceed on Class Basis
June 11, 2013
Contractual arbitration agreements are to be enforced according to their express terms, even if the effect of these agreements is to limit the ability of plaintiffs to bring class action claims, the U.S. Supreme Court has held repeatedly in recent years. In Oxford Health Plans LLC v. Sutter, No. 12-135 (June 10, 2013), the Court upheld...
November 29, 2012
U.S. Supreme Court Issues Latest Ruling Upholding Agreements to Arbitrate
November 29, 2012
In its latest ruling on the enforceability of arbitration agreements under the Federal Arbitration Act, the United States Supreme Court has determined that an Oklahoma state court had improperly enjoined an arbitration proceeding and decided a legal issue that should have been decided by the arbitrator in the first instance. Nitro-...