William J. Tarnow, II
University of Illinois College of Law (J.D., 1997), cum laude
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (B.A., 1994), with honors
Bill is chair of the firm’s Labor & Employment practice group and a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. He is a litigator who manages employment-related disputes before federal and state courts and administrative agencies throughout the country, and he also serves as a strategic partner to companies and executives concerning the broad spectrum of critical business and employment matters that impact their operations.
Bill’s litigation practice encompasses the full spectrum of employment matters. He litigates and advises clients daily on noncompete and nonsolicitation agreements, trade secrets, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of contract matters. He also has deep experience counseling on, investigating, and litigating all manner of complaints and claims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation regulated by federal and state counterpart statutes such as Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Bill also advises clients on compensation issues, and defends class action cases across the country involving wage & hour and overtime pay claims regulated by state and federal laws.
Clients benefit every day from Bill’s ability to deliver much more than exceptional litigation management and daily counsel in employment matters – he’s also the clients’ trusted general business advisor and the leader of a team of attorneys charged with ensuring clients have effective strategies in place for every facet of their operations.
In addition to serving clients, Bill regularly publishes articles and provides presentations and training on a variety of workplace considerations and strategies, both to individual employers and at conferences, to address employment matters impacting their businesses. He also appears on television and is quoted in print media as a thought leader to provide his views on trending employment issues.
Restrictive Covenant, Fiduciary Duty, & Trade Secret Litigation/Counseling:
- Defended an individual and his new employer, a $1B+ entity, against claims of theft of confidential information and trade secret misappropriation, as well as alleged violations of employment agreement restrictive covenants
- Defended individual owners and newly formed engineering and roofing equipment company against restrictive covenant and trade secret claims by former employer / competitor
- Defended an individual to defeat a claim for preliminary injunctive relief based on allegations that he violated his non-compete agreement and stole trade secrets when he obtained employment with a competitor in the development of Brownfield properties
- Prosecuted claims against a client’s former division president in the event-planning industry for breach of fiduciary duty and misappropriation of a corporate opportunity
- Defended individual accused of forming rival company, diverting corporate opportunities, and raiding employer’s workforce in violation of restrictive covenants, fiduciary duties and trade secret laws, following a $100M+ buy-out
- Represented a large cash management advisory firm in lawsuit against former owner/officer, and obtained emergency injunction prohibiting unlawful conduct in violation of the individual’s non-compete and customer non-solicitation obligations
- Defended individuals who formed investment bank against former employer’s claims of misappropriation of corporate opportunities and trade secrets
- Represented a bakery supply manufacturer to obtain a federal court injunction against sales managers who resigned and violated non-compete and confidentiality agreements by using proprietary pricing and product information for a competitor
- Defended employee hired by graphic design company in injunction lawsuit alleging employee’s breach of non-compete and non-disclosure agreement with prior employer
- Prosecuted non-compete and trade secret claims against a former employee on behalf of a client which manufactures printed computer circuit boards
- Defended a manufacturer of rivets and fasteners against claims for violations of non-compete agreements and misappropriation of trade secrets
- Represented a client that provided “supercomputers” and related technology services to large financial institutions by obtaining an injunction prohibiting a former executive from soliciting customers in violation of his non-compete agreement and from disclosing trade secret information
- Defended clients accused of misappropriating trade secrets and stealing corporate opportunities in connection with the development of an electronic stock exchange
Wage and Hour Litigation:
Bill has significant expertise in wage and hour class / collective action litigation. In addition to conducting internal audits and investigations, he has worked with the Department of Labor and has litigated wage claims extensively. Below is a list of representative cases which Bill has defended under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and/or state-counterpart statutes.
- Defense of metal manufacturing and distribution company against FLSA claim alleging improper job classification / exemption, and resulting failure to pay overtime. Obtained immediate dismissal of case prior to either discovery proceedings or attempt to add of plaintiff-class members
- Defense of company (including certain corporate officers) with 100+ retail stores, in class action litigation alleging improper employee classification of assistant and store managers, improper work-hour calculations and failure to pay overtime, and improper calculation of wages and overtime amounts in connection with bonus and commission payments. The defense has resulted in the dismissal of state-counterpart claims, eliminated various elements of the alleged class action relief, and successfully contested and dramatically reduced the scope of the proposed class
- Defense of national service company regarding alleged FLSA and state-counterpart overtime violations. Assertion of counterclaims against employee based upon falsification of time-sheets and false claim for alleged overtime
- Defense of claim by former employee against landscaping company alleging violations of the FLSA and the Illinois Minimum Wage law. Immediate resolution prior to discovery or class action petition
- Defense of company against class action claims alleging failure to pay in excess of $1M owing to in-home countertop installers based on purported miscalculation of travel and overtime wages. Eliminated request for class action relief and achieved immediate dismissal of claims
- Defense of chain of pizzerias against class action complaint alleging miscalculation and/or underpayment of wages, tips and bonus amounts, and failure to pay wages for all hours worked and/or overtime. Defense of plaintiffs’ claim for joint-employer status and joint liability between licensor and licensee, and obtained resulting dismissal of claims
- Defense of company and company officials against claims by commissioned salespersons seeking in excess of $1M under company commission-payment plan. Following extensive discovery and motion practice, obtained summary judgment and dismissal of all claims, resulting in seminal Federal Court decision governing the application of company commission and bonus plans, which enforced the employer’s ability to reduce – or refuse to make – such payments within its sole and absolute discretion, pursuant to applicable plan provisions. Weyant v. Vertical Network, Inc. / Maxwell v. Vertical Network., Inc., et al., Case Nos. 03 C 2414 & 03 C 05717, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (2005)
- "Notable Gen X Leaders in Law," Crain's Chicago Business, 2021
- Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, recommended in “Labor & Employment”
- Law Bulletin Publishing Company, "40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch," 2012