People: Thomas E. Ahlering, Associate

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Thomas E. Ahlering

Associate

Chicago
Direct: (312) 460-5922
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Mr. Ahlering is a senior associate in the Chicago office of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, a member of the firm's Labor & Employment Department, and National Co-Chair of the firm’s Biometrics Privacy Compliance & Litigation Group—one of the industry’s largest and most experienced practice groups in the biometric privacy space. 

Mr. Ahlering represents some of the world’s largest corporations in litigation involving a broad range of employment disputes, including defending employers throughout the United States in biometric privacy class actions, complex employment discrimination class actions, EEOC pattern or practice lawsuits, wage & hour class and collective actions, Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) class actions, and single-plaintiff actions for wrongful termination and discrimination.

In addition to his robust experience and practice representing employers in more traditional labor and employment litigation, Mr. Ahlering has become Seyfarth Shaw’s national thought leader on biometric privacy laws—an exploding and cutting edge area of employment law.  In this area, Mr. Ahlering manages a full docket of class action lawsuits brought pursuant to the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”) against Seyfarth clients spanning a wide range of industries including hotels, airlines, and health care systems.  He also regularly advises various clients, across many industries, on employment and biometric privacy laws, and helps them proactively address issues raised by employment and privacy laws through counseling and compliance efforts.  Mr. Ahlering is also a frequent presenter, author, and blogger on employment and workplace privacy issues.

Mr. Ahlering brings a unique perspective to defense teams as a former class action plaintiff lawyer and his experience on both sides of the aisle in class action litigation provides him with the ability to see all sides of a case and to anticipate and defeat Plaintiffs’ counsel’s strategies—regarding class certification, motions to dismiss/dispositive motions, and settlement negotiations—before they happen, to help achieve the best possible results for his clients.

Mr. Ahlering is a senior associate in the Chicago office of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, a member of the firm's Labor & Employment Department, and National Co-Chair of the firm’s Biometrics Privacy Compliance & Litigation Group—one of the industry’s largest and most experienced practice groups in the biometric privacy space. 

Mr. Ahlering represents some of the world’s largest corporations in litigation involving a broad range of employment disputes, including defending employers throughout the United States in biometric privacy class actions, complex employment discrimination class actions, EEOC pattern or practice lawsuits, wage & hour class and collective actions, Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) class actions, and single-plaintiff actions for wrongful termination and discrimination.

In addition to his robust experience and practice representing employers in more traditional labor and employment litigation, Mr. Ahlering has become Seyfarth Shaw’s national thought leader on biometric privacy laws—an exploding and cutting edge area of employment law.  In this area, Mr. Ahlering manages a full docket of class action lawsuits brought pursuant to the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”) against Seyfarth clients spanning a wide range of industries including hotels, airlines, and health care systems.  He also regularly advises various clients, across many industries, on employment and biometric privacy laws, and helps them proactively address issues raised by employment and privacy laws through counseling and compliance efforts.  Mr. Ahlering is also a frequent presenter, author, and blogger on employment and workplace privacy issues.

Mr. Ahlering brings a unique perspective to defense teams as a former class action plaintiff lawyer and his experience on both sides of the aisle in class action litigation provides him with the ability to see all sides of a case and to anticipate and defeat Plaintiffs’ counsel’s strategies—regarding class certification, motions to dismiss/dispositive motions, and settlement negotiations—before they happen, to help achieve the best possible results for his clients.

Education

  • J.D., The John Marshall Law School (2008)
    Editor, The John Marshall Law Review
  • B.A., Marquette University (2005)

Admissions

  • Illinois (2008)

Courts

  • United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois
  • United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois Trial Bar
  • United States District Court, Southern District of Illinois
  • United States District Court, District of Colorado
  • United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan
  • United States District Court, Western District of Tennessee
  • Admitted pro hac vice in federal district courts nationwide

Representative Engagements

Representative Commercial Class Action Cases: Biometric Privacy

  • Johnson v. United Airlines et al., 17-CV-08858, 2018 WL 3636556 (United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois) (obtained dismissal of plaintiff’s Illinois Biometric Information Privacy class action based on preemption under the Railway Labor Act).
  • Smith v. Andy Frain Services, Inc., 2018-CH-04719 (Circuit Court of Cook County) (obtained dismissal with prejudice of class action alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act).
  • Cacy v. Agco Corp. et al., 2018-CH-9968 (Circuit Court of Cook County) (obtained dismissal of class action alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act).
  • Rapai v. Hyatt Corp., 2017-CH-14483 (Circuit Court of Cook County) (defense of class action alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act).
  • Smith v. Pineapple Hospitality Co. et al., 17-CV-08106 (United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois) (ongoing defense of class action alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act).
  • Zepeda v. Intercontinental Hotels Group, Inc. et al., No. 17-CH-08904 (Circuit Court of Cook County) (defense of hotels against class action alleging violation of Illinois Biometric Privacy Act).
  • Thurman v. NorthShore University Health System, 2018-CH-03544 (Circuit Court of Cook County) (ongoing defense of class action alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act).
  • Holm v. Presence Health Network, 2017-L-012672 (Circuit Court of Cook County) (ongoing defense of class action alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act).
  • Torres v. Kronos Food Corp., 2018-L-000647 (Circuit Court of DuPage County) (ongoing defense of class action alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act).
  • Railey v. Sunset Food Mart, Inc., 2019-CH-02122 (Circuit Court of Cook County) (ongoing defense of class action alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act).
  • Nedialkova v. Total Services, LLC, 2019-CH-02300 (Circuit Court of Cook County) (ongoing defense of class action alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act).
  • Cade, et al. v. East Lake Management Group, Inc. et al., 2019-CH-2597 (Circuit Court of Cook County) (ongoing defense of class action alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act).
  • Mayes v. Alphabet Learning Center Inc., 2019-CH-05719 (Circuit Court of Cook County) (ongoing defense of class action alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act).
  • Brammer v. Bajaj Medical, LLC et al., 2019-CH-07379 (Circuit Court of Cook County) (ongoing defense of class action alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act).
  • Anderson v. Dana Hotel, LLC, 2019-CH-06098 (Circuit Court of Cook County) (ongoing defense of class action alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act).
  • Perez v. Dhaliwal Laboratories North, LLC, 2019-CH-8952 (Circuit Court of Cook County) (ongoing defense of class action alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act).
  • Henry et al. v. Tramec Continential-Aero, LLC,  Brammer v. Bajaj Medical, LLC et al., 2019-CH-7551 (Circuit Court of Cook County) (ongoing defense of class action alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act).
  • Bronson et al. v. Intercontinental Hotels Group, Inc. et al., 2019-CH-09294 (Circuit Court of Cook County) (ongoing defense of class action alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act).
  • Montgomery v. Orora Packaging Solutions, Inc., 2019-L-000045 (Circuit Court of Dekalb County) (ongoing defense of class action alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act).

Representative Commercial Class Action Cases: TCPA

  • Dolemba v. Kelly Services, Inc., No. 16-CV-4971, 2017 WL 429572 (U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois) (obtained dismissal with prejudice at the motion to dismiss stage in one of the first TCPA class actions ever brought against a company while acting as an employer).
  • Hernandez v. J.C. Penney Co., No. 18-CV-05759 (U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York) (ongoing defense of TCPA class action against retailer).

Representative Wage & Hour Collective and Class Action Cases

  • In Re: Jimmy John’s Overtime Litigation, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107157 (U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois) (obtained summary judgment on behalf of Jimmy John’s in landmark case for franchising industry which held that Jimmy John’s does not jointly employ, along with its franchisees, a proposed collective of assistant state managers who claimed they were misclassified as exempt from overtime).
  • Durling, et al. v. Papa John’s International, No. 7:16-CV-03592 (U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York) (ongoing defense of franchisor against class and collective action alleging violations of federal and state wage and hour laws relating to payment of delivery drivers; twice successfully defeated Plaintiffs’ motion for conditional certification).
  • Brooks, et al.  v. C.H. Robinson International, Inc., et al., No. 4:16-CV-00939 (U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri) (ongoing defense of logistics companies in class/collective action alleging improper employee classification under federal and state wage and hour laws).
  • Gabrielle Williams, et al. v. TGI Friday’s, Inc., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29002 (U.S. District Court/Northern District of Illinois) (obtained summary on behalf of TGI Friday’s in class action alleging violations of Illinois state law for failure to pay vacation pay).
  • Hernandez et al. v. Real Time Staffing Services, LLC et al., 16-CV-10747 (U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois) (obtained dismissal of claims brought by temporary laborers alleging violations of RICO and state wage and hour laws).
  • Snell-Jones v. The Hertz Corporation et al., 19-CV-00120 (U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois) (ongoing representation of Hertz in class and collective action alleging improper employee classification under federal and state wage and hour laws).
  • Kutzback v. LMS Intellibound LLC, et al., No. 2:13-CV-02767 (U.S. District Court, Western District of Tennessee) (ongoing representation in putative nationwide collective action alleging that defendants failed to pay minimum wage and overtime in violation of the FLSA).
  • Flood, et al. v. Carlson Restaurants, Inc., et al., No. 14-CV-2740 (U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York) (representation in putative class and collective action involving current and former tipped workers at TGI Friday’s alleging various violations of state and federal tip credit and overtime laws).
  • Holmes v. Kelly Services, USA, LLC, No. 16-13165 (U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan) (ongoing defense of staffing company in collective action alleging FLSA violations for wage and hours relative to off-the-clock work).
  • Whitmore v. Remedy Temporary Services, Inc., No. 2:15-CV-02161 (U.S. District Court, District of Arizona) (obtained favorable settlement of on behalf of staffing company in collective action alleging FLSA violations for wage and hours relative to off-the-clock work).
  • Landry’s Inc. and McCormick & Schmick Restaurant Corp., v. NLRB AND John J. Walsh; No. 16-CV-01548; (U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas) (novel case against the NLRB which resulted in the NLRB staying underlying unfair labor practice proceedings in their entirety until the Supreme Court issues a decision on the validity of class action waivers in Murphy Oil).

Representative Complex Discrimination Cases

  • Jock, et al. v. Sterling Jewelers Inc., No. 08-CV-2875 (U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York) (ongoing representation in class action alleging gender discrimination in pay and promotions).
  • EEOC v. Jackson National Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-CV-02472 (U.S. District Court, District of Colorado) (ongoing defense of complex EEOC initiated representative litigation alleging race, gender, and national origin discrimination and retaliation).

Representative Single-Plaintiff Employment Cases

  • Sutton v. H.C. Aurora Casino, 17-CV-06809 (U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois) (defense of casino against case alleging violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act).
  • Olson v. XPO Logistics et al, 18-CV-02596 (U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois) (defense of logistics company against case alleging violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act).
  • Suliman v. Film Tec Corporation and Kelly Services, Inc., No. 15-CV-00546 (U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota) (obtained favorable settlement on behalf of staffing company in case alleging religious discrimination).
  • Brewer v. eBay, Inc., No. 16-CV-001738 (Jefferson Circuit Court, Louisville, Kentucky) (obtained favorable settlement on behalf of eBay in case alleging race discrimination).

Recent Published Opinions

  • Johnson v. United Airlines et al., No. 19-1785, 2019 WL 2462664 (7th Cir. June 13, 2019) (reversing and vacating district court’s decision remanding case to state court. holding that Plaintiff’s claims under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act are preempted by the Railway Labor Act and ordered that Plaintiff’s claims are subject to the grievance procedures contained in United’s collective bargaining agreement).
  • Gabrielle Williams, et al. v. TGI Friday’s, Inc., 2018 WL 6528022 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 12, 2018) (denying plaintiff’s motion for class certification in class action alleging violations of Illinois state law for failure to pay vacation pay and holding that “simply computing earned vacation time according to the policy's terms and comparing it with the amounts actually paid is insufficient to establish that the class members' claims share a common issue of fact.”).
  • Johnson v. United Airlines et al., 17-CV-08858, 2018 WL 3636556 (N.D. Ill. July 31, 2018) (granting motion to dismiss class action brought under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act for a lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that plaintiff’s claims were preempted by the Railway Labor Act).  
  • Brooks, et al.  v. C.H. Robinson International, Inc., et al., No. 4:16-CV-00939, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115871 (W.D. Mo. July 6, 2018) (denying conditional certification of three nationwide putative collective actions)
  • In Re: Jimmy John’s Overtime Litigation, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107157 (N.D. Ill. June 14, 2018) (granting partial summary judgment on behalf of Jimmy John’s and holding that “Jimmy John’s is not a joint employer.”)
  • Gabrielle Williams, et al. v. TGI Friday’s, Inc., 2018 WL 1035871 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 23, 2018) (granting summary judgment summary on behalf of TGI Friday’s in class action alleging violations of Illinois state law for failure to pay vacation pay and holding that “TGIF has no obligation to pay either Williams or O'Donovan for unused paid vacation time, as neither was eligible to receive that benefit under the terms of the company's program.”).
  • Holmes v. Kelly Services USA, LLC, No. 16-CV-13164, 2017 WL 3381415 (E.D. Mich. Aug. 7, 2017) (certifying only a narrow collective action of employees who worked for two supervisors, rather than the facility-wide collective action sought)
  • Dolemba v. Kelly Services, Inc., No. 16-CV-4971, 2017 WL 429572 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 31, 2017) (granting dismissal with prejudice at the motion to dismiss stage in TCPA class action holding that plaintiff “pleaded herself out of court” and “consented to receiving employment-related calls.”).  
  • Landry’s, Inc. v. NLRB, No. H-16-1548, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 182645 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 25, 2016) (staying unfair labor practice proceeding brought by NLRB pending Supreme Court’s decision whether to grant petition for writ of certiorari in Murphy Oil)
  • Craig v. Landry’s, Inc. et al., No. 16-CV-277, 2016 WL 3406032 (S.D. Ohio June 21, 2016) (dismissing overtime wage & hour collective action with prejudice at motion to dismiss state and denying leave to amend complaint)

Presentations

  • “Biometric Privacy: Best Practices for Compliance and Litigation Update,” Retail Industry Leaders Association, Washington D.C. (May 23, 2019)
  • “What is Happening in Illinois?, 2019 Labor & Employment Update,” Seyfarth Shaw LLP Breakfast Briefing (March 14, 2019)
  • “The Executive Edge: Hot Trends In Employment Liability,” The Greenbrier Resort, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia (May 7-9, 2018)
  • “The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act: Overview, Requirements, and Litigation Trends,” Employment Law Seminar, presented by the Federal Bar Association (January 25, 2018)
  • “The Top Ten Employment Law Cases of 2017,” Affiliates Risk Management Services, Inc. (January 11, 2018)
  • “State Biometric Privacy Laws: Best Practices for Compliance and Litigation Trends,” Chicago Bar Association (December 19, 2017)

Publications