Cary E. Donham
CARY E. DONHAM is a commercial and business litigator, with an emphasis on employment law. Cary assists clients with the development and review of employee handbooks and policies and the drafting of employment and severance agreements. He advises clients concerning matters such as discrimination, harassment, non-competition and confidentiality agreements as well as hiring and termination issues. Cary has also served as outside counsel in investigations of alleged sexual harassment.
Cary handles all phases of employment and civil rights-related litigation in state and federal courts, including jury trials and labor arbitrations, as well as Chancery Court actions involving trade secrets and restrictive covenants. He has appeared before various administrative agencies, such as the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Illinois Department of Human Rights, the Illinois Human Rights Commission, the Chicago Commission on Human Relations and the Illinois Department of Labor, concerning employment, fair housing, and public accommodation issues.
In addition, Cary has successfully represented local government agencies in major civil rights cases. Most recently, he was a key part of the trial team that, on behalf of the Chicago Board of Education, vacated a 29-year-old desegregation consent decree. Cary also is involved in complex commercial litigation involving insurance policies, injunctions, contracts, and shareholder disputes.
Cary has been awarded an AV® Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, its highest rating for ethical standards and legal ability. He is a member of the Leading Lawyers Network. Additionally, Cary was named to the Illinois Super Lawyers list for 2010-2012 and 2014-2016.
Cary received a B.A. from Western Illinois University and a J.D., with high honors, from the Chicago Kent College of Law. During law school, he was a member of Order of the Coif and was the Notes and Comments Editor of the Chicago Kent Law Review from 1987-1988. Following graduation, Cary worked as a law clerk to the Honorable Elaine F. Bucklo, then Magistrate Judge, now Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
In a former life, Cary was a professional musician and has played several times in recent years at the Bluebird Café in Nashville. He also is active in Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago.
Representative Published Opinions
- Chicago Teachers Union et al. v. Chicago Board of Education, 12 cv 10311 (N.D. Ill.). (Part of team that represented Chicago Board of Education in a putative class action lawsuit alleging race discrimination in connection with the Chicago Board’s decision to “turnaround” ten schools effective June 2012. Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification was denied on May 27, 2014.)
- United States v. Chicago Board of Education, 669 F. Supp 2d 649 (N.D. Ill. 2009) (Represented Chicago Board of Education in 12 day trial resulting in an order vacating a 29-year-old desegregation consent decree.)
- American River Transportation Co. v. Ryan, 579 F. 3d 820 (7th Circuit 2009) (Obtained order from Seventh Circuit vacating contempt order entered against client in admiralty case. As a result, the client was able to re-file state court tort action against barge company.)
- Vermilion Coal Co. V. Black Beauty Coal Co., 4-09-0657 (Ill. App. 4th District, December 21, 2009) (Part of trial team and appellate team that obtained a preliminary injunction to halt shut down of coal mine, which was affirmed by the appellate court.)
- Pacific Employers Ins. Co. v. Clean Harbors, Inc., 2010 WL 438372 (February 4, 2010) (Representing insured, obtained partial summary judgment ruling that pollution exclusion in excess insurer’s policy is ambiguous.)
- Chicago Teachers Union et al. v. Chicago Board of Education, 12 cv 10338 (N.D. Ill.). Part of team currently representing the Chicago Board Education in a class action lawsuit alleging race discrimination in connection with teacher layoffs in 2011.
- Vasich v. City of Chicago, 11 cv 4843 (N.D. Ill.). Part of team currently representing the City of Chicago in a class action lawsuit alleging gender discrimination in connection with a pre-hiring physical abilities test for firefighter/EMT candidates.
- Godfrey v. City of Chicago, 12 cv 8601 (N.D. Ill.). Part of team currently representing the City of Chicago in a class action lawsuit alleging gender discrimination in connection with a pre-hiring physical abilities test for firefighter/EMT candidates given as part of remedial hiring in Lewis v. City of Chicago.
- Ernst v. City of Chicago 08 cv 4370 (N.D. Ill.). Part of team currently representing City of Chicago in a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination in connection with a pre-hiring physical abilities test for Chicago Fire Department paramedic candidates.
- Carmichael v. Laborer’s’ & Retirement Board Employees’ Annuity & Benefit Fund of Chicago, 12 CH 37712 (Cook County, IL Chancery Division). Part of team currently representing the Laborers’ Fund in a Constitutional challenge to 2012 amendments to the Illinois Pension Code.
- Miranda v. Laz Parking, 12 L 21102 (Cook County IL. Law Division). Currently representing employer in retaliatory discharge case.
- Vargas v. Chicago Transit Authority, 15-cv-01789. Alleges that the CTA violated the Family and Medical Leave Act when it discharged Vargas.
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