Mr. Smeltzer has over 25 years of federal and state court experience in all phases of labor and employment, commercial, and non-patent intellectual property litigation and counseling.

He has handled countless Title VII, ADEA, ADA, FLSA, NLRA, ERISA and FMLA matters before the EEOC, the Illinois Department of Human Rights, the Illinois Human Rights Commission, the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, the U.S. Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board, and state and federal courts.

In addition, Mr. Smeltzer regularly represents clients in cases involving employment related torts (e.g. defamation, breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference); wrongful discharge, employee handbook, and wage and sales commission disputes. He is an Adjunct Professor at Loyola University School of Law, where he has taught comprehensive courses in Labor Law, Employment Law and Employment Discrimination, and has contributed to several major treatises in the area, including Holloway & Leech, Employment Termination — Rights and Remedies (BNA 1993) and Tobias, Litigating Wrongful Discharge Claims, (Callahan, 1989). He also conducts sexual harassment investigations and training.

With respect to commercial litigation, Mr. Smeltzer regularly handles complex restrictive covenant and trade secret litigation, contract disputes and business torts litigation in state and federal courts throughout the country. He regularly handles trademark, trade dress and copyright infringement cases, as well as related state law actions for unfair competition, trade secret misappropriation and common law infringement, in state and federal courts throughout the country. Mr. Smeltzer has experience drafting and negotiating licenses and continually prosecutes trademark and copyright registrations before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Copyright Office. He also handles appeals, cancellations and other proceedings before the TTAB.

Mr. Smeltzer holds the AV® Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, its highest rating for ethics and legal ability and has been named an Illinois “Super Lawyer” since 2013. He received his J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1991 and his B.S. from Miami University in 1987. Mr. Smeltzer is licensed to practice in the State of Illinois and before the Northern and Central Districts of Illinois, Sixth, Seventh and Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Western District of Michigan, Eastern District of Wisconsin and the District of Colorado.
  • Practice Areas

  • Education

    • University of Cincinnati College of Law, 1991
      • J.D.
      • Honors:
        • University of Cincinnati Law Review
        • Paxton & Seasongood Advocacy Award
        • American Jurisprudence Prize in Corporations
        • American Jurisprudence Prize in Civil Procedure
        • American Jurisprudence Prize in Advocacy
        • Dean's List
    • Miami University, 1987
      • B.S.
  • Admissions

    • Illinois, 1991
    • District of Colorado, 2011
    • U.S. Court of Appeals - Eleventh Circuit, 2008
    • U.S. Court of Appeals - Sixth Circuit, 2003
    • U.S. District Court - Eastern District of Wisconsin, 1996
    • U.S. District Court - Western District of Michigan, 1995
    • U.S. District Court - Central District of Illinois, 1995
    • U.S. Court of Appeals - Seventh Circuit, 1994
    • U.S. District Court - Northern District of Illinois, 1991
  • Professional Accomplishments

    • Illinois Super Lawyers, 2013 - 2017
    • AV® Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell
    • Illinois Leading Lawyer, 2016
    • Chicago Daily Law Bulletin “Forty [Attorneys] Under 40 to Watch,” 2005
    • Avvo® Rating: 9.5 Superb
  • Presentations / Speaking Engagements

  • Representative Matters

    Contract

    • Obtained $1.2 million verdict against Amtrak for breach of an oral contract after two-week jury trial (U.S. District Court of Colorado).
    • Obtained $2 million settlement from a private employer for enforcement of an oral stock agreement that the employer denied having made immediately prior to its sale (Circuit Court of Cook County).
     
    Restrictive Covenants/Trade Secrets
    • Obtained $1M+ settlement and new, five-year non-competes for a large publicly traded company in its suit against two former employees/officers accused of violating their fiduciary duties, and restrictive covenants by competing during their employment (U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida).
    • Defended and negotiated a settlement of a trade secret misappropriation, breach of fiduciary duty, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and intentional interference with business relations claims against former employee and new employer (Dallas County, Texas, state court).
    • Obtained emergency TRO and preliminary injunction on behalf of national insurance brokerage against a former sales executive who resigned and began soliciting former customers in violation of his restrictive covenants and with the aid of trade secrets. Later brought contempt charges against the same executive for violating the court-ordered restrictions (Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois).
    • Obtained TRO and preliminary injunction on behalf of national insurance broker against a former employee for violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and for Trade Secret misappropriation. With forensic evidence, proved employee had downloaded client lists and other trade secrets, and defragmented company hard drive to cover his pre-resignation activities (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California).
    • Successfully defended former employee and new employer against former employer’s motion for TRO alleging breach of restrictive covenants and misappropriation of trade secrets (Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois).

     

    Intellectual Property
    • Obtained a not guilty defense verdict on plaintiff’s $5 million copyright claim involving infringement of its copyright in a website, after a four week jury trial. Also successfully defended and limited plaintiff’s damage claims for infringement of service mark. (U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida).
    • Obtained emergency TRO precluding distribution of infringing cosmetic products against former owners of plaintiff’s brand (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois).
    • Negotiated nuisance settlement of a claim brought by a former employee and shareholder of a trademark and copyright infringement action (U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida).
    • Representing software licensee in copyright infringement, trade secret misappropriation and unfair competition case involving financial instrument trading platform (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York).
    • Negotiation and drafting of software licensing agreements in public utilities and health care industries.
    • Successfully prosecuting numerous trademark applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

     

    Employment Discrimination
    • Defended and conciliated an EEOC pattern and practice charge of discrimination involving a class of African American and Hispanic workers, involving multiple possible affiliated employers and, potentially, a much larger class of affected applicants. (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Chicago District Office).
    • Obtained not guilty jury verdict for publishing industry employer accused of age discrimination, after two-week jury trial. (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois).
    • Obtained not guilty verdict for car dealership employer accused of age discrimination after week-long trial before Administrative Law Judge (State of Illinois Human Rights Commission).

     

    Sexual Harassment
    • Obtained dismissal of defendant doctor in sexual harassment and battery claim brought by a co-worker. Court further awarded summary judgment to the employer-hospital could not be liable for the doctor’s alleged sexual harassment based on my prior handling of the internal complaint of harassment and the hospital’s prompt remedial measures. (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois).
    • Obtained summary judgment in a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit for employer on the basis of the Ellerth/Farraher affirmative defense, with the court finding the employer not liable for sexual harassment because: (1) it promptly investigated and handled plaintiff’s internal complaint of harassment; (2) plaintiff unreasonably failed to avail herself of the employer’s internal policy by failing to complain about the harassment sooner.

     

    Wage & Hour
    • Obtained dismissal with prejudice of state court class action under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (seeking compensation for time spent donning and doffing equipment and gear) on basis of preemption by Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act.
    • Defeated union grievance that employer violated collective bargaining agreement by failing to pay employees in accordance with Illinois Prevailing Wage Act (Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Arbitration).
    • Successfully obtained overtime wages and attorneys’ fee award on behalf of construction manager who was underpaid.

     

    ERISA
    • Successfully defended and settled an ERISA breach of fiduciary duty claim against a bank that allegedly failed to properly invest several million dollars of these Funds’ assets and deposits per Custodial and Investment Manager Agreements. Made new law in the District by getting the Court to recognize an ERISA common law right of action for contribution by one fiduciary against co-fiduciaries (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois).
    • Obtained dismissal of benefit claim for life insurance proceeds on behalf of ERISA Plan and Plan Administrator. (Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois).

     

    Labor Arbitration
    • Defeated union grievance that the employer violated collective bargaining agreement by laying off employees out of seniority (Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Arbitration).
  • Press Releases

Robert H. Smeltzer

200 South Michigan Avenue
Suite 1100
Chicago, IL 60604-2461
Office: (312) 456-3409
Cell: (312) 560-0063
Fax: (312) 939-5617