Alejandro Caffarelli is the proud founder of Caffarelli & Associates, Ltd.. He is a former President of NELA-Illinois, the largest plaintiff employment lawyers’ group in Illinois, and a former Executive Board member of the Hispanic Lawyers’ Association of Illinois. The Firm represents employees from all walks of life, from migrant workers and day laborers to clerical workers, middle management, academics and Fortune 500 executives.
In over twenty years as an employment lawyer, Mr. Caffarelli has personally litigated hundreds of cases, and is the Firm’s lead counsel at trial. He has successfully defeated the majority of his opponents’ dispositive motions – most of them brought by large national firms, and he has prevailed on many issues of first impression in federal court, as well as jury trials. These issues include establishing that a police chief is subject to individual liability under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and that an employees’ sleeping on the job does not alone constitute a breach of fiduciary duty in Illinois. See Rasic v. City of Northlake (N.D.Ill. No. 08C0104) and Beltran v. Brentwood North Healthcare Center, LLC, (N.D.Ill. No. 05C2558) respectively. In addition to his trial work, Mr. Caffarelli also has personally argued multiple appeals before the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, as well as handled cases before the Illinois Court of Appeals. For example, in Loudermilk v. Best Pallet (7th Cir. 10-1846) Mr. Caffarelli obtained the reversal of a Summary Judgment against his client. Authored by Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook, this seminal decision reaffirms an employee’s right to gather information to support a discrimination claim, and establishes that temporal proximity alone may be enough to support a retaliation claim. More recently, Mr. Caffarelli prevailed in a jury trial on behalf of a school administrator who was not offered FMLA leave after exhibiting symptoms of severe mental distress. In upholding the jury’s verdict, the Seventh Circuit agreed with Mr. Caffarelli and affirmed the continuing viability of constructive notice under the FMLA notwithstanding recent amendments to the regulations suggesting otherwise. Valdivia v. Township High School District 214 (7th Cir. 19-1410).
Mr. Caffarelli has significant experience litigating class actions, as well as individual claims. For example, he has negotiated numerous six and seven-figure settlements, including but not limited to a $10.2 Million settlement in the case of Allen v. Chase (N.D.Ill. No. 13C8285), a $5.7 Million settlement in the case of Diaz v. Greencore (Cook Co. No. 2017CH13198), a $3 Million settlement in Montero v. Chase (N.D.Ill. No. 14CV09053), a $2.6 Million settlement in the case of Cardenas et al. v. John B. Sanfilippo & Sons, Inc. (N.D.Ill. No. 10C1354), a $2.5 Million settlement in the case of Leon et al. v. El Milagro (N.D.Ill. No. 11C4255), as well as numerous others.
What distinguishes Mr. Caffarelli from many of his peers in the plaintiffs’ bar is that he is a Panelist on the American Arbitration Association’s National Roster of Arbitrators. He also has experience handling high level management-side work. Prior to founding Caffarelli & Associates, Ltd. in 2001, he worked at a mid-size management-side firms, where, among other things, he helped draft the successful appellate brief in support of enforcing a confidentiality agreement on behalf of Oprah Winfrey’s production company, Harpo, Inc. The appellate court’s decision is now viewed as one of the seminal resources for defining the proper parameters of employee confidentiality agreements. Coady v. Harpo, Inc., 719 N.E.2d. 244 (Ill. Ct. App. 1999). In 2008, the City of Chicago awarded Mr. Caffarelli the position of Special Assistants Corporation Counsel and appointed him to defend the City in two class action cases brought against the City with potential damages in the millions of dollars.
In recognition of his achievements, Mr. Caffarelli has been awarded the top “AV” rating by LexisNexis’ Martindale-Hubbell since 2008, one of the oldest and most respected peer-review based rating services for attorneys. According to Martindale-Hubbell, the attainment of an “AV” rating is “a testament to the fact that a lawyer’s peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence.” Mr. Caffarelli also has been rated “superb,” a perfect 10 out of 10 on a numerical scale, by Avvo. Avvo is an online attorney rating service with an algorithm based upon an objective mathematical model. In 2010, Mr. Caffarelli was one of the very few plaintiffs’ employment lawyers to be named a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers Magazine. The following year, in 2011, he was named an “Illinois Super Lawyer,” and has continued to be named a Super Lawyer each year since then. In 2018 he was listed as one of the 500 leading employment lawyers in the U.S. by Lawdragon, and in 2019, he was named a Leading Lawyer by Law Bulletin Media. Mr. Caffarelli has also been quoted and recognized as an employment law expert by the national media, including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times online, Univision Chicago, and Telemundo.
Mr. Caffarelli has served on the Board of Directors for the Illinois chapter of the National Employment Lawyers’ Association, as well as the Hispanic Lawyers’ Association of Illinois. In 2014 Chief Judge Ruben Castillo appointed Mr. Caffarelli to the Pro Bono Advisory Committee for the Unites States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and in 2018 U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth appointed him to a joint screening committee whose task is to review and vet District Court candidates and advise the Senators regarding the candidates’ qualifications and fitness for the position. From 2013-2016, Mr. Caffarelli was on the Board of Directors of Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (“CDM”), an organization that supports and defends the rights of Mexico-based migrant workers. In 2016, Mr. Caffarelli joined the Board of Directors for Latinos Progresando, a Chicago-based organization that serves immigrants with the highest quality, low-cost legal immigration services, community education and engagement, and advocacy/organizing around policy that affects immigrants. And since 2005, Mr. Caffarelli has provided pro bono services on behalf of indigent workers through ARISE-Chicago, and has served on the ARISE Legal Advisory Board.
Mr. Caffarelli received a B.A. from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, with a double major of History and Spanish Literature, and was awarded a Juris Doctor from the University of Minnesota Law School, which he attended on a full scholarship and where he served as Note & Comment Editor of the prestigious Minnesota Law Review, which has been ranked among the ten most cited law journals in the United States. During that time, he authored an article on criminal asset forfeitures, which subsequently was one of the few student articles accepted for publication. In 1995, he served as an intern for the Honorable Judge Michael Davis of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. Since graduation, Mr. Caffarelli has been admitted to practice law before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the Illinois Supreme Court, and the trial bar of the Northern District of Illinois. In 2005, Mr. Caffarelli honed his trial skills by participating in the National Institute for Trial Advocacy’s Midwest Regional Workshop in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 2020, he became a certified mediator by completing the Chicago Bar Association’s Advanced Workshop for Improved Negotiation, Mediation and Advocacy Skills.
Mr. Caffarelli currently lives in the City of Chicago with his wife and two children. He is a certified U8 and U10 soccer coach for the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) and enjoys coaching as well as playing soccer, playing tennis and squash, and playing a variety of musical instruments in his spare time. In 2019, Mr. Caffarelli joined the Board of Directors for the Northwind Soccer Club, one of Chicago’s premier youth soccer organizations.
Education & Awards
- B.A., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
- J.D., University of Minnesota Law School
- National Institute for Trial Advocacy Midwest Regional Workshop
- Illinois Super Lawyer, 2011-Present
- AV (highest) peer review rated by LexisNexis’ Martindale-Hubbell 2008-Present
- Rated 10/10 “superb” by Avvo.com 2007-Present
- Lawdragon 500 Leading Employment Lawyer
Bar & Court Admissions
- United States Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
- United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
- United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois – Trial Bar
- United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois
- United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee
- United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
- Illinois & Minnesota Supreme Court
Membership & Associations
- Arbitrator – American Arbitration Association
- Mediator – Chicago Bar Association
- American Bar Association
- Chicago Bar Association
- National Employment Lawyers’ Association
- NELA – Illinois Chapter – Former President and Board Member
- National Hispanic Bar Association
- Hispanic Lawyers’ Association of Illinois – Former Officer and Board Member
- ARISE-Chicago Legal Advisory Board
- National Association of Consumer Advocates
Recent Speaking Engagements
- AAA Webinar: Leaves of Absence and Reasonable Accommodations in a Semi-Vaccinated World, 2021
- FBA L&E Law Conference: the FFCRA, FMLA, and Leaves of Absence, 2021
- ABA L&E ADR Committee, Mid-Winter Meeting: The Media and ADR, 2020
- CBA/LE Panel: The Biometric Information Privacy Act after Rosenbach – A Survey of the Legal Landscape, 2019
- ILW Panel at Chicago-Kent Law School: The Growth of State and Local Employment Laws: Protecting Workers or Complicating Things?, 2019
- ABA L&E ADR Committee, Mid-Winter Meeting: Class Action Waivers Update, Where Does it go From Here?, 2019
- NELA National Conference Moderator: The FMLA at 25 – where have we been and where do we go from here, 2018
- CBA Spring Seminar: Technology in the Workplace (Biometrics Panel), 2018
- CBA/YLS Panel: Employers v. the First Amendment, 2018
- NELA/American Constitution Society Joint Panel: Impact of Epic v. Lewis Sys. at the Supreme Court, 2017
- ABA L&E ADR Committee, Mid-Winter Meeting: Class Action Waivers, 2017
- CBA Panel: Labor and Employment Law Committee Lunch Seminar on New Sick Leave Laws and Ordinances, 2016
- Ogletree Deakins National Workplace Strategies Seminar Panel: My Favorite Mistake – Perspectives from the Plaintiffs’ Bar, 2016
- 7th Circuit Bar Association: Settling a Settlement Assistance Program Referral in the U.S. District Court, 2015
- Alliance for Justice Panel: Forced Arbitration, featuring Gov. Pat Quinn at the Loyola University Law School, 2015