Judith A. Williams-Killackey, Partner


Judith Williams-Killackey is a partner in the law firm of Quarles & Brady and chairs the Labor & Employment group’s National Labor Relations Act Team. Judi practices in the area of labor and employment law, with a focus on representing management. Her practice includes an emphasis on litigation in federal and state courts and before administrative agencies, traditional labor law, counseling employers on various employment related issues, investigating complaints made by former and current employees and representing employers who are litigating whistleblower claims. Judi also assists clients with benefits related litigation. In particular, she assists clients with matters relating to retiree health benefits (including based on collective bargaining agreements), claims regarding denial of benefits, contribution disputes, and litigation related to audits by union funds. She also has experience in defending employers in class action litigation.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Judi has been a trusted advisor for clients navigating the impacts of COVID-19 on their business operations and employees. She has provided guidance on remote workforce policies, procedures and training; employee safety; reductions in force, furloughs, layoffs; family and medical leave due to coronavirus or childcare interruptions; ADA accommodations; return to work issues, including temperature testing, salary reductions, social distancing in the workplace, and preventing discrimination and harassment related to COVID-19; and union related issues (including grievances, bargaining over layoffs and other issues and responding to unfair labor practice charges); among many others challenges.

Representative Industry Experience

  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Health care
  • Transit

Recent Counseling Experience

  • Advising employers on counseling and managing employee performance and terminations
  • Negotiating and drafting employment agreements
  • Negotiating and drafting severance agreements
  • Advising companies regarding the proper scope of an investigation and strategy relating to conducting an investigation of claims that the company violated the law
  • Advising companies regarding audits performed by the United States Department of Labor
  • Conducting sexual harassment investigations
  • Drafting releases and disclosure lists for large reductions in force, including reductions in force resulting from multibillion-dollar joint venture
  • Drafting, revising, and providing advice on employment handbook policies, including anti-discrimination, absence and attendance, discipline, FMLA, sick leave, vacation, and privacy policies
  • Advising clients regarding employment issues during acquisitions

Representative Labor Experience

  • Successfully obtaining decertification of union
  • Advising union employers on double-breasting issues
  • Successfully defeating union campaign at manufacturing client
  • Obtaining dismissal of charge alleging manufacturer engaged in unfair labor practice by unilaterally implementing policy changes
  • Assisting client with voluntary withdrawal of recognition of union
  • Negotiating collective bargaining agreements
  • Simultaneously negotiating collective bargaining agreements for multiple bargaining units at one employer
  • Filing unfair labor practice charges against unions for prohibited activities

Representative Litigation Engagements

  • Obtaining summary judgment on claim that company breached employment agreement by refusing to pay certain compensation. Decision was upheld on appeal to Wisconsin Court of Appeals.
  • Obtaining summary judgment regarding claims of race discrimination and retaliation brought by the EEOC
  • Obtaining a favorable settlement for a construction company regarding class claims of failure to pay required wages to employees
  • Obtaining summary judgment regarding claims of age discrimination by a former employee
  • Obtaining dismissal of claims of disability discrimination and retaliation after multi-day hearing on the merits before the Wisconsin Equal Rights Division
  • Obtaining dismissal of claims, based on existence of release agreement, that a manufacturing company terminated employee in violation of the FMLA, ADA, and Title VII
  • Litigating claims involving termination or reduction of retiree health benefits
  • Defending a manufacturing concern in a putative class action regarding Title VII claims
  • Defending a government entity in a putative class action regarding employee benefits
  • Obtaining dismissals of claims before the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development
  • Obtaining dismissal of whistleblower claims

Legal Services

Education and Honors

  • Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management, Certificate, Quarles & Brady Leadership Program (2016)
  • University of Wisconsin Law School (J.D., cum laude, 1997)
    • Order of the Coif
    • Wisconsin Law Review
  • Marquette University (B.A., magna cum laude, 1994)
    • Phi Beta Kappa

Bar Admissions

  • Wisconsin
  • Minnesota

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin, 2003
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin, 1997
  • U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, 1997

Professional and Civic Activities

  • State Bar of Wisconsin (Former Chair: Labor and Employment Section)
  • Wisconsin Bar Association (Member)
  • American Bar Association (Member)
  • Southeastern Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce (Member)

Professional Recognition

  • The Best Lawyers in America®, Litigation - Labor and Employment, Employment Law - Management, 2018–present
  • Chambers USA®, Labor & Employment, 2009, 2010, 2021-present
  • State Bar of Wisconsin – Pro Bono Honor Society, 2015
  • Wisconsin Super Lawyers® – Rising Stars, Employment & Labor, 2007, 2012 
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