Cozen O’Connor: Tilson, Joseph E.

Joseph E. Tilson

Co-Chair, Labor & Employment Department

Chicago

(312) 474-7880

(312) 878-2019

Recent News:

Six Cozen O'Connor Labor & Employment Attorneys Recognized by Benchmark Litigation

Benchmark Litigation has named six attorneys from Cozen O'Connor’s Labor & Employment department as Labor & Employment Stars for their respective regions.

Joseph E. Tilson is co-chair of the firm's Labor & Employment department and a member of the management committee and board of directors. Joe represents employers in large-scale employment litigation and labor arbitrations. In the past 35 years, he has tried more than 150 jury and non-jury cases before the full range of courts, administrative agencies, and labor arbitrators. His clients include a number of the country’s largest public and private employers, and Illinois’ most prestigious universities, whom he represents in both traditional labor law matters and employment litigation. Joe is nationally known for his knowledge and success in handling large wage and hour class action cases, but he also has vast experience in collective bargaining involving large and complex bargaining units.

In his role as co-chair of the firm's Labor & Employment department, Joe has been instrumental in the growth of the practice, which has more than doubled in size to nearly 80 attorneys since 2015.

Joe has been recognized as one of the top labor and employment lawyers in Chicago. He was named the 2018 Chicago Employment Law “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers for the fourth time in the last eight years; he also twice received Lexology's Illinois' Client Choice Award for outstanding client service; he has been named one of the Nation's Most Powerful Employment Attorneys by Human Resource Executive and Lawdragon each year since 2010; and he has consistently achieved a Band 1 Labor and Employment ranking from Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business.

Joe is a frequent lecturer, author, and bar association leader. He regularly speaks on labor and employment issues for the American Bar Association, Practicing Law Institute, Northwestern University's Corporate Council Institute, Chicago-Kent College of Law, and many other educational institutions and associations. Joe is a fellow of the College of Labor & Employment Lawyers and is the former chair of the American Bar Association’s Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee. He is currently the chair of the ABA’s Labor and Employment Law Section, one of the largest sections of the ABA with over 12,000 members. He continues to serve on the ABA's council, the governing body of the ABA's Labor and Employment Section. Joe also serves as vice-chair on the Board of Managers of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago.

Prior to entering private practice, Joe served as law clerk for the Honorable Stephanie K. Seymour, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

Joe earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan in 1976 and his law degree, cum laude, from the University of Michigan School of Law in 1979.

Experience

News

Six Cozen O'Connor Labor & Employment Attorneys Recognized by Benchmark Litigation

January 28, 2019

Benchmark Litigation has named six attorneys from Cozen O'Connor’s Labor & Employment department as Labor & Employment Stars for their respective regions.

Seven Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Named To 2019 Illinois Super Lawyers Lists

January 24, 2019

Super Lawyers has named seven attorneys at Cozen O’Connor to its 2019 lists of top practitioners in Illinois.

L&E Attorneys Joseph Tilson and Susan Eisenberg Recognized in 2018 Chambers Global Rankings

November 05, 2018

Chambers Global has recognized Cozen O’ Connor attorneys Joseph Tilson and Susan Eisenberg as two worldwide leaders in labor and employment law. Both Tilson and Eisenberg are also ranked in the Chambers USA Guide.

Joe Tilson Profiled by Chicago Daily Law Bulletin as New Chair of ABA Labor and Employment Section

September 13, 2018

Joe Tilson, co-chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor and Employment department, was profiled by The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin in an article titled "New ABA section chair wants even more diversity in ranks."

126 Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Named to the Best Lawyers in America

August 22, 2018

One hundred twenty-six Cozen O’Connor lawyers from 20 of the firm’s national offices have been selected for inclusion in the 2018 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

Tilson Profiled by Law360 as Newly Named Chair of ABA Labor & Employment Section

August 09, 2018

Joe Tilson, co-chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, was profiled by Law360 in an article entitled “New ABA Labor Chief Looks to Navigate Changing Landscape.”

Joe Tilson Elected Chair of ABA Section on Labor and Employment Law

August 04, 2018

Joe Tilson, co-chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, discussed with Bloomberg Law his plans to increase diversity and inclusion as the new chair of the American Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Section.

Lawdragon/HRE names Joseph Tilson, A. Martin Wickliff, Jr., Anna Wermuth, and Jeremy Glenn Among the Nation’s Top Labor & Employment Lawyers

June 16, 2018

Four members of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department have been named to the 2018 Lawdragon/Human Resource Executive (HRE) magazine’s top Labor & Employment lists.

How do you manage a practice when your team's around the country?

April 10, 2018

Joe Tilson, Tom Giotto, and Alex Barbour of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, were quoted in the April issue of Chicago Lawyer Magazine discussing the rewards and challenges of working with team members in cities across the nation.

Twelve Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Named To 2018 Illinois Super Lawyers Lists

January 26, 2018

Super Lawyers has recognized 12 Cozen O'Connor attorneys to its 2018 lists of top practitioners in Illinois, including Joe Tilson who was again named one of the "Top 100" Illinois Super Lawyers.

Leading Lawyers Network Recognizes 22 Cozen O’Connor Lawyers as Top Illinois Practitioners

November 29, 2017

Leading Lawyers Network has recognized 22 Cozen O'Connor attorneys as top Illinois practitioners, including 19 "Leading Lawyers" and 3 "Emerging Lawyers" for its 2017 survey results publication.

NLRB tops arbitrator in college union dispute

November 14, 2017

Joe Tilson, Alex Barbour, and Jon Cavalier of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, won a significant decision on behalf of Columbia College in Chicago, vacating an arbitrator's award.

Six Cozen O’Connor Lawyers Named 2018 “Lawyers of the Year” by Best Lawyers in America

September 29, 2017

Cozen O’Connor is proud to announce that six of the firm’s lawyers have been recognized as “Lawyers of the Year” in their respective practices by Best Lawyers in America, one of the oldest and most highly regarded peer review publications in the legal profession.

Cozen O’Connor Bucks Trend by Expanding Employment Law Practice

September 25, 2017

Joe Tilson and Tom Giotto, Co-Chairs of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, were featured in Bloomberg Law Big Law Business discussing the firm's aggressive growth of the department.

100 Cozen O’Connor Lawyers Named to the Best Lawyers in America

August 23, 2017

Lawyers were selected for inclusion in the 2018 edition based on a rigorous peer-review that has been developed and defined for more than 30 years.

Joe Tilson Elected Chair-elect of ABA Section on Labor and Employment Law

August 13, 2017

Congratulations to Joe Tilson, co-chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor and Employment Department, on his election to Chair-elect of the American Bar Association’s Section on Labor and Employment Law.

Slow to Telecommuting Trend, Law Firms are Getting With it

August 12, 2017

Joe Tilson, co-chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, discusses telecommuting in Crain's Chicago Business.

Two Years Post-Merge, Cozen O'Connor Hitting Growth Goals in Labor Practice

August 10, 2017

Our Labor & Employment department was featured in an article by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

Three Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Earn Recognition in 2017 Chambers Global Rankings

June 15, 2017

Chambers Global has recognized Cozen O’ Connor attorneys Susan Eisenberg, Paul Dowsey, and Joseph Tilson as three worldwide leaders in their respective practices.

Cozen O’Connor Earns Client Recognition in 2017 Chambers USA Rankings

May 26, 2017

Chambers USA recognized 47 Cozen O’Connor lawyers as leaders in their respective fields; 14 attorneys were recognized nationally and 11 were ranked in the top band.

Anna Wermuth, Joseph Tilson, A. Martin Wickliff, Jr., and Jeremy Glenn Among Nation’s Top Labor & Employment Lawyers According to LawDragon/HRE

April 18, 2017

Four members of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment group have been named to the 2017 LawDragon/Human Resource Executive (HRE) magazine’s top Labor & Employment lists.

What’s Next in Labor Law?

April 03, 2017

Joe Tilson, chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, discusses what's next in labor law in Chicago Lawyer Magazine.

Who Universities Bring to the Bargaining Table

February 23, 2017

Anna Wermuth and Joe Tilson, vice chair and chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, discuss their involvement in the higher education industry in this Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article.

Thirteen Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Named to 2017 Illinois Super Lawyers Lists

February 03, 2017

Super Lawyers represents the top five percent of all practicing lawyers in each state. The publishers of Super Lawyers identify preeminent attorneys based on surveys and interviews with thousands of attorneys, plus consideration of civic service and pro bono activities.

Five Cozen O’Connor Lawyers Named 2017 “Lawyers of the Year” by Best Lawyers in America®

August 16, 2016

Cozen O’Connor is proud to announce that five of the firm’s lawyers have been recognized as “Lawyers of the Year” in their respective practices by The Best Lawyers in America, one of the oldest and most highly regarded peer-review publications in the legal profession.

Sixty-Two Cozen O’Connor Lawyers Named to the Best Lawyers in America

August 15, 2016

Sixty-two Cozen O’Connor lawyers from 13 of the firm’s national offices have been selected for inclusion in the 2017 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

Meeting the Right Match

August 01, 2016

Joseph Tilson, chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment, and Michael Heller, CEO of Cozen O'Connor, discuss the MB&T and Cozen O'Connor merger last summer.

Higher Education Becomes the Poster Child for Overtime Rule Concerns

July 19, 2016

Joe Tilson discusses the Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act, which will have a significant impact on higher education institutions.

Leading Lawyers Network Recognizes 22 Cozen O’Connor Lawyers as Top Illinois Practitioners

July 01, 2016

The Leading Lawyers Network has named 22 Cozen O’Connor lawyers to its annual list of Illinois’ top practitioners and named 4 others as Emerging Lawyers in its 2016 survey results.

Joseph Tilson and A. Martin Wickliff, Jr. Named among the Nation’s "Top 100 Most Powerful Employment Lawyers"

June 16, 2016

For the sixth year in a row, Cozen O’ Connor attorneys Joseph Tilson and A. Martin Wickliff, Jr. have been named to the Lawdragon/Human Resource Executive Magazine list of the nation’s “Top 100 Most Powerful Employment Lawyers.”

Three Cozen O'Connor Attorneys Earn Recognition in 2016 Chambers Global Rankings

June 09, 2016

Joseph Tilson and Susan Eisenberg recognized as worldwide leaders in labor and employment law, Paul Dowsey recognized as a leader in insurance.

Joe Tilson Discusses the Release of the Department of Labor's (DOL) Overtime Rule

June 02, 2016

Joe Tilson, chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department and chair-elect of the Wage and Hour Defense Institute, discusses downstream issues associated with the May 18 release of the Department of Labor's (DOL) Overtime Rule in the Daily Labor Report.

Cozen O’Connor Earns Client Recognition in 2016 Chambers USA Rankings

May 27, 2016

Chambers USA recognized 41 Cozen O’Connor lawyers as leaders in their respective fields; 12 attorneys were recognized nationally and 11 were ranked in the top band.

Joseph Tilson and Kyle Vos Strache Named Client Choice 2016 Winners by Lexology

February 17, 2016

Joseph Tilson and Kyle Vos Strache were named Client Choice 2016 winners.The Client Choice survey was conducted by International Law Office and Lexology.

15 Cozen O'Connor Attorneys Named 2016 Illinois Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

February 03, 2016

Super Lawyers has named 15 attorneys at Cozen O’Connor to its 2016 lists of top practitioners in Illinois.

Joe Tilson Discusses Common Mistakes in Client Pitches

February 02, 2016

Joe Tilson, chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, discusses common mistakes in client pitches on Law360.

Joe Tilson Elected to Board of Chicago Chapter of Federal Bar Association

October 07, 2015

With more than 400 members, the Chicago chapter of FBA offers a wide variety of programs and opportunities for judges and attorneys engaged in federal practice. The mission of the Association is to strengthen the federal legal system and administration of justice by serving the interest and needs of the federal practitioner, both public and private, the federal judiciary, and the public they serve.

Joe Tilson Discusses MBT’s Combination with Cozen O’Connor and the Recent Northwestern Ruling in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

August 25, 2015

Joe Tilson discusses the merger of MBT and Cozen O’Connor and explains the Northwestern ruling from his vantage point, offering a vision of how a unionized Wildcats team could have spelled chaos for college athletics.

Cozen O'Connor Labor and Employment Attorneys Score Big for Northwestern University

August 18, 2015

Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment attorneys were successful in thwarting the Northwestern University’s Football Team’s attempt to unionize, when the NLRB declined to assert jurisdiction.

Joseph Tilson Discusses the Meaningfulness of Being an Employment Attorney in Law360

August 17, 2015

Joseph Tilson discusses the meaningfulness of being an employment attorney and the ability for young attorneys to get involved.

Fifty-Two Cozen O’Connor Lawyers Named to the Best Lawyers in America

August 17, 2015

The current edition is based on more than five million detailed evaluations by the top lawyers of the country. This list will be included in dozens of city and regional publications in the United States including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.

Joseph Tilson Discusses Employee Handbook Revisions in the Chicago Tribune

August 04, 2015

Joseph Tilson discusses the growing trend of the National Labor Relations Board causing employers to revise their employee handbooks for the digital age as people talk about their workplaces on social media platforms.

Joe Tilson Elected Vice-Chair of ABA Section on Labor and Employment Law

August 01, 2015

Tilson’s new position was announced today at the ABA’s annual meeting in Chicago, and is effective immediately.

Three Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Recognized Among “The Nation’s Most Powerful Employment Attorneys”

July 07, 2015

Cozen O’Connor attorneys Mark J. Foley, Joseph E. Tilson and A. Martin Wickliff, Jr. have been recognized among Human Resource Executive magazine’s 8th annual edition of “The Nation’s Most Powerful Employment Attorneys – Top 100.”

Cozen O’Connor Earns Client Recognition in 2015 Chambers USA Rankings

July 06, 2015

Chambers USA recognized 37 Cozen O’Connor lawyers as leaders in their respective fields; 12 attorneys were recognized nationally and 10 were ranked in the top band.

Cozen O’Connor Combines with Meckler Bulger Tilson

June 02, 2015

Cozen O’Connor and Chicago-based Meckler Bulger Tilson (MBT) are pleased to announce that, effective June 1, 2015, 58 attorneys formerly of MBT have joined Cozen O’Connor.

Publications

Illinois Ban on Salary History Inquiries Dies on Governor’s Desk [Labor & Employment Alert]

August 28, 2017

Joseph E. Tilson and Anna Wermuth discuss why Governor Rauner’s veto is good news for Illinois employers.

NLRB General Counsel Takes a Bold Stance on Student Athletes [Labor & Employment Alert]

February 07, 2017

Joseph Tilson and Anna Wermuth discuss the NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin's announced that scholarship football players at Division I FBS private colleges and universities are employees entitled to protection under the National Labor Relations Act.

No Pay for Student Athletes’ Play, Seventh Circuit Affirms [Labor & Employment Alert]

December 08, 2016

Joseph Tilson, Anna Wermuth, and Jeremy Glenn discuss a recent decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that student athletes are not employees of the college or university they attend and therefore are not entitled to a minimum wage or overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

NLRB Decides Private University Teaching and Research Assistants Can Unionize [Labor & Employment Alert]

August 24, 2016

Joseph E. Tilson and Anna Wermuth discuss the NLRB decision yesterday that student teaching and research assistants at private colleges and universities are statutory employees who can unionize under the National Labor Relations Act.

Labor and Employment Observer 2015/2016

January 06, 2016

The 2015/2016 Labor and Employment Observer looks back at significant developments in labor and employment law over the past year and forward to what employers can expect in 2016.

Events & Seminars

Past Events

Sports Law for Rookies & Veterans 2018

June 06, 2018 - Minneapolis, MN

AELC 25th Annual Conference

October 20, 2017 - Dana Point, CA

2017 Labor and Employment Law Update - Chicago

October 05, 2017 - Chicago, IL

MCCA Creating Pathways to Diversity Conference

October 03, 2017 - New York, NY

Labor and Employment Law Update

June 14, 2017 - Philadelphia, PA

28th National Forum on Wage & Hour Claims and Class Actions

September 26, 2016 - San Francisco, CA

Labor and Employment Law Issues in an Election Year

April 21, 2016 - Fort Lauderdale, FL

2016 Sports Law for Rookies and Veterans

April 15, 2016 - New York, NY

NACUA's 2015 Annual Conference

June 28, 2015 - Washington, D.C.

Education

  • University of Michigan Law School, J.D., cum laude, 1979
  • University of Michigan, B.A., with honors, 1976

Awards & Honors

Corporate LiveWire Global Awards - Employment & Labour Law 2016

Lexology’s 2015 and 2016 Illinois Client Choice Award

2011, 2014, 2017 and 2018 Chicago Labor and Employment Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers in America

Best Lawyers in America 2003-2019

Chambers USA America's Leading Lawyers for Business - Band 1 Ranking

Most Powerful Employment Attorneys by Human Resource Network and Lawdragon

Top 100 Illinois Super Lawyers

Leading Lawyers Network Illinois

Outstanding Lawyers of America

International Who's Who of Management Labor and Employment Lawyers

Martindale-Hubbell - AV rated

Benchmark Labor & Employment Star for the Midwest

  • Illinois
  • U.S. District Court -- Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court -- Central District of Illinois
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. District Court -- Colorado
  • U.S. District Court -- Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • Fellow and Regional Director, College Labor and Employment Lawyers 
  • ABA - Chair-Elect of Labor & Employment Section; Past Chair: Employment Law Trial Advocacy Competition; Past Chair: Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee; FLSA, Age Discrimination, and Equal Pay Act Subcommittees
  • Board of Managers, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago