J. Ian Downes

Counsel | 
T: +1 215 994 2346
F: +1 215 994 2222

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J. Ian Downes practices in the area of labor and employment law, with a focus on ERISA litigation and labor-management relations. He has significant experience with ERISA class actions, including so-called “stock drop” cases, as well as in representing clients in all types of labor and employment litigation.

Mr. Downes devotes a significant portion of his practice to providing clients with day-to-day assistance and counseling concerning all varieties of labor and employment issues, including negotiation and drafting of employment agreements and restrictive covenants, planning and implementing reductions in force and complying with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act and state and local plant closing laws, and handling of employee complaints and discipline issues. Dechert’s Corporate and Securities teams frequently call upon Mr. Downes to assist with labor issues arising in connection with corporate transactions, particularly those involving unionized workforces.

Significant Representations

ERISA Litigation 
  • The independent directors of Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc. in an ERISA class action alleging breaches of fiduciary duties arising from investment of plan assets in Lehman Brothers’ stock.
  • Directors and officers of Advanta Corp. and Norfolk Southern Corporation in ERISA stock drop class actions.
  • Lockheed Martin Corporation, its employee benefit plans, and the members of its plan administration committees in an ERISA class action alleging improper denials of benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty on behalf of former “leased employees” of Lockheed Martin and its predecessor.
  • The principal defendants in a class action challenging the claimed loss of medical benefits to employees on long-term disability in connection with a bankruptcy sale of Polaroid Corporation.

Employment Practices and Other Employment Litigation
  • A worldwide pharmaceutical company in an action brought by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) alleging systemic sex discrimination in the compensation of sales representatives.
  • A leading biosolids processing company in a multi-million dollar breach of contract action by a former consultant relating to efforts to obtain a contract with the City of Philadelphia.
  • An international medical device and software manufacturer in a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act alleging misclassification of employees performing accounting functions for the company.
  • Bombardier Mass Transit Corporation in a class action under the WARN Act arising out of the closure of a manufacturing facility.


Harvard Law School, J.D., 2001
Amherst College, B.A., 1997

Court Admissions

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Bar Admissions/Qualifications

New Jersey


Honorable Joseph E. Irenas, United States District Court for the District of New Jersey


American Bar Association, Section of Labor and Employment Law
Philadelphia Bar Association