University of Michigan Law School, J.D., 1976
University of Michigan, B.A. 1972
Jerome Watson has been recognized as one of the top litigators in Michigan.
He has successfully represented employers in such areas as discrimination, harassment, breach of contract, wrongful discharge, retaliation, and employment class actions.
Jerome has also litigated various commercial disputes involving a wide range of subject matters including fraud, tax disputes, and constitutional challenges.
This case arose from the Kwame Kilpatrick scandal. In December 2010, Kilpatrick, the former mayor of Detroit, and four other co-defendants including Bobby Ferguson, were criminally indicted by the Department of Justice for public corruption and other wrongful conduct. During the grand jury’s investigation, it came to light that some local contractors, Inland Waters Pollution Control, Lakeshore Engineering Services and DLZ Michigan, may have been played a role in the Kilpatrick scandal. The city and the Detroit Water and Sewage Department hired Miller Canfield to investigate these allegations. The investigation led to a 70-page complaint being filed against these three companies, Kilpatrick and Ferguson, along with various other contractors and city officials, alleging violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), and other claims.
In February 2013, after hearings on a motion to dismiss during the pleadings phase, the City and water department agreed to settle with all three of the contractors. Inland Waters agreed to pay $4.5 million to settle its portion. Lakeshore agreed to pay $5.075 million for its share and DLZ agreed to pay $200,000. All settlements in the case totaled $9,775,000.
Represented a Canadian construction company in a breach of employment contract action filed in Federal District Court. Secured dismissal of the matter on jurisdictional and improper venue grounds.
Defended a class action case in which plaintiffs sought to recover over $250 million from a public entity based on claims that the entity violated various state and local statutes and constitutional provisions in collecting taxes. The circuit court granted summary disposition on all of plaintiffs' claims -- a decision which was affirmed by the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court.
Represented a public school district in a class action brought by former employees who claimed that their layoffs were the result of age discrimination. Summary disposition granted by Wayne County Circuit Court and affirmed by the Michigan Court of Appeals.
Represented a major retailer accused of race discrimination in a class action contesting its hiring and promotion decisions. Case was resolved for nuisance value.
Represented a Michigan university and its Board of Regents in a case filed by the former university president alleging a violation of the Whistleblower's Protection Act and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Secured summary disposition on both claims.
Represented a Fortune 500 staffing services company that was sued by four managers who were terminated during a reduction in force. The managers asserted various age discrimination claims in their Federal District Court lawsuit. After a three-week trial, the jury no caused the plaintiffs, deciding in favor of the company on all claims.
Represented a public school district in its lawsuit seeking to recover millions of dollars of funds which the school district paid to various vendor defendants that did not have authorized contracts. Successfully secured an eight-figure settlement for the district and also obtained multi-million dollar judgments against former school district employees.
Michigan Lawyers Weekly, 2012 Leader in the Law
Crain's Detroit Business, Best Lawyers Focus "Takes one to know one: Peers' picks make list of area's top lawyers," December 2010
Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, Labor & Employment Law, 2004-present
Best Lawyers in America, Labor and Employment Law 2007-2011; Employment Law-Management, Labor Law-Management and Litigation-Labor and Employment 2012-present
Michigan Super Lawyers, Top 100 Michigan Super Lawyers 2007-2013, Employment Litigation: Defense 2006-present
DBusiness Magazine, Labor and Employment 2010-present
Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
Fellow of the Michigan State Bar Foundation
American Employment Law Council, member
National Employment Law Council, member
American Bar Association, member, Labor Law Section
State Bar of Michigan, 1976-present, member, Labor Law Section; Character and Fitness Committee
Miller Canfield Managing Director, 2005-2011; Chair, Miller Canfield Diversity Committee
Federal Bar Association, member
National Bar Association, member
Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association, Board of Directors
Wolverine Bar Association
Civic, Cultural & Social Activities
NAACP Michigan State Conference, General Counsel
Services to Enhance Potential (STEP), Board Member; Past Chairman
Operation Jobs Program, Organizer and Chairman
Inner City Youth Basketball Team, Coach
Detroit Regional Chamber, Graduate, Leadership Detroit VI
"The State of Diversity," Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, October 2012
“Making Difficult Human Resource Decisions,” Association of Legal Administrators, September 2010
“Wage and Hour Update and Guidance on Audits/Compliance,” National Employment Law Conference, April 2010
“Writing An Effective Appeal Brief,” Wolverine Bar Association, April 2010
“Strategic Issues In Defense of Major Wage and Hour Litigation,” National Employment Law Conference, April 2009
"Challenges and Opportunities Presented by a Diverse Workforce," Miller Canfield Labor Law Seminar, October 2007
"Supreme Court Update," NAACP National Convention, July 2007; NAACP State of Michigan Convention, September 2007
"Advanced Trial Skills - Judge, Jury, and Using Technology," National Employment Law Council, May 2006
“Safety Issues: Workplace Violence,” Employment Law in Michigan 2010, Institute for Continuing Education
"Workplace Safety," Institute of Continuing Legal Education, 2007
"I Heard It Through The Grapevine: Evidentiary Challenges in Racially Hostile Work Environment Litigation," 19 The Labor Lawyer 381 (2004)
Defending Your Witness During Deposition, (Paper and Publication) ICLE, October 2000
"Employment Law in Michigan," chapter titled "Safety Issues: Workplace Violence," The Institute of Continuing Legal Education, January 1997-present