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Jeffrey A. Calabrese

Member, Louisville

Jeff is the practice leader for SKO’s Labor, Employment & Employee Benefits group. He has substantial experience litigating in state and federal courts, representing businesses, government agencies and non-profit employers in labor and employment matters. Clients rely on Jeff as a responsive, down-to-earth and trusted advisor. Jeff regularly counsels employers on difficult workplace issues and is a sought-after speaker on employment law.

University of Georgia
2003, J.D., magna cum laude
Emory University
2000, B.A.
U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Alabama
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Alabama
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana
U.S. District Court, Western District of Kentucky
U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan
United States Supreme Court


  • AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®
  • Best Lawyers in America®, 2015 - present
  • Louisville Magazine Top Lawyer, Disability Law, 2014 and 2016
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  • American Bar Association, Employee Rights & Responsibilities Committee, 2004-present
  • Louisville Bar Association: member, 2006-present; Board of Directors, 2010-2011; Communications Committee, 2007-2016; Labor and Employment Section Chair, 2009
  • Metro United Way, Board of Directors, Executive Committee, 2016-present
  • Boy Scouts of America, Lincoln Heritage Council Executive Board, 2018-present
  • St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church, former senior warden, 2016; vestry member, 2014-2016
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Meet Jeff

Legal Practice

Employment issues require an understanding of technical legal knowledge, workplace culture and human nature. When working with clients in these areas, my goal is to find the best solution for them whether it’s in response to a difficult internal situation, a government investigation or litigation.


I work with clients in many industries, but have particular experience with manufacturing, transportation, higher education, finance and religious/charitable entities.


While I enjoy helping clients with a full range of legal and “non-legal” employment issues, I have particular experience addressing claims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation, wage and hour law issues, FMLA/ADA leave and reasonable accommodation questions, and matters related to non-competition agreements.

Looking Ahead

Virtually all of our labor and employment laws were written for an industrial society that, for the most part, no longer exists. In many ways, these laws are a poor fit for a rapidly changing, fully connected economy. Labor and employment lawyers must stay abreast of how policymakers are grappling with these momentous changes, and be prepared to help their clients navigate the “brave new world” that lies ahead.

Work Highlights

Breach of Contract

SKO represented an insurance company that was being sued in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky by a paper products manufacturer for breach of an insurance contract. The manufacturer alleged that it had proven a covered loss under an employee theft policy and the insurer disagreed and denied many elements of the claim. At the trial court level, the manufacturer willfully violated multiple discovery orders and the court dismissed the manufacturer’s claims as a sanction. After the dismissal, the trial court denied the insurer’s motion for fees incurred litigating the dispute. The manufacturer appealed the trial court’s denial to the Sixth Circuit and the insurer cross-appealed the denial of fees. After briefing on the first appeal had concluded, the parties resolved all matters amicably. While the case did not result in an appellate decision, SKO was successful in preserving an important district court opinion levying a rare dismissal sanction for discovery misconduct.

Related Practices: Business Litigation, Appellate

Wrongful Termination

SKO represented a university that terminated one of its police officers after two episodes of misconduct that were detected through intradepartmental procedures. The employee appealed the termination through an internal appeal process, which concluded in a four-day de novo hearing before a neutral Hearing Officer from the Kentucky Attorney General’s office. The internal appeal was unsuccessful, and the employee appealed to Jefferson Circuit Court, arguing that the Hearing Officer’s recommendations were arbitrary and capricious and that the employee had been deprived of the procedural protections found within KRS 15.520, aka the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights. In response, the university explained that the Hearing Officer’s recommendations were well supported, that KRS 15.520 was only applicable when officer discipline was premised on a citizen complaint (and thus not applicable in an intradepartmental matter), and that even if the procedural protections of KRS 15.520 applied, any prejudice was cured through the four-day de novo hearing that the employee had been afforded internally. After the Circuit Court agreed with the university’s points and upheld the Hearing Officer, the employee appealed to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, where the same arguments were made. The Court of Appeals issued a 31-page opinion affirming the trial court on all points. The employee filed a motion for discretionary review which is currently pending. The case is a very meaningful one in the law enforcement community, particularly among non-unionized officers. Also, in reaching its decision, the Court of Appeals ruled as a matter of first impression that the university’s internal pre-hearing processes were constitutional.

News Publications Seminars
Getting Worker Classification Right, speaker, KYSHRM Conference, 2016
Disability Law Update, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce HR Update, speaker, Louisville, Kentucky, 2013
Accommodation Without Surrender: Beyond the ADA Amendments Act,  Kentucky Chamber of Commerce HR Update, speaker, Louisville, Kentucky, 2012
Disability Law Update: The EEOC Redefines 'Disabled',  Kentucky Chamber of Commerce HR Update, speaker, Louisville/Lexington, Kentucky, 2011
Kentucky Legal and Legislative Update,  CUPA-HR Kentucky/Tennessee Regional Meeting, speaker, Louisville, Kentucky, 2011
Kentucky Unemployment Insurance Law Update, Carl Warns Labor & Employment Law Institute, speaker, Louisville, Kentucky, 2009
Just (Cause) Around the Corner?, American Bar Association Employee Rights & Responsibilities Committee Midwinter Meeting, speaker, Key West, Florida, 2009
Strong Foundations Make Strong Cases, American Bar Association National Labor & Employment CLE Conference, speaker, Denver, Colorado, 2008
Strong Foundations Make Strong Cases. American Bar Association National Labor & Employment CLE Conference, speaker, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2007
Lawsuit Risks for the Professional Firm, Association of Legal Administrators Regional Conference, speaker, Louisville, Kentucky, 2006
Avoiding Retaliation Claims: A Primer for Kentucky Employers, Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC 2006 Employment Law Seminar, speaker, Lexington, Kentucky, 2006