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Cliff Godiner


St. Louis
314 552 6433 314 552 6433 direct

Cliff is a nationally recognized labor and employment attorney who advises executives and HR leaders on all aspects of employment litigation and labor disputes. He has carved out a special niche in the area of the Railway Labor Act and is one of a limited number of practitioners nationwide who represent carriers in labor disputes under that law.

As the co-chair of Thompson Coburn's Human Resource practice, Cliff has 30 years of experience advising employers and representing them in state and federal courts across the country. He helps employers respond to claims involving discrimination, wage and hour violations, wrongful discharge, and non-compete actions, and has defeated numerous class actions through decertification or summary judgment. Cliff strives to provide the best possible value in each matter and determine early in the litigation process the most effective course of action, be it a compelling trial strategy or the early resolution of claims by settlement.

Cliff represents employers under the National Labor Relations Act, including the handling of unfair labor practice charges, grievance arbitrations, and related litigation. He has stepped in during strikes and contentious union disputes, providing clear, thoughtful guidance during high-stakes conflicts between labor and management. In one case, he secured a rare court-ordered payment from a union for damages caused by a violent union protest. Cliff also assists employers during union election campaigns, providing a unique approach that helps employers identify and address the key issues behind union organization activities.

Cliff's Railway Labor Act practice focuses on preventing unlawful strikes and handling lawsuit seeking to overturn arbitration decisions. In one case, Cliff successfully overturned an award that would have provided over $10 million in relief to a class of claimants. Cliff also successfully arbitrated the first case in which a rail union was ordered to pay damages to a carrier for breach of the collective bargaining agreement.

Representative cases under the Railway Labor Act refusing to allow union strikes

SMART v. Terminal R.R. Ass'n, 2016 WL 375038 (S.D. Ill. 2016)

Brotherhood of R.R. Signalmen v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., 2013 WL 6506317 (D. Nev. 2013)

BMWED v. Union Pac. R.R., 460 F.3d 1277 (10th Cir. 2006)

Representative arbitration review cases under the Railway Labor Act or Interstate Commerce Act

Bradford v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., 767 F.3d 865 (9th Cir. 2014)

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., 2011 WL 5828129 (N.D. Ill. 2011)

McClendon v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., 640 F.3d 800 (8th Cir. 2011)

Brotherhood of Ry. Carmen v. Kansas City S. Ry., 2005 WL 2600435 (W.D. Mo. 2005)

Union Pacific R.R. Co. v. Surface Transportation Bd., 358 F.3d 31 (D.C. Cir. 2004)

Employment discrimination summary judgments

Strong v. America's Center, 2006 WL 1975996 (8th Cir. 2006)

Curby v. Solutia, 351 F.3d 868 (8th Cir. 2003)

Dorsey v. Pinnacle Automation Co., 278 F.3d 830 (8th Cir. 2002)

Sturgeon v. Monsanto Co., 2001 WL 66279 (8th Cir. Jan. 29, 2001)

Jones v. Union Pacific Motor Freight, 1999 WL 34803757 (W.D. Mo 1999)

Thompson Coburn Publications

New NLRB ruling changes what terms private sector employers can include in many severance agreements

New law to bar mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment and assault claims

Sixth Circuit dissolves stay of OSHA vax or test mandate for large employers paving way for enforcement

President Biden announces new vaccine mandate for large employers

How will the landmark Title VII decision in Bostock affect employer liability standards for LGBTQ+ employees?

Five things you should know about the DOL’s new Coronavirus paid leave rules

How the St. Louis City and County Orders may affect your business

What do the Labor Department proposed overtime changes mean to me?

Missouri to join Right to Work ranks: Is the fight over or just warming up?


Remote Work Issues

Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Supreme Court Review


“Current Developments in Litigation Under the Railway Labor Act”;
National Association of Railroad Referees, Chicago, Illinois, 2007-Present

"Surviving the Avalanche: New Rules on Union Organizing and Their Consequences";
Thompson Coburn HR Seminar, March 2015

"Farrow vs. St. Francis Medical Center: A Defendant's Perspective";
Missouri Bar CLE, 2015

"Social Media: Communication From All Directions";
Thompson Coburn HR Seminar, March 2014

"A Portrait of a Modern Labor Dispute";
Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference, Chicago, 2013

"Workplace Investigations and Retaliation Claims";
Thompson Coburn HR Seminar, March 2012

"Managing Your Ailing Workforce";
Thompson Coburn HR Seminar, March 2012

"Union-Management Relations During the Obama Administration";
Thompson Coburn HR Seminar, March 2011


Chambers USA Recognizes Thompson Coburn Practices for Excellence in 2023 Guide

Thompson Coburn attorneys recognized in 2022 Chambers USA

Thompson Coburn attorneys recognized in 2021 Chambers USA

Thompson Coburn attorneys recognized in 2020 Chambers USA

Congratulations to our 14 ‘Lawyers of the Year’ for 2020

17 Thompson Coburn attorneys recognized in 2019 Chambers USA

Congratulations to our 14 ‘Lawyers of the Year’ for 2019

U.S. News & World Report names Thompson Coburn as best for railroad law

23 Thompson Coburn attorneys recognized in 2016 Chambers USA

25 Thompson Coburn attorneys recognized in 2015 Chambers USA

Congratulations to our 15 St. Louis ‘Lawyers of the Year’

Cliff Godiner, Chuck Poplstein named to 2014 ‘Most Powerful Employment Attorneys’ list

27 Thompson Coburn attorneys recognized in 2014 Chambers USA

Cliff Godiner, Chuck Poplstein named to ‘Most Powerful Employment Attorneys’ list

Cliff Godiner, Hope Abramov to dissect a modern labor dispute at SHRM annual conference

Thompson Coburn wins union election, decertifies longtime union facility

19 Thompson Coburn partners named 2013 St. Louis Lawyers of the Year