As chair of Gould & Ratner’s Human Resources and Employment Practice, David Michael leads a diverse group of trial attorneys focusing in all areas of complex commercial disputes for public and private companies, as well as business-related disputes for closely held and family businesses.
David earned his litigation stripes in the area of employment law. He has represented employers in numerous employment-related lawsuits in both state and federal court, and before various governmental agencies. He has handled and won cases involving all aspects of employment law, including race, national origin, age and disability discrimination, sexual harassment, restrictive covenants, workers’ compensation retaliation, trade secret misappropriation and breach of fiduciary duty.
As the leader of the firm's Human Resources and Employment Law Practice, David draws upon an extensive 26-year background in human resources management and counseling and limits his practice to management-side human resources, employment and labor law.
David helps employers solve their complex employee problems, the issues that often leave companies wondering, what should we do? He works closely with employers by providing proactive advice on a variety of employment-related topics such as:
- accommodating disabled employees
- navigating the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act
- effecting plant closings without liability
- avoiding legal pitfalls when hiring employees
- investigating sexual harassment complaints
- accommodating pregnant employees
- developing strategies to ensure exemptions from overtime
- handling employee morale issues
- creating better systems to document disciplinary actions
Additionally, David has negotiated and drafted numerous executive employment agreements, compensation and bonus plans. He also assists employers in protecting trade secrets and other legitimate business interests through non-compete and non-disclosure agreements.
A valuable part of David's practice is his assisting employers with training their workforces on employment-related topics, including mandatory harassment prevention training. He has also conducted training seminars for employers and their employees on topics including overtime, performance management, employment discrimination, computer use policies, hiring and firing, accommodating disabled employees, leadership, workplace violence, supervisory skills and risk management.
David writes and speaks frequently on current topics in human resources and employment law, and he is the co-editor and frequent contributor to Gould & Ratner’s HR Law Blog. He has served in a similar capacity for the American Bar Association's Section of Litigation and authored articles for magazines and newsletters on a wide variety of employment-related topics.
David is an AV rated attorney by M-H and has been recognized as an Illinois Super Lawyer as well as an Illinois Leading Lawyer in the area of Employment Law: Management. David was recently selected to serve on the City of Lake Forest’s Legal Committee and serves on the board of directors of the Lake Forest Club.
- Loyola University Chicago School of Law, J.D., 1993
- Indiana University, B.S., Business Management , 1989
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
- American Bar Association, Section of Litigation, Employment & Labor Relations Committee, former Newsletter Editor
- Human Resources Management Association of Chicago (HRMAC), former Co-Chair, Employee Relations Interest Group
- Lake Forest Club, Board Member
- City of Lake Forest Legal Committee
Key Cases or Transactions
- Represented a Chicago-based digital healthcare agency in its sale to a global commercialization partner for the life sciences industry.
- Making Law in the Circuit: David represented a large international employer in a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by a current employee. The employee alleged that the company failed to accommodate her medical condition that required, among other things, frequent bathroom breaks. After securing admissions at the plaintiff’s deposition that she believed her performance was far superior to the generally positive ratings she had received from her supervisors, the employer successfully convinced the court that since the plaintiff’s self-assessed performance was so overwhelmingly above expectations that she was not entitled to a reasonable accommodation as a matter of law.
- Winning at Summary Judgment: David represented a golf course management company in an age discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee laid off in a single employee reduction in force. After securing the plaintiff’s admission at his deposition that the golf industry was “tanking” worse than the economy, Judge Shadur granted David’s motion for summary judgment.
- Winning at Trial: David was part of the trial team that secured a defense verdict in the jury trial of a sexual harassment case filed under state law as an assault and battery case.
- Winning on Appeal: David represented an aggregate and stone mining company in a retaliatory discharge case. He successfully argued to the appellate court that the plaintiff falsified medical records and failed to establish the company terminated him for any other reason than his failure to return to work after he had recovered from a workers’ compensation injury.
- Enforcing a Non-Compete: David represented a recruiting company in an action against a former employee for misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of his employment agreement and breach of his fiduciary duty of loyalty. The matter was resolved upon entry of a permanent injunction barring the former employee from utilizing any confidential or trade secret information from his former employer.
- Defending a Wage and Hour Class Action: David represented an employer in Indiana in a class action brought pursuant to the Indiana Wage Payment law. After removing that action to federal court, David used a procedural device under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to resolve the case prior to the certification of a class.