Gould + Ratner



Managing Partner

Chair, Human Resources and Employment Practice

Companies turn to David Michael for practical and experienced counsel informed by more than 25 years of handling complex human resources, employment, and labor issues for management.  David helps employers navigate the often-tricky nature of multilayered government laws and regulations and advocates for them in disputes at governmental agencies and in state and federal courts.

As the Chair of Gould & Ratner’s Human Resources and Employment Practice, David represents a wide variety of clients, ranging from middle-market public and private companies to closely held and family-run businesses to not for profit organizations.  He works closely with employers and their HR professionals, providing proactive advice on a variety of particularly complex employment-related topics including:

  • navigating the provisions of the various laws allowing for employee leave, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • counseling employers on employee discipline and discharge-related matters,
  • effecting plant closings without liability,
  • avoiding legal pitfalls when hiring employees,
  • investigating sexual harassment complaints,
  • accommodating pregnant or disabled employees,
  • implementing strategies to ensure exemptions from overtime, and
  • developing better systems to document disciplinary actions.

David has won numerous employment-related lawsuits 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.  

In addition to litigation, David also assists employers with training their workforces on employment-related topics. He routinely conducts training seminars for employers and their employees on topics such as harassment prevention, performance management, employment discrimination basics, hiring and firing, accommodating disabled employees, leadership, workplace violence and risk management.

David frequently writes and speaks on current topics in human resources and employment law. In addition, he is the editor and a frequent contributor to Gould & Ratner’s HR Law Blog. David has served in a similar capacity for the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation and authored articles for numerous magazines and newsletters on a wide variety of employment-related topics.

When David is not helping his clients solve complicated employee problems, you can find him running, playing guitar, designing furniture, serving on community and charitable boards or cheering on his beloved Manchester United to victory.


Connect with David

(312) 236-3003 Office
David N. Michael
Rated by Super Lawyers

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Connect with David

(312) 236-3003 Office
David N. Michael
Rated by Super Lawyers

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  • Loyola University Chicago School of Law, J.D., 1993
  • Indiana University, B.S., Business Management, 1989

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois

Court Admissions

  • 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.


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.