Michael D. Karpeles: Lawyer with Greenberg Traurig, LLP

Michael D. Karpeles

Chicago,  IL  U.S.A.

Peer Rating
AV® Preeminent

Client Rating

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Experience & Credentials Ratings & Reviews

Practice Areas

  • Labor & Employment
  • Litigation
  • Class Action Litigation
Contact InfoTelephone: 312.456.1076
Fax: 312.456.8435
University Wheaton College, B.A., summa cum laude, 1981
Law SchoolHarvard Law School, J.D., cum laude, 1985
Admitted1985, Illinois; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

Professional & Community Involvement

•Member, Chicago Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law Committee
•Member, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
•Chairman, Salvation Army Greater Chicago Advisory Board
•Member, Salvation Army Correctional Services Program Advisory Council

BornMinneapolis, Minnesota, May 15, 1958

Michael D. Karpeles chairs the Chicago Labor & Employment Practice. He has wide-ranging experience in complex commercial litigation and concentrates his practice in employment law. Mike regularly defends employers in state and federal courts and administrative agencies around the country in class and collective actions as well as individual cases involving allegations of discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge and violations of wage and hour laws. He also handles cases under the ADA, ERISA, FMLA and whistleblower statutes. He has litigated numerous matters involving covenants not to compete, employee raiding, trade secret misappropriation and employment contracts.

Mike also provides advice and counsel to clients on how to minimize potential liability under the state and federal employment laws, including in connection with mass layoffs, reductions in force, merger and acquisition transactions, and OFCCP compliance audits. He negotiates and creates executive compensation, severance and release agreements, and advises companies concerning their employment policies. In both litigation and counseling, he has represented clients in a number of industries, including utility services, metals, manufacturing, retail, banking and financial services, airlines, toys and sporting goods, cellular communications, real estate management, proprietary electronic trading, debt collection, consumer products, computer, health care, clinical research, education, and not-for-profit organizations.

Areas of Concentration

•Defend class and individual discrimination, harassment and retaliation litigation
•Non-compete and trade secret litigation
•Wage and hour class and collective action defense
•Employment and executive compensation agreements
•Strategic advice in connection with reductions in force (RIFs), mass layoffs, and corporate transactions to minimize employment law risks
•OFCCP, DOL and other government agency investigations and defense of litigation

Awards & Recognition

•Listed, The Best Lawyers in America, Labor and Employment Law - Management, 2008-2015
•Listed, Leading Lawyers Network, 2012-2015
•Listed, Chambers USA Guide, 2009, 2012-2015
•Listed, Super Lawyers magazine, Illinois Super Lawyers, 2005-2006, 2008-2015
•Team Member, a Law360 Employment Practice Group of the Year, 2011 and 2013
•fellow, The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
•Rated, AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5

AV, BV, AV Preeminent and BV Distinguished are registered certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used under in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies.

Articles, Publications, & Lectures

•Author, Boardroom Lessons From The Disney/Ovitz Case, The Corporate Board, November/December, 2005
•Author, Class Action Warfare, The Wall Street Journal, July 6, 2004
•Author, Mandatory Arbitration in the Workplace, HR.com, August 2002
•Author, ADA Related Ruling, HR.com, July 2002
•Author, How to Protect Your Company's Interests: Proper Use of Non-Compete Clauses, HR.com, June 2002
•Author, Supreme Court Case On Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Regulation, HR.com, May 2002
•Author, Non-Compete Clauses May Cause Legal Problems for Laid Off Dot.Comers and their New Employers, HR.com, April 2002
•Author, Proactive Strategies to Prevent Employment Class Action Suits, Employment Review, August 2000
•Author, Employers Beware: Retaliation Lawsuits on the Rise, Employment Review, February, 2000
•Author, Employment Contracts More Common, Employment Review, December, 1998
•Author, Set Guidelines for Workplace Romance, Human Resource Professional, January/February 1998
•Author, Employment Issues: Workplace Romance, Human Resource Management News, June 1997
•Author, Advice to 50-Somethings, The Journal of Commerce, May 1997
•Author, Youth Gangs Emerging as Workplace Plague, The Bridgenews Forum, October 1997

Speaking Engagements
•Speaker, 2013 FMLA Master Class for Illinois Employers: Overcoming Compliance and Employee Leave Challenges, BLR, Chicago, IL, September 12, 2013
•Panelist, Screening & Investigating Prospective Employees, Law Bulletin Seminars' Annual Employment Law Conference, Chicago, IL, September 19, 2012

Associated News & Events

Press Releases

06.03.15 Fourteen Greenberg Traurig Chicago Attorneys and Five Practices Recognized in 2015 Chambers USA Guide
05.22.15 Greenberg Traurig Attorneys, Practices Included in the 2015 Chambers USA Guide
01.13.15 63 Greenberg Traurig Chicago Attorneys Recognized by Leading Lawyers
09.08.14 Greenberg Traurig Labor & Employment Practice Receives Multiple Recognitions
05.23.14 Greenberg Traurig Attorneys, Practices Included in 2014 Chambers USA Guide
09.06.13 18 Greenberg Traurig Chicago Attorneys Recognized in 2014 Edition of Best Lawyers in America
05.28.13 Chambers USA Guide 2013 Includes 171 Greenberg Traurig Attorneys, 33 Practice Areas
01.11.13 Forty-Five Greenberg Traurig Attorneys Named to Leading Lawyers Network in Illinois
01.11.13 37 Greenberg Traurig Attorneys Recognized in 2013 Edition of Illinois Super Lawyers
12.23.11 Greenberg Traurig's Labor and Employment Practice Recognized Among Law360's Employment Groups of the Year


08.06.13 Illinois Legislature Passes Major Changes to Illinois Employment Laws
06.07.13 EEOC Offers Guidance on ADA Workplace Accommodations

Reported CasesSignificant Representations: Represented FuelQuest Inc., a leading on-demand software and services company for the global downstream energy industry, in the sale of its Zytax energy-related tax automation business to Avalara, a leading cloud-based sales tax and compliance automation technology provider. Oversaw the labor and employment law aspects of the transaction, including negotiation of employment-related terms of the deal, and structuring and advice regarding federal and various state employment law compliance issues.; Defended a national public retailer in a sexual harassment case where the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed that plaintiff's supervisor's conduct was not unwelcome.; Represented national bank as lead counsel in a trial involving retaliation claims by a former employee. Based on evidence developed during trial, Mike sought and obtained dismissal of the case based on an issue of first impression under the Illinois Human Rights Act.; Defended a national law firm against sensitive federal court claims of sexual harassment and retaliation. After discovery, obtained summary judgment on all claims.; Represented proprietary electronic trading company in enforcing global non-compete against a senior software developer who left to join a direct competitor to develop similar software. After expedited discovery and trial on the client's motion for preliminary injunction, an injunction preventing the employee from working for the competitor was entered, along with other relief including express validation of the client's non-compete agreement. A principal of the competitor was also required to pay a substantial portion of the client's attorney's fees as part of a settlement with the competitor.; Represented national furniture manufacturer/retailer in a Department of Labor wage and hour investigation involving alleged off-the-clock work, meal and rest break compliance, time rounding and exempt/non-exempt classification. Mike guided the client through a DOL wage and hour audit, developed the overall legal analysis, arranged for production of the appropriate documents, orchestrated the DOL site visit and witness interviews, and steered the investigation toward a resolution with no findings whatsoever of liability. No further claims were ever filed.; Defended North American retailer and subsidiary, President and Sales Manager against multimillion dollar claims by corporate competitor of conspiracy, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of restrictive covenants, and violation of unfair competition and computer integrity laws. The case was removed to federal court and the corporate defendants and President were dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and key claims were dismissed on the merits against the remaining defendant. The plaintiff then dismissed the case with prejudice without payment of any money or other relief from the defendants.; Represented national accounting firm in connection with the termination of the firm's Australian General Manager, who developed medical issues and insisted on returning to the United States for treatment. Mike analyzed the executive's employment agreement and the potentially applicable wage, disability, medical leave and workers compensation laws of three states and Australia, coordinating counsel in those jurisdictions, and developing an approach that avoided all liability to the firm. Potential exposure for the termination exceeded $1 million.; Defended a public bank against OFCCP investigation and allegation of class-wide race discrimination, resulting in complete dismissal and no liability or payment of damages.; Represented large financial services and insurance brokerage firm in enforcing non-compete and non-solicitation agreements against a former senior corporate officer and two former key employees. After conducting an intensive investigation, delivering an eight-count complaint to the former employees and their new employer, and holding a series of high-level negotiations with the threat of litigation on the table, Mike was able to negotiate a multi-million dollar settlement for the client without having to incur the costs of litigation.; Defended a national air freight company in a sexual harassment suit alleging repeated sexual misconduct by a co-worker of the plaintiff and claiming several hundred thousand dollars in damages. After taking the plaintiff's deposition and establishing multiple discrepancies in her testimony, Mike settled the suit for nuisance value.; Litigated novel intellectual property and employment law claims on behalf of a large private employer against a former employee who organized internet chat rooms and created websites disparaging the company and its officers and interfering with the company's business relationships with clients and employees. The case resulted in an order being entered which required the employee to transfer domain names to the company, to shut down any websites and internet chat rooms relating to the company, to refrain from disparaging the company or its employees, and to refrain from disclosing confidential and other information about the company.; Represented public financial services company in a major race discrimination case. Mike was granted a summary judgment, and the dismissal was affirmed by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.; Defended a public company in the uniform industry against national FLSA collective actions and state law wage class actions. Developed substantial legal and factual defenses resulting in no class certification and minimal individual settlements.; Defended a financial services subsidiary of a national bank against class-wide allegations of wage and hour violations in California involving meal and rest breaks. Mike oversaw the process of obtaining 350 employee affidavits and other factual investigation that led to a very favorable pre-certification settlement through mediation.; Defended a senior pharmaceutical industry executive against allegations of theft of trade secrets, inevitable disclosure, and violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Mike worked with forensic technology experts to establish that the executive did not misappropriate trade secrets or access confidential information without authorization, and developed substantial evidence that the executive's job duties with his new employer were too dissimilar to those with his previous employer to justify a finding of inevitable disclosure. The case settled after months of expedited discovery pending a preliminary injunction, with the executive retaining his new job and not having to pay any settlement amount.; Oversaw the legal aspects and documentation of a mass layoff for a public banking organization with facilities in multiple states. No claims relating to the layoff were filed against the bank.; Defended a commercial lender against allegations that the lender was responsible for wages and benefits of a class of employees of a bankrupt borrower. Mike developed compelling evidence through depositions and other discovery, which led to his client being dismissed outright from the case without liability or the payment of any money.; Guided a corporate client through an intensive sexual harassment investigation with potential for numerous sexual harassment suits; none were filed.; Served as co-lead counsel on behalf of a public utility company in a three-month trial that obtained a dramatically reduced property tax assessment on one of the company's nuclear power plants from over $1 billion to less than $300 million. This result was achieved despite a contrary earlier decision on another plant in a different jurisdiction. Mike worked on the case for three years and developed much of the legal analysis and factual testimony, including that of the key witness. The trial was upheld on appeal; the case settled favorably while the parties awaited a decision from the Illinois Supreme Court.; Represented large regional banking institution in a several-hundred-thousand-dollar suit alleging breach of an employment agreement. After bringing a recent court decision to the attention of opposing counsel and asserting that the case was dispositive on the main issue in the case, the suit settled for $500.; Supervised the evaluation of various employment law issues relating to the adoption of a corporate code of ethics by a publicly held bank, including review of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the USA PATRIOT Act and the privacy laws of 36 states.; Represented national company in a suit alleging racial bigotry. After deposing the plaintiff and his chief witness, Mike was able to show that they repeatedly misrepresented facts and contradicted each other. The case settled for less than three percent of the amount claimed.; Assisted a multinational public corporation in substantially revising its leave policies to incorporate features mandated by the Family and Medical Leave Act.; Negotiated and drafted employment agreements for senior officers of public and private companies incorporating final regulations under IRC 409A.; Assisted a national bank in restructuring its recruiting processes, including OFCCP and affirmative action compliance.; Defended and prosecuted numerous controversies involving covenants-not-to-compete and trade secret issues, including temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunction hearings.; Represented government agency that was seeking several million dollars in back taxes against the successor of a bankrupt railroad, in a case in which the constitutionality of the taxes was questioned. Mike was instrumental in achieving a multi-million dollar settlement on the eve of the trial.; Defended a large condominium association and its board of directors against accusations of condominium election fraud and violations of numerous federal and state laws. Mike defeated several attempts to obtain restraining orders and other preliminary relief against the board. All charges were dismissed, and Mike argued the appeal that affirmed the dismissal of the case.; Some of the above representations were handled by Mr. Karpeles prior to his joining Greenberg Traurig, LLP.

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Office Information

Michael D. Karpeles

77 West Wacker Drive, Suite 3100
ChicagoIL 60601


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