Mary A. Smigielski is a partner in the Chicago office of Lewis Brisbois and a member of the Labor & Employment Practice. Ms. Smigielski handles class/collective actions and single-plaintiff employment litigation, administrative charges, nationwide counseling, training, and sensitive workplace investigations, including at the C-Suite level.
Having spent nearly a decade as in-house employment counsel for a multi-national, Fortune 50 company with responsibility for over 100,000 employees, Ms. Smigielski is in a unique position to recognize the challenges faced by our clients and is committed to achieving creative and cost-effective solutions.
Ms. Smigielski partners with all levels of leadership to achieve complex business objectives, define, assess and control legal risk, and implement workplace policies and best practices.
She routinely represents employers in State and Federal Courts, and she has appeared in courts across the United States in individual, class, collective and multi-district litigation as well as mediations and arbitrations.
She has extensive experience with administrative agencies, including the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, U.S. Department of Labor, Illinois Department of Human Rights, Chicago Commission on Human Relations and various other agencies nationwide.
Ms. Smigielski’s counseling practice involves partnering with clients on all aspects of the employee life cycle, including pre-employment screening, the application process, restrictive covenants, orientation, handbooks, policies, compensation programs, exemption analysis, leaves of absence, accommodations, crisis response/threat management, training, wage/hour audits, reductions-in-force, facility closures, termination counseling, separation agreements and responding to inquires from the media and regulatory officials.
Her practice also involves unfair competition law, business-to-business disputes, gig-economy initiatives, executive agreements, non-disclosure agreements, non-competition agreements, non-solicitation agreements, professional services and independent contractor arrangements, mergers and acquisitions, asset purchase/sale agreements, and intellectual property matters such as the defense of trademarks.
Ms. Smigielski is on the cutting-edge of the defense of the recent wave of class action litigation brought against employers and others under the Illinois Biometric Information Protection Act (BIPA).
- University of San Diego School of Law, Juris Doctor, 1993
- University of San Diego, Bachelor of Arts, Political Science, 1990
- State Bar Admissions
- United States Courts of Appeals & Supreme Court
- United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- United States District Courts
- United States District Court for the Central District of California
- United States District Court for the Northern District of California
- United States District Court for the District of Colorado
- United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois
- United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana
- Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC)
- American Bar Association (ABA)
- First Chair, Top Employment Counsel 2012, 2016
- Chicago Bar Association
Legal Experience :
- Cost sensitive litigation management of heavy class/collective action/PAGA and single-plaintiff docket nationally and in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Developed strategy with outside counsel, managed outside counsel/budgets and attended significant depositions, hearings, mediations, arbitrations, trials. Evaluated risks, set reserves and litigation budgets and counseled management on litigation process/avoidance. Resolved $26M individual plaintiff employment verdict and related cases for $1.9M in California.
- Successfully defended Employment Arbitration Agreement from claims of unconscionability and compelled putative class actions to arbitration in state and federal court.
- Directed litigation and negotiated highly favorable class/collective settlements including alleged failure to pay vacation/personal days to approximately 100,000 employees in Illinois; national violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) during hiring; nationwide misclassification of various managers; improper wage statements in California.
- Counseled HR/management through all aspects of WARN, OWBPA and EEO adverse impact analysis of staff reductions and facility closures, including negotiating and preparing exit agreements and restructuring for optimal efficiency and avoidance of litigation.
- Led significant workplace/ethics investigations and immediately responded to workplace violence or other situations requiring crisis management. Responded to DOL/state audits and partnered with law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, DOJ, and Homeland Security.
- Led corporate raiding/restrictive covenant litigation at direction of the Chairman of the Board of a national healthcare provider.
Rate : $$$$