For over 25 years, Mike Phillips has been defending employers in labor and employment claims and helping them avoid litigation through sound and practical advice. Mike’s practice is nationwide.
He has represented employers in virtually every state in the country in cases brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, ERISA, and other state and federal employment statutes. These cases have included many class and collective actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage payment laws. Mike also guides employers on their obligations under federal labor law and collective bargaining agreements and has arbitrated dozens of grievances, securing many important victories for his clients.
Mike is also an experienced commercial litigator. He has represented businesses and individuals in breach of contract, business tort, professional liability and other business disputes. He both prosecutes and defends non-compete, trade secret and other restrictive covenant cases throughout the country. Mike has tried numerous cases to verdict in jury, non-jury and arbitration settings.
Mike is known for his creativity in resolving disputes and his ability to fight hard for his clients while maintaining the relationships with the court and opposing counsel necessary to achieve the most favorable outcome. Through his skillful management of the litigation process, he has won the trust and confidence of some of America’s largest employers.
Although his practice spans numerous industries, Mike has particular expertise in the staffing industry, where he has represented staffing companies both large and small, as well as in the food and beverage, energy, healthcare, transportation and telecommunications fields.
Mike has been honored as an Illinois “Super Lawyer” in Labor and Employment law seven times, has been named a BTI Client Service All-Star, and has been asked to participate in Illinois State Bar Association continuing legal education panels and industry group conferences to share his views on key employment law issues. He is also the editor of and a frequent contributor to WorkCite, McGuireWoods’ labor and employment law newsletter.
In 2021, Mike received a Certificate in Mediation Skills from Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies after completing mediator training.
- Successfully resolved hundreds of single plaintiff and multiple plaintiff cases in courts across the country alleging discrimination, retaliation, harassment or other violations of state or federal employment laws.
- Lead counsel in numerous class and collective actions in multiple states involving alleged violations of state and federal wage and hour laws. Notable victories include:
- Achieved summary judgment for staffing company in class action lawsuit claiming that vacation pay program violated California Labor Code.
- Obtained complete dismissal of class action lawsuit involving tens of thousands of potential class members alleging multiple violations of wage payment laws.
- Defeated multi-million dollar class action claim by long-haul truck drivers alleging that state law required employer to pay them for all time spent on duty and not driving.
- Prevailed at arbitration hearings involving grievances brought under collective bargaining agreements, including:
- Arbitration award upholding termination of long term employee for inciting violence on the plant floor.
- Series of awards in several states in favor of meatpacking company holding that contracting out of various plant functions to vendor did not violate CBAs.
- Arbitration award upholding termination of utility worker for multiple drug test violations despite long tenure and strong performance record.
- Obtained favorable outcomes in business litigation related to enforcement of restrictive covenants and other contract and tort disputes, including the following:
- Persuaded Virginia Supreme Court to overturn entry of preliminary injunction in restrictive covenant case, resulting in complete victory for client and precedent setting ruling against its litigious competitor.
- Obtained injunction against crop insurance salesperson who attempted to solicit customers in violation of employment covenants.
- Represented engineering company in 10 year long battle with real estate developer, obtaining complete recovery of unpaid fees in arbitration and then resolving professional negligence counterclaims through favorable rulings on pre-trial motions.
- Achieved trial victory for real estate broker on fraud claims, obtaining not guilty verdict on all counts of complaint.
- Represented employer before the U.S. Supreme Court in Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth, one of the most important employment law decisions in recent history, in which the Court redefined the law governing employer liability for workplace sexual harassment.
University of Michigan Law SchoolJD
Associate Editor, Michigan Law Review1994
University of California BerkeleyAB
summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa1991
Selected for inclusion in America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Labor & Employment – Illinois, Band 4, Chambers USA, 2020-2023
Named to “Illinois Super Lawyers,” Employment and Labor, Business Litigation, Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2005, 2012-2018, 2020, 2021
Named a Client Service “All Star,” BTI Consulting, 2020
- Author, What Employers Should Know About Chicago’s New Paid Leave and Paid Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, November 21, 2023
- Author, Illinois Amends Day and Temporary Labor Services Act, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, August 18, 2023
- Author, Illinois and Hawaii Require Employers to Disclose Pay Scales in Job Postings, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, August 16, 2023
- Author, National Labor Relations Board Alleges Student-Athletes Are Employees of Private University, Pac-12, NCAA, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, May 19, 2023
- Author, Illinois Passes Paid Leave for ‘Any Reason’, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, March 14, 2023
- Author, Every Scan Counts: Illinois Supreme Court Decides Claim Accrual Under BIPA, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, February 21, 2023
- Author, Five Years It Is — Illinois Supreme Court Decides BIPA Statute of Limitations, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, February 7, 2023
- Author, National Labor Relations Board: Student Athletes Are Employees of University, Pac-12 and NCAA, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, December 16, 2022
- Author, Signed Into Law: Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, March 14, 2022
- Co-author, "Student Athletes: The Times They Are A-Changin’", NACUA Notes, February 17, 2022
- Author, Student Athletes File NLRB Charges Claiming Employee Status, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, February 10, 2022
- Author, Third Circuit to Decide Whether Student Athletes May Be Employees, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, February 7, 2022
- Author, NLRB General Counsel Memo Announces Initiative to Treat College Athletes as Employees, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, October 7, 2021
- Author, Illinois Courts Begin Clarifying the Biometric Information Privacy Act, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, September 30, 2021
- Author, California Enacts New Law Targeting Warehouse Distribution Center Production Quotas, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, September 29, 2021
- Author, Employers Hearing Footsteps in the Big Apple? The Rise of New York Biometrics Laws, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, July 22, 2021
- Author, Proceeding With Biometric Caution: Illinois Courts to Decide Critical BIPA Issues, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, March 16, 2021
- Author, EEOC Guidance Addresses Religious Discrimination in the Workplace, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, January 26, 2021
- Author, U.S. Department of Labor Issues New Wage and Hour Opinion Letters, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, June 30, 2020
- Author, "College Athletes, COVID-19 Exposure, and Potential Liability", Where We Stand: The LEAD1 COVID-19 Report, LEAD1 Association, June 1, 2020
- Author, Preventing COVID-19 Exposure, and Employer Liability, in the Workplace, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, April 16, 2020
- Author, Illinois Ban on Employers’ Inquiry or Consideration of Salary History Takes Effect, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, October 4, 2019
- Author, $2M Jury Award to Employee Vacationing While on Medical Leave Highlights Pitfalls for Employers, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, June 25, 2019
- Author, U.S. Supreme Court: Employers Risk Waiving Title VII Charge-Filing Requirement, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, June 5, 2019
- Author, 7th Circuit Rejects Applicant’s Age Bias Theory, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, January 30, 2019
- Author, Two Courts of Appeals Reject Arbitration Agreements Post-Epic, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, June 18, 2018
- Author, 7th Circuit Holds That Experience Limits May Violate ADEA, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, May 7, 2018
- Author, 2nd Circuit Agrees With 7th: Sexual Orientation Discrimination Is Sex Discrimination, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, February 28, 2018
- Author, 8th Circuit: Employer Bound by Promise to Pay Performance Bonus to At-Will Employees, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, February 15, 2018
- Author, Biometric Barriers in Illinois: Developments With the Biometric Information Privacy Act, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, October 19, 2017
- Author, Court Strikes Down Obama Administration Overtime Rule, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, September 1, 2017
- Author, Request for Leave Not a Reasonable Accommodation for Temporary Employee, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, July 20, 2017
- Author, D.C. Circuit Rules That Employer’s Noncompete Violates Federal Labor Law, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, May 12, 2017
- Author, 7th Circuit: Sexual Orientation Discrimination Is Sex Discrimination, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, April 6, 2017
- Author, The Perils of Calculating Regular Rate of Pay, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, March 14, 2017
- Author, Old and Older: 3rd Circuit Validates Age Discrimination Subgroup Theory, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, January 13, 2017
- Author, NCAA Athletes Aren’t Employees — Or Are They?, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, January 11, 2017
- Author, Is Religious Freedom a Defense to LGBT Discrimination Claims?, McGuireWoods Legal Alert, August 25, 2016
- Author, "Constitutionality of Employer Accessible Child Abuse Registries", Michigan Law Review, 1994
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas
- U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan
- U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York
- Speaker, "Enforcement", What You Need to Know: Protection, Enforcement and Defense of Trade Secrets, Thursday, October 27, 2022
- Speaker, "Preparing For A Potential Future With College Athletes as Employees", LEAD1 Association Forum, March 2022
- Speaker, "Labor and Employment Trends and Hot Button Issues", Healthcare and Life Sciences Webinar Series, February 25, 2021
- Speaker, College Athletes Finding a Voice, October 20, 2020
- Panelist, "Healthcare in the #Metoo Era", 6th Annual Healthcare Litigation and Compliance Conference, May 21, 2019
- Panelist, "Healthcare Litigation Trends", Healthcare Litigation and Business Trends Program, Chicago, Illinois, October 10, 2018
- Speaker, "Trends in Employment and Benefits", 16th Annual Business and Legal Issues in Dialysis and Nephrology Symposium, May 2018
- Speaker, "Hively: Groundbreaking Decision or Invitation to Uncertainty?", Illinois State Bar Association, September 2017
- Speaker, "Ortiz v. Werner Enterprises: The Seventh Circuit Tries to Untangle the Circumstantial Evidence Knot", Illinois Bar Association, March 2017