Photo of Steven J. Pearlman

Steven J. Pearlman is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and Co-Head of the Whistleblowing & Retaliation Group and the Restrictive Covenants, Trade Secrets & Unfair Competition Group.

Steven’s practice covers the full spectrum of employment law, with a particular focus on defending companies against claims of employment discrimination, retaliation and harassment; whistleblower retaliation; restrictive covenant violations; theft of trade secrets; and wage-and-hour violations. He has successfully tried cases in multiple jurisdictions, and defended one of the largest Illinois-only class actions in the history of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. He also secured one of only a few ex parte seizures orders that have been issued under the Defend Trade Secrets Act, and obtained a world-wide injunction in federal litigation against a high-level executive who jumped ship to a competitor.

Reporting to boards of directors, their audit committees, CEOs and in-house counsel, Steven conducts sensitive investigations and has testified in federal court. His investigations have involved complaints of sexual harassment involving C-suite officers; systemic violations of employment laws and company policies; and fraud, compliance failures and unethical conduct.

Steven was recognized as Lawyer of the Year for Chicago Labor & Employment Litigation in the 2023 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. He is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.  Chambers describes Steven as an “outstanding lawyer” who is “very sharp and very responsive,” a “strong advocate,” and an "expert in his field." Steven was 1 of 12 individuals selected by Compliance Week as a "Top Mind." Earlier in his career, he was 1 of 5 U.S. lawyers selected by Law360 as a "Rising Star Under 40" in the area of employment law and 1 of "40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch" selected by Law Bulletin Publishing Company. Steven is a Burton Award Winner (U.S. Library of Congress) for "Distinguished Legal Writing."

Steven has served on Law360’s Employment Editorial Advisory Board and is a Contributor to Forbes.com. He has appeared on Bloomberg News (television and radio) and Yahoo! Finance, and is regularly quoted in leading publications such as The Wall Street Journal.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has engaged Steven to serve as lead counsel on amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court and federal circuit courts of appeal. He was appointed to serve as a Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of Illinois in employment litigation matters. He has presented with the Solicitor of the DOL, the Acting Chair of the EEOC, an EEOC Commissioner, Legal Counsel to the EEOC and heads of the SEC, CFTC and OSHA whistleblower programs. He is also a member of the Sedona Conference, focusing on trade secret matters.

On August 18, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit expanded the types of employment actions that may constitute “adverse employment action” under Title VII in Hamilton v. Dallas Cnty., 5th Cir. en banc. No. 21-10133, 8/18/23. Overruling its nearly 30-year precedent that actionable employment actions under Title VII must relate to “ultimate employment decisions,” the Fifth Circuit held that a plaintiff need only show that they were discriminated against with respect to hiring, firing, compensation, or the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, even if such actions were not ultimate employment actions.

On August 4, 2023, Illinois Governor Pritzker signed HB2862 (the “Bill”) into law.  The Bill requires temporary staffing agencies to provide certain temporary workers with the same pay and benefits as the workers’ directly employed counterparts with “the same level of seniority at the company and performing the same or substantially similar work on jobs

On June 21, 2023, the New York State Assembly passed a sweeping bill (Bill No. S03100/A1278B — An Act to Amend the Labor Law, in Relation to Prohibiting Non-Compete Agreements and Certain Restrictive Covenants) that, if it becomes law, would impose a near-total ban on new non-compete agreements within the state or otherwise

UPDATE: On June 20, 2023, the New York State Assembly also voted in favor of this legislation, and the Bill is now headed to Governor Hochul. If signed by Governor Hochul, New York would become the fifth state to institute a broad ban of non-compete agreements (after California, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Minnesota). The Bill

On May 24, 2023, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed into law the Omnibus Jobs Bill SF 3035 (the “Bill”). The Bill has significant implications for employers with employees in Minnesota and includes numerous changes to Minnesota state law, including a sweeping ban on non-compete agreements; a ban on mandatory employer-sponsored meetings; newly mandated statewide paid