Carol A. Poplawski

Shareholder || Chicago

Carol Poplawski has spent her entire career representing the interests of management in all areas of labor and employment law. She is a trial attorney and has litigated hundreds of cases in courts and before administrative agencies. Ms. Poplawski’s litigation experience has given her a keen insight into the employment relationship which she shares with her clients when counseling, advising and training them on workplace issues. This advice and counseling reaches the boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies and well as small businesses and non-profit organizations. Additionally, Ms. Poplawski is a frequent speaker on workplace issues facing today’s employers.

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Trial Experience:

Ms. Poplawski has tried age discrimination cases before federal juries in Ohio and Illinois. Additionally, she was lead trial attorney in a two-plaintiff sexual harassment case before a federal jury in Chicago, and also served as lead trial attorney in a Title VII retaliation case before a federal jury in Chicago. Ms. Poplawski was lead trial attorney in two federal bench trials involving claims under the Labor Management Relations Act and Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and in employment discrimination cases before the Illinois Human Rights Commission and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

Litigation Experience:

Throughout her career, Ms. Poplawski has been lead counsel in hundreds of cases in state and federal courts, covering the full range of employment litigation under laws like the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Illinois Human Rights Act. Additionally, she has served as lead counsel in cases raising state claims for wrongful discharge, retaliatory discharge, breach of contract, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and assault and battery. Ms. Poplawski’s skilled approach to defending these actions, routinely results in obtaining summary judgment or dismissal of these claims.

Ms. Poplawski has been involved in multi-plaintiff litigation brought by both private counsel and the EEOC in cases alleging age discrimination in company-wide reductions-in-force, harassment, and racial discrimination. Moreover, she has been lead counsel in several cases alleging workplace rape or sexual assault by a supervisor or foreman.

In addition to her practice before the courts, Ms. Poplawski has extensive experience before local, state and federal agencies charged with enforcing workplace laws. These agencies include the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Illinois Department of Labor, the Illinois Department of Human Rights, the Illinois Human Rights Commission, the Illinois Department on Aging, the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, the Cook County Commission on Human Rights, the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, and the City of Champaign Human Relations Commission. Ms. Poplawski has successfully defended employers in several hundred charges and complaints before these agencies, ending the threat of litigation.

Traditional Labor Experience:

Practice before the NLRB

In addition to her employment litigation, Ms. Poplawski has considerable experience representing clients in the area of traditional labor law. Her work in this area has included the defense of unfair labor practice charges alleging refusal to bargain, unlawful termination or discipline, and retaliatory discharge and discipline. Her experience also includes filing unfair labor practice charges against labor organizations for unlawful secondary boycotts. Ms. Poplawski has served as lead counsel in a unit clarification hearing and work jurisdictional disputes before the National Labor Relations Board, and has advised employers on union avoidance and campaigns.

Practice before Labor Arbitrators

Ms. Poplawski has been representing management in labor arbitrations throughout her career. She has handled over 60 arbitrations addressing a variety of just cause and contract interpretation issues. This experience permits her to advise employers on workplace issues in a union environment.

Restrictive Covenant Litigation and Advice:

Ms. Poplawski has successfully defended and prosecuted numerous claims for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty arising under restrictive covenants. These cases involved issues such as the transmission, possession and use of confidential information, solicitation of employees, and solicitation of current customers by former employees. She has obtained temporary restraining orders and injunctions to restrain unfair competitive activities by former employees, and has defended former employees and their new employers against such injunctive relief and claims of unfair competition.

Ms. Poplawski’s litigation experience has enabled her to advise clients on the enforceability of restrictive covenants.  She routinely reviews and revises restrictive covenants for compliance with Illinois and Wisconsin law.


All of Ms. Poplawski’s trial and litigation experience has made her uniquely qualified to provide advice and counseling to her clients. She routinely advises employers on FMLA administration and other leave entitlements, discipline and discharge, performance management, reasonable accommodations, policies and procedures, best practices, enforceability of contracts, and employee rights and employer responsibilities under the ever expanding laws governing the workplace.

Whether this advice is sought from experienced HR professionals, in house counsel, or small employers lacking internal HR or legal support, Ms. Poplawski’s advice is thorough and practical. She always renders advice through the prism of litigation, interpreting how a judge or jury will view evidence and the employer’s course of conduct. By doing so, she is able to eliminate the risk of claims and litigation.

Published Cases:


Admittance to Practice

Professional Activities

  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • American Bar Association (Equal Employment Opportunity Committee, Labor and Employment Law Section)


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