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.

Employment, Whistleblower, Restrictive Covenant and Trade Secret Practice. Steven’s practice focuses on defending companies in court and arbitration against claims of discrimination, retaliation and harassment, including claims brought by high-level executives; whistleblower retaliation; restrictive covenant violations; theft of trade secrets; and wage-and-hour violations (including class, collective and PAGA actions).

Illustrating his versatility, Steven has: successfully tried cases before juries in multiple jurisdictions; defended one of the largest Illinois-only class actions in the history of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois; and prevailed following his oral arguments in matters of importance before the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and California state courts. In the restrictive covenant and trade secret arena, he has: secured one of the few ex parte seizure orders that have been issued under the Defend Trade Secrets Act; obtained a world-wide injunction in federal litigation against a high-level executive who jumped ship to a competitor; and obtained an order reducing a non-competition agreement to one-third of its original duration. And in the whistleblower arena, he has successfully defended claims before state and federal courts and at all levels of the U.S. Department of Labor (OSHA, OALJ, ARB). Steven brings his litigation experience to bear in regularly counseling clients to minimize risk and avoid or prepare for litigation.

Investigations. 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.

Thought Leadership and Accolades. Steven was named Lawyer of the Year for Chicago Labor & Employment Litigation in the 2023 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. He was also named as One of the Top 10 Impactful Labor & Employment Lawyers in Illinois for 2023 by Business Today. 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." Chambers also reports that "He is someone who can navigate the twists and turns of litigation without difficulty. Steve is great with brief-writing, crafting arguments, and making sure the client is always happy.”

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 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.