Mark L. Shapiro is a partner in Holland & Knight's Chicago office. Mr. Shapiro represents employers in both traditional labor matters and employment matters. His practice includes both litigation and counseling throughout the United States for public and private companies in numerous industries from manufacturing and construction to restaurants, hotels and high tech.

Mr. Shapiro represents employers in union avoidance and opposing union organizing attempts, strikes, collective bargaining and contract administration. He also arbitrates grievances and handles proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

He has extensive litigation experience, including jury trials, in federal and state trial courts, administrative agencies and appellate courts, including defense of class/collective actions and single-plaintiff cases under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Title VII, Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), §1981, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), Equal Pay Act, Energy Reorganization Act, and numerous state and local employment laws. He also has defended against many non-statutory claims, including breach of contract, wrongful discharge, defamation, infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy and negligent hiring/supervision/retention. In addition, Mr. Shapiro has prosecuted and defended cases involving noncompetes, trade secrets and employee disloyalty.

Mr. Shapiro also counsels employers on terminations, reductions in force, plant closures, wage-hour and all aspects of federal and state employment laws. He writes and reviews affirmative action plans, drug programs, sexual harassment policies, noncompetes, employment contracts, trade secret protections, employee privacy policies and employee handbooks. Mr. Shapiro also drafts alternative dispute resolution procedures and has served as a court appointed arbitrator. Mr. Shapiro has spoken at numerous seminars for trade association, bar association and other groups on a variety of employment related topics.

Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Shapiro was an attorney with the Solicitor's Office of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Representative Experience

  • Obtained defense judgment in trial on race discrimination claim by manager after, in midst of manager's cross-examination, he was hospitalized for several days with stress attack and refused to complete his cross-examination; judge commented it was the most devastating cross-examination he had ever seen
  • Obtained defense judgment in sexual harassment trial in federal court based entirely on cross-examination of plaintiff because alleged harasser had resigned and could not be located for trial
  • Obtained judgment for plaintiff from federal court in trial of theft of trade secrets, breach of noncompete and tortious interference with contract claims against former sales executive and his new employer; court issued permanent injunction prohibiting ex-employee from working for the competitor, ordered return of stolen trade secrets, awarded substantial compensatory and punitive damages, and ordered defendants to pay plaintiff's attorney's fees
  • Obtained verdict for national healthcare company from federal court jury on claim of age discrimination involving discharge of the top salesman in his region by new, younger management team; presiding judge repeatedly and forcefully warned the company during the trial that it could not win and must settle, but it refused to do so
  • Obtained defense judgment in retaliatory discharge trial in federal court under Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) on claim that plaintiff was fired for complaining that he was entitled to overtime and was instead paid a salary
  • Obtained denials of class and collective action certification in cases involving claims of employment discrimination, unequal pay, FLSA and other federal and state laws, in some cases without any discovery 
  • Obtained summary judgment for international restaurant chain in sexual harassment and negligent supervision case in federal court barring the leading plaintiff's expert on "repressed memory" from testifying to explain how plaintiff allegedly "recovered" a memory that she was raped not only by a co-worker, but also by her general manager, when the claim against the general manager was first raised after the court ruled that the company was not liable for the acts of the co-worker  
  • Obtained temporary restraining orders (TROs) and preliminary injunctions in federal and state courts in noncompete, trade secret misappropriation and breach of duty of good faith and loyalty cases against former and current employees
  • Obtained dismissal of purported nationwide class/collective action involving claims that franchisor was joint employer of workers at thousands of restaurants who allegedly worked off the clock in violation of the FLSA and state law counterparts; this theory threatened the franchisor's entire business model
  • Obtained multiple summary judgments dismissing discrimination, harassment, retaliation, defamation, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other claims
  • Defended clients in multiple federal and state jurisdictions throughout the U.S.

  • Prevailed in hearing before National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that union, which obtained authorization cards from majority of the 3,000 employees at one facility of the employer that union proposed to represent, had not made a sufficient showing of interest because the appropriate bargaining unit was the 93,000 similar employees at all locations throughout the U.S., so the number of authorization cards obtained by the union was way short of the number required for a showing of interest in a 93,000 employee unit; union's organizing attempt was defeated
  • Prevailed in NLRB hearing on claim that a company that purchased assets of an employer whose employees were represented by a union and hired some of seller's employees was a successor and committed an unfair labor practice when it refused to recognize the union
  • Prevailed in Taft-Hartley arbitration for management-appointed trustees of multi-employer health plan who blocked union from adding newly-organized employees and their families to the plan on the ground that the union was using the promise of gold-plated health coverage to organize new workers, without regard to whether the new workers and their families presented greater risks to the plan of large claims; in case of first impression, arbitrator ruled that trustees owed undivided duty of loyalty to existing participants and beneficiaries and that unions could not automatically add whatever workers they organized to the plan, even though unions had always used such promises to organize additional workers
  • Prevailed in arbitrations involving discharges of union officers and others for picket line violence during strike, involving discharges for violation of substance abuse policies, theft, veiled and direct threats against supervisors and other causes
  • Prevailed in arbitrations involving contracting out bargaining unit work and transferring work to non-union facilities, as well as related unfair labor practice charges
  • Prevailed in arbitration over decision to close a plant and the effects of the shutdown
  • Obtained judgment in federal court for municipality that owns a hotel and convention center in a lawsuit filed by a union alleging that the municipality violated the First Amendment when its police force barred the union that was seeking to organize hotel workers from leafletting and parading in front of the hotel; court found the municipality's restrictions were reasonable and neutral restrictions and did not discriminate against the union or its message; also argued the case on appeal and won
  • Obtained temporary restraining orders (TROs) and preliminary injunctions against mass picketing and threats of violence by union agents in union organizing campaigns
  • Counselled employers in union organizing campaigns in which unions were defeated
  • Represented employers in collective bargaining throughout the country, in both single-employer and multi-employer bargaining in various industries and with various unions
  • Negotiated concessionary packages, including wage reductions, termination of defined benefit pension plans, end of retiree medical plans and other reductions of benefits, and right to contract out work
  • Negotiated replacement of union operated health plan by lower cost, better quality company health plan
  • Advised clients concerning temporary replacement of their workforce and other measures to respond to strikes and other union pressures during bargaining; defended against unfair labor practice charges and obtained injunctions to end union-related violence and interference with operations
  • Negotiated early retirement packages that led to reductions of size of bargaining units
  • Negotiated shut-down agreements (effects bargaining) and advised on Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notices

  • Obtained termination of collectively bargained retiree health plan by filing a class action lawsuit in federal court on behalf of employer against a defendant class of retirees, their dependents and their union
  • Obtained judgment in federal court for employer that was largest debtor of large multiemployer pension fund when pension plan filed lawsuit and motion for emergency injunction seeking to prevent employer from selling all its assets
  • Obtained reductions of amount of withdrawal liability assessed against employers who withdrew from multiemployer pension plans

  • Represented large chemical manufacturer in intense six-month investigation by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (and numerous other agencies) following an explosion and fire that killed five employees, and in the resulting proceeding to enforce the willful and serious citations in this high-profile case; settled the enforcement proceedings on favorable terms, including the elimination of the willful classifications
  • Handled a double-fatality investigation by OSHA and other agencies; settled the OSHA enforcement action, which included the withdrawal and downgrading of the classifications of most of the original citations, along with a significant reduction in penalties
  • Represented a general contractor when a crane collapsed on a high-rise office building under construction, killing the crane operator; went to the top of the building with the OSHA inspector during the inspection; persuaded OSHA not to cite client, who was the only potentially liable party who was not cited
  • Represented employers in a variety of industries from heavy manufacturing to construction on numerous OSHA issues

  • Obtained dismissal of nationwide class claims against public accommodation with more than 13,000 facilities on grounds that plaintiffs lacked standing except as to a handful of locations; complaint sought order requiring remediation costing hundreds of millions of dollars and a money judgment for billions of dollars
  • Obtained dismissal of franchisor/landlord in high-profile case brought by U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) seeking extensive renovations of facilities and money damages; obtained press release from DOJ praising client's Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) efforts
  • Obtained dismissals of nationwide class actions in federal court alleging that client's facilities are inaccessible to blind individuals
  • Advised numerous property owners and operators concerning ADA compliance


  • The University of Chicago Law School, J.D.
  • Wesleyan University, B.A., with honors
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • Illinois
Court Admissions
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Honors & Awards
  • Chambers USA – America's Leading Business Lawyers guide, Labor & Employment, 2010-2018
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated
  • Illinois Leading Lawyer, Labor and Employment Law
  • Holland & Knight Pro Bono All-Star, 2020, 2021


Speaking Engagements