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David E. Schlesinger

  • Bio
  • Awards & Memberships
  • Presentations & Publications
  • Admission & Education

David Schlesinger is a seasoned attorney with a history of success for employees. With nearly twenty years of experience, David is an MSBA Certified Employment Law Specialist. He has repeatedly been named a "Best Lawyer in America" and a "Best Lawyer in Minnesota," and, for the past decade, a “Super Lawyer” while having also been included on the "Minnesota Power 30" list.

For David, there is nothing more professionally rewarding than when he can help his clients improve their lives and circumstances. His clients have awarded him a 10.0 "Superb" rating through Avvo.

David chairs the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Council. He is also chair of the Legal Advisory Committee and serves on the board of directors of Gender Justice. He taught Law in Practice at the University of Minnesota Law School and is the former president of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association.

David has successfully litigated a wide variety of employment claims, including several significant cases involving gender, race, and disability discrimination. His practice includes an emphasis on the intersection of employment and business disputes, including litigation of breach of fiduciary duty and minority shareholder claims. He has effectively defended employees from non-compete and trade secret claims.

David is frequently asked to deliver presentations on employment law matters to groups of attorneys. Topics have included employment agreements, equal pay rights, religious discrimination, hostile work environments, and wage and hour violations.

  • Named one of “The Best Lawyers in America,” 2022-2023
  • Named to the Super Lawyers list, Minnesota Super Lawyers, 2013-2023.
  • Named to "Top Lawyers," Minnesota Monthly 2022 – 2023.
  • Named to “Power 30 List for Employment Lawyers” by Minnesota Lawyer, 2021.
  • Chair, MSBA Labor and Employment Council.
  • Board Member and Chair, Legal Advisory Committee, Gender Justice.
  • MSBA Certified Labor and Employment Law Specialist. According to the MSBA, “The certified specialist designation is earned by leading attorneys who have completed a rigorous approval process, including an examination in the specialty area, peer review, and documented experience. Certified attorneys have demonstrated superior knowledge, skill, and integrity in their specific field and can use the designation of a specialist to advertise their credentials. . . This achievement has been earned by fewer than 3% of all licensed Minnesota attorneys.”
  • Adjunct Associate Professor teaching Law in Practice, University of Minnesota Law School, 2011 to 2018
  • Former President, Minnesota Chapter, National Employment Lawyers Association
  • Named to Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Employment & Civil Rights Lawyers list, 2020-2023
  • Remembering My Father and the Struggle for Civil Rights in 2017 2017
  • The Canary Sings Again: New Life for the Minnesota Whistleblower Act, 2013
  • The Magically Disappearing Defendant: Successor Liability Under Minnesota Law 2010
  • "The Changing Legal Environment: Creating and Capitalizing on Opportunities for Newer Lawyers." Federal Bar Association, June 2023.
  • "The Impact of the NLRB’s Recent McLaren Macomb Decision on Employment Severance and Settlement Agreements: What Attorneys Need to Know.," MSBA Webcast, April 2023.
  • "Elimination of Bias: Understanding Chronic Illness," Minnesota CLE, February 2023.
  • "Joint Employer and Independent Contractor Issues," Minnesota CLE, December 2022.
  • “Litigating fitness for duty cases under the ADA,” Eighth Circuit NELA, St. Louis, Missouri, October 2022.
  • “What you need to know regarding the Biden Administration’s Covid-19 Action Plan,” Minnesota CLE Webinar, September 2021.
  • Covid-19 Employment Litigation, Minnesota Association for Justice Annual Convention, August 2021
  • Problem Employees: When the Problematic Behavior Stems from a Mental Health Condition, Minnesota CLE, Minneapolis, July 2021.
  • “New Minnesota Cases Strengthen Employee Rights – Top Takeaways from Diverse Perspectives,” 2021 Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May 2021.
  • “Minnesota Appellate Courts Strengthen Employee Protections,” MSBA Public Law and Appellate Sections, October 2020.
  • "Winning Discovery Strategies," NELA National Convention, July 2020.
  • “Advising Employees in the Wake of Covid-19,” Minnesota CLE, Minneapolis, May 2020.
  • “The Intersection of Legal Ethics and Mental Health – Our Clients, Our Colleagues, Ourselves,”  Minnesota CLE, Minneapolis, 2019.
  • “Business Litigation: The Big Impact of the New Amended Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure – 7 Ways They Are Changing Discovery Practice,” Minnesota CLE, Minneapolis, 2019.
  • “Employment Discrimination Overview,” Minnesota CLE, Minneapolis, 2019.
  • “Sex Harassment After #Metoo – The Latest Cases, Laws, and Practices.” Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, 2019.
  • “The Big Impact of the New Amended Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure – 7 Ways They Are Changing Discovery Practice,” Strategic Solutions for Solo & Small Firms Conference, Duluth, Minnesota, 2019.
  • "Elimination of Bias: Understanding Chronic Illness," Minnesota CLE Webcast, July 2018.
  • Co-presenter: Outside-The-Box Discovery Tools: Getting Creative With Discovery In The Era Of Proportionality,” National Employment Lawyers Convention, Chicago, June 2018.
  • Co-presenter, “Practical Overview: Sexual Harassment Claims and Complaint Policies, Training and Response,” 2018 Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, St. Paul, Minnesota, May 2018.
  • Co-presenter, “Winning the Harassment Case – Strategies and Tactics,” 2018 Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, St. Paul, Minnesota, May 2018.
  • Co-presenter, “Rectifying Representation and Wrongdoing: Ethical Obligations and Aspirations of Whistleblowing,” Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2018.
  • Co-presenter, “How to Manage Chronic Illnesses in the Legal Workplace,” Workers’ Compensation Institute, Minneapolis, April 2018.
  • Co-presenter, “Eighth Circuit Employment Law Update,” Eighth Circuit NELA Conference, Minneapolis, April 2018.
  • Co-Presenter, “New Developments in Pay Equity Law,” ABA Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee Midwinter Meeting, Nassau, Bahamas, February 2018.
  • Co-presenter, “The Evolving Landscape of Pay Equity Litigation and Legislation,” Minnesota State Bar Association, Minneapolis, December 2017.
  • Co-presenter, “Elimination of Bias: Understanding Chronic Illness,” Minnesota CLE, Minneapolis, August 2017.
  • Moderator/Presenter, “Employment Agreements 101: The Tips and Tricks Every Lawyer Should Know,” ABA Webinar, July 2017.
  • Co-Presenter, “Title VII & The Equal Pay Act: Dynamic Duo When Challenging Sex Discrimination in Compensation,” National Employment Lawyers Association 2017 Annual Convention, San Antonio, Texas, June 2017.
  • Co-Presenter, “The Evolving Landscape of Equal Pay Legislation, Litigation and Regulation,” 2017 Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May 2017.
  • “Pay Equity: Increasing Enforcement and Emerging Issues,” ABA Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee Midwinter Meeting, Playa del Carmen, Mexico, 2017.
  • “Remembering my father, and the struggle for civil rights in 2017,” MinnPost, January 18, 2017.
  • “Fair Pay or Comparable Worth? California’s New Fair Pay Act,” PLI’s Seminar: Cutting-Edge Employment Law Issues 2016: The California Difference, San Francisco, California, 2016.
  • Co-author of “Joint Employer and Independent Contractor Issues,” published in The FMLA Handbook, Second Edition, 2016 (Minnesota Continuing Legal Education).
  • “Turning the Tables on Employer Counterclaims,” Eighth Circuit NELA Conference, Kansas City, Missouri, 2016.
  • “Equal Pay Act Collective Actions,” American Bar Association, Midwinter Conference of the Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee, San Juan, Puerto Rico 2016.
  • “Federal Litigation 101,” National Business Institute Video Webcast, 2015.
  • “The Art of Trial Preparation” National Employment Lawyers Association Annual Convention, Atlanta, Georgia, 2015.
  • “How NELA Affiliates Operate,” National Employment Lawyers Association Affiliate Leader Training, Atlanta, Georgia, 2015.
  • “Equal Pay Act Update,” American Bar Association, Midwinter Conference of the Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, 2015.
  • “Mental Health and the Legal Workplace,” Minnesota Employment Law Series CLE Webcast, 2014.
  • “The Art of Trial Preparation,” Eighth Circuit National Employment Lawyers Association Conference, 2014.
  • “Wage and Hour 301: Wage and Hour Cases in Minnesota and Developing Trends.” Minnesota National Employment Lawyers Association, 2014.
  • Coauthor of “The Canary Sings Again: New Life for the Minnesota Whistleblower Act,” Bench & Bar of Minnesota (September 2013, Volume LXX, Number VIII at 14-18).
  • "20 Tips to Make Litigation Practice Just a Little Easier." Strategic Solutions for Solo and Small Firms Conference, Duluth, MN, 2013.
  • “Mental Health, Chemical Dependency and Employment – Returning to Work.” Minnesota Employment Law Series CLE Webcast, 2012.
  • "Your Boss Did What? Employment Law 101 and the ABCs of Finding a Good Case." Strategic Solutions for Solo and Small Firms Conference, Duluth, MN, 2012.
  • “Top 10 Tips to Maximize Economic & Compensatory Damages in Employment Cases.” National Employment Lawyers Association Annual Convention, San Diego, CA, 2012.
  • National Academy of Arbitrators Panel: The Voice of Experience in Employment Arbitration, 2012.
  • "Religious Discrimination and Accommodation in the Workplace." MSBA Program, 2012.
  • "Appeals in Employment Law Cases." Minnesota CLE Webcast Panel, 2011.
  • "Kasten: The New FLSA Retaliation Standard." Thomson Reuters Webinar Panel, 2011.
  • The Magically Disappearing Defendant: Successor Liability Under Minnesota Law, Bench & Bar of Minnesota (July 2010, Vol. LXVII, No. VI at 30 - 34, 2010).
  • "Hot Issues in Debtor-Creditor Practice: Successor Liability and Fraudulent Transfer: Risks for the Successor Business." Minnesota CLE, 2010.
  • "Labor and Employment Law Section: Litigating Against the Magically Disappearing Defendant: Successor Liability Under State and Federal Law." Hennepin County Bar Association, 2010.


  • Arizona Supreme Court
  • Minnesota Supreme Court
  • 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • 10th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • 11th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • U.S. District Court – District of Arizona
  • U.S. District Court – Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court – District of Minnesota
  • U.S. District Court – District of North Dakota


  • J.D., University of Minnesota Law School, cum laude
  • B.A., Mary Washington College, cum laude

Select Testimonials

  • Q:Best of the Best - David is a Brilliant & Genuine Advocate for Plaintiffs


    Like many people, I never imagined I would need the services of an employment attorney. And like many people who find themselves in that situation, I felt unsure of where to start my search for an attorney to help me navigate one of the most difficult times in my life.

    Thankfully, I was referred to David by a friend and I am eternally grateful for that recommendation. I truly cannot say enough good things about David and his team. When you go through a difficult experience at work it can feel like your world is shattered, making it hard to remember that attorneys typically handle multiple cases at the same time. However, during all of my communications with David, he always made me feel like a priority - taking the time to listen and understand what was important to me. He also was great about proactively communicating and ensuring that I always knew the status of my case. In addition to possessing great client relations skills, David is also a really skilled attorney. I never had a doubt that he thought about my case from every angle and I was continuously impressed by his knowledge of multiple areas of employment law.

    I truly could not imagine going through my experience being represented by anyone else. David is really one of the good guys. He is in this area of law because he is a believer in justice and helping people. If you are looking for a brilliant, sincere, and ethical employment attorney I would strongly recommend giving David a call.

  • Q:Wage and Non-Compete Case


    David represented me in a case that would ultimately decide my future. I found myself involved in what started out as a wage claim that quickly escalated into a countersuit over a non-compete. This suit had the potential cost me upwards of half a million dollars or more depending on the results of the case, as well as keeping me from working in the industry in which I have spent most of my career. My case spanned several years of work in multiple states. David’s skills as an attorney were second to none. He was able to fight back every claim filed against me throughout the 18 months it took to ultimately settle my case in Federal Court.

    I would like to publicly thank David for taking the time to get to know me as an individual and not just another case. Having a true understanding of who I was as a person and believing in me all the way through gave me the strength I needed. David is very passionate about the law and representing employees. I would highly recommend him if you ever find yourself in a situation against an employer. I am now the owner of a growing small business which would not have been possible without the help of David and his firm. Thank you again, David!

  • Q:Professional Testing Accommodations Advocate


    Not everyone understands my disability. David took the time to understand my disability. David was a strong advocate for me when I felt deflated and defeated by the lack of choices I was facing. I knew that I could be successful on a professional test, and knew that the accommodations I sought were reasonable. When the testing entity refused my request for accommodations, I hired David. David's approach with the testing entity was helpful, and reasonable, and ultimately led to the approval of the accommodations I had requested.

    David is a strong and professional advocate who understands the need and the purpose of disability accommodations.

  • Q:Supportive, Prompt, and Professional


    David was professional, and prompt, and provided helpful legal advice. I was looking to quickly speak with a lawyer who knows employment law. He listened to all of my questions the same day I contacted him, reviewed the information, and answered my questions the next day. I felt supported and confident about my situation after talking with David. I strongly recommend him to anyone who is seeking legal advice about an employment concern.

  • Q:Clarity, Confidence, and Integrity


    David brings impressive clarity and confidence to complicated circumstances with ease. He exhibits rich wisdom in the balance of logic and intuition. His sincere commitment and reliability are admirable. I am honored to have been represented by him and grateful for his tenacious perseverance for justice.

  • Q:Best Possible Choice I Could Have Made


    David is an excellent attorney! I spoke with 6 attorneys before meeting David. They were great attorneys but I am absolutely pleased I selected David to represent me in my wrongful termination case. He was absolutely professional and client-first the entire way. We ended up settling before the trial. I couldn't be happier to have this behind me. David is truly a class above the rest!!!!!  

  • Q:Professional, confident and effective


    David took my case after it was rejected by other lawyers, which allowed me to feel my career was just as important as anyone else's. After facing tough discrimination in my field, David was confident in standing up for me and pushing for my rights. After tough negotiations, the parties settled, which I viewed as an admission of fault from my former employer, which is more satisfying than I could have asked for.

  • Q:Highly Recommended


    David did an amazing job with my case, which was an employment dispute and involved aspects of complex banking rules and regulations. He was able to quickly analyze and understand the subject matter that was much more complicated than a typical employment claim. I very much enjoyed working with him, and I would highly recommend him to anyone.

  • Q:I Highly Recommend David Schlesinger


    I connected with David through a family member when I found myself facing a difficult employment-related situation. This was my first experience hiring a lawyer for personal reasons. Upfront, I did not know what to expect. But David took the time to carefully listen and ask probing questions; I believe he truly understood my circumstances and priorities. He then gave me an honest assessment and laid out realistic options and a plan of action.

    Upon my approval, David confidently worked on the plan, involving me as much as I desired in each step. His communication was direct and to the point -- there was no wasted time or effort, something I very much appreciated. He always responded promptly to my calls and e-mails, never leaving me sitting in the dark.

    David's connections, skills, and persistence led to a very reasonable outcome in a timely fashion. I cannot recommend David highly enough.

  • Q:Employment Case


    I was blessed to work with David on my case. He believed in my case and assured me that I had a case. He pursued the employer and communicated to me every step of the way. He is firm in what he does. I saw the result of his belief in my case at the settlement. I highly recommend him for employment cases.

  • Q:Strong Legal Advocate


    With David Schlesinger’s professional expertise and skills, I had a strong advocate in a legal matter, a way to stand up for myself, and a way to be heard. David was accessible, communicated with courtesy and candor, kept me informed about the process, delineated the choices I faced, and allowed me to make informed decisions. I am so grateful that I was referred to him, and I highly recommend him as well.

Select Results

Sexual Harassment: Johnson et al. vs. Links on the Mississippi, Inc. and William C. Doebler, 82-cv-15-4079 (Minnesota’s Tenth Judicial District 2017) (first chaired a trial in which former employees were awarded $150,000 on harassment and retaliation claims); Jenkins v. University of Minnesota and Ted Swem, 2013-cv-01548 (D. Minn. 2017) (second chaired jury trial in which graduate student prevailed on her sexual harassment claim against her harasser).

Breach of Fiduciary Duty: Second-chaired a jury trial in which our client was awarded $700,000 on minority shareholder claims (Minn. Dist. Ct. 2013); Garamella v. Intrepid U.S.A., et al. (Minn. Dist. Ct. 2007) (denial of employer’s motion for summary judgment on employee’s claims for breach of fiduciary duty and intentional interference with contract).

Discrimination: Kpou v. Supervalu, Inc., 556 F. Supp. 3d 940 (D. Minn. 2021) (denial of employer’s motion for summary judgment on race discrimination claims); Haliye v. Celestica Corp., 717 F.Supp.2d 873 (D. Minn. 2010) (denial of employer’s motion for summary judgment of religious discrimination claims of twenty Muslim workers); Cox v. Boehringer Ingelheim Pharm., Inc., Civ. No. 13-CV-1138, 2014 WL 2197031 (D. Minn. May 27, 2014) (denial of employer’s motion for summary judgment on equal pay act and Title VII claims); LaMont v. Independent School Dist. No. 728, 814 N.W.2d 14 (Minn. May 16, 2012) (argued before the Minnesota Supreme Court, established a claim for hostile work environment prohibiting sex-based but non-sexual conduct under the Minnesota Human Rights Act).

Successor Liability: Schwartz v. Virtucom, Inc., 2009 WL 1311816 (Minn. App. May 12, 2009) (trial and appellate victory for the employee in a successor liability claim); Teed v. Thomas & Betts Power Solutions, L.L.C., 711 F.3d 763, 764 (7th Cir. 2013) (counsel for Amicus Curiae National Employment Lawyers' Association in case establishing standard for successor liability under the FLSA).

Whistleblower: Wingate v. Metropolitan Airports Commission, Hennepin County District Court (Hennepin County District Court 2019) (Co-first chaired a trial resulting in a $150,000 jury verdict for our client): Swanson v. State, 2009 WL 671039 (Minn. Ct. App. March 17, 2009) (reversal of summary judgment of employee’s whistleblower claim).

Defense of Employees: Schlief v. Nu-Source, Inc., 2011 WL 1560672 (D. Minn. April 25, 2011) (granting employee’s motion to dismiss employer’s non-complete and trade secret claims); Genesis 10 v. ValueWise, et al., (Minn. Dist. Ct. 2011) (denial of employer’s motion for a temporary restraining order seeking to prevent employees from joining a new company).

Class Certification: Harris v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., 329 F.R.D. 616 (D. Neb. 2019) (Granting class certification to railroad employees with ADA claims).

Fair Labor Standards Act: Knaak v. Armour-Eckrich Meats, LLC, 991 F. Supp. 2d 1052, 1053 (D. Minn. 2014) (granting conditional certification and denying employer’s motion to dismiss breach of contract claim); Russell v. Illinois Bell Telephone Co., Inc., 721 F.Supp.2d 804 (N.D. Ill. 2010) (denial of decertification of employees’ off-the-clock claims at four call centers); Russell v. Illinois Bell Telephone Co., 575 F. Supp. 2d 930 (N.D. Ill. 2008) (granting conditional certification to call center employees); Bishop v. AT & T Corp., 256 F.R.D. 503 (W.D. Pa. 2009) (same); Hargrove v. Ryla Teleservices, Inc., 2012 WL 463442 (E.D. Va. February 13, 2012) (same); Robinson v. Ryla Teleservices, Inc., 2012 WL 505856 (S.D. Ala. January 19, 2012) (same); Swarthout v. Ryla Teleservices, Inc., 2011 WL 6152347 (N.D. Ind. December 12, 2011) (same).

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