Camille A. Olson

Camille A. Olson is a partner of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, Co-Chair of its National Complex Litigation Practice Group, and National Chairperson of its Complex Discrimination Litigation Practice Group. She serves on the firm’s National Labor and Employment Law Steering Committee and is the past National Chairperson of the Labor and Employment Practice Department. In November 2013, Ms. Olson was appointed Chairperson of the United States Chamber of Commerce’s Equal Employment Opportunity (“EEO”) Subcommittee. For nearly 30 years, she has represented companies nationwide in all areas of litigation, with emphasis on employment discrimination and harassment, wage and hour matters, and independent contractor status.

Ms. Olson’s trial experience includes lead defense trial counsel in “bet the company” harassment, discrimination, independent contractor, and wage and hour cases. She has also served as outside counsel and independent counsel to Boards of Directors and Executive Team Members in connection with internal investigations and highly sensitive litigation matters. She has litigated numerous discrimination cases through both successful summary judgment motions and favorable jury verdicts in the context of EEOC pattern and practice multi-plaintiff cases, reductions in force, individual terminations, and harassment allegations.

Ms. Olson’s track record of success in trial practice reflects her strategic and incisive approach to every phase of litigation. Through focused discovery and dispositive motion practice, she exerts pressure on the opposition at each stage, up to and including trial. In numerous instances, Ms. Olson has achieved successful resolution for clients on the eve of trial -- and in a few cases during the trial -- through sophisticated and creative motion practice. In the past five years, Ms. Olson has negotiated several confidential settlements in various stages of litigation on behalf of both high-profile executives and Fortune 100 companies in cases involving allegations of misconduct, systemic violations of regulatory or company policies, misappropriation of trade secrets, and severance issues as well as harassment and discrimination allegations.

Ms. Olson is the recipient of numerous accolades for her effective litigation style. In March 2014, Chambers Global recognized her as a top Labor & Employment lawyer, describing her as “enthusiastically singled out by market sources for her experience in litigation and focus on complex labour and employment cases.” In June 2014, Legal 500 ranked her as a leading lawyer in Labor and Employment Litigation, shortly after she was rated 5.0 out of 5 by Martindale-Hubble AV Preeminent and recognized by Illinois Super Lawyers. In 2013, Ms. Olson was named one of the top 10 employment litigators in the country by Legal 500, which praised her ‘superb representation’ and named her ‘one of the best employment litigators in the US,’ and Law360 named her an Employment Law MVP, one of only seven attorneys nationwide to be so named. Also in 2013, Inland Press Association named Ms. Olson the recipient of its Ray Carlsen Distinguished Award; one of the Association’s highest honors, the award recognizes “members who have distinguished themselves in service to the association and its affiliated foundation, who have been exemplary in service to their communities and their companies, and who deserve the recognition of their peers and colleagues.” Since 2008, Ms. Olson has been named as one of the Nation’s Most Powerful Employment Attorneys by Human Resource Executive and LawDragon. She has been voted one of the Top Ten Women Business Lawyers in Illinois as well as one of 2014’s Women Leaders in the Law , and in 2012 Ms. Olson was elected to The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation. Ms. Olson has appeared repeatedly in Who’s Who Legal and been named one of the 100 Most Powerful Employment Attorneys by Human Resource Executive. Chambers USA consistently rates her at the highest level, and recently noted: “Specializing in complex discrimination litigation, Camille Olson is ‘just terrific.’ Everything you hear about her is excellent and she handles the really cutting-edge stuff.” Chambers USA has also described her as “one of the leading lawyers in the country.

Ms. Olson’s celebrated track record as a litigator is testament to her ability to quickly gain command of highly complex and often unwieldy fact patterns. In nearly three decades as a litigator, Ms. Olson has led hundreds of effective and efficient fact investigations within a litigation context. As lead investigator, Ms. Olson knows how to keep the controlling issues in the crosshairs -- she delivers reliable, consistent results for her clients by leading highly talented and cross-functional teams in navigating vast repositories of information strategically, never losing sight of clearly articulated goals.

Litigating for Victory - at Every Phase

Ms. Olson’s creativity and tenacity are the reasons that national companies rely on her to navigate no-win and high-stakes situations. From early and aggressive attacks on the pleadings, such as Twombly/Iqbal challenges in discrimination cases, to a full battery of post-verdict strategies including Rule 12, 50, and 59 motions, Ms. Olson’s litigation approach is defined by sophistication and resourcefulness.

In a recent example, Ms. Olson and her team won a key discovery ruling in an collective discrimination action brought by the EEOC on behalf of over 90 claimants; the District Court’s decision required the Commission to produce all claimants for deposition, which neutralized common EEOC advantages in litigating collective enforcement actions. The Commission’s ability to continue adding new claimants as cases progress, while citing reliance on representative testimony and expert discovery, often forces employers to defend against vague and broad claims that are essentially moving targets. Through this motion to compel, Ms. Olson’s team struck a blow that should have widespread impact on employers’ ability to defend against EEOC-initiated litigation where Rule 23 safeguards are unavailable by upholding employers’ right to probe specific accusations of discrimination.

Other examples of Ms. Olson’s creative pathways to victory include:

In a sexual harassment pattern and practice case, brought by the EEOC on behalf of 101 employees against the Dial Corporation, Ms. Olson negotiated a settlement on the day of trial following a series of victories on critical motions in limine.

In a discrimination case against the CEO and executive team of Motorola, Ms. Olson led a Motion for Directed Verdict that resulted in a favorable settlement at the close of the plaintiff’s case.

Representing Aaron’s, Inc. in the Alford matter, Ms. Olson spearheaded the post-verdict strategy that secured a reversal of the largest-known single-plaintiff sexual harassment verdict in U.S. history.

Policy-Oriented Perspective

Throughout the last decade, Ms. Olson has regularly appeared before the United States Senate, the United States House of Representatives, the EEOC, and the United States Department of Labor on her own behalf (as a recognized expert in various fields), and on behalf of the United States Chamber of Commerce and the Society for Human Resource Management. In these capacities, she has provided the business perspective on proposed legislation to amend the following laws: the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the application of white collar exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Internal Revenue Code, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. During the Bush Administration, Ms. Olson served as the Employer Spokesperson to the Department of Labor, advising Labor Secretary Elaine Chao on significant wage and hour issues. Advocacy groups have called upon Ms. Olson time and again for amicus curiae representation in many landmark cases before the Circuit Courts of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2014, she testified before the Senate HELP Committee concerning the Paycheck Fairness Act and before the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections regarding EEOC priorities and enforcement. Ms. Olson continues her advocacy for the employer perspective as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Chair of the equal employment opportunity policy subcommittee.
Ms. Olson’s deep command of policy issues and sophisticated understanding of the legislative and enforcement processes are invaluable assets for her clients. Her legal analysis encompasses unparalleled insight into legislative intent and history, which translates to nuanced interpretation and creative application of governing law.

Media Expertise

Ms. Olson is a frequent representative and speaker on a wide range of legal issues facing media employers. She represents companies throughout the country in non-employee and independent contractor issues, with a focus on on-air talent. In 2014, she led the defense of a national broadcast and print media company in a discrimination class action with potential exposure throughout the southern U.S. The plaintiff subsequently dismissed the case. Since 2009, she has served as co-editor of the Guide to Employment Law Compliance, published by Thompson. In November 2014, in recognition of Ms. Olson’s commitment to excellence in managing independent contractor relationships, the Dispatch Printing Company of Columbus, Ohio inaugurated the Camille A. Olson Award of Excellence, to be awarded annually to one of their managers. She has also published numerous articles and chapters on various labor issues, and is a regular speaker on complex litigation, discrimination, and non-employee worker matters nationally and internationally. Ms. Olson is frequently quoted and consulted as a legal expert in publications and news outlets such as: The New York Times, National Public Radio, The Daily Labor Report, The Chicago Tribune, Crains Chicago Business, The Wall Street Journal, Presstime, Editor & Publisher, HR Magazine, and HR Wire.

In high-profile situations with significant reputational risk, national companies rely on Ms. Olson’s dexterity in managing media issues. Investor and market perceptions can often evolve into derivative shareholder suits and cause irreparable damage to valuable brands. Ms. Olson’s decisive guidance in navigating these challenges and translating these often-nebulous risks into tangible analyses of her clients’ decision points makes her an invaluable advisor and crisis manager.

Community Involvement

Ms. Olson also believes strongly in community involvement, and among other community and charitable positions, she is currently on the Advisory Council to the Dean of the University of Michigan Law School.

Good to know

Areas of Practice 1) Workplace Counseling & Solutions, 2) Wage & Hour Litigation, 3) Wage & Hour Audit, 4) Assessment, 5) and Counseling, 6) Social Media, 7) OFCCP & Affirmative Action Compliance, 8) Insurance, 9) Government Compliance and Enforcement Actions and 10) Employment Litigation
Law School The University of Michigan Law School ( J.D., 1983)
Education University of Michigan (B.A.,1980)
Bar Member / Association California State Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association
Most recent firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP
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