Michael J. Passarella
Chair, Employment Practice

Michael J. Passarella

From day-to-day guidance and risk prevention counsel to employment-related contracts, high-stakes litigation, and labor and collective bargaining issues. Michael Passarella represents executives and employers with both union and nonunion employees across the full spectrum of labor and employment law. He chairs Olshan’s Employment Practices Group.

Michael drafts and interprets corporate and executive rights and obligations under employment and separation agreements, restrictive covenants, stock options, and other equity-based compensation arrangements. He advises companies, boards of directors, compensation committees, and executives in the context of acquisitions, mergers, restructuring and other transactions, and provides guidance related to union organizing, elections, corporate campaigns, and picketing, as well as advises on and represents employers in collective bargaining negotiations. Clients also call on Michael when they need advice on hiring-related issues, employee discipline, terminations, and many other labor and employment issues that may arise when running a business.

Recognizing the importance of risk avoidance in the first instance, Michael takes a proactive approach. He reviews, revises and drafts employment handbooks and personnel policy, offers guidance on compliance with federal, state and local employment laws and regulations, leads due diligence reviews in transactions and communications, and provides management training in sexual harassment prevention, union and litigation avoidance, leave management, and workplace best practices.  

While Michael’s goal is to achieve a cost-effective path or resolution for his clients, he is also an experienced litigator. He has successfully resolved numerous discrimination, wage and hour, whistleblower, harassment, FMLA/ADA, and wrongful termination claims in federal and state courts throughout the U.S. He also has favorably resolved inquiries and investigations brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the New York State Division of Human Rights, the New York City Commission on Human Rights, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, and prevailed for employers in hearings before the National Labor Relations Board and in arbitrations across the country.

Clients appreciate Michael’s practicality, uncommon depth and breadth of experience, and big-picture perspective. He analyzes issues and develops solutions based on his client’s business challenges, strategy and objectives. Having practiced labor and employment law exclusively for his entire career, Michael has seen and advised on virtually every type of issue in his field, which makes him an attorney of choice for many businesses across industries.

Before joining Olshan, Michael was a principal at Jackson Lewis P.C.

Representative Litigation Matters
  • Obtained partial summary judgment in defense of a high-profile sexual harassment and retaliation litigation in the Southern District of New York ensuring a favorable settlement for the client.
  • Obtained summary judgment in defense of ADA and wrongful termination litigation in the District of Connecticut.
  • Reached a favorable settlement on behalf of an international bank on discrimination, retaliation, and First Amendment claims brought by a terminated employee in federal court; initiated breach of contract and indemnification claims against a third party to recover damages from the underlying action.
  • Enforced an arbitration agreement on behalf of a financial services company against a terminated in-house counsel who brought disability retaliation and failure-to-accommodate claims in state court; after compelling arbitration, prevailed on all counts.
  • Defended pregnancy, sexual orientation, sexual harassment, race, color, national origin, disability, and age discrimination complaints in state and federal court in New York and Connecticut and claims brought at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, New York State and New York City Divisions on Human Rights, and Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.
Representative Labor Matters
  • Advised on and negotiated plant closing agreements for three unionized manufacturing facilities of an international public company in Fairfield County Connecticut.
  • Received company verdict in arbitrations raising discrimination and retaliation issues by a former employee and in union arbitrations at an entertainment center and a hospital.
  • Represented a national hospitality/restaurant client on unfair labor practice claims before the National Labor Relations Board related to alleged union activity and retaliation; achieved the withdrawal of all claims of unlawful termination.
  • Represented numerous employers before the National Labor Relations Board litigating issues related to the scope and appropriateness of a bargaining unit, employee terminations, strikes and picketing, union information requests, and alleged bad faith bargaining; represented employers on appeal and in enforcement actions at the Second, Sixth, and District of Columbia Circuit Courts of Appeal.




Honors & Recognitions

  • Awarded “Deal of the Year” and “Activist Campaign of the Year” by The Deal for representation of George Feldenkreis in his nomination of directors and successful unsolicited acquisition of Perry Ellis


J.D., Tulane University Law School 2006

B.A., Harvard University, 1999


  • Connecticut
  • New York
  • U.S Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
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