Ellen E.McLaughlin


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Ellen is a trusted advisor for both the high stakes and day-to-day employment issues facing her clients.

More About Ellen

Ellen is engaged in a broad-based employment law practice, with particular emphasis on federal and state court and administrative agency employment litigation. Ellen also has an extensive advice and counseling practice that focuses on avoiding litigation. She regularly consults with employers to implement nationwide practices and systems which are both legally compliant and which meet an employer’s business needs. She also acts as a company’s trusted advisor with respect to not only day-to-day employment issues, but also sensitive and high profile termination or other "bet the company" decisions and programs. Ellen is frequently retained to conduct investigations for clients relating to internal claims of discrimination, harassment, and other unlawful conduct brought by employees. In her investigations practice, she is often retained to investigate allegations involving C-suite executives, human resources, or legal department personnel as well as other highly confidential, sensitive, or politically charged matters.

In October of 2019, Ellen testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Labor and Education on H.R. 2694, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, providing the employer’s perspective on this proposed legislation. In 2011, she was one of two management attorneys in the country invited by the EEOC to testify at a public hearing on the issue of leave as a reasonable accommodation. Ellen co-authored comments to the EEOC’s proposed regulations to Americans with Disabilities Act as well as the ADA Amendments Act. She also authored comments to the DOL’s proposed regulations for the FMLA on behalf of national employer coalitions in 2008 and most recently, in 2019 authored comments to the DOL’s proposed changes to its FMLA forms. She speaks on a national basis on leave and accommodation issues and is widely recognized for her subject matter proficiency relating to the ADA and FMLA. More recently, she has spoken on COVID-19 and return to site issues following the pandemic.

Ellen is a frequent lecturer on a wide variety of employment and labor law topics. She has served as a guest lecturer for the American Bar Association, National Employment Law Institute, Society for Human Resource Management, Corporate Counsel Institute, American Arbitration Association, American Hospital Association, Illinois State Chamber of Commerce, Illinois State Bar Association, Retail Industry Leaders Association, American Hospitality & Lodging Association, and Metropolitan Chicago Health Care Council. She has published articles on employment issues and was a contributing author to Workplace Harassment, BNA Books, co-authored "A Client’s Guide to the ADA, FMLA and Workers’ Compensation," in The Journal of the American Corporate Counsel Association as well as "Training Becomes Important Step to Avoid Liability," in The National Law Journal. She also co-authored the "The Family and Medical Leave Act" and "Employee Selection Procedures" chapters in Federal Employment Laws and Regulations and Employment Discrimination — How to Comply, both RA Apland publications. She is a member of the American Bar Association, Labor and Employment Sections.

Ellen is the national chair of the firm’s Women’s Affinity Group, Seyfarth Women’s Network and also serves on the firm’s Lawyer Development Committee overseeing associate attorneys, is an Income Partner Coach and is part of the firm’s Triad Mentoring Program. Ellen has used her long tenure and influence at the firm to advocate for new, more flexible policies; to create rewarding career paths as an alternative to the traditional partnership track; and to coach and mentor women with leadership ambitions. Thanks to Ellen’s efforts, Seyfarth has been recognized as a leader in workplace flexibility, and a great place to work for caregivers of all kinds. She is also directly responsible for coaching, mentoring and sponsoring a number of women lawyers at the firm, many of whom have ascended to leadership roles. 

Ellen is recognized by her peers and clients as an accomplished practitioner. She is a Fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers; is recognized by both Chambers USA and Legal 500 (Legalese Ltd.); has been named to Best Lawyers in America (Woodward/White Inc.); has twice been recognized as the best employment lawyer in Chicago (2014 and 2019); is recognized as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Illinois; and has been named a BTI Consulting Client Service All-Star.



  • JD, Notre Dame Law School
  • BA, University of Notre Dame

    Cum laude

  • Illinois
  • US Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
  • US District Court, District of Colorado
  • US District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Trial Bar)
  • US District Court, Central District of Illinois
  • US District Court, Northern District of Indiana
  • US District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin