Perspectiva General

Michael R. Gotzler represents employers in all aspects of labor and employment matters, including labor management relations.     

Mike’s practice includes employment litigation, employee leave and accommodation issues, wage and hour compliance, noncompete agreements and other restrictive covenants, independent contractor issues, and labor relations. He handles claims and issues under:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act
  • The Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Wisconsin and Illinois state fair employment laws
  • The National Labor Relations Act
  • Collective bargaining
  • Labor arbitration
  • Union organizing campaigns

Mike has particular skill in responding to claims and issues surrounding joint and coemployment, the use of third party workers, independent contractors, and outsourced HR services. He has presented at national conferences, represented businesses at White House briefings, participated on expert panels and has been regularly interviewed and quoted as a result. 

Mike has also represented the staffing industry on a wide range of legal issues and legislative and regulatory matters. He played a key role in passage of the Wisconsin laws that regulate PEOs (professional employer organizations) and was recognized by the industry for his efforts.

To help his clients minimize claims, Mike has designed and delivered a wide range of preventive HR training courses, including anti-harassment courses designed with EEOC involvement and approval. Mike was one of the first individuals selected to deliver sexual harassment training as part of a 1999 conciliation agreement, under which the employer was required to provide EEOC-approved anti-harassment training to more than 100,000 employees.   

Mike has partnered with and provided legal counsel to employers of all sizes and industries throughout the U.S., from multinational Fortune 50 companies to startup companies looking to hire their first employee. Mike’s clients include employers in the following industries:

  • Manufacturing
  • Staffing
  • Trade associations
  • Healthcare
  • Utilities
  • Hospitality
  • Retail

Mike also serves as the Wisconsin coordinator and liaison for Littler’s Workplace Policy Institute (WPI). Mike focuses on Wisconsin state legislative and regulatory developments in employment and labor law, as well as municipal ordinances and regulation of the workplace. He assists the employer community in understanding and impacting Wisconsin legislation before it becomes law.

Mike was Littler’s first attorney in the Madison, Wisconsin, office. Prior to joining Littler, Mike was general counsel of an organization that provided temporary staffing, executive recruiting, HR consulting and integrated HR services throughout the U.S. He was also shareholder at another firm that focused exclusively on labor and employment matters on behalf of employers. 

Afiliaciones Profesionales y Comunitarias

Appointed Member

State of Wisconsin, Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council



Labor and Employment Section

State Bar of Wisconsin



Wisconsin Association of Staffing Services


Member, Rotary

Chair, Annual Ethics Symposium

Downtown Madison Rotary



Madison Rotary Foundation



Legal Advisory Council

National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO)



Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Western Wisconsin

2014-2020; Board President, 2017-2018


Wisconsin Historical Foundation



Awarded, AV® Peer Review Rating


Named, Top Rated Labor & Employment Lawyers

American Lawyer

Named, Greater Madison “40 Under 40”

Named, Leadership Greater Madison

News, Analysis & Press

Top 10 Employment Risks for 2021

Credit Union National Association (CUNA)

February 17, 2021

Legal, HR Headaches of COVID-19

In Business

September 3, 2020

Work-share takes off with federal COVID-19 changes

Wisconsin Examiner

May 26, 2020

When a Bedrock Principle Gets Shaken

PEO Insider

May 2018

Law Fix for Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation

American Staffing Association’s Staffing Success

April 2018

Impact of Wisconsin Employment Law Preemption Bill


March 28, 2018

DOL’s Final Rule on Overtime Exemptions

PEO Insider

October 2016

Persuader Reporting – Worse Than ACA Reporting?

PEO Insider

May 2016

Hiring with Conviction


June 2015

Achievements and Pitfalls of Obamacare

Wisconsin State Journal

March 29, 2015

Supreme Court Ruling on Obamacare Could Cause Chaos, Experts Say

The Capital Times

March 24, 2015

Experts Divided on Fallout from Potential Supreme Court ACA Ruling


March 24, 2015

Speaking Engagements

The COVID-19 Vaccine – Legal and Practical Implications

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce COVID-19 Update

January 20, 2021

Wisconsin State Law Update

Metro Milwaukee SHRM Legislative Update Conference

December 2, 2020

Employment Law Year in Review – Sneak Peek at 2021

GMA-SHRM Legal & Legislative 2020

November 17, 2020

Employee Handbooks: The COVID Edition!

WASS Legal & Legislative Conference

November 12, 2020

2020 Hot Topics in Minnesota and Wisconsin Employment Law

Littler’s Upper Midwest Employer Conference

November 11, 2020

Employment Law Update

CUNA Annual Attorneys’ Conference

October 26, 2020

Ethical Issues Arising in Workplace Investigations

ACC Wisconsin Annual Conference, Milwaukee, WI

August 28, 2020

COVID-19 Litigation Trends and Recent Employment Law Changes

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce COVID-19 Update, Madison, WI

August 12, 2020

Back to Work? Assessing Whether, When and How to Reopen for Business?

WASS Power 20 Series, Milwaukee WI

April 28, 2020

Practical Advice for Employers Facing the COVID-19 Pandemic

QPS Employment Forum, Milwaukee WI

April 13, 2020

Clearing the Weeds: Making Sense of Marijuana Legalization Laws

MRA Annual Employment Law Conference, Milwaukee WI

February 20, 2020

Ethics in Action

Annual Rotary Ethics Symposium, Madison, WI

February 14, 2020

Marijuana and the Workplace: What Employers Need to Know

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Madison, WI

January 21, 2020

Clearing the Weeds: Making Sense of Marijuana Legalization Laws

Wisconsin Association of Staffing Services Annual Legal & Legislative Conference, Madison, WI

November 14, 2019

Ethical Considerations in Employment Arbitration

Association of Corporate Counsel – Wisconsin Annual Ethics Seminar, Milwaukee, WI

November 5, 2019

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Recent Developments on Independent Contractors

Wisconsin State SHRM Conference, Wisconsin Dells, WI

October 17, 2019

Marijuana Legalization Workplace Challenges

Manufacturing Business Alliance, Beaver Dam, WI

August 6, 2019

Marijuana Legalization Workplace Challenges

Littler Brewer Briefing, Milwaukee, WI

July 17, 2019

Contingent Workforce Risk Management Workshop

Staffing Industry Analysts Conference, Atlanta, GA

April 24, 2019

#MeToo - Navigating the New Era of Workplace Harassment

MRA Annual Iowa Employment Law Conference, Bettendorf, IA

February 7, 2019

Managing Risks of Using External Workers

Sheboygan Area SHRM Monthly Meeting, Sheboygan, WI

January 17, 2019

Background Checks: Industry Trends and Legal Issues

Wisconsin Association of Staffing Services Legal & Legislative Conference, Madison, WI

November 15, 2018

Independent Contractor Challenges

American Payroll Association, Madison, WI

August 9, 2018

Responding to Sexual Harassment Complaints in the #MeToo Era

Middleton Chamber of Commerce, Middleton, WI

July 11, 2018

Is the Gig Up? Compliance and the Independent Contractor

Wisconsin State Bar Association, Madison, WI

May 23, 2018

Responding to Sexual Harassment in the #MeToo Era

Tri-State Human Resources Association, Dubuque, IA

May 10, 2018

Employment Law & HR Best Practices for Non-Profits

Wegner Leadership Series, Milwaukee, WI

February 13, 2018

Employment Law & HR Best Practices for Non-Profits

Wegner Leadership Series, Madison, WI

January 16, 2018

Where Did Your Employees Go? Leaves of Absence and Independent Contractors

Risk Management Conference, Madison, WI

December 12, 2017

Staffing Industry Challenges and Opportunities

Wisconsin Association of Staffing Services, Annual Legal & Legislative Conference, Madison, WI

November 16, 2017

Employment Law Update

NAPEO (National Association of Professional Employer Organizations) Midwest Conference, Chicago, IL

September 27, 2017

OSHA’s Temporary Worker Initiative

Wausau Employer Safety Council, Wausau, WI

September 20, 2017

Unemployment Insurance Law Update

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) Policy Day, Madison, WI

August 16, 2017

Investigations in the Staffing Industry

Wisconsin Association of Staffing Services Webinar, Milwaukee, WI

June 14, 2017

Compensation Analysis and Wage & Hour Risk Management

Dodge County SHRM, Beaver Dam, WI

May 10, 2017

Employment Law Challenges in the Staffing Industry

Midwest Staffing Conference, Chicago, IL

April 6, 2017

Most Pressing Legal Issues for HR Professionals

University of Wisconsin Business School, Madison, WI

September 21, 2016

The New FLSA Exemption Rule – Impact on the Staffing Industry

Wisconsin Association of Staffing Services Webinar, Milwaukee, WI

June 23, 2016

The New FLSA Exemption Rule – Impact on Non-Profit Employers

Madison, WI

June 8, 2016

Legal Aspects of Workplace Investigations

Metro Milwaukee SHRM and ASIS Investigations Conference, Milwaukee, WI

May 26, 2016

Independent Contractors - Growing Challenges

National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO) Annual Legal Conference, Washington, D.C.

May 17-18, 2016

FLSA Exemption Overhaul – What HR Executives Need to Know

Madison HR Executives Roundtable, Madison, WI

May 13, 2016

The Most Pressing Employment Law Issues for 2016

Wisconsin Association of Staffing Services – Annual Legal Conference, Madison, WI

January 20, 2016

Assessing the ACA

WisBusiness Expert Panel, Madison, WI

March 23, 2015

Legal Issues in the Staffing and Recruiting Industries

University of Wisconsin Business School, Madison, WI

February 2, 2015


  • J.D., University of Wisconsin Law School, 1997with Honors
  • B.A., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1993summa cum laude, Honors College, Phi Beta Kappa

Admisión de la barra



  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois