Karen Charlson's practice focuses on litigation with specialization in the areas of:

  • Workers’ compensation defense
  • Wrongful discharge and retaliation defense
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)  compliance and litigation

Karen’s workers’ compensation defense work is primarily with self-insured and high-deductible employers, defending against claims in an administrative setting and retaliation claims in district court; however, she regularly counsels employers on non-litigated workers’ compensation issues including workplace safety, risk management, return-to-work programs and the interplay of workers’ compensation with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Family and Medical Leave Act.

She also assists clients with Occupational Safety and Health Administration compliance issues, challenging citations and defending against formal Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) actions. She has represented clients in workers’ compensation and OSH matters in the following industries: healthcare, non-profit social services, retail, public sector, construction, manufacturing, paper and trucking.

Karen has experience in jury trials, bench trials, administrative hearings, and has appeared before the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals, the National Labor Relations Board, Department of Labor and Industry and Occupational Safety & Health Review Board. She also presents and trains employers, insurers/administrators and other lawyers on topics within her expertise.

Professional & Community Affiliations


Hennepin County Bar Association


Minnesota State Bar Association


Minnesota Women Lawyers (MWL)

Board Member and Volunteer

Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid




Named, The Best Lawyers in America©


Named, Rising Star

Minnesota Law and Politics

2002, 2004 and 2007-2009

News, Analysis & Press

OSHA Planning More Nursing Home Inspections Soon

Minnesota Employment Law Report

January 2, 2012

Bah, Humbug! Are Holiday Injuries Covered By Work Comp?

Minnesota Employment Law Report

December 7, 2011

Landed Aliens Deserve Work Comp Protection

Business Report, Issue No. 15

Fall 2003

Speaking Engagements

Work Comp, FMLA and ADA: The Bermuda Triangle - Working Within The Vortex

Twin Cities SHRM Chapter (TCSHRM) Webinar

June 20, 2018
2012 Midwest Employer Conference

Minneapolis, MN

October 11, 2012

Managing Mental Health Issues: The Impact Of The ADAAA , W.C. And FMLA

2012 Midwest Employer Conference

Littler Mendelson, Minneapolis, MN

October 11, 2012

Who Am I: Consultant, Independent Contractor or Employee? Clearing up blurred identities under the Work Comp vision

Firm Presentation


Is the Age 67 Retirement Presumption Still the General Rule? Are we all presumed to be working forever?

Firm Presentation


The New Work Comp Legislation & A Dash of OSHA: The Fate of Last Year’s Proposed Changes, This Year’s Proposed Changes and “Hot” OSHA Issues

Firm Presentation


New Work Comp Rules & Proposed Legislation: Some things never change, but the work comp rules have

Firm Presentation


Eleven Questions Every Employment Attorney Has About Workers’ Comp – Beyond the Basics

Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute - Minnesota CLE


The New ADA Amendments and New FMLA Regs: Case Studies to Illustrate the Practical implications for WC Practice

Workers’ Compensation Institute


Top 10 Ways Employers Inadvertently Increase Workers’ Compensation Costs

Firm Presentation


Minnesota Legislative Update – Proposed Changes to Work Comp Laws 2008

Firm Presentation


Investigation, Documentation and Technology: Does the Mantra “Document, Document, Document” Need to be Modified?

Firm Presentation


We’ve Received a Report of an Injury at Work…What Should We Do?

Firm Presentation


General Employment Law Issues for Business Majors

Bethel College, St. Paul, MN



  • J.D., University of Minnesota Law School, 1997cum laude
  • B.A., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1991

Bar Admission



  • U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota
  • Tribal Court of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux (Dakota) Community