For over three decades, Shirley Lerner has represented employers in a wide variety of employment claims in state and federal courts and before administrative agencies. She has successfully defended her clients against claims of wrongful termination, unfair competition, discrimination, harassment, contractor misclassification and wage and hour violations. Shirley represents a diverse range of companies – from local sole proprietorships to large multi-national corporations. She has developed an in-depth knowledge of the legal and employment challenges facing manufacturing, financial services, professional services, staffing, non-profit and sales organizations.

Shirley’s clients rely on her to understand their business needs and provide sound advice to manage risk and ensure legal compliance, with a focus in the following areas:

  • Hiring, performance management, and terminations, including reductions-in-force
  • Responding to harassment and discrimination, including training and investigation
  • Employment and executive agreements, including non-competition and confidential information protections
  • Formulating and implementing policies and compensation plans
  • Leaves of absence issues - including paid sick and safe leave
  • Compliance with accommodation laws, including disability and religious accommodation
  • Classification of workers, including independent contractors, and exempt and nonexempt employees

In addition, Shirley is the office managing shareholder of Littler's Minneapolis office. She has played a key role in bringing the firm’s Women’s Leadership Initiative to Minneapolis. Shirley is also a frequent speaker on a variety of labor and employment law topics at continuing education and management events.

Professional & Community Affiliations


Minnesota State Bar Association


Hennepin County Bar Association


American Bar Association


Awarded, AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rating


Speaking Engagements

Accommodating a Multireligious and Multicultural Workforce

Littler Executive Employer, Phoenix, AZ

May 3, 2018

Employment Law Update: Local, State & Federal

Twin Cities Society Human Resources

February 15, 2018

Pay Equity and Sick Leave: Cities and States Venture Where Congress Fears to Tread

Littler Midwest Regional Employer, Minneapolis, MN

October 26, 2017

Advocating for Yourself and Others: What Roles Does Gender Play?

Littler Minneapolis Women’s Leadership Initiative Series

April 26, 2017
Managing the 21st Century Sales Force

Minneapolis, MN

February 16, 2017

Gender & Generations: A Focus on the Millennial Workforce

Littler Minneapolis Women’s Leadership Initiative Series

November 16, 2016

Let Them Down Easy: The Art of Reductions in Force

Midwest Regional Employer, Minneapolis, MN

October 4, 2016

Women and the Law

Littler Minneapolis Women’s Leadership Initiative Series

April 27, 2016

Gender Equity in the C-Suite: The Myths & Realities of the Leadership Gender Gap

Littler Minneapolis Women’s Leadership Initiative Series

November 19, 2015

Minnesota Women’s Economic Security Act

Littler Minneapolis Women’s Leadership Initiative Series

April 22, 2015

Minnesota Update: Expanding Rights Bring New Challenges

Midwest Regional Employer, Minneapolis, MN

November 6, 2014

The Hiring Games: What You Need to Know to Keep the Odds in Your Favor

Midwest Regional Employer, Minneapolis, MN

October 30, 2013

Independent Contractors: Heightened Concern In An Era Of Expanded Enforcement

2012 Midwest Employer Conference

Littler Mendelson, Minneapolis, MN

October 11, 2012
Two-Part FMLA CLE Series: Managing Intermittent FMLA Leave and Post-FMLA Accommodation

Minneapolis, MN

June 7, 2012


  • J.D., University of Minnesota Law School, 1983
  • B.A., University of Minnesota, 1980magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa

Bar Admission



  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois