With years of experience as both a litigator and an employment attorney, Emily Wessel Farr advises employers on a wide-range of issues such as civil rights violations, harassment and discrimination, protection of trade secrets, NLRB matters, peer review and credentialing and HR training. She regularly advises businesses on corporate matters including insurance coverage, breach of contract, unfair labor practices, civil rights and ADA violations, disciplinary actions and licensing issues. Emily is also a member of Gould & Ratner’s Construction Practice, and provides counsel to owners and developers on matters related to construction contract drafting, claims resolution, OSHA considerations and insurance needs.
Before joining Gould & Ratner, Emily founded Farr & Farr, a Chicago-based law firm focused on litigation and employment matters. She is also admitted to practice in North Carolina, where she spent several years representing corporations and medical practice groups in a variety of matters affecting their businesses and has spent significant time litigating civil rights cases in federal court. In 2018, she was named one of Crain’s “Notable Women Lawyers” and has been recognized as a Rising Star in employment law by Super Lawyers magazine for 2019 and 2020.
In addition to her practice, Emily is actively involved in several legal organizations. For the past three years, she has served as a volunteer Child Advocate for Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. Emily is a member of several bar associations, and most recently served as an editor of The Woman Advocate, a publication of the American Bar Association’s Litigation Section. She also volunteers her time to several community service initiatives such as a leadership member of the Associate Board of the Greater Chicago Food Depository and as a founder and co-lead of her local Moms Demand Action chapter.
Emily provides thoughtful (yet efficient) counsel, and enjoys educating her clients so they can protect their companies. Most recently, during the COVID-19 crisis, Emily has counseled clients on their insurance coverage, PPP loans, and the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act. She frequently presents on a variety of employment-related topics including sexual harassment (required for Illinois employers beginning in 2020), discrimination, LGBTQ-IQ rights, hostile work environments, implementation and use of employee handbooks, and how to avoid liability at your annual holiday office party. Emily also trains management on supervisor liability, misclassification of independent contractors, paid sick leave, protecting trade secrets, how to effectively handle employee interviews, performance reviews, and investigations.
Emily earned her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and her B.A. in Political Science from Northwestern University, where she was Executive Co-Chair of Dance Marathon, one of the largest student-run non-profits in the nation.
- University of Michigan Law School, J.D., 2008
- Northwestern University, B.A., Political Science, 2003
- North Carolina
- Federal Trial Bar, Northern District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina
- U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina
- U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
- American Bar Association
- Associate Board Member (Leadership), The Greater Chicago Food Depository
- Leadership Circle, Northwestern University (Co-Chair, Ten and Fifteen Year Reunion)
Key Cases or Transactions
- Represented an Illinois-based corporation in a declaratory action filed by an insurer.
- Represented and successfully negotiated multiple settlements with former employees.
- Counseled dozens of businesses in issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including vaccination, masking, remote/hybrid work, and return to work.
- Counseled multiple corporations at the startup phase on employment agreements, offer letters for key employees, policies and procedures, and restrictive covenants.
- Represented multiple companies in defense of Illinois Department of Employment Security unemployment claims.
- Assisted several multi-state employers with updating HR handbooks to comply with obligations under various state local and federal laws.
- Conducted regular harassment prevention trainings in person and over Zoom for a variety of companies and organizations.
- Represented a Chicago-based digital healthcare agency in its sale to a global commercialization partner for the life sciences industry.
- Represented a technology managed services firm in settling a complex and highly contested lawsuit.
- Tried to verdict two federal jury trials resulting in win for clients on all counts (2016 and 2019).
- Obtained settlement on behalf of startup in Department of Labor wage and hour claim.
- Defended and later won appeal of unemployment claim against family-owned business.
- Advised marketing company on CAN-SPAM and TCPA compliance.
- Drafted multistate handbook for growing healthcare company.
- New Surge Brings New Mandates: The Biden Administration Tries a New Tactic , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , September 10, 2021
- Owners and Developers Beware: FEMA Flood Insurance Program Is Changing Along With the Climate , August 24, 2021
- What Employers Need to Know About Updated Mandated Sick Leave Policies for Illinois and Chicago , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , August 23, 2021
- More Masking: What Updated CDC Guidance Could Mean for Employers , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , August 4, 2021
- Employees and Vaccinations: What Do Employers Need to Know and Consider? , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , June 2, 2021
- Illinois Reporting Requirements Expand for Employers , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , April 15, 2021
- ARPA Expands Employment-Related Reimbursements and Extends Unemployment , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , March 25, 2021
- American Rescue Plan Act Expands PPP’s Reach , March 22, 2021
- EEOC Updates Its Compliance Manual on Discrimination , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , February 5, 2021
- OSHA Issues New Guidance on Protecting Workers During COVID-19 , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , February 5, 2021
- New Administration, New Priorities: What Does a Biden Harris Administration Look Like for Employers? , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , January 21, 2021
- The Impact of the $900 Billion Appropriations Act on Employers and Their Employees , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , December 29, 2020
- Congress Passes $900 Billion Relief Act and Revises the PPP , December 23, 2020
- The COVID-19 Vaccines Are Here – What Do Employers Need to Know and Consider? , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , December 22, 2020
- Mr. Biden Goes to Washington (Again): How Will the Next Administration Help Businesses Combat COVID-19? , November 16, 2020
- Policyholders See New Developments in COVID-19 Case Law , November 10, 2020
- More Hope for Insureds Experiencing COVID-19 Losses , September 30, 2020
- Coverage for COVID-19: How Are Insurance Policyholders Faring So Far With Claims and Litigation? , September 24, 2020
- SBA New Loan Forgiveness Applications Released, More Guidance on Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act , June 19, 2020
- What's Involved in Training Employees to Recognize Signs of Human Trafficking , June 18, 2020
- U.S. Supreme Court Rules Title VII Protects LGBTQ Employees , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , June 15, 2020
- More Flexibility for Updated Paycheck Protection Program Rules , June 9, 2020
- How One Small Business Is Staying a Cut Above Upon Reopening , June 4, 2020
- SBA Dispenses More Info for Maximizing PPP Forgiveness , May 26, 2020
- DOL Provides Additional FAQs Regarding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act , May 13, 2020
- One Month Into PPP: How to Maximize Forgiveness and Ensure Compliance , May 13, 2020
- DOL Provides Additional Guidance on Families First Coronavirus Response Act , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , April 29, 2020
- Amendment to CARES Act Set to Revive Paycheck Protection Program With More Much-Needed Relief for Small Businesses , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , April 23, 2020
- CDC Issues Updated COVID-19 Guidance for Employers in Non-Healthcare, Critical Infrastructure Sectors , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , April 10, 2020
- New Main Street Lending Program Offers More Relief for Small and Mid-Sized Businesses , April 10, 2020
- New Main Street Lending Program Offers More Relief for Small and Mid-Sized Businesses , April 10, 2020
- DOL Issues Rule and Additional Q&As on Families First Act Leave , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , April 7, 2020
- U.S. Department of Labor Issues Supplemental Q&A on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , March 30, 2020
- CARES Act Expands SBA Loan Programs to Offer Relief for Small Businesses During the COVID-19 Pandemic , March 30, 2020
- FAQs for Employers During the Coronavirus Pandemic , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , March 23, 2020
- UPDATED: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act – What You Need to Know , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , March 19, 2020
- Important Reminders for Employers When Handling COVID-19 Concerns , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , March 11, 2020
- Supreme Example: An Interview With the Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court , American Bar Association , February 20, 2020
- Host of New Illinois Laws Impacts Hotels , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , February 12, 2020
- New Year, New Laws for Illinois Employers , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , December 30, 2019
- New Litigation May Affect the Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , December 18, 2019
- DOL Announces Final Rule on Perks and Benefits , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , December 13, 2019
- Illinois Cannabis Act: New Changes for Employers Just Before Jan. 1 Effective Date , HumanResourcesLawBlog.com , December 6, 2019
- Get Your Acts Together, Act IX: The Workplace Transparency Act , August 19, 2019
- Get Your Acts Together, Act VIII: The Illinois Sales Representative Act , April 8, 2019
- Get Your Acts Together, Act VI: The Biometric Information Privacy Act , June 2018
- Get Your Acts Together, Act V: National Labor Relations Act , May 2018
- Get Your Acts Together, Act IV: The Hotel Workers Sexual Harassment Ordinance , April 2018
- Get Your Acts Together, Act III: Victim's Economic Security and Safety Act , March 2018
- Get Your Acts Together, Act II: One Day Rest in Seven Act , February 2018
- Get Your Acts Together, Act I: Illinois Human Rights Act , January 3, 2018
- Punch Bowls and Personnel Don't Mix: How Employers Should Throw a Party , December 1, 2017
- Married on a Sunday...Fired on a Monday , Women's Bar Association of Illinois , October 2016
- You Greet Each New Employee With a Handshake - Why Not a Handbook , August 2016
- "Emily's been an invaluable resource and asset to our organization. Regardless of how many companies she works with, she always makes us feel like we are her most important client."
- "In a world of complex and ever-changing employment/HR laws, we rely on the support and guidance of Emily Farr. Emily has the desire, energy, and intelligence to successfully guide our small business; she is at the forefront of her field, and handles any matter we have, large or small. Always prompt, thorough and professional, Emily shows she cares about her clients and their matters. Thank you, Emily!"
- "I have been through ALOT of those trainings over the years. Yours was by far the best!"