Stephanie Dodge Gournis



A trusted adviser, skilled negotiator and effective litigator, Stephanie Dodge Gournis partners with employers to achieve favorable outcomes in addressing traditional labor and employment matters. Stephanie is deeply knowledgeable about the issues that can threaten employers. She takes pride in being both pragmatic and practical in her counsel.

Stephanie represents employers in the service, retail, manufacturing, construction and financial services industries. She also has extensive experience representing health care employers and understands the particular challenges faced by this industry. Stephanie is a dynamic speaker and has been recognized nationwide as a knowledgeable commentator on traditional labor and employment-related issues.

Labor Relations

Stephanie counsels corporate management in developing effective labor relations strategy for prevention and response to union organizing, corporate campaigns, picketing, work stoppages, threatened strikes and other labor disputes. She serves as lead negotiator for management on first-time and successor union contracts. Stephanie is an experienced advocate in arbitrating union grievances and regularly represents employers throughout the United States in defending union representation petitions and unfair labor practices charges before the National Labor Relations Board. Stephanie guides employers in navigating complex labor issues involving protected concerted activity, successorship, solicitation and distribution, employee access, persuader reporting obligations and joint employer liability.

Employment Litigation

Stephanie defends employers from administrative and federal or state court complaints involving issues such as:

  • Equal employment opportunity (EEO)
  • Retaliatory discharge
  • Harassment
  • Whistleblower rights
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
  • Breach of contract
  • Noncompete enforcement

Employment Counsel

Stephanie helps clients big and small to evaluate their employment risk by conducting audits on EEO, wage and hour compliance, independent contractor and exemption status, and union vulnerability. She assists clients in developing HR policy, management training, and performing due diligence on labor and employment matters for mergers and acquisitions. Stephanie also provides day-to-day advice to employers on topics that include:

  • Performance improvement
  • HR policy development
  • Workplace safety
  • Employee confidentiality/privacy rights
  • Restrictive covenant/noncompete enforcement
  • Social media
  • FMLA/ADA leave administration
  • Paid sick leave
  • Employee wellness programs
  • Federal contracting
  • Crisis management
  • Workplace reductions
  • Sexual harassment investigation
  • Employee separation and release
  • Wage and hour compliance
  • Wage payment and collection
  • Exemption status
  • Medical/recreational cannabis
  • Nurse staffing requirements
  • Lawful-use legislation
  • Diversity and inclusion

Personal Interests

Stephanie is the proud mom of two teenage sons. When not cheering on the boys at one of their many football and hockey games, you might catch Stephanie on stage at a local theater.

Insights & Events

Other Perspectives
  • LaborSphere blog
    Contributor, Faegre Drinker
  • "Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education"
    Chapter author, IICLE, Labor Law
  • Chapter 20: Special Consideration in the Health Care Industry
    Chapter author, The Labor Law Handbook
  • "Labor and Employment"
    Chapter author, Health Law Practice Guide, American Health Lawyers Association
  • Personnel Postscript
    Co-Contributor, Medical Group Management Association

Leadership & Community

Pro Bono

Stephanie devotes significant hours to assisting charitable nonprofit agencies with labor and employment matters. She is a former board member of both the Chicago Coalition of Women’s Initiatives in Law Firms and the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services. Stephanie has been recognized for her pro bono contributions and recently was honored by Erie Neighborhood House for her exemplary service, leadership and dedication to its staff and families.

Professional Associations

  • American Bar Association — Committee on Practice and Procedure under the NLRA; Committee on Development of Law under the NLRA
  • American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA)
  • Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM)
  • American Society of Healthcare Human Resource Association (ASHHRA)

Firm Leadership

  • Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP — Co-chair, Traditional Labor Group; Co-chair, Wage & Hours Class Action Group; Hiring Partner, Chicago Office; Health Care Industry Steering Committee; Women’s Leadership Committee


  • Faegre Drinker — Pro Bono Honor Roll, 2020
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