About Michelle Gessner

GessnerLaw, PLLC focuses on representing clients in all forms of employment and labor law matters and serving as a certified mediator in a variety of disputes.

Michelle Gessner:
Owner and Founder of GessnerLaw, PLLC

One of the few practicing female attorneys in the Charlotte, North Carolina area who has both Big Law and Big Company experience, Michelle possesses a deep understanding not always found in every lawyer when it comes to delicate cases such as sexual harassment and gender pay inequality as well as the many challenges employees face dealing with wage and hour issues. Being the first in a blue-collar single-parent family to achieve a college degree, Michelle’s appreciation for hard-working employees gives her an altruistic perspective and purpose when she provides counsel, litigation, and/or advocacy services for her clients.

Prior to its formation, Michelle gained extensive experience in all legal issues facing the retail, restaurant, and hospitality industries by serving as the Chief Litigation and Employment Law Counsel for Family Dollar Stores, Inc. (FDO), Darden Restaurants, Inc. (DRI) and Big Lots Stores, Inc. (BIG). Michelle also served as the SVP, General Counsel, and Chief Administrative Officer for Ovation Brands, a privately held $1 billion restaurant company.

Michelle has extensive experience in managing large portfolios of litigation and disputes. Michelle’s career embodies a strong focus on employment law and labor relations, with particular emphasis on wage and hour and compensation disputes. A successful litigator in all venues, she has managed the strategy development — as well as some of the best lawyers in the country — in matters pending in federal courts nationwide, including managing multi-district litigation.

Michelle has the privilege of being the mother of three amazing teenagers now – Isabell, Jack, and Bobby – she spends most of her free time with them trying to make time stand still. She also enjoys Crossfit, running, and playing golf (or at least attempting to).

Attorney Michelle Gessner of Charlotte, NC


  • West Virginia University College of Law, J.D., 1999
  • West Virginia University College of Business & Economics, M.S. Industrial Labor Relations, 1996
  • West Virginia University, B.S. in Business Administration with concentration in Employment Law, 1994


  • North Carolina State Bar, 1999
  • U.S. District Courts for the Western, Middle & Eastern Districts of North Carolina, 1999
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 2000
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 2009


  • American Bar Association
  • Claims and Litigation Management Alliance
  • Chief Litigation Counsel Association, 2009-2015
  • Mecklenburg County Bar
  • Nextlaw Global Referral Network
  • North Carolina Bar Association
  • Women Lawyers of Charlotte


  • Active Member, St. Matthew’s Catholic Church
  • Active Supporter of YMCA Camp Sea Gull & Camp Seafarer


  • U.S.D.C. District of South Carolina
  • U.S.D.C. Western District of North Carolina
  • U.S.D.C. Eastern District of North Carolina
  • U.S.D.C. Middle District of North Carolina
  • NCDRC Certified Mediator


Since beginning her career in 1999, Michelle Gessner has become a go-to source in the industry, having served on numerous panels and forums. She has served as a panelist at the following conferences and forums:

Preserving Evidence — What Restaurants and Retail Establishments Need to Know Before the Accident Happens
2017 CLM Business Insurance, Retail, Restaurant & Hospitality Conference

February 22-24 | The Gaylord Palms, Dallas, TX

Panelist at the National Retail and Restaurant Defense Association’s Annual Conference, “From the Federal Agencies to the Courthouse, Hot Topics and Recent Developments in Labor and Employment Law”
March 3 – 4, 2016 | Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Panelist at Perrin’s Product Liability Conference, “In-House Counsel and Insurance Perspectives Roundtable”
February 26 – 27, 2015 | The James Royal Palm, Miami, FL

Panelist at ACI’s 4th Annual Forum on Defending and Managing Employment Discrimination
July 31 – August 1, 2013 | The Carlton Hotel, New York, NY

Panelist at Perrin’s National Complex Litigation Conference: A Symposium on Current & Emerging Issues, “In-House Perspective on Complex Litigation Claims”
June 18, 2013 | Omni Chicago Hotel, Chicago, IL

Panelist at ACI’s 18th National Forum on Wage & Hour Claims and Class Actions, “Hot Topics in Wage and Hour Law Part I: The Latest Developments in “Off -the-Clock” Claims, Meal and Rest Breaks, and Tipping”
May 30 – 31, 2013 | ONE UN New York, New York, NY

Panelist at ACI’s 15th National Forum on Wage & Hour Claims and Class Actions, “In-House Roundtable: Preventing and Managing Wage and Hour Claims/Class Actions”
May 31 – June 1, 2012 | New York Marriott Downtown, New York, NY

Co-Chair of ACI’s 12th National Forum on Wage & Hour Claims and Class Actions
May 23 – 24, 2011
New York Marriott Downtown, New York, NY

Co-Chair of ACI’s 11th National Forum on Wage & Hour Claims and Class Actions
January 31 – February 01, 2011 | Hyatt Regency, Miami, Florida

Panelist at ACI’s 9th National Forum on Wage & Hour Claims and Class Actions, “Defense Strategies for Winning the Certification Battle: Best Practices for Obtaining Decertification of a Class”
May 20 – 21, 2010 | Millenium UN Plaza Hotel, New York, NY

ACI’s Premier Forum on Defending and Managing Employment Discrimination Litigation, “Class Actions Considerations: Certification, Settlement and More”
February 25 – 26, 2010 | Millennium UN Plaza Hotel, New York, NY

Panelist at the National Retail Federation’s, Committee on Employment Law Fall Conference 2008
October 2008 | San Diego, CA