Sean M. Scullen


As national chair of the Quarles & Brady Labor & Employment Practice Group, Sean Scullen is a no-nonsense legal professional with a wide array of experience and particular strengths in advising on wage-and-hour issues and mounting solid defenses against class actions.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sean has been a trusted advisor for clients navigating the impacts of COVID-19 on their business operations and employees. He has provided guidance on remote workforce policies, procedures and training; employee safety; reductions in force, furloughs, layoffs; family and medical leave due to coronavirus or childcare interruptions; ADA accommodations; return to work issues, including temperature testing, wage and hour issues, social distancing in the workplace, and preventing discrimination and harassment related to COVID-19; among many others challenges. And for those who may need to address legal claims as a result of the pandemic, Sean is a keen strategist in minimizing potential litigation risks or managing class action litigation.

Sean provides counsel and litigation representation to both private- and public-sector employers in all areas of labor and employment law, including multijurisdictional defense of litigation employment discrimination and whistleblower claims (including claims under environmental whistleblower statutes and Sarbanes-Oxley litigation), Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) and state wage and hour law compliance, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) compliance (federal and state), USERRA and state military leave law compliance, OSHA compliance, collective bargaining, contract administration, grievance arbitration, and non-competition and trade secret litigation. Sean also assists clients with benefits disputes and related litigation, including claims under ERISA. His experience includes claims regarding denial of benefits, coverage disputes and investigations regarding fiduciary compliance and related matters.

Sean also has a focus in education law and assisting higher education institutions in particular addressing compliance with various federal and state laws, including Title IX, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Many clients view the legal costs associated with labor and employment matters as an unavoidable cost of doing business. In that vein, there is a temptation to make decisions based on cost minimization. Sean well understands the need to work smart and control costs, but he always keeps his eye on the best possible results and makes sure that his clients think about all the options. There is a highly complex intersection between business interests and the legal measures available to companies in the labor and employment area, and it’s easy to get caught in hard-hitting traffic there. Sean is always there to keep the traffic flowing as well as to see his clients safely through it all. Acknowledging his legal acumen, one of his fellow attorneys at a competing firm says that he impresses clients and peers as a “lawyer with buckets of common sense.”

Legal Services

Education and Honors

  • University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business (Certificate of Executive Management, 2013)
  • University of Wisconsin Law School (J.D., cum laude, 1999)
    • ABA/BNA Award for Outstanding Study in Labor and Employment Law (1999)
    • Order of The Coif
  • Santa Clara University (B.S., magna cum laude, 1994)
    • Honors Program
    • Phi Beta Kappa

Bar Admissions

  • Wisconsin

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin

Professional and Civic Activities

  • State Bar of Wisconsin (Member, Labor and Employment Section)
  • American Bar Association (Member, Labor and Employment Section)
  • Human Resources Management Association of Southeastern Wisconsin, Inc. (Member)
  • Elmbrook Education Foundation (Board of Directors)
  • Safe & Sound (Board of Directors)

Professional Recognition

  • Recognized as Best Lawyers® 2019 Milwaukee Employment Law – Management "Lawyer of the Year"
  • Selected for inclusion in the 2011–present Wisconsin Super Lawyers® lists (Employment & Labor)
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® (2010–present: Employment Law – Management; Labor Law – Management)
  • Listed in Chambers USA® (2004–present) and noted as "an exceptional talent who has made an early impact" (2004), "demonstrates a legal sensitivity beyond his years" (2005), "young and sharp" (2006), and Labor & Employment (2008–2010)
  • Selected for inclusion in the 2006–2009 Wisconsin Super Lawyers® lists: Rising Stars
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