Melissa Raphan

Melissa Raphan




Melissa is a Dorsey Partner, member of the firm’s Policy Committee (Board of Directors), and former Chair of Dorsey’s Labor and Employment Practice Group. While she has deep relationships with clients of all types, she has particular expertise litigating disputes and providing advice to clients in the financial services, healthcare, food & agriculture and energy sectors. She is “an experienced, knowledgeable practitioner who consistently delivers high-quality work,” reports Chambers U.S.A. in its most recent rankings of the top lawyers in America.

Melissa’s employment litigation practice includes class actions, collective actions, multi-plaintiff actions and single plaintiff cases nationwide in federal and state courts and agencies. She regularly handles arbitrations before the American Arbitration Association and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA), where she has a history of delivering successful results.

Melissa counsels employers on a full range of issues including performance management, selection and termination. Her decades of experience in these matters makes her a go-to partner and a trusted advisor for clients. (Her sense of humor doesn’t hurt either.)

Melissa is known as a fierce advocate for diversity in the business community. Knowing that sponsorship is vital to advance the careers of women and minority attorneys, she advocates stridently on their behalf. Her awareness that diverse teams deliver the best results for clients accounts for the highly diverse teams she assembles for the matters she handles.

Education & Admissions

Boston College Law School (J.D.), Notes and Comments Editor, Boston College International and Comparative Law Review

Duke University (B.A.), cum laude


  • Minnesota
  • Massachusetts
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota
  • Minnesota Supreme Court


Representative Experience

  • Lead counsel for insurance companies in multiple jurisdictions handling claims of defamation, discrimination, Equal Pay Act, breach of contract, retaliation and tortious interference with contract
  • Lead counsel for financial services companies in multiple jurisdictions handling claims involving breach of contract, fraud/misrepresentation, retaliation and defamation (Form U-5)
  • Lead counsel for utility company in cases involving sexual harassment, gender discrimination in pay (Equal Pay Act and Title VII), retaliation and tortious interference with contract
Recent Representative Cases
  • Price v. Northern States Power (8th Cir.): Won affirmance of summary dismissal of three-count complaint for discriminatory pay practices under Equal Pay Act, Title VII and the Minnesota Human Rights Act
  • Brown v. Ameriprise (D. Minn.): Won dismissal of complaint with prejudice filed following discovery that plaintiff cut and pasted complaint in violation of Rule 11
  • Heykants v. U.S. Bank (S.D. Iowa): Won summary dismissal of retaliation claim under Title VII and the Iowa Human Rights Act
  • Tubbs v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (D. Minn.): Won summary dismissal of claims for disability discrimination and failure to accommodate under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Minnesota Human Rights Act
  • Boxdorfer v. Thrivent Financial (S.D. Ind.): Won summary dismissal of three-count complaint for defamation (based on Form U-5); breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress
  • Pederson v. RBC (FINRA Arbitration): Successfully tried twelve-day FINRA arbitration on claims of gender discrimination, Equal Pay Act and breach of contract

News & Resources


How bad is bad enough to sue? The U.S. Supreme Court clarifies when a work transfer is “adverse” enough to support a lawsuit under Title VII.
Protecting the Protectors: In Murray v. UBS, the U.S. Supreme Court Articulates the New Standard for SOX Whistleblower Claims
2023 Equal Employment Opportunity Trends in Litigation and Enforcement
New York City’s Wage Transparency Law Requires Salary Ranges to be included in Job Advertisements
Expansive New Whistleblower Protections for New York Employees and Independent Contractors Take Effect This Week
Employee Handbooks (and Policies): Make Sure that the Policies and Disclaimer Accomplish their Purpose
Mandating COVID-19 Vaccinations in the Workplace: Practical Considerations for Employers
How to Handle a #MeToo Moment: Legal, Language and Cultural Tips
U.S. Supreme Court Affirms (Again) the Validity of Class Action Waivers In Employment Arbitration Agreements
Employers Beware: Tax Law Change Eliminates Tax Deductions Relating to Certain Settlements
Stop The Tolling: Minnesota Supreme Court Rules That an Employee’s Internal Complaint Tolls the Statute of Limitations under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA)
Federal Appeals Court Takes a Stand, Holding that Title VII Prohibits Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation
EEOC Subpoenas are Subject to the Abuse of Discretion Standard of Review
Don’t Get Hooked! W-2 Phishing Scams on the Rise During Tax Season
Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch An Encouraging Pick For Employers
U.S. Supreme Court Grants Certiorari To Evaluate Class Waivers Under the National Labor Relations Act
Minneapolis Mandates Paid Sick Leave

News & Press Mentions

17 Dorsey Lawyers Recognized by Benchmark Litigation
Dorsey Lawyers Named “Top Women in Law” by Minnesota Lawyer
200 Dorsey Lawyers Selected for Inclusion in 2024 Best Lawyers in America, Lawyers of the Year, and Ones to Watch
Super Lawyers Recognizes 27 Dorsey Attorneys in Minneapolis
Chambers USA 2023 Recognizes 30 Dorsey Lawyers and 10 Practices in Minneapolis
Chambers USA 2023 Recognizes Dorsey Lawyers and Practices
Super Lawyers Recognizes 26 Dorsey Lawyers in Minneapolis
Chambers USA 2022 Recognizes Dorsey Lawyers and Practices
Super Lawyers Women’s Edition Recognizes Eight Dorsey Lawyers in Minneapolis
18 Dorsey Lawyers Recognized by Benchmark Litigation
Super Lawyers Recognizes 29 Dorsey Lawyers in Minneapolis
13 Dorsey Lawyers Selected for Inclusion in 2021 The Best Lawyers in America Employment Law Issue
Dorsey Partner Melissa Raphan Predicts Uptick in Post-Pandemic Litigation
Super Lawyers Women’s Edition Recognizes Seven Dorsey Lawyers in Minneapolis
Dorsey Partner Melissa Raphan Discusses When is a Employee Handbook Binding
Benchmark Litigation Recognizes 17 Dorsey Lawyers
Super Lawyers Recognizes 38 Dorsey Lawyers in Minneapolis
Super Lawyers Women’s Edition Recognizes 11 Dorsey Lawyers in Minneapolis
Benchmark Litigation Recognizes 17 Dorsey Lawyers
Super Lawyers Recognizes 41 Dorsey Lawyers in Minneapolis
Chambers USA 2019 Recognizes Dorsey Lawyers and Practices
54 Dorsey Lawyers in Minneapolis Selected for Inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2019 and 2019 Lawyers of the Year
Super Lawyers Recognizes 36 Dorsey Lawyers in Minneapolis
Chambers USA 2018 Recognizes Dorsey Lawyers and Practices in Minnesota
Dorsey Partner Melissa Raphan Comments on Bill that Lowers the Bar for Sex Harassment

Select Presentations

  • Frequent speaker on variety of employment law topics including retaliation, constructive discharge, discipline and discharge, sexual harassment.
    • "Annual Construction Symposium," Dorsey & Whitney, May 2018
    • #youtoo: Why the Construction Industry Needs to Focus on Sexual Harassment
    • “Disciplining and Discharging the Problem Employee – Multiple Case Studies,” 2014 Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May 2014
    • “Discovery Wars: A View From the Trenches and Above,” 2014 Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May 2014
    • “L&E Review & Preview: A Look Back at 2013 and a Look Ahead to 2014,” Dorsey U, February 2014
    • “Annual Civil Litigator Short Course,” Minnesota CLE, January 2014
    • “Problem Employees,” Minnesota CLE, August 2013
    • “Salespeople – Can’t Live With Them – Can’t Live Without Them,” 2012 Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May 2012
    • “How to Discipline & Discharge Without Disaster,” 2012 Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May 2012
    • “Finding the (Legal) Tipping Point – How Discipline and Discharge Decisions Play Out in the Courtroom,” 2011 Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May 2011
    • “Hindsight is 20/20: Ten Steps Every Employer Should Take When Making Discipline and Discharge Decisions,” Dorsey Employment Law Seminar, April 2011
    • Kidwell v. Sybaritic – Inside Counsel Whistleblower and Ethics Issues,” Dorsey U, August 2010 
    •  “View from the Top: Best Practices in Helping Women Advance in the Legal Profession and Why it Should Matter to Everyone,” Dorsey U, June 2010


  • Co-Author (Chapter 7) of The Federal District of Minnesota Civil Practice Deskbook, Minnesota CLE (2014)
  • Co-Author (Chapter 7) of The FMLA Handbook, Minnesota CLE, Inc. (2012)
  • Co-Author (Chapter 6) of Discipline and Discharge Handbook, Minnesota CLE, Inc. (2010) (updated 2014)

Industries & Practices

  • Banking & Financial Institutions
  • Emerging Companies
  • Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG)
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Labor & Employment
  • Legal Project Management
  • Securities & Financial Services Litigation & Enforcement

Professional & Civic

Professional Achievements

  • Dorsey & Whitney’s Policy Committee (Board of Directors), Member, 2022-present
  • United States District Court District of Minnesota Federal Practice Committee, Member, 2022-present
  • Children's Law Center of Minnesota (Board of Directors), Member, 2022-present

Community Involvement

  • Appointed to the Attorney General’s Advisory Task Force on Expanding the Economic Security of Women (ex-officio member), January 2021-2022
  • Children’s Law Center of Minnesota, Volunteer Attorney, 2009-present
  • Blake School, Board of Trustees, September 2018-2021
  • The Children’s Theatre Company, Board of Trustees, 2014-2016
  • Downtown YMCA, Community Board, 2013-2014


Chambers USA 2023Chambers 2022Chambers USA 2021  Ranked in Chambers USA 2020  Ranked in Chambers USA 2019 Leading Individual 
  Chambers USA 2018 Leading Individual  Ranked in USA Chambers 2017 Leading Individual  Ranked In - USA Chambers and Partners 2016 - Leading Individual   
Ranked in Chambers USA 2015 - Leading Individual 

  • Named one of “America’s Leading Business Lawyers” by Chambers USA (Labor & Employment), 2005-2023
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America©, 2009-2024
  • Listed as a Super Lawyer by Minnesota Super Lawyers®, 2006-2023

Diversity Inclusion Recognition 2023

  • Contributed more than 50 Diversity hours, 2023

  Pro Bono 50 Hours 2022     Contributed 100+ Pro Bono Hours in 2021 Contributed 50+ Pro Bono Hours in 2020

  • Contributed more than 50 Challenge pro bono hours, 2020, 2022
  • Contributed more than 100 Challenge pro bono hours, 2021
  • Recognized as a "Labor & Employment Star – Minnesota" by Benchmark Litigation, 2021-2022 and 2024
  • Listed as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Women’s Edition, 2020-2022
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America Employment Law Issue, 2021
  • Named "Minneapolis Lawyer of the Year" in Employment Law-Management by Best Lawyers®, 2021

     North Star Lawyer

  • MSBA North Star Lawyer, 2013-2022
  • Listed as a Woman Leader in the Law by Legal Leaders, 2018 
  • Dorsey & Whitney, Scales of Justice Award, 2014 
  • Dorsey Partner of the Year Award, 2014
Melissa Raphan