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Benjamin T. Johnson

Partner

Overview

Ben brings a winning combination of big picture strategies and a collegial approach to his work defending employers against employment discrimination claims. A diverse range of clients value his defense against Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claims, as well as his counsel on ADA issues such as reasonable accommodation and service animal requests in order to avoid future claims.

He also frequently advises on wage and hour matters, including auditing employee classifications to minimize potential employer liability, and defends clients against class action litigation. Ben has helped clients efficiently navigate a wide array of labor and employment issues, from OSHA investigations to non-compete matters to labor disputes.

An experienced litigator, Ben handles claims under Title VII, the ADA, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and related state and local laws. His federal, state, and administrative level experience includes several prominent federal jury trials in Illinois, as well as state and administrative litigation throughout Wisconsin.

 

Before joining Michael Best, Ben clerked for the Honorable P. Michael Mahoney, one of the longest serving magistrate judges in the Northern District of Illinois prior to his retirement. In this capacity, he observed all types of hearings and multiple jury trials from behind the bench, and also drafted a precedent-setting decision addressing the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act. In addition to his labor and employment work, Ben is a member of the firm’s Agribusiness, Food & Beverage Industry Team, focusing on food and beverage producers, and in particular, the burgeoning craft brewing industry.

Experience

Defense against discrimination claims

Ben has assisted in several key victories on behalf of a large municipal employer. In one case, the Michael Best team achieved a federal court jury verdict completely in the employer’s favor after several years of extensive litigation on a six-figure ADA claim brought by an employee. He also helped achieve a very favorable settlement in a case where, on the eve of a state court jury trial, Ben’s creative motions in limine led the court to indicate it would dramatically limit the plaintiff’s damages regardless of the jury’s verdict.

Federal class action wage case by Chicago taxi drivers

Plaintiffs in Enger, et. al., v. Chicago Carriage Cab Co., et. al.  were seeking in damages up to $150 million for alleged violations of the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act. Ben and the Michael Best team secured dismissal of the case in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and then persuaded the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the dismissal with prejudice in a precedent-setting decision.

Administrative litigation

Ben has successfully represented many clients before administrative agencies, such as the EEOC, Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR), Illinois Human Rights Commission (IHRC), and Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Equal Rights Division (ERD).  Ben has an extremely high success rate at obtaining findings in favor of employers, oftentimes in a fashion that leads to no further litigation.

Large-scale internal audits

Ben has worked on multiple extensive internal audits of multi-state and multi-national clients to review classification of employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act and other federal and state laws.

Defense of client in accidental death

Ben represented an energy services company that was investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the wake of an employee’s death. After a substantial review of the contractor’s facility and procedures, OSHA did not issue a single violation – an extremely rare result in a situation where an employee dies at a work site.

Collective bargaining

Ben has provided valuable assistance to clients on various aspects of collective bargaining, including assisting with contract negotiations for an advanced manufacturer that resulted in a labor agreement amenable to all sides.

Honors & Recognitions

  • "Rising Stars," Illinois Super Lawyers, 2014-2017

Professional Activities

  • Member, American Bar Association

Education

Admissions

Community Involvement

  • Erie Neighborhood House, Associate Board
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