Dennis Johnson

Dennis P.W. Johnson

Of Counsel

Dennis Johnson is Of Counsel with Pugh, Jones & Johnson. For more than 35 years, Dennis Johnson has represented businesses in healthcare, commercial and employment cases in trials and appeals in federal and state courts, arbitration hearings, administrative agency proceedings and investigations.

Dennis's recent experience includes internal investigations, including a nationally prominent investigation of claimed racial harassment in college basketball.  He also has recently defended arbitrations of managed care contract disputes for a major insurer.  He has defended ERISA and employment cases ranging from national class actions to individual claims, and has handled cases concerning preemption, exhaustion, recovery of fraudulently billed amounts and plan documentation issues. 

Dennis has defended suits by employees and competitors arising from mergers, acquisitions and franchising agreements, and tried wrongful death cases.  His employment experience also includes successful trials of various discrimination suits; workplace and campus harassment and sexual violence claims; other workplace violence claims; whistleblower and retaliation claims; FMLA suits; and restrictive covenant and trade secret claims.  Dennis also has defended constitutional claims, Section 1983, antitrust, securities and RICO suits.

Prior to joining the Firm in 1992, Dennis was an equity partner in the Chicago law firm of Bell, Boyd & Lloyd.  He has been a volunteer in the Settlement Assistance Program in the Northern District of Illinois through the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under Law; has volunteered with Chicago Volunteer Legal Services; and is a member of the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.

Dennis repeatedly has been selected as a Leading Lawyer, and also has been named an Illinois Super Lawyer, Top Rated Lawyer in Labor and Employment, and Top Rated Midwest Lawyer.  He received the Award for Excellence in Pro Bono Service (2010), presented by Judges of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. 

Dennis has represented Illinois colleges and universities for more than a decade in federal trials, the Illinois Court of Claims, Circuit and Appellate Court, internal investigations and federal and state administrative agencies.  He also has defended insurance and manufacturing clients in commercial arbitration hearings and federal trials.  His other clients include a public utility, a major wireless communications company, not-for-profit service providers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, consulting, outsourcing, advertising and specialty construction firms in federal employment claims and in labor arbitrations.


  • Led a major investigation for a Big Ten University into highly publicized allegations of hostile racial environment and abusive coaching in its Women's Basketball Program.
  • Defended client insurance company in private arbitrations involving hospital providers’ claims under managed care contracts, and ERISA benefit claims.
  • Successfully defended retaliatory discharge and whistleblower suits by employees who claimed violations of the Sarbanes Oxley Act, Illinois State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, Illinois Workers Compensation Act and various civil rights and discrimination statutes.
  • Defended employment discrimination claims alleging race, age, gender, pregnancy and disability claims as well as FMLA, reductions in force, national origin and Section 1983 claims.
  • Successfully defended employers who terminated employees for making threats of violence in the workplace.
  • Represented manufacturer in private commercial arbitration of claims against selling shareholders for fraud and breach of warranties in stock purchase agreement and defended claims for breach of employment contracts by executives of acquired company.
  • Won and successfully preserved multiple summary judgment rulings on appeal in age/reduction in force cases by extending “same decision maker” doctrine in the Seventh Circuit.

Service and Memberships

  • American Bar Association (Litigation, Healthcare, Labor and Employment Sections)
  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Illinois State Bar Association


  • Speaker, Chicago Bar Association CLE on Class Actions in Employment Cases.
  • Speaker, Chicago Bar Association Labor and Employment Committee meetings, on burden of proof issues in employment discrimination cases and mental disabilities under the ADA.
  • Speaker, New York University annual seminar for Federal Judges concerning causation issues in employment litigation and techniques for handling jurors' use of social media during trial.