Donald Peder Johnsen


Donald Peder Johnsen

Don practices exclusively in the area of employment and labor law.  His experience is both broad and deep and includes advising and representing employers in such matters as employment discrimination and sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, breach of contract, wage and hour disputes, arbitrations, and labor practice charges.  He also advises on employee hiring, discipline, and discharge procedures, drug and alcohol testing, non-competition matters, and labor relations issues, as well as on all other employment-related policies and procedures.

Don’s clients include small and large companies alike.  Regardless of the complexity, size, or reach of the matter at hand, human resource staff and executives frequently consider Don to be a member of the core “team” when it comes to planning for, mitigating, managing, and defending employment claims.  A formidable advocate both in and out of court, Don is known for his persuasive arguments and honed negotiation skills when protecting his client’s bottom line.  Notably, he is valued for legal counsel that is streamlined, utilitarian, and effectual.

Committed to ensuring that each client’s goals drive the legal agenda, Don helps business professionals to understand and apply state and federal employment laws, rules, and regulations, which can be unclear and even contradictory.  He is at his best mitigating potential problems, assessing liability, partnering with clients, and assisting them to move beyond employment challenges by devising solutions that make a difference.

Don knows, from more than three decades of practice, that employee challenges are not always overcome with one-size-fits-all solutions.  As a result, he is appreciated for his creativity, natural people skills, and ability to navigate the often emotional side of employment conflicts.  His calming demeanor allows him to address and overcome serious acrimony while also being responsive to management when it comes to addressing other aspects of their day-to-day employment matters.

Recognized among the best of the best in employment and labor law, Don has been consecutively recognized as a Best Lawyer by Best Lawyers of America since 2007.  Before joining Gallagher & Kennedy, Don practiced employment and labor law with Faegre Drinker in Minneapolis.  He also served as a judicial clerk for the late Honorable Clement F. Haynsworth, Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit.

Representative Experience

Obtained $3,000,000 plaintiff’s verdict after a 5-day jury trial involving multiple claims for failure to pay wages, breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, fraud, and negligent misrepresentation. Jury awarded $600,000 in compensatory damages and $2,400,000 in punitive damages, with the potential for a treble damages statutory penalty.

Bar & Court Admissions

  • Arizona, 1987
  • Minnesota, 1988
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, 1987
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, 1988
  • U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, 1989
  • U.S. District Court, District of Arizona, 1993
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, 1996
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 2006
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, 2009

Associations & Memberships

  • State Bar of Arizona, Member
  • State Bar of Arizona, Employment and Labor Law Section, Member
  • Minnesota State Bar Association, Member
  • Minnesota State Bar, Employment and Labor Law Section, Member

Honors & Awards

  • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating, Martindale-Hubbell
  • Best Lawyers in America®, Employment Law - Management; Litigation - Labor and Employment, 2007-2024
  • Southwest Super Lawyers®, Employment & Labor, 2021-2023
  • Benchmark Litigation, Local Litigation Star - Arizona, Employment, 2015-2022
  • Arizona's Finest Lawyers, 2011
  • Az Business Magazine, Arizona's Top Lawyers - Employment/Labor, 2013

Published Works

  • Impeachment with an Unsworn Prior Inconsistent Statement as Subterfuge, 28 William and Mary Law Review 295, 1987

Press Releases

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