John J. Michels, Jr.


  • location icon Denver, CO
    1700 Lincoln Street
    Suite 4000
    Denver, CO 80203
  • location icon Chicago, IL
    550 West Adams Street
    Suite 300
    Chicago, IL 60661
  • location icon Colorado Springs, CO
    1755 Telstar Drive
    Suite 300
    Colorado Springs, CO 80920

John "Lou" Michels is a partner in the Denver (*not yet licensed in Colorado) office of Lewis Brisbois and a member of the Labor & Employment Practice. He has worked in every aspect of labor and employment law, from advising clients on basic human resource issues through all aspects of litigation before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, local and state fair employment practice agencies, the National Labor Relations Board, and state and federal courts.

In the course of his work, he has developed particular expertise in dealing with the employment and labor issues surrounding the formation and operation of high-tech companies, particularly in such areas as non-compete agreements, corporate reorganizations, and information and privacy issues in the digital workplace. In addition to his work with technology companies, Mr. Michels has extensive experience dealing with employment related issues in the healthcare industry, including professional licensing, whistleblower, and federal contractor compliance. Mr. Michels has also litigated wage and hour and compensation cases, including FLSA class actions involving hundreds of claimants, employee misclassification cases, fluctuating workweek and overtime miscalculation claims, independent contractor classification matters, ERISA and Equal Pay Act cases. Additionally, Mr. Michels has defended attorneys against claims arising from performance of their professional duties. His Air Force Reserve background gives him particular expertise in matters concerning active duty and reserve component service members, including USERRA and veterans issues.

Mr. Michels has advised clients on financing and transactional issues associated with major sports projects and events. He has written articles for a variety of publications relating to employment issues. He also has experience in international business transactions in Russia. Mr. Michels is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel with some 2,700 hours of flying time.


  • "U.S. v. Brice: Command Policy or Command Influence,” JAG Journal, April 1985
  • “The Government Contracts Defense Following Boyle,” 33 Air Force Law Review, 1990
  • “The Long Reach of the NLRA,” Legal Times, June 1996
  • “Declaring a Truce by Other Means,” Legal Times, May 12, 1997
  • “The Anthrax Vaccine Controversy,” Virginia Lawyer, December 2001
  • “U.S. Supreme Court Rewrites Employment Standards,” ABA Litigation Employment and Labor Relations Law Section, July, 2009
  • International Labor and Employment Laws, Chapter Contributor, BNA Books, 1999
  • Discipline and Discharge in Arbitration, Contributing Editor, BNA Books, 2001
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Law, Chapter Editor, BNA Books, 2010

Selected Association of Corporate Counsel Newsstand Publications:

  • “The Long Arm of the EEOC,” November 2009
  • “New Worries with Social Media for Employers,” January 2010 (reprinted in Cyberspace Lawyer, March 2010)
  • “New Illinois Law Prohibits Employer Credit Checks in Hiring,” August 2010 (reprinted in BNA International World Data Protection Report, September 2010)
  • “An OFCCP by Another Name-Dodd-Frank’s Office of Minority and Women Inclusion,” July 2010

Selected Articles:

  • “Employers Urged to Tread Carefully When Investigating Workers Web Posts,” (quoted), Daily Labor Report, July 10, 2009    
  • “Mixed Motive Liability Under the ADAAA,” (quoted), Disability Compliance Bulletin, December 16, 2010                                                                    
  • “Attorneys Brace for Surge in Sex Bias Class Actions,” (quoted), Employment Law 360, November 23, 2010
  • “Dealing With Pandemics in the Workplace: a Global Perspective,” BakerMcKenzie webinar, May 2009            
  • “Facing Down Facebook: Social Networking in the Workplace,” Illinois Chamber of Commerce, February 22, 2011
  • “Dealing with Religious Accommodation in the Workplace,” BNA HR Audio Conferences, September 14, 2006
  • “Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance Issues”, BNA HR Audio Conferences, May 12, 2005
  • “What You Should Know About Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblowing,” BNA HR Audio Conferences, April 28, 2005
  • “How to Avoid Sexual Harassment Claims,” BNA HR Audio Conferences, March 31, 2005
  • “When Your Employees Receive Marching Orders: What You Should Know about Military Leave Law,” BNA HR Audio Conferences, November 9, 2004

Military Service

Mr. Michels entered active duty as a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy in June 1973, and was commissioned on graduation in June 1977. He had approximately 2,700 hours of flying time with Strategic Air Command before attending Duke University Law School under an Air Force funded program. He served as an active duty judge advocate in Japan, New Mexico, and Alabama, and retired as a lieutenant colonel from the Air Force Reserve in 2003.


  • State Bar Admissions
    • District of Columbia
    • Illinois
    • Tennessee




District of Columbia


  • Illinois Bar Association
  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Tennessee Bar Association
  • District of Columbia Bar Association
  • USAF Academy Association of Graduates

Awards & Honors

Illinois Super Lawyer, 2006-2016


Duke University School of Law

Juris Doctor, cum laude, 1985

United States Air Force Academy

Bachelor of Science, magna cum laude, 1977

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