John S. Gilliam is a senior attorney in the firm's Labor and Employment Law Practice Group who focuses his practice primarily in the area of employment law, including litigation involving alleged discrimination, retaliation and civil rights claims brought under state and federal statutes.

Mr. Gilliam represents and advises municipalities, private sector employers and their insurance providers on various employment-related issues. He assists clients with drafting and enforcing employment policies and contractual agreements, including covenants not to compete and severance agreements. His practice also includes the representation of clients before the American Arbitration Association, the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

In addition, Mr. Gilliam represents clients in a variety of commercial matters ranging from breach of contract to insurance coverage to general business disputes. He has significant experience defending personal injury claims, and he focuses a portion of his practice on the representation of retail establishments in premises liability actions.

Representative Client Work

  • Defends employment and labor cases for employers, insurance companies, townships, and municipalities
  • Counsels clients on corporate policies and procedures, contract negotiations and human resource actions, including hiring, employee discipline and termination of employment
  • Defends employers against charges filed with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Michigan Department of Civil Rights, and Ohio Civil Rights Commission
  • Drafts and reviews contracts, employment policies and legal filings, as well as corporate procedures such as non-compete, confidentiality and separation agreements
  • Investigates workplace reports of discrimination and harassment, draft and present reports and recommendations
  • Provides training for clients and staff on such legal issues as discrimination, harassment, hiring and firing, hostile work environments, trends in employment law and workplace violence

Notable Cases

  • Ward v JKP Investments, LLC, WL 293332 (Ct. App. Ky. 2015)

Professional Affiliations

  • Kentucky Bar Association
  • State Bar of Michigan (Professionalism & Civility Committee, 2023 - 2024; Public Outreach Committee, 2023-2024) 
  • Ohio State Bar Association 
  • Detroit SHRM (Legal Affairs Committee)


  • “Harassment U” - We Major in Violating Employment Law Best Practices, Panelist, Plunkett Cooney's Labor & Employment Law Practice Group Seminar, Detroit Marriott Troy, Nov. 17, 2023
  • "The Employment Law Lab - Analyzing Employee Leaves and Accommodations," Plunkett Cooney's Labor & Employment Law Practice Group Seminar, MSU Management Education Center, June 14, 2023
  • “SCARE-tober: Urban Legends or Realities of the Workplace?,” Plunkett Cooney's Labor & Employment Law Practice Group Seminar, Detroit Marriott Troy, Oct. 27, 2022
  • "Remote Control - Ensuring Policy Compliance in Today’s Virtual Workplace," Plunkett Cooney's Labor & Employment Law Practice Group Webinar, Mar. 16, 2011



  • University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, J.D., 2011
  • Duke University, B.A., 2006


  • Kentucky, 2011
  • Michigan, 2017
  • Ohio, 2019
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Kentucky, 2016
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, 2018
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan, 2018
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, 2019


Honors & Recognitions

  • Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America™ – Commercial Litigation, Labor and Employment Law – Management, Litigation – Labor and Employment, Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants, Professional Malpractice Law, 2023 - 2024
  • Michigan Super Lawyer Rising Star in Employment Litigation Defense; Michigan Super Lawyers, 2023
  • Michigan Super Lawyers Rising Stars in Civil Litigation: Defense, Michigan Super Lawyers, 2022


Speaking Engagements

Blog Posts