Photo of John Sheller

John O. Sheller

Member , Louisville KY


John O. Sheller

Member , Louisville KY

John is a Member in Stoll Keenon Ogden’s Louisville office and has been with the firm since 2007. He has a track record of success in Labor and Employment Law spanning 35 years and is honored to serve as Chair of the Kentucky State Labor Relations Board, which resolves disputes between public employers and their labor organizations.

He is responsible for creating binding legal precedent entitling employers to secure indemnity from other parties in harassment or retaliation cases. He has also established legal precedent holding that the claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress is preempted by statute. In a class discrimination case, he prevailed in challenging a claim brought by the federal government that women were categorically excluded from coal mining jobs.

For his many accomplishments, John has been distinguished with multiple local, state, and national recognitions, including more than eight consecutive years of being listed in the Best Lawyers in America® peer-review publication.

Labor, Employment & Employee Benefits: John’s extensive experience encompasses the full breadth of employment law, including traditional labor law, claims of harassment and retaliation, breach of contract disputes, and enforcement of trade secrets.

Appellate: Once a trial court decision has been made, John is fully prepared to take cases to court at the state or federal level as necessary to obtain a satisfactory resolution. He has obtained favorable verdicts for both appellants and appellees.


Indiana University, 1984, J.D., cum laude

Ball State University, 1981, B.A., summa cum laude


Admitted In

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky

  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana

  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas

  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana

  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Kentucky

  • U.S. Supreme Court

  • Pro Hac Vice: Approximately 25 courts in 12 states

  • Indiana

  • Kentucky

  • Texas

Professional & Community Activities

  • Louisville Bar Association

  • Kentucky Bar Association

  • Indiana Bar Association

  • Texas Bar Association

  • Louisville Bar Foundation

  • State Labor Relations Board, Chair

  • Federalist Society

  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Board Member, 2008-2019

  • Louisville Metro Animal Services Spot Board, Board Member, 2011-2018

  • Disabled American Veterans, Supporter

  • Sunrise Children’s Services, Contributor

  • Federalist Society, Member

  • Christian Legal Society, Contributor/Supporter


  • AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®

  • The Best Lawyers in America®, Employment Law — Management, Labor Law — Management, and Litigation — Labor and Employment, 2010 – present

  • Kentucky Super Lawyers® Honoree, 2013 – 2023

  • Louisville Magazine Top Lawyer, Labor & Employment Law, 2012; Labor & Employment Law – Defense, 2013 and 2014

  • Chambers USA, Leading Lawyer for Business, Labor & Employment, 2014 – 2016

  • Responsible for creating binding legal precedent entitling employers to secure indemnity from other parties in discrimination, harassment, or retaliation cases.

  • Successful in preserving constitutional and statutory right of private membership clubs to select their own members without adverse tax consequences.

  • Established legal precedent holding that claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress or outrage is preempted by statute.

  • Prevailed in class discrimination case brought by federal government seeking to establish that women were categorically excluded from coal mining jobs.

  • Succeeded in preventing ACLU and similar organizations from using courts to create judicial amendment expanding Civil Rights Acts beyond their terms.

  • Established legal precedent recognizing civil rights act exemption for national veterans organization.

Work Highlights

  • Breach of Contract

    SKO represented an insurance company that was being sued in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky by a paper products manufacturer for breach of an insurance contract. The manufacturer alleged that it had proven a covered loss under an employee theft policy and the insurer disagreed and denied many elements of the claim. At the trial court level, the manufacturer willfully violated multiple discovery orders and the court dismissed the manufacturer’s claims as a sanction. After the dismissal, the trial court denied the insurer’s motion for fees incurred litigating the dispute. The manufacturer appealed the trial court’s denial to the Sixth Circuit and the insurer cross-appealed the denial of fees. After briefing on the first appeal had concluded, the parties resolved all matters amicably. While the case did not result in an appellate decision, SKO was successful in preserving an important district court opinion levying a rare dismissal sanction for discovery misconduct.

  • Workers’ Compensation Retaliation

    SKO represented a manufacturer and distributor of auto supplies that was sued for workers’ compensation retaliation under the Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Act, KRS Chapter 342. The United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky entered summary judgment in favor of the manufacturer, from which the plaintiff did not appeal.

  • Sexual Orientation Discrimination Claim

    SKO represented a nonprofit in a suit brought by two women who claimed that they were victims of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The individuals sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Kentucky Civil Rights Act. The nonprofit moved to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The gravamen of the motion to dismiss was that the plaintiffs could not state a claim for religious discrimination without at least contending that their own religious views or practices were adversely affected in some way. The motion was vigorously opposed by plaintiffs and their advocates. The United States District Court granted the nonprofit’s motion to dismiss in a published opinion that adopted SKO’s argument. A panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit unanimously affirmed the dismissal on the same rationale in another published opinion. Petitions for en banc review by the full Sixth Circuit and for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court were later denied.


  • Breach of Contract, Fiduciary Duty & Trade Secrets Law

    SKO represented four employees of an asset management firm who sought new employment at a bank and were sued by the asset firm to enjoin them from working for the bank. These employees were also sued for alleged breaches of contract, fiduciary duty, trade secrets law, and other torts. The four managers countersued the asset firm, contending that their 12-month resignation notice period was, in effect, an implied and improper non-compete provision because the employer would not let them perform their regular job duties during the notice period. The Federal District Court, following trial-like evidentiary hearings after expedited discovery, permitted the four employees to work for the bank without requiring them to serve their 12-month notice period. This successful injunction phase then precipitated almost five years of litigation concerning the alleged damages sustained by the asset firm due to the alleged “raid” of the four investment managers and some of their colleagues. After SKO had the case dismissed from the Federal District Court on jurisdictional grounds, the asset firm re-filed the suit in New York state court. After years of additional discovery and other motion practice, including battles over experts and their testimony, cross-motions for summary judgment were filed, and the case was poised for trial. Less than 10 days before trial, the case as dismissed with no payment by SKO clients.


    • Arbitration Update and a #METOO World, Association of Corporate Counsel, Speaker, 2019
    • Advanced Employment Law: Confidently Tackle Advanced Employment Disputes, National Business Institute, 2016
    • Human Resource Management: How a Successful Workplace Can Lead to a Successful Business, Nonprofit Conference sponsored by the Kentucky Society of CPAs and the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, 2011
    • Dealing with the Sexual Harassment Claim in Kentucky, National Education Network
    • Legal Issues Arising from Workforce Reductions, Lorman Education Services
    • Covenants Not To Compete, Lorman Education Services
    • Update on Employment Law and Litigation Strategies, Louisville Bar Association
    • Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution, University of Louisville
    • Litigating a Sexual Harassment Case, Louisville Bar Association
    • Employee Discharge and Documentation, Lorman Business Center
Contact John Today

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