R. Joseph (“Joe”) Stennis, Jr. is a member of Wyatt’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution Service Team. Joe’s primary practice area is employment law, where he defends employers against discrimination claims filed by current or former employees with either an agency (i.e. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, etc.) and/or actions filed in state/federal court. Joe has successfully defended his clients on multiple occasions against various employment claims which include (but are not limited to): wrongful termination; wage & hour (state and federal); employment based torts; ADA discrimination; ADEA discrimination; ERISA litigation; claims of discrimination pursuant to Title VII; and claims of discrimination pursuant to the Kentucky Civil Rights Act.  Joe has also been very successful in drafting and enforcing employee executed arbitration agreements in state and federal court actions that led to securing reasonable settlements in many, if not all, instances.

Whether it be aggressively negotiating a reasonable settlement during a mediation, or obtaining a successful judgment in court, Joe’s focus is always what is in the best interest of his clients to resolve an employment dispute as efficiently and effectively as possible.  He finds it very helpful and beneficial to treat each case with the upmost importance and urgency.  Additionally, Joe also has spoken on various employment topics and written several articles.  For example, he has presented on: how to address sexual harassment in the workplace; unconscious bias; the importance of engaging early on with the interactive process for an employee who has (or alleges to have) a disability; and EEOC updates and guidance to name a few.

In addition to his employment law practice, Joe frequently represents healthcare facilities in defending against medical malpractice claims.  He also handles construction litigation matters.  Lastly, Joe frequently defends companies and organizations against premises liability claims. 

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  • Assisted with representation of private construction owners, material suppliers and design professionals in various litigation matters as well as resolving disputes on their behalf with administrative agencies.
  • Represented clients with resolving disputes arising out of project and/or post-project completions regarding, among other things, defective design, training, and/or construction, prevailing wage issues, and other disputes.
  • Assisted with preparation and filing of dispositive motions in representation of large multinational conglomerate corporation in a hotel construction matter adverse to a subcontractor that led to resolution via the mediation process
  • Motion for Summary Judgment granted, Jefferson Circuit Court, regarding plaintiff’s state constitutional and Due Process claims, sect. 1983 claim, and vicarious liability.
  • Motion for Summary Judgment granted, Jefferson Circuit Court, regarding plaintiff’s race discrimination, racially hostile work environment, and retaliation claims.
  • Motion for Summary Judgment granted, U.S. Western District of Kentucky, regarding plaintiff’s due process, defamation and invasion of privacy claims.
  • Motion to Dismiss granted, Knox Circuit Court, regarding plaintiff’s wrongful termination and vicarious liability claims (affirmed on Appeal).
  • Motion for Summary Judgment granted, Jefferson Circuit Court, regarding plaintiff’s failure to promote claims.
  • Motion to Dismiss granted regarding plaintiff’s age and religious discrimination claims under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act as well as breach of an employment contract allegation (affirmed on Appeal).
  • Motion to Compel Arbitration granted, U.S. Western District of Kentucky, which contributed significantly to reaching settlement of plaintiffs’ employment discrimination claims.
  • Settled FLSA Wage and Hour claim filed in the U.S. Western District of Kentucky prior to certification of class action phase.
  • Second chaired quasi-arbitration hearings for local public school district.
  • Motion to Dismiss granted, Jefferson Circuit Court, regarding Plaintiff’s work injury claims. Dismissed on “exclusive remedy” grounds.


J.D., University of Louisville, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, 2007

  • Pirtle-Washer Moot Court Competition Winner
  • Journal of Law and Education, 2007

M.B.A., University of Louisville, 2001 (Finance and Entrepreneurship)

B.S., University of Louisville, 1996, (Accounting)


  • Kentucky
  • Wisconsin
  • United States Western District of Kentucky
  • United States Eastern District of Kentucky
  • United States Western District of Wisconsin


  • Kentucky Super Lawyers® in the area of Employment Litigation: Defense, 2024
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers® as “Ones to Watch” in Labor and Employment – Management, 2022-2024; Litigation – Labor & Employment, 2024
  • Recognized by his peers as a Kentucky Super Lawyers® Rising Star, 2013-2018


  • Reinhart, Boerner, Van Deuren, s.c., Milwaukee, WI, Attorney
  • Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP, Louisville, KY, Attorney
  • Kentucky Supreme Court, Frankfort, KY, Judicial Law Clerk for the Honorable Chief Justice Joseph Lambert
  • Fifth Third Bank KY, NA, Louisville, KY, Business Development Officer/Branch Manager/Investment Sales Representative
  • Chase Bank KY, NA, Louisville, KY, Branch Manager/Investment Sales Representative


  • Member of the Louisville Bar Association’s Board of Directors
  • Kentucky Bar Association
  • Louisville Bar Association, Labor & Employment Section
  • Louisville Black Lawyer’s Association (Past President and Board Member)
  • Legal Aid Society (former Board Member)
  • Member, Kentucky Defense Counsel, Inc.


  • Lincoln Foundation, Board Trustee
  • DRI’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee, Member
  • Community Foundation of Louisville, Development Stewardship Committee
  • The Metropolitan Housing Coalition, former Board Member
  • Ronald McDonald Charities of Kentucky, former Board Member
  • Woods of St. Thomas, Board Member


  • “Hot Topics in Employment Litigation,” Wyatt In-House Counsel Litigation Seminar, November 2023
  • Blog Article:  “DEI Programs at a Potential Legal Crossroads (or Not),” October 2023
  • “Employment Law Update,” Wyatt In-House Counsel Seminar, June 2023
  • Blog Article:  “Supreme Court to decide whether “Testers” have Standing in Discrimination Suits,” April 2023
  • “Employment Discrimination Case Law Update,” Wyatt Employment Law Update Seminar, April 2023
  • Blog Article:  “NLRB General Counsel Offers Guidance on severance Agreements,” March 2023
  • “Labor and Employment Update,” Kentucky Banker’s Association, March 2023
  • The Burden of Unconscious Bias on Diverse Lawyers and How to Fix the Problem,” In-House Defense Quarterly, December 2022
  • Presenter at Wyatt’s Litigation Seminar at the Botanical Gardens “Labor & employment Update: How to Avoid Ghouls and Goblins in the Workplace”
  • “Maintaining a Positive and Professional Environment: Harassments Prevention and Unconscious Bias Training 2022,” August, 2022
  • “Diversity, Inclusion, Unconscious Bias, and Discrimination-Claim Avoidance,” University of Kentucky Employment Law Institute. To view the presentation, click here.
  • Blog Article: “Employer’s Beware: Pre-Dispute Mandatory Arbitration of Workplace Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Claims Now Violates Federal Law,” March, 2022
  • “Employment Law Update: Managing the Workplace in the COVID Era,” Wyatt In-House Counsel Litigation Seminar, 2021. To view the presentation, click here.
  • “Discrimination Claims Prevention,” Wyatt Employment Law Seminar, 2021. To view the presentation, click here.
  • “Unconscious Bias in the Workplace and How to Confront the Issue,” 2021
  • Wyatt Employment Law Seminar, 2021
  • Payroll Professionals of Kentuckiana Employment Law Update, 2021
  • Society for Human Resource Management Employment Law Update, 2021
  • “Addressing Social Injustice:  What Law Students Can Do To Get Involved,” Brandeis School of Law, 2021
  • “Nuts & Bolts of the EEOC,” 25th Annual Conference for the Kentucky Association of School Human Resource Managers, 2019
  • “Prescription for Trouble:  Drug Testing in the Workplace,” Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s Society for Human Resource Managers Conference, 2019
  • “Matter of Pay Equity,” Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s Society for Human Resource Management Conference, 2018
  • Labor and Employment Update, Wyatt Employment Law Seminar, 2016 – 2018
  • Employment Law Mock Trial, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s Society for Human Resource Management Conference, 2015-2018
  • Payroll Professional of Kentuckiana Employment Law Update, 2017
  • “Protecting the Attorney-Client Privilege for In-House Counsel,” Wyatt In-House Counsel Institute, November 2014
  • Blog Article:  “6th Circuit Rules an Employer Violated Title VII by Terminating its Transgender Employee,” 2018
  • Blog Article:  “Student Athletes as Employees,” 2014
  • Blog Article:  “Private Employees Can Assert Retaliation,” 2014
  • Business First Article:  “Employers Beware!  Top 5 Wage and Hour Pitfalls to Avoid,” 2017
  • Blog Article:  “DOJ Drops Appeal on Obama Overtime Rule,” 2017