Justin D. Cummins

Justin D. Cummins

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Employment Litigation Attorney in Minneapolis, MN

Cummins & Cummins, LLP
 | 920 Second Avenue South, Suite 1245
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Phone: 612-465-0108
Fax: 612-465-0109
Selected To Super Lawyers: 2010 - 2020
Selected To Rising Stars: 2002, 2006 - 2009
Licensed Since: 1997
Practice Areas:
  • Employment Litigation: Plaintiff (40%),
  • Employment & Labor: Employee (30%),
  • Civil Rights (30%)
Languages Spoken:
  • English,
  • Spanish
    Attorney Profile

    Justin Cummins prosecutes cases of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in employment, housing, and other areas. He also litigates constitutional, wage‑and‑hour, non-compete, and prevailing‑wage cases, and Justin provides strategic advice to individuals and organizations in non‑litigation as well as contractual matters. He has obtained multiple judgments in excess of $1 million on behalf of his clients.  Such results include a $6 million judgment in a discrimination and wage case Justin prosecuted regarding a class of Latino, immigrants employed in the construction industry as well as the largest judgment reportedly ever obtained in a housing discrimination case for a Minnesota family. Justin is past Chair of the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Labor & Employment Law Section and a past Officer of the National Employment Lawyers Association’s Eighth Circuit and Minnesota Boards. He has taught courses on employment law and civil rights litigation at the University of Minnesota Law School and Mitchell Hamline School of Law, and he spearheaded the development of the Workers’ Rights Clinic at the University of Minnesota. Minnesota Lawyer and other commentators have recognized Justin as one of Minnesota’s top attorneys.

    About Justin Cummins

    Admitted: 1997, Minnesota

    Professional Webpage: https://www.cummins-law.com/attorneys/justin-d-cummins


    • Attorney of the Year Award, Minnesota Lawyer
    • Karla R. Wahl Dedicated Advocacy Award, National Employment Lawyers Association - Minnesota Chapter
    • Building Community Award, Aeon
    • Top Attorney of North America Award, Who's Who - Top Professionals
    • Leadership Award, Minnesota State Bar Association, Labor & Employment Law Section
    • Lifetime Achievement, America's Top 100 Attorneys

    Special Licenses/Certifications:

    • MSBA Board Certified Labor & Employment Law Specialist

    Bar/Professional Activity:

    • Past Officer, National Employment Lawyers Association Eighth Circuit and Minnesota Boards
    • Advisory Board Member (Minneapolis-St. Paul Chapter) - American Constitution Society for Law and Policy
    • Past Chair, Minnesota State Bar Association Labor & Employment Law Section
    • Speaker, Annual Employment Law Institute
    • Planning Committee Member and Speaker, Annual Labor & Employment Law Institute
    • Amicus Committee Member, Minnesota Association for Justice

    Pro bono/Community Service:

    • Advisory Board Member and Past Governing Board Chair, Aeon

    Scholarly Lectures/Writings:

    • Anti-Discrimination, Anti-Retaliation, And Anti-Harassment Provisions Under Disability Law, in The ADA Handbook:  Practices Under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 2nd Edition (Carl C. Lehmann, et al., eds. 2020)
    • Judicial Control And Sanctions, in Federal District of Minnesota Civil Practice Deskbook, 2nd Edition (David R. Crosby & Mary E. Schwind, eds. 2017)
    • "Toward Systemic Equality:  Reinvigorating A Progressive Application Of The Disparate Impact Doctrine," 43 Mitchell Hamline L. Rev. 102 (2017)
    • "The Law Regarding Employer And Employee Identity As A Roadmap For More Effective Prosecution Of Work-Related Claims," The Prairie Barrister (Spring 2016)
    • "Dispositive Motions In Civil Rights Cases:  Supreme Court Addresses Overuse," Hennepin Lawyer (May/June 2015)
    • "The National Labor Relations Act," in The Employment Law 60:  The 60 Cases Every Employment Lawyer Must Know Inside And Out (2014)
    • Judicial Control And Sanctions, in Federal District of Minnesota Civil Practice Deskbook (David R. Crosby and Mary E. Schwind, eds. 2014)
    • Anti-Discrimination, Anti-Retaliation, And Anti-Harassment Provisions Under Disability Law, in The ADA Handbook: Employment Practices Under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (Carl C. Lehmann, et al., eds. 2013)
    • "Overcoming Obstacles To Prosecuting Employment Discrimination Claims In The Twenty-First Century," in Inside The Minds:  Representing Employees In Discrimination Cases (2012)
    • "The Promise of the Minnesota Human Rights Act Denied:  Kreuger v. Zeman Construction Company.4 Wm. Mitchell J. L. & P. 4 (2011) (with Leslie Lienemann)
    • “The Law Against Harassment" and "The Law Against Retaliation," in Employment Law Handbook, 5th Edition (Judith K. Schermer, ed. 2008)
    • “ERISA Reform in a Post-Enron World," 39 J. Marshall L. Rev. 563 (2006) (with Meg Luger-Nikolai) (featured in a symposium on jurisprudential and legislative developoments regarding the Employee Retirement Income Security Act)
    • “Invigorating Labor:  A Human Rights Approach in the United States," 19 Emory Int'l L. Rev. 1 (2005) (featured in a symposium hosted by The Carter Center and The World Law Institute)
    • "Taking the Fork in the Road," 29 Wm. Mitchell L. Rev. (with Brendan D. Cummins) (2003)
    • “Housing Matters:  Why Our Communities Must Have Affordable Housing,” 28 Wm. Mitchell L. Rev. 197 (2001) (featured in the symposium entitled Public Interest Law:  Improving Access to Justice)
    • “Refashioning the Disparate Treatment and Disparate Impact Doctrines in Theory and in Practice,” 41 Howard L.J. 455 (1998) (reprinted in The Employee Advocate (Spring 1999))
    • “La mediación del conflicto constitucional entre la libertad y la igualdad:  lo que tenemos que hacer acerca de la expresión de odio,” 3 Rev. Jur. Palermo 149 (1998)
    • “Recasting Fair Share:  Toward Effective Housing Law and Principled Social Policy,” 14 Law & Ineq. 339 (1996)
    • "Employment Law Report," Minnesota Trial (published quarterly)
    • Adjunct Associate Professor of Civil Rights Law and Labor Law, University of Minnesota Law School
    • Adjunct Associate Professor of Civil Rights Law, William Mitchell College of Law


    • Obtained over $15 million in judgments, awards, and other recoveries on behalf of clients to date.

    Other Outstanding Achievements:

    • Prepared and submitted successful amicus curiae briefs in landmark cases decided by both Federal and State appellate courts.  See, e.g., Greene v. Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services, 948 N.W.2d 675 (Minn. 2020) (ruling that neither the Minnesota Public Employment Labor Relations Act nor the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act enables parties seeking decertification of a labor organization to obtain the contact information of bargaining-unit employees because such data about public employees is private); Minnesota Chamber of Commerce v. City of Minneapolis, 944 N.W.2d 441 (Minn. 2020) (affirming that Minneapolis has the authority to adopt and enforce an ordinance that requires all employers, even when they have no physical presence within the city’s boundaries, to provide paid sick leave to employees working in the city); Kenneh v. Homeward Bound, Inc., 944 N.W.2d 222 (Minn. 2020) (reversing summary judgment for the employer and ruling that harassment claims must be analyzed under a liberal standard – which considers the totality of the circumstances in each case and “must evolve to reflect changes in societal attitudes towards what is acceptable behavior” – and, moreover, that harassment claims ordinarily must be decided via trial rather than summary judgment); Friedlander v. Edwards Lifesciences, LLC, 900 N.W.2d 162 (Minn. 2017) (confirming that protected activity under State whistleblower law need not be for the purpose of exposing an illegality and, moreover, that a good-faith whistleblower report means a report that is not false or recklessly disregarding the truth); Sanchez v. Dahlke Trailer Sales, Inc., 897 N.W.2d 267 (Minn. 2017) (holding that undocumented employees can successfully prosecute workers' compensation retaliation claims despite admitting that they do not have authorization to work in the United States); Ford v. Minneapolis Public Schools, 874 N.W.2d 231 (Minn. 2016) (affirming that the limitations period for whistleblower claims under State law is 6 years); LaMont v. Independent School Dist. No. 728, 814 N.W.2d 14 (Minn.  2012) (establishing that harassment need not be overtly sexual, racial, and so forth in order to create a hostile environment); Goodman v. Best Buy, Inc., 777 N.W.2d 755 (Minn. 2010)  (in a case of first impression, ruling that the tolling provision of the limitations period applicable to civil rights claims will be construed liberally); Rivera v. NIBCO, Inc., 364 F.3d 1057 (2004), cert. denied 544 U.S. 905 (2004) (prohibiting discovery into the immigration status of plaintiffs pursuing claims of national origin discrimination).
    • Expanded the reach and protections under employment and civil rights statutes.  See, e.g., Sandoval v. Am. Bldg. Maint. Indus., Inc., 578 F.3d 787, rhrg. and rhrg. en banc denied 578 F.3d 787 (8th Cir. 2009) (rejecting a narrow definition of employer for liability purposes and, moreover, ruling that other-acts evidence – of which plaintiffs are unaware – is “highly relevant” to whether the workplace is hostile for harassment analysis and whether the employer knew or should have known about the harassment alleged by plaintiffs); SternJohn v. Kreisler, 238 F.Supp.2d 1104 (D. Minn. 2005) (articulating a liberal standard for applying the statute of limitations in housing discrimination cases and denying summary judgment on the merits); Ordahl v. Forward Tech. Indus., Inc., 301 F.Supp.2d 1022 (D. Minn. 2004) (ruling that evidentiary standard under State law is lower than Federal law and denying summary judgment for the employer in a disability discrimination case).
    • Further developed labor law doctrine established by the United States Supreme Court. See, e.g., Bierman v. Dayton, 900 F.3d 570, rhrg. and rhrg. en banc denied 900 F.3d 570 (8th Cir. 2018), cert. denied 139 S.Ct. 2043 (2019) (upholding the constitutionality of exclusive representation by labor unions under the Minnesota Public Employment Labor Relations Act); Gerhardson v. Gopher News Co., 698 F.3d 1052 (8th Cir. 2012) (applying Garmon preemption broadly and dismissing the employer’s State-law fraud claims); Trustees of the Twin Cities Bricklayers Fringe Benefits Funds v. Superior Waterproofing, Inc., 450 F.3d 324, rhrg. and rhrg. en banc denied 450 F.3d 324 (8th Cir. 2006) (expanding the application of Section 301 preemption to State law claims); Int'l Ass'n of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transport. Local Union No. 10 v. A-1 Refrigeration of Hibbing, Inc., 447 F.Supp.3d 844 (D. Minn. 2020) (ruling after trial in the case that the arbitration award against the employer must be enforced – even though the employer never signed the contract underlying the arbitration award – because the employer was bound by the contract through the employer’s conduct consistent with the contract); Fiend, Inc. v. International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, 827 F.Supp.2d 1030 (D. Minn. 2011) (ruling that a request for an injunction to stay arbitration is a "labor dispute" for purposes of the Norris-LaGuardia Act and that the employer did not satisfy the Act's stringent requirements).

    Educational Background:

    • M.A. in Public Policy, Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Minneapolis, Minnesota
    • Undergraduate school semester abroad, University of London, London, England
    • J.D., University of Minnesota Law School, Minneapolis, Minnesota
    • B.A. in History, Haverford College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Law school semester abroad, Universidad de Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina

    Industry Groups

    • AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee
    • American Association For Justice
    • American Constitution Society For Law And Policy
    • National Employment Lawyers Association
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    Office Location for Justin D. Cummins

    920 Second Avenue South
    Suite 1245
    Minneapolis, MN 55402

    Justin D. Cummins:

    Last Updated: 5/28/2020

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