Discrimination (Race, age, gender, disability, religion and national origin)
A number of federal statutes make it unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees with respect to the terms and conditions of employment on the basis of race (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964), age (the Age Discrimination in Employment Act), gender (Title VII), disability (the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act), religion (Title VII) and national origin (Title VII). There are also state laws making such conduct unlawful. Discrimination claims often involve agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission or the Ohio Civil Rights Commission before proceeding to court. We have experience handling all manner of discrimination claims before state and federal courts and agencies.
Labor and Employment Matters
The employment relationship is covered by more than anti-discrimination statutes. The following are just a few of the areas with which we regularly deal:
Many employers utilize non-compete agreements to try to limit an employee's activity after the employment relationship ends. Depending upon the circumstances in which such an agreement is implemented and its terms, such agreements may or may not be enforceable. We have experience in the negotiation of these disputes, but have also been successful in defending against their enforcement.
For many employees, a federal statute (the Fair Labor Standards Act) mandates overtime pay (i.e., time and one-half) for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per work week. However, the law provides a variety of exemptions from the overtime pay requirements. Whether or not an employer is entitled to an exemption or is properly computing the amount of overtime pay is often the subject of dispute. Our firm has many years of experience in litigating employee claims for compensation.
Family and Medical Leave
Under federal law, mid-sized and larger employers must provide qualifying employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child or for a serious health condition of the employee or specified members of the employee's family. Disputes often arise about whether an employee is entitled to leave, as well as the employee's right to return to his or her position. Our many FMLA cases have included entitlement, reinstatement and retaliation claims.
Ohio has enacted a statue to protect employees who raise concerns about violations of law or issues of public safety from retaliation. The protection afforded by the Ohio Whistleblower law is limited to specific circumstances and must in most instances be invoked by reporting concerns in writing. In some instances Whistleblowers may be protected by Ohio's tort law. Accordingly, employees with such concerns should seek counsel to ensure their rights and their jobs are protected.
Collective Bargaining and Grevance Arbitration
Employees covered by collective bargaining agreements are often entitled to file and pursue grievance procedures for violation of the contract. In such cases, unions are obligated to fulfill their “duty of fair representation” to covered employees.
Employees who are employed pursuant to an employment contract are entitled to enforcement of that contract's provisions including compensation and termination restrictions. In some instances, implied contracts are created in the course of dealings between employer and employee. Like express contracts, implied contracts are also enforceable through a breach of contract suit. Employees may also be liable to enforce employer promises upon which they have reasonably relied through the claim of promissory estoppel. We have experience with all of the above claims.
Class Action Litigation
Some claims affect a number of people in ways that are common to all. In those circumstances, a single action may be brought on behalf of all of those who have similar claims. Class actions can be successfully prosecuted in instances of employment discrimination, pension and benefit law, and business and commercial disputes.
A related vehicle, the collective action, is available in cases involving age discrimination (ADEA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Our firm is experienced in handling both sorts of actions.