Employment & Labor


As an employer, you know that human capital is one of the most valuable resources and biggest expenses for your organization. Ulmer & Berne recognizes this reality and combines this understanding with one of the strongest and most comprehensive employment practices available to best serve organizations.

With more than 20 attorneys representing private and public organizations across the U.S., we provide employers the full spectrum of employment and labor representation, ranging from proactive counseling to the defense of the most complex litigation matters, including claims involving allegations of wrongful termination and FLSA, OSHA, and ERISA non-compliance.

Ulmer & Berne’s employment and labor lawyers counsel clients in the panoply of employment and labor challenges to businesses and organizations. We have substantial experience providing guidance in or solutions to such matters as:

As any client knows, however, the best time to seek counsel in employment and labor matters is before problems occur, when policies and procedures need to be developed and implemented; that is the most cost-effective time to address employment needs. Knowing that a proactive approach is best, Ulmer & Berne attorneys counsel clients on employee handbook and policy development, train personnel and conduct compliance audits, and guide employers through the labyrinth of public policy regulations which can change frequently. An employer that is unaware or unfamiliar with emerging requirements needs the up-to-date knowledge, understanding and expertise that our attorneys provide.

When disputes arise, the extensive experience of Ulmer & Berne’s employment and labor attorneys in trying and defending claims at all administrative and judicial levels and venues enables us to partner with our clients in resolving these disputes in the client’s best interest. We regularly represent our clients before state and federal agencies and in state and federal courts, including many federal Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Ohio. In addition, we regularly represent clients before the National Labor Relations Board, the National Association of Securities Dealers and the Ohio State Employment Relations Board. More importantly, however, is that Ulmer & Berne attorneys are regularly retained to handle complex, often novel legal situations that employers face including class actions.

David Leopold, Chair of Ulmer’s Immigration Law group, was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered on September 6, 2017, discussing the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Leopold explains, among other things, that so-called “Dreamers,” even those with advance parole documents, should avoid...

Stephanie Dutchess Trudeau contributed analysis to a recent Crain’s Cleveland Business article focusing on how Ohio employers are addressing medical marijuana issues. With conflicting state and federal laws on the subject, and an implementation date of September 2018, proactively planning for new medical marijuana policies has been challenging for many companies. If...

An employer’s ability to refuse to accommodate an employee’s use of medical marijuana because it is a federal crime has been undermined by a court this week. A Massachusetts court ruled “The fact that the employee’s possession of medical marijuana is in violation of federal law does not make it...

Starting on July 1, 2017, every employer with at least one employee must provide paid sick leave to every employee who works at least eighty hours within a one-hundred-twenty day period (or twenty hours per month). This law applies to every business or individual with a facility within Chicago’s city...

Cincinnati-based partner Robin D. Miller has been named by corporate counsel to the BTI Client Service All-Stars 2017 published by BTI Consulting Group. The honor extends to a select group of elite attorneys who are identified as providing the absolute best in client service. According to BTI, Client Service All-Stars...

Legalization of medical marijuana requires action if employers want to prevent misunderstandings in the workplace over whether workers may use medical marijuana, or be disciplined for it. While many employers have existing policies prohibiting drug use, those policies probably do not discuss medical marijuana. If the policy prohibits illegal drug...

With the December 1 effective date for the new overtime regulation fast approaching, a U.S. District Court Judge in Texas granted a nationwide injunction preventing its implementation. The Court, acting on a motion filed by twenty-one (21) states and numerous business groups, blocked the Department of Labor regulation which would...

Ulmer is ranked in 39 categories in the 2017 U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” rankings. Among these, the firm earns U.S. News – Best Lawyers highest rankings in 21 categories. The firm also ranks nationally in 15 categories. Firms included in the 2017 “Best Law Firms” are...

In recognition of her outstanding service to the bar, Stephanie Dutchess Trudeau was recently appointed to serve as a member of the Ohio State Bar Association Labor & Employment Specialty Board. The Specialty Board sets standards for eligibility, reviews applications, determines eligibility, prepares written exams, and hears appeals for licensed...

On May 18, 2016, the Department of Labor issued its Final Rule regarding overtime regulations after receiving more than 270,000 comments on their proposed rule published last year. While several changes from the proposed rule were made, the net effect on employers is basically unchanged from that which was set...

“Trial Pros: Ulmer & Berne’s Stephanie Trudeau” Law360 April 7, 2016 Law360, New York (April 7, 2016, 10:45 AM ET) — Stephanie Dutchess Trudeau is a trial lawyer at Ulmer & Berne LLP. She is a board certified specialist in employment and labor law. She prosecutes and defends trade secret...

Cleveland-based partner David D. Yeagley published a client alert regarding the Supreme Court’s recent and highly anticipated decision in Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo, Slip Op. 14-1146.  In Tyson Foods, the Court addressed the propriety of a class action or collective action claim brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), seeking damages for overtime...

In response to a request from President Obama, the Department of Labor (DOL) published a proposed change to the “white collar” exemptions to the overtime requirement of the Fair Standards Act (FLSA). The proposed change – which radically increases the minimum salary requirement to qualify for the exemptions – has...

Ulmer & Berne is ranked in 39 categories in the 2016 U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” rankings. Among these, the firm earns U.S. News – Best Lawyers highest rankings in 21 categories. The firm also ranks nationally in 16 categories. Firms included in the 2016 “Best Law...

“Justices Decline Review Of ‘Mark Of The Beast’ Bias Suit” Law360 October 5, 2015

On June 30, 2015, the Department of Labor responded to President Obama’s direction to update key components of the “white collar” exemption to federal overtime requirements. Although no final regulations have yet been adopted, the proposed changes have been published in the Federal Register and are now subject to comments....

“Attorneys React to DOL Misclassification Guidance” Law360 July 15, 2015

“What Oberlin College Senior Elizabeth Bentivegna’s Story Can Teach Us About Job Interviews” Cleveland Plain Dealer April 17, 2015 Was Oberlin College senior Elizabeth Bentivegna wrongly passed over for a job at OnShift software company? Was the outfit she wore to her job interview appropriate? Does what happened to her...

As a result of a class action lawsuit against the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, 270,000 Ohio businesses are entitled to premium refunds because state-funded, Ohio employers that were not group rated were overcharged between policy years 2001-2008. The class of employers eligible for a refund includes private, non-group rated...

Ulmer & Berne LLP has been recognized among the 2014 Go-To Law Firms® as indicated by a survey of general counsel at the top 500 companies in the U.S. by American Lawyer Media (ALM). Ulmer & Berne was selected by 15 Fortune 500 companies as their go-to- law firm in...

“Readers React Strongly to Kent State Vice President Holding Baby Shower on Campus During Work Hours” Cleveland.com April 18, 2014

Most of you are aware that Sarbanes-Oxley prohibits public companies from retaliating against employees who “blow the whistle” on their employers by reporting violations of securities laws or certain other violations of federal law.1 But just how far does that protection extend? Do Sarbanes-Oxley’s whistleblower protections also extend to employees of...

“On the Move” Cleveland.com January 2, 2014

Representative Experience

  • Won attempted class action age discrimination case by obtaining summary judgment in favor of employer, an international telecommunications company, which ruling was affirmed on appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Obtained summary judgment in sex and age discrimination case against client, an international telecommunications company. Summary judgment affirmed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Obtained summary judgment on behalf of a financial services industry client accused of breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA for failing to provide spousal death benefit coverage to employee. Summary judgment affirmed on appeal by the Tenth District Court of Appeals.
  • Won summary judgment for a national food service company in U.S. District Court, S.D. Ohio on a sexual harassment claim. The court found that the client had successfully established the affirmative defense to a claim of supervisor sexual harassment.
  • Obtained dismissal of this case alleging sexual harassment against a national paint manufacturer. The client’s alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedure was upheld and enforced.
  • Won summary judgment on a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed against a manufacturing company and several managers in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.
  • Successfully moved to compel discovery and for summary judgment, thereby obtaining dismissal of the case filed in the U.S. District Court, N.D. Ohio against a manufacturing company. The claims included age and disability discrimination based on a workforce reduction.
  • Successfully defended a securities company against a race discrimination claim at trial. Also successful in persuading the Court of Appeals to overturn a large jury verdict on a promissory estoppel claim.
  • Defended a healthcare services firm, its president and its vice president in an employment case filed by a former employee alleging breach of public policy, breach of contract, retaliation and wrongful discharge. Won case on summary judgment, and the decision was upheld on appeal.
  • Represented a manufacturer of steel buildings which was cited for serious violations of the overhead crane standard resulting from a fatal accident at its Missouri plant. Litigated the case and had violations vacated on the grounds that the cited standards were inapplicable to the facts.
  • Represented a Cleveland-based steel manufacturer which was cited for failing to remove secondary lifting devices from its overhead cranes while performing the required testing of the upper limit switch. The company determined that compliance with OSHA’s interpretation of the standard would result in an annual productivity loss of over a million dollars. Successfully defended the company’s position throughout the litigation including the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.