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 15 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.

This article was originally published in Best Lawyers: The Employment Law Issue on May 23, 2022. To view the full publication, click here. When the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or the “Board”) was founded in the Landmark Wagner Act of 1935, as amended (the “National Labor Relations Act” or...

February 16, 2022 – Ulmer & Berne LLP is pleased to announce the addition of Partner Joseph J. Brennan to the firm’s Employment & Labor Practice Group. Brennan joins the firm’s Cleveland office where he will focus his practice on representing employers in a wide variety of employment and labor...

January 14, 2022 – Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two highly anticipated rulings, blocking the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-testing rule for private businesses with at least 100 employees, and allowing a stricter yet narrower rule aimed at the health care industry to take effect nationwide. The Supreme Court’s rulings came...

December 21, 2021 – On late Friday, December 17, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reinstated the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) rule that medium and large employers require their workers to be fully inoculated against COVID-19 or get tested every week. In a 2-1 published...

November 5, 2021 – Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor, through its Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA), released a controversial emergency rule that details President Biden’s mandate that all medium and large employers require their workers to be fully inoculated against COVID-19 or get tested every week. OSHA’s publication...

With a growing number of employers implementing COVID-19 vaccination policies, employee resistance to these policies is increasingly taking the form of employees providing fake vaccination cards as proof of their vaccination. Unfortunately, the black market for fake COVID-19 vaccination cards is very real, with U.S. Customs & Border Patrol recently...

As more employers implement mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policies, employee objections to COVID-19 shots are becoming increasingly common. Like other mandatory vaccine policies, employer-mandated COVID-19 programs must manage and, in some instances, provide reasonable accommodations because of an employee’s sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance, unless providing an accommodation would...

With the Delta variant surging across the country, many employers are implementing mandatory vaccine policies. But rolling out a vaccine requirement can be a delicate balancing act, so how should employers face this issue? When inquiring about employees’ vaccination status, offering incentives, or implementing education campaigns are not sufficient, ultimately...

December 23, 2020 – In March 2020, the federal government passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which required employers to provide paid leave to employees under certain circumstances related to the global coronavirus pandemic. The FFCRA contains two main provisions that address employee absences: the Emergency Family and...

June 16, 2020 – In a landmark decision, a divided U.S. Supreme Court (the “Court”) ruled 6-3 that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) protects LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination in the workplace. Under Title VII, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees and applicants for...

April 6, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) has issued its temporary rule (“Regulation”) implementing the leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). The leave provisions of the FFCRA include the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave...

DOL Issues Families First Coronavirus Response Act Guidance  By William D. Edwards and Stephanie E. Harley March 26, 2020 – Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued new guidance regarding the paid leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) that the president signed into...

Our federal government has moved swiftly to provide certainty to American employers and workers about how to handle absences necessitated by the coronavirus. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act contains two main provisions that address employee absences – the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”) and the Emergency...

While the immediate risk to Americans remains uncertain as a result of the Coronavirus, employers should take some common-sense steps to reduce transmission of all infectious diseases and be prepared if the Coronavirus risk increases. The following steps are recommended at this time: Reassure employees that you have a business...

UPDATED MARCH 26, 2020: State and federal laws are changing every day with respect to the novel coronavirus called COVID-19. As of Wednesday, March 25, 16 states have or will have implemented stay at home orders affecting more than 40% of the population. As the laws related to your business...

March 26, 2020 – Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued new guidance regarding the paid leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) that the president signed into law on March 18, 2020. The paid leave provisions of the FFCRA include the Emergency Family...

In the most recent edition of The Business Journal, Ulmer Partner Stephanie Harley is quoted regarding employee handbooks and best practices for employers in order to protect themselves and their employees. To read the full article, click here.

January 24, 2020 – Ulmer & Berne LLP is proud to announce the addition of Counsel Jeffrey J. Patter to the firm’s Columbus office. Patter, an experienced attorney representing businesses of all sizes with their corporate legal needs, joins Ulmer’s Business Law Practice Group. “Jeff is a talented attorney with wide-ranging experience that will...

The US Department of Labor (DOL) has announced its proposal to amend its regulations regarding “white collar” exemptions (executive, administrative, and professional) to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime requirements. The DOL estimates that this amendment would allow 1.3 million employees who are presently exempt to become entitled to overtime compensation....

Earlier this week, David Leopold published an op-ed on Medium.com titled, “Bearing Witness at the Southern Border.” In the piece, David details his recent travels to the southern border and the reality he witnessed as a result of the Trump administration’s asylum policies. To read the full op-ed on Medium.com,...

by Stephanie E. Harley Many transgender individuals across the United States go to work every day, unsure of whether they will lose their jobs because of their gender identity and/or expression. While a minority of states and localities offer employment protections for transgender individuals, the vast majority do not. As a...

On March 7, 2019, the Department of Labor issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making with respect to the “white collar” exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act. The proposed regulation increases the minimum salary level to $35,308 per year or $679 per week from the present level of $23,660...

Timothy J. Downing, Chief Diversity Officer of Ulmer & Berne LLP, has been appointed to Cuyahoga County’s Human Rights Commission, which aims to promote diversity, inclusion, and harmony through every facet of the county. Downing will serve as one of three attorneys comprising the first assembly of the Commission, which...

As we kick off the New Year, William D. Edwards, Partner and Chair of Ulmer’s Employment & Labor Practice Group, examines the landscape of employment and labor law and shares three things to look for on the employment law horizon. 1. The Influence of the #MeToo Movement Will Continue into 2019...

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.