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Calfee’s Labor and Employment litigators have extensive experience defending companies and individually named management representatives in both administrative proceedings and in federal and state courts.

Our lawyers represent employers in matters involving the EEOC, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, other state FEP agencies, the Department of Labor and the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Our experienced trial lawyers defend against claims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation, as well as alleged violations of the FSLA, NLRA, OSHA, WARN and other employment-related laws.

Our team has extensive experience litigating claims involving alleged breaches of noncompete and other agreements involving restrictive covenants.

We represent management before the National Labor Relations Board on petitions for union representation and in defense of unfair labor practice charges.

Our lawyers defend management in state and federal court litigation arising from complaints of age, sex, race, religion, national origin, and/or disability discrimination under state and federal laws, as well as in cases involving the Family and Medical Leave Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, and other federal and state workplace laws.

Calfee's Litigation attorneys provide aggressive, cost-effective defense of claims of “wrongful discharge” and violations of individual employment rights and specialize in the enforcement of noncompetition, nonsolicitation, and confidentiality agreements.

Our Workers’ Compensation practice attorneys regularly defend state-fund and self-employers in claims for workers’ compensation benefits in both administrative and court-related proceedings.


Chambers USA Band 3 Ranking in Litigation: General Commercial (Ohio)

For well over a decade, our Litigation group and individual litigation attorneys have been ranked and recognized by Chambers USA. In 2021, Chambers USA researchers noted that the team "Frequently advises on plaintiff and defense-side commercial litigation matters, offering considerable strengths in securities, product liability, antitrust and construction disputes. Also offers experience in criminal litigation, defending a range of individuals and businesses facing regulatory enforcement actions. Acts for clients in sectors including healthcare, financial services and manufacturing." 

A client interviewed by Chambers USA researchers commented, "The entire team provides outstanding legal services." Another adds, "The team as a whole is fantastic."

Chambers USA Band 4 Ranking in Labor & Employment (Ohio)

For a number of years, Calfee’s skilled Labor and Employment group has been recognized for its work by Chambers USA. Most recently, in 2021Calfee was ranked in Band 4 for Labor & Employment in Ohio.

Chambers USA 2021 researchers note that the practice is known to be "Proficient in the handling of a wide range of labor and employment matters. Areas of strength for the firm include the representation of management in collective bargaining negotiations with unions, defending clients against claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination, and day-to-day employment counseling. Expertise also stretches to the enforcement of post-employment agreements." 

A client interviewed by Chambers USA researchers said, "The group is accessible and calls you back very quickly. [They are] a pleasure to work with and every one of them knows their stuff. [They are] spot-on technically, on top of everything and always [provide] good solid counsel." Another client reported to Chambers USA researchers, "We are extremely satisfied with the work Calfee has done for us. The group is thorough, creative and responsive."

A source interviewed by Chambers USA stated, "[The group is] very good technically, very sensitive to client needs and practical in [their] approach."

In 2020, Chambers USA researchers interviewed a client who remarked, "They are able to quickly get to the root of any issues we bring to them and consistently drive us toward concise and effective resolutions. They are very knowledgeable about our business and industries; they understand and manage risk extremely well, which in turn translates into innovative commercial advice." Additionally, a market commentator mentioned, "They have a solid team that is very responsive and consistent and has a good reputation with judges and other law firms," and a second said, "Their biggest strength is their ability to develop cost-effective defense strategies; they deliver the same results as bigger firms at a much more manageable cost." Furthermore, a client noted, "The team cares about making sure they do what you as a client need to be done, and they are personable as they do it. They're quick, give you good value for your money and get the job done in a timely way."

Labor and Employment practice Chair, John R. Cernelich, was ranked by Chambers USA 2021 in Band 4 for Labor & Employment in Ohio. Clients interviewed by Chambers USA researchers said, "[John] is thorough, knowledgeable and practical." Another comments, "I have found him to be responsive and approachable, and he understands our business."

Chambers USA 2020 researchers noted a comment made by one of John's clients: "John Cernelich is extremely professional, knowledgeable and a good resource in each and every case we pursue. He is proficient at putting together a case that is sound, logical and meets the needs of the company."

Labor and Employment practice Vice Chair, Todd F. Palmer, was ranked by Chambers USA 2021 in Band 4. Chambers USA researchers noted that Todd "is well regarded for his expertise in traditional labor issues. He also acts on behalf of employers in litigation and EEOC proceedings, as well as advising on the labor and employment aspects of corporate transactions." A client interviewed by Chambers USA researchers said, "I have the highest respect for [Todd] as a labor lawyer."

U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” Rankings

Calfee was selected for inclusion in the 2022 "Best Law Firms" rankings by U.S. News – Best Lawyers in the following areas:

  • Employment Law – Management (Regional Tier 1 Cleveland)
  • Labor Law – Management (Regional Tier 2 Cleveland)
  • Litigation – Labor & Employment (Regional Tier 2 Cleveland)

Benchmark Litigation Rankings

Calfee was selected for inclusion by Benchmark Litigation 2022 as a Highly Recommended Law Firm in Dispute Resolution and as a Recommended Law Firm in Labor and Employment Litigation in Ohio. Additionally, 14 of Calfee's Litigation attorneys have been ranked by Benchmark Litigation as "Local Litigation Stars in Ohio" and as “40 & Under Hot List Honorees in the Midwest.”




  • Represented major municipality in action against state Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to recover multimillion-dollar overpayments of workers’ compensation premiums charged over nine-year period.
  • Defended employer in disability discrimination litigation to establish that discharged plaintiff-employee had engaged in physical activity during period of alleged disability, which was prohibited by medical limitations imposed by his treating physicians.
  • Obtained worldwide injunctive relief to enforce unfair competition agreement to preclude former Senior Product Development Engineer from providing product development services to competing manufacturer of safety products.
  • Obtained consent agreement following commencement of litigation to enforce noncompetition, nonsolicitation, and nondisclosure covenants in Management Stockholder’s Agreement to preclude unfair competition by former employee in national industrial gas business.
  • Successfully defended against $8 million third-party claims brought by administrators and fiduciaries of employee benefit plans against employer of plan beneficiaries alleging violations of ERISA and the Labor Management Relations Act, unjust enrichment, negligent misrepresentation, indemnification, and contribution.
  • Successfully enforced claims by national manufacturing client against former employee and new employer in Florida following discovery that, while on medical leave, former employee had misappropriated and forwarded confidential designs and proprietary information to new employer in direct competition with manufacturing client, resulting in discharge of employee, return of all proprietary information, and shut down of competing enterprise.
  • Obtained summary judgement on a “wrongful termination” claim pursued by a former employee discharged for sexual harassment. Pursued claim for reimbursement of legal fees against employee and counsel due to frivolous nature of lawsuit.



  • Defense of charges/complaints filed with state and federal agencies
  • Employment discrimination litigation in federal and state courts 
  • Defense of “wrongful discharge” claims
  • Representation of management in National Labor Relations Act litigation
  • Collective bargaining agreement enforcement action
  • Actions concerning wage and hour issues under federal and state law
  • Defense of actions concerning affirmative action laws and regulations
  • Trade secret and confidentiality protection and prosecution
  • Defense of intentional and/or negligent infliction of emotional distress, interference with business relationships, and/or defamation claims
  • Actions to enforce and contest non-compete covenants
  • Litigation of actions concerning the federal plant closing (WARN) law
  • Defense of claims under Ohio’s wage payment, “whistle blowing” and other employment related statutes
  • Defense of intentional tort claims relating to workplace injuries
  • Defense of actions filed by discharged executives


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Practice Contact

Calfee's Labor and Employment practice is "proficient in the handling of a wide range of labor and employment matters. Areas of strength for the firm include the representation of management in collective bargaining negotiations with unions, defending clients against claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination, and day-to-day employment counseling. Expertise also stretches to the enforcement of post-employment agreements."

Researcher comments from the Chambers USA 2021 Guide

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