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Calfee’s Labor and Employment attorneys support clients by providing day-to-day employment counseling, defending administrative complaints and representing clients in litigation concerning state and federal discrimination laws, the National Labor Relations Act, the Family & Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and workers’ compensation claims.

Additionally, our team provides aggressive, cost-effective defense of claims of wrongful discharge and violations of individual employment rights, and we litigate cases involving noncompete agreements and other restrictive covenants.

Calfee’s Labor and Employment attorneys represent publicly and privately held corporations, partnerships, and sole proprietorships, including unionized and non-union employers as well as public-sector entities. 

In the union setting, Calfee attorneys represent management in grievances, arbitrations and collective bargaining negotiations. They also provide advice to clients in the context of mergers, acquisitions and other corporate transactions, including potential effects of labor agreements, severance programs, and state and federal plant closing/mass layoff laws. With the continuing challenges presented by the increasing number and complexities of laws affecting the workplace, Calfee’s attorneys provide timely guidance and counsel as to the constantly changing laws affecting the workplace.

Calfee’s Labor and Employment attorneys are committed to addressing workplace-related concerns and disputes that often arise on a moment’s notice. We provide immediate guidance as to termination of employment, alleged sexual and other discriminatory harassment, drugs/alcohol in the workplace, OSHA investigations and other HR concerns. Working with human resources professionals, our practitioners assist clients in avoiding potential liabilities and in maintaining working environments committed to mutual respect and appreciation of individual contributions.


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 2021 "Best Law Firms" rankings by U.S. News – Best Lawyers in Employment Law - Management (Metropolitan Tier 1 Cleveland), Workers' Compensation Law - Employers (Metropolitan Tier 1 Cleveland) and Labor Law - Management (Metropolitan Tier 2 Cleveland).

Benchmark Litigation Rankings

Several of Calfee's Labor & Employment attorneys have been ranked as "Labor & Employment Stars - Midwest" by Benchmark Litigation 2020.




Labor and Employment Relations

  • Represented employers in lengthy strikes that resulted in union returning to work with contract terms less favorable than employer’s final pre-strike offers; in each case, employer successfully maintained operations during the strike.
  • Prepared comprehensive employee handbooks and developed workplace policies incorporating recent changes in the law.
  • Prepared employment agreements for highly compensated executives involving complex compensation schemes and change in control provisions.
  • Prepared separation agreements by which employees were separated from employment with release of all claims against the employer, while assuring compliance with the requirements of the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act.
  • Represented employer in unfair labor practice investigation, including hearings regarding subcontracting of work, resulting in total victory when court of appeals denied enforcement of National Labor Relations Board order.
  • Counseled clients acquiring the assets of unionized corporations concerning their rights to negotiate terms and conditions of employment consistent with company-wide compensation and benefit schemes.
  • Conducted numerous in-house training seminars for management concerning compliance with all state and federal labor statutes and regulations, union avoidance, sexual harassment, the Family & Medical Leave Act, and other laws governing the workplace. 
  • Prepared employment agreements including nondisclosure, noncompete and nonsolicitation covenants, as well as assignment of inventions complying with federal and state law. 

Discrimination and Workplace-Related Litigation

  • Prepared comprehensive position statements to the EEOC, Ohio Civil Rights Commission and many other state civil rights agencies defending against claims of workplace discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation.
  • Obtained summary judgment in both federal and state court cases involving claims of discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation, thereby avoiding the time and expense of trial.
  • Successfully mediated many claims of workplace discrimination using various Alternative Dispute Resolution procedures. 
  • Obtained reimbursement of legal fees for a client forced to defend against a frivolous claim of national origin discrimination. 
  • Compelled voluntary dismissal of claims of sexual harassment filed against Company and supervisor. 


  • Successfully defended union’s challenges to terminations and other disciplinary actions with Arbitrators denying grievances after full hearings.
  • Won arbitrations challenging work assignments, policy implementation, subcontracting of work, and new classification rates. 
  • Have obtained TRO, preliminary and permanent injunctions barring former employees from disregarding noncompete and other restrictive covenants, causing employee to resign from or be terminated by competitor. 
  • Filed Declaratory Judgment actions to challenge overbroad or otherwise defective restrictive covenant agreements to allow clients to hire competitors’ employees.
  • Successfully negotiated noncompete disputes to achieve client’s goals while avoiding protracted, expensive litigation. 



Employment Counseling

  • Employment at-will
  • Personnel policies and employee handbooks
  • Employment agreements
  • Discipline, discharge and other personnel actions
  • Mergers, acquisitions, divestitures
  • Workforce restructurings, downsizings, force reductions
  • Post-employment covenants
  • Employment law compliance training

Workplace Discrimination

  • Title VII and state discrimination laws
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Sexual and other workplace harassment
  • EEOC and state agency proceedings
  • Discrimination and “wrongful discharge” litigation
  • Affirmative action plans, programs and compliance

Labor Management

  • Union avoidance and defense
  • Employee relations counseling
  • Collective bargaining agreement negotiation
  • Proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board
  • Grievance counseling and arbitration
  • Strike contingency planning/security operations
  • Strike injunction litigation
  • Ohio Public Employers’ Collective Bargaining Act
  • Union decertification/deauthorization

Employment Laws

  • Fair Labor Standards Act (wage/hour)
  • Family and Medical Leave Act
  • “Whistleblower” Acts
  • Federal mass layoff/plant closing laws (WARN Act)
  • Trade secret laws
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act
  • Older Workers Benefit Protection Act
  • Drug testing
  • Immigration Reform & Control Act


News & Events




Practice Contacts

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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