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John counsels employers with both unionized and non-union workforces on every aspect of the employment relationship, including discipline and termination issues, medical leaves of absence, wage and hour compliance, workplace safety concerns, drug/alcohol in the workplace and in conducting internal investigations. John offers guidance regarding non-discrimination laws and addresses claims of discrimination based upon race, sex, national origin, age, religion and other protected characteristics.

John serves as a resource for clients involved with claims of sexual or other discriminatory harassment and provides practical guidance responsibly to address and resolve such claims.

He has significant experience assisting employers in accommodating persons with disabilities and otherwise complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

He defends claims of unlawful retaliation based upon employees pursuing civil rights claims.

John also provides guidance to clients on a regular basis as to rights and obligations under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

He has appeared in appellate courts throughout Ohio, as well as before the Sixth Circuit and D.C. Courts of Appeals in federal cases.

John assists employers in drafting and promulgating restrictive covenants designed to avoid unfair competition, such as non-compete, non-solicitation and confidentiality agreements. He appears in court to obtain temporary restraining orders and other injunctive relief as to former employees who violate these restrictive covenants.

He regularly handles administrative proceedings before the Wage & Hour Office, the OFCCP regarding affirmative action obligations, OSHA, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He defends employers and management representatives sued in court by former employees claiming “wrongful termination” on a variety of grounds.

John’s experience representing employers with unionized workforces includes extensive involvement with the National Labor Relations Board, including counseling employers in representation elections and as to unfair labor practice charges. He has extensive first-chair experience negotiating labor contracts for several employers involving many different unions, including the Teamsters, UAW, IBEW, and the Steelworkers Union.

John regularly counsels employers as to contract administration and interpretation and successfully has arbitrated many grievances involving both disciplinary actions and contract interpretation.

John advises clients as to a wide variety of issues that arise in the workplace on a daily basis, including discipline/termination and leave-related issues that arise with little advance notice. He recognizes that immediate responsiveness is critical to best serve in-house counsel, human resources professionals, and management representatives.

John drafts and revises employment contracts and personnel policies, including those concerning non-discrimination, the FMLA, electronic communications, and confidential business and technical information.

Since 2013, John has been recognized by Chambers USA in Labor & Employment in Ohio. Most recently, John was ranked in the Chambers USA 2024 Guide in Band 3. Clients provided the following feedback to Chambers researchers, including, “John is extremely smart and knowledgeable in his area of expertise. John provides outstanding service and great advice. He 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. John's combination of legal expertise and calm, advisory demeanor makes him a tremendous resource for my company. He is consistently responsive, thorough, and knowledgeable. John is a go-to resource for our HR initiatives. He is an asset and knows our company well."

He also has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® (2013-2024) in the areas of Employment Law – Management and Labor Law – Management. He is ranked by Benchmark Litigation as a “Labor & Employment Star – U.S. (National), Midwest, and Ohio" (2019-2024). He has an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell and is listed in Cleveland’s Top-Rated Lawyers Guide

John regularly conducts in-house training sessions for management and supervisors to assist them in complying with the wide array of laws impacting the workplace. John is a frequent speaker at Calfee’s regular half-day Labor and Employment seminars and at the firm’s “Workplace Breakfast Series” sessions. 

Honors & Recognitions

  • Chambers USA, Labor & Employment, Band 3, Ohio (2013-2024)
  • Benchmark Litigation, Labor & Employment Star – U.S. (National), Midwest, and Ohio (2019-2024)
  • The Best Lawyers in America®, Employment Law – Management and Labor Law – Management (2013-2024)
  • Martindale-Hubbell, AV Preeminent rating
  • Cleveland’s Top-Rated Lawyers Guide 


J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, 1986

B.A., cum laude, Harvard University, 1982



  • Served as counsel for a European, publicly traded, multinational company in a matter involving the United Steel Workers Union and its Local members, which filed a grievance against Calfee’s client company relating to the discharge of a bargaining unit member. The Union contended that this member, who worked at one of the client’s U.S. plants, was unjustly discharged for an alleged violation of the client’s safety/work procedures. Calfee represented the company at a formal arbitration hearing conducted before a Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) arbitrator. Calfee presented the Company’s defense to the Union’s claims of unfair/inconsistent treatment of a long-service employee by thoroughly recreating the incident before the arbitrator and explaining in detail the consequences of not only the grievant’s conduct but the possible catastrophic results that could occur if the grievant’s disregard of safety protocols was condoned by the arbitrator. After comprehensive post-hearing briefs were submitted by both parties, the arbitrator issued his decision denying the Union’s grievance and stating that the member was terminated for “just cause” consistent with the terms and provisions of the Union contract. Calfee has represented the client at various worksites across the country litigating disputes before impartial arbitrators based upon grievances filed by Unions. We have succeeded in every case to date based upon the company’s appropriate, lawful personnel actions and careful documentation allowing Calfee to explain convincingly to various arbitrators that the Company at all times has respected the collective bargaining agreements at issue.
  • Served as legal counsel for its client, a European, publicly traded, multinational company, in a matter in which an outside operator working for Calfee’s client company's U.S. location filed a grievance on behalf of all outside operators, alleging that management was performing bargaining unit work in violation of the collective bargaining agreement. The Arbitrator subsequently denied the grievance in full.
  • Served as counsel for the Respondent, a global manufacturing solutions company, in an EEOC charge against the client. The Charging Party employee's complaints articulated in a resignation email did not include allegations of racial or national origin discrimination, but their subsequent charge before the EEOC focused on discrimination allegations. Based upon the comprehensive position statement and supporting materials submitted by Calfee in response to the Charging Party’s allegations, the EEOC issued a “Determination of Charge” indicating that it would “not proceed further with this investigation,” essentially concluding that it found no basis to believe that the Charging Party was a victim of discrimination. The Commission elected to not further pursue this matter and did not initiate a lawsuit against Calfee’s client based upon the allegations.
  • Serving as counsel for Respondent/Defendant in an EEOC Charge in which the Charging Party filed a charge of disability alleging that Calfee's client company, a global manufacturing company, discriminated based on disability when he did not receive an offer of employment. Based upon the comprehensive position statement and supporting materials submitted by Calfee in defense of the allegations of discriminatory non-hire, the EEOC issued a “Determination of Charge” indicating that it would “not proceed further with this investigation,” essentially concluding that it found no basis to believe that the plaintiff was a victim of disability discrimination. The Commission elected to not further pursue this matter and did not initiate a lawsuit against Calfee’s client. Subsequently, the Charging Party initiated a lawsuit alleging disability discrimination under state law, but the Defendant later voluntarily dismissed the case without prejudice.
  • Provided daily counsel to a large employer facing an aggressive organizing campaign by a Teamsters local Union. The production and maintenance employees at issue voted to maintain a union-free workplace in a formal election conducted on-site by the National Labor Relations Board on site. Successfully defended all unfair labor practice charges filed by the Union relating to this election resulting in the NLRB certifying the victory for the employer.
  • Successfully represented a manufacturer of high-tech safety helmets in avoiding an engineer with significant knowledge of its confidential designs and technical information from joining a competitor in California in violation of his non-compete and other restrictive covenants by obtaining an emergency TRO and further injunctive relief in the Court of Common Pleas for Cuyahoga County, Ohio. The former employee was made to comply with his post-employment obligations, as the competing employer revoked his offer of employment when faced with the Preliminary Injunction issued by the Court.
  • Assisted a large employer in a reorganization resulting in the separation of several employees within several protected classes. Prepared and revised internal memoranda to assist management in communicating the reorganization, as well as “Separation Agreements” for the affected employees complying with the Older Worker’s Benefit Protection Act. Assisted client in obtaining meaningful outplacement resources to assist displaced employees in transitioning to alternative employment.
  • Conducted on-site investigation at the employer’s premises regarding allegations of sexual harassment allegedly affecting the work environment of several co-workers. Interviewed several co-workers with the on-site HR manager and confronted the alleged harasser with his inappropriate behavior. Counseled employer as to appropriate remedial action leading to the alleged harasser being transitioned from the workplace.
  • Successfully defended claims of disability discrimination in violation of the ADA in federal court regarding an employee who was terminated after two years of uninterrupted medical leave. Discovered additional grounds for termination by obtaining physician’s records indicating that the employee had obtained a full release to return to work well prior to his eventual discharge, thus implicating the company’s three-day “no show, no call” rule.
  • Successfully represented a trucking industry client in a comprehensive investigation conducted by the Wage & Hour Office as to their drivers categorized as independent contractors, classification of employees as “exempt” or “non-exempt” from overtime entitlement, and as to workplace practices concerning the tracking of working time.
  • Enforced non-compete covenant against the vice president of sales resigning clients’ employment and immediately soliciting business for a local competitor from the client’s existing customers. The case was resolved with the former employee resigning from the competitor and agreeing to abide by the terms of his post-employment covenants, with his new employer compensating the client for all business lost due to disregard of the non-compete restriction.
  • Successfully resolved acrimonious employment termination involving a highly placed executive through face-to-face meetings with the executive’s counsel and disclosure of personnel documents outside of the discovery process to evidence the company’s legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for transitioning the executive. Able to avoid costly litigation and arrive at a practical solution that benefited all concerned.
  • Assist clients with managing leaves of absence to comply with the Family & Medical Leave Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and workers’ compensation Laws. Prepare comprehensive “medical” and “family” leave policy statements to assist HR professionals in promulgating straightforward, “user-friendly” policy statements to allow the employer to manage leaves effectively.
  • Negotiated collective bargaining agreements with both a Teamsters Local and a USW Local providing each employer with its first five-year labor agreement, both including favorable wage and benefit provisions. First chaired all negotiation sessions with regular communication with, and guidance from the president of each company to achieve the client’s bargaining objectives.
  • Provided onsite training to managers and supervisors at a manufacturing concern in several sessions to accommodate personnel working on all shifts at multiple facilities. Engaged management team with “real world” scenarios involving the interplay of the FMLA, the ADA, and worker’s compensation laws.
  • Assisted client in closing unionized production and maintenance facility and relocating work to a nearby non-union facility. Negotiated and drafted a Contract Termination Agreement with the union, prepared required WARN Notices, and counseled as to severance and outplacement assistance to assist affected workers with their transitions.

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Licensed In

  • Ohio 

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit

"[John] 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."

Client quote from Chambers USA

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