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Archives for July 2015

The Cincinnati Workers’ Rights Project

Jon Allison

Monday Blog

In my most recent blog, I described a problem with Ohio law that has a significant negative impact on low-wage workers and prevents many of them from realizing the promises of state laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Low-wage workers attempting to use federal law to confront discrimination face similar barriers. So how about some good news?

There is a new nonprofit in Cincinnati dedicated to advocating for the rights of low-wage workers – The Cincinnati Workers’ Rights Project. The mission of the Cincinnati Workers’ Rights Project is to advocate for low-wage workers, to educate them regarding their rights and to provide pro-bono advice to workers who have been terminated from their jobs.

The Project advocates for low-wage workers in multiple ways, including promoting social and political change that will improve the lives of low-wage workers. Its primary focus is on educating individuals via pro-bono 30-60 minute post-termination consultations with the Legal Director, law students working under the direction of the Legal Director, or volunteer attorneys. The Project also offers preliminary representation and referrals to volunteer attorneys in appropriate cases.

Follow this link to the Cincinnati Workers’ Rights Project’s website. You can reach its Executive Director/Legal Director, Ann Koize Wittenauer, at 513-592-2318 or via email at info@workersrightsproject.org.

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Aaron
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Ohio’s Message To Plaintiff’s Employment Attorneys: Don’t Help Low Wage Workers

Jon Allison

Having just finished up a jury trial where the plaintiff won a wrongful termination claim and was awarded lost wages and compensatory damages, the timing seems right to discuss attorney fees under Ohio law in employment cases.  Under Ohio law, attorneys who take on cases where an employee was wrongfully terminated must first prove the discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation.  If they are successful in doing so, in order to have a chance at being paid for their work without taking some percentage of the employee’s award of lost wages and compensatory damages, they must prove separately and by a higher standard of proof that the employer not only discriminated, harassed and/or retaliated, but that it did so maliciously and should be made to pay a punitive damages award.  Only after the attorney proves that punitive damages are appropriate, is there an opportunity to be paid for the legal work under Ohio law, but there is still no guarantee.

The problem with this scheme is that it operates as a huge disincentive to take on cases for minimum wage or other low wage workers.  An attorney could win trial after trial for minimum wage workers and not be able to pay the bills to keep the law firm going.  Low wage workers are the ones who are most vulnerable to wrongful conduct on the part of their employers.  Most plaintiff’s employment attorneys want to devote time to help these low wage workers.  Ohio says don’t.

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Brad Robeson
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The deal MLB should offer Pete Rose

Randy Freking

As a professional familiar with principles governing workplace conduct, I offer the following press release for consideration by Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred:

“As commissioner of Major League Baseball, I have completed a thorough investigation of the application of Pete Rose to be reinstated to MLB, after serving a 26-year ban from our sport, including recent media reports that confirm the original decision to ban Mr. Rose. MLB and my office have concluded that Mr. Rose violated the most serious infraction of our sport, and that the original decision and subsequent decisions not to lift the punishment were justified.

“Having said that, I have decided to conditionally reinstate Mr. Rose to MLB. The conditions to his reinstatement are as follows: 1. Mr. Rose will present medical information, acceptable to MLB, that he is not currently suffering from a gambling addiction; 2. Mr. Rose will refrain from gambling of any nature in the future; 3. Mr. Rose acknowledges that he violated MLB’s rule prohibiting gambling on the sport, and that he agreed to his lifetime ban, subject to his right to seek reinstatement after one year; and 4. Mr. Rose will not challenge in any forum a conclusion by MLB that he has violated any of the previous conditions.

“My decision is based upon our society’s belief in forgiveness, and an individual’s opportunity to atone for transgressions, whether of a minor or major nature. ‘Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ Mr. Rose remains a great ambassador for our sport and his continued love of the game supports my decision. Mr. Rose has apologized for his actions, and I accept his apology.

“My decision is consistent with MLB’s prohibition against gambling by MLB personnel on baseball, at whatever level of competition. Other personnel should recognize that they will be held to a similar level of punishment for any such violation. We will not tolerate any violations that pose a threat to the integrity of the sport.

“Finally, because there is no serious dispute that Mr. Rose’s accomplishments during his playing career meet the qualifications for induction into the Hall of Fame, I am recommending to the Hall of Fame that Mr. Rose be inducted along with the Class of 2016 next August, in Cooperstown, New York, waiving the requirement that he be formally elected. In this manner, he will not be considered a ‘first ballot inductee,’ one of our sport’s highest honors.”

I believe that baseball and our society will be well-served by issuing this press release by the start of the All-Star Game on July 14 in Pete’s hometown. It is time to free Pete.

See Randy’s editorial here.

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