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Meet Our Attorneys – Jon B. Allison and Austin LiPuma

Freking Myers & Reul

Meet Our Attorneys

The attorneys of Freking Myers & Reul are a cohesive team with decades of experience helping individuals with legal advice and representation.  Diligent, empathetic, passionate, approachable, are just a few words you could use to describe us.  We would like you to get to know more about us by following our series “Meet Our Attorneys” to learn about our professional achievements and experiences as well as our passions, hobbies, and interests outside the office.

 

Jon B. Allison

Jon practices in all areas of employment law, including discrimination, harassment, retaliation, breach of employment contract and non-competition. He is an experienced litigator who practices in federal and state trial and appellate courts and in federal and state agencies.
Jon grew up in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He attended the University of Michigan where he studied psychology and education. He earned his law degree from the University of Cincinnati where he served as Law Review Editor-in-Chief.
Jon lives in Mt. Lookout with his spouse, Deb (who works for the City of Cincinnati), and two children, Kate and Ben. He spends the vast majority of his free time with them focused on their various activities. His favorite thing to do is take long walks or hikes with his family. Jon also has a twin brother who lives and works in Cincinnati with his spouse and son.

 

Austin H. LiPumaAustin H. LiPuma

Austin LiPuma concentrates his practice in wrongful death, premises, nursing home neglect/abuse, and car/truck/pedestrian accident cases. Austin is licensed to practice law in Ohio, Indiana, as well as federal courts in both states. Austin was recognized as a 2021 Ohio Super Lawyer Rising – Plaintiff Personal Injury. He sits on the board of the Southwest Ohio Trial Lawyers Association and is an active member of The Ohio Association for Justice.
In his spare time, Austin is heavily involved with University of Cincinnati’s Mock Trial Association, which is ranked in the top 50 out of over 750 registered teams across the Nation. For the past eight years, Austin has been the head coach of The Bearcats where he teaches undergraduate students the fundamentals of effective trial work and advocacy.
As a Cleveland native, Austin grew up in an Italian American household where food and family were the primary focuses of his upbringing. As such, when he is not working or coaching, you can find Austin either watching a cooking show (usually ‘Chopped’), cooking, or most likely, doing both. Austin also enjoys staying as active as possible and although he admittedly has “zero form,” feverishly enjoys playing tennis whenever and wherever the weather permits.
More recently, Austin has been featured as a regular on WLW’s The Bill Cunningham Show as a legal expert focusing on personal injury-type cases. Make sure to tune in and listen for Austin’s advice there or check out his standing blog: Personal Injury Claims During a Pandemic and Beyond.

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Meet Our Attorneys – Mark W. Napier and Laura Welles Wilson

Freking Myers & Reul

Meet Our Attorneys

The attorneys of Freking Myers & Reul are a cohesive team with decades of experience helping individuals with legal advice and representation. Diligent, empathetic, passionate, approachable, are just a few words you could use to describe us. We would like you to get to know more about us by following our series “Meet Our Attorneys” to learn about our professional achievements and experiences as well as our passions, hobbies, and interests outside the office.

Mark W. Napier

Mark Napier concentrates his practice in wrongful death, nursing home abuse, and car/truck/pedestrian accident cases. Mark is licensed to practice law in Ohio, KY, and the local federal courts. Mark has been recognized as an Ohio Super Lawyer – Plaintiff Personal Injury for ten consecutive years. He has the highest attorney rating by Martindale-Hubbell for legal skills and ethics. He is a former President of the Southwest Ohio Trial Lawyers Association and a former Trustee of the Ohio Association for Justice. His is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for attorneys who have achieved million dollar recoveries.

In his community activities, Mark serves as a volunteer at St. Vincent DePaul’s Phone Center returning calls from neighbors who seek rent or utility financial assistance or other services. Mark is also a former Board President of the non-profit association IKRON, which provides services to the developmentally disabled.

In his spare time, Mark is part of the Black Widow Top Sportsman class drag racing team beginning in the spring 2021. The team will race its dragster at various drag racing tournaments in Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Florida, and Texas.  Also, Mark is a part-owner of six thoroughbreds headquartered in Ocala, FL who have or will primarily race at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida.  Mark’s wife of 40 years is Maureen Napier, and they have two children, Shannon, who is a MA degree social worker in Columbus, and Sean, who is a CPA in Boston, MA.

 

Laura Welles Wilson

Laura is an Attorney with Freking Myers & Reul, LLC in Cincinnati, Ohio, and concentrates her practice in Employment Law and Litigation. Laura received her A.B. in French Literature from Dartmouth College and her J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law. Following graduation from law school, Laura began her legal career in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio as a law clerk to The Honorable Robert A. Steinberg, then a United States Magistrate Judge. Following Judge Steinberg’s retirement, Laura continued to serve the Court and served as a Career Law Clerk to Magistrate Judge Timothy S. Hogan for fourteen years, until his retirement in 2010.

As a private practitioner, Laura has experience on both the defense and plaintiff’s side of employment litigation. Since entering private practice, Laura’s work has focused on a wide range of employment law matters, with special emphasis on litigation and motion practice. She has successfully briefed numerous cases, overcoming motions to dismiss and summary judgment motions filed against her clients, positioning the case for trial and/or settlement. Her accomplishments include successfully briefing and arguing employment discrimination claims before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and briefing before the Ohio Supreme Court, as well as work on numerous cases that have resulted in successful outcomes for firm clients at trial and through pre-trial settlements.

Laura is an active member of the Cincinnati Bar Association, serving as Chair of the Professionalism Committee, member of the Admissions Committee, and former member of the Nominating Committee. In addition, she is a member of NELA, OELA, and CELA, as well as the Ohio State Bar Association, the Ohio Women’s Bar Association, and the Federal Bar Association, John Weld Peck Chapter.

Laura also volunteers in her community as a member of the Cincinnati Nature Center Board of Directors, former Board member and current member of the Nominating Committee for the Indian Hill Winter Club, and member of the Mariemont City Schools Finance Committee.

When she is not working on a legal brief, she enjoys a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, kayaking, orienteering and nature walks, which she pursues when travelling both near and far. She aspires to improve her skills on a mountain bike and loves to explore local craft beer options in any destination, especially if there is a side of live music.

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Meet Our Attorneys – Liza Asbury Newman

Elizabeth Newman

Liza Asbury Newman practices employment law. She handles cases of discrimination, retaliation, and harassment, as well as cases involving disputes over benefit plans, family and medical leave, and non-compete agreements. She has been named an Ohio Super Lawyers Rising Star for 2020 and 2021 in plaintiff’s employment litigation. She also has a special interest in the intersection between employment law and ERISA.
Liza is involved in the Cincinnati Bar Association as vice chair of the Labor and Employment Law Practice Group. She frequently gives talks on legal developments in her practice area to the CBA and other organizations. Liza currently coaches mock trial at Seven Hills and recently taught labor law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
Prior to law school, Liza worked in the language-learning field. She spent a year teaching English in France, and then worked at the University of Pennsylvania’s English Language Programs while she was in graduate school there. She holds BA and MA degrees in art history.
Outside of work, Liza enjoys birding and spending time in nature. If you’ll tolerate it, she’ll teach you how to identify trees by their bark and birds by their call. In the summer, she loves to work on her garden and ride her bike around the neighborhood. She lives in Columbia-Tusculum with her cat, Laika.

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How the PRO Act Would Affect Non-Union Workplaces

Elizabeth Newman

On March 9, 2021, the House of Representatives passed the Protecting the Right to Organize (“PRO”) Act by a vote of 225-206. If signed into law, the PRO Act would be the most significant labor law reform in decades. The bill primarily amends the National Labor Relations Act, the federal law that governs collective bargaining in the private sector. Most of these changes affect the rights of unions, but the bill also contains several important provisions that would affect employees outside of the union context.

Restoration of Collective Action Rights

Currently, an employer can require employees to sign away their rights to collective litigation of employment-related claims. These agreements typically mandate that any claims arising out of employment go to private, individual arbitration instead of court. These “collective action waivers” have had a particularly chilling effect on wage claims. Claims involving unpaid wages and overtime are often too small to bring individually, as court costs and legal fees can easily outweigh the lost wages. Wage claims are therefore far more feasible—and far more powerful—if brought together. Collective action waivers in mandatory arbitration agreements deter employees from bringing these claims by forcing them to shoulder arbitration and legal fees by themselves. This in turn diminishes the power of employees to enforce their rights as workers.

Employees challenged collective action waivers in mandatory arbitration agreements as a violation of their rights under Section 7 of the NLRA. Section 7 guarantees employees the right to engage in concerted activity for mutual aid or protection—the same section that protects the right to organize and unionize. But in 2018, the Supreme Court held that collective action waivers were enforceable in spite of Section 7 (Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis).

The PRO Act would change that. It would ban class and collective action waivers by making it an unfair labor practice for an employer to attempt to enforce them. This reform would restore the right of employees to pool resources and band together to pursue their legal claims.

Protecting the Use of Company Email for Employee Communication

The National Labor Relations Board has gone back and forth about whether employees can use their employer’s email service to engage in concerted activity. In 2007, the Board found that employers have an overriding right to control their email services and how employees use it. In 2014, the Board changed its mind and decided that employees must be allowed to use company email during non-working time to communicate with one another about workplace issues. The PRO Act would codify this latter rule. As a result, an employer would not be permitted to discipline employees for using company email to discuss pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. This reform would make it easier for employees to communicate and organize in office and remote work settings, as well as across different shifts and locations.

The Senate has not yet set a date to vote on the PRO Act. The bill will have an uphill battle as long as the filibuster remains intact. If you would like to learn more about how the PRO Act would affect you in your workplace, please get in touch with us.

 

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The American Rescue Plan Extends Free COBRA Coverage to Current and Formerly Eligible Enrollees

Niara Stitt, Law Clerk at Freking Myers & Reul

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) into law, intending to address and alleviate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of ARPA’s provisions, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (COBRA) was modified and expanded to provide free coverage under COBRA from April 1, 2021 until September 30, 2021.

ARPA’s provisions related to COBRA are largely identical to requirements existing before ARPA was passed, especially related to eligibility and coverage windows. Like COBRA, ARPA covers employees terminated from employment or subjected to decreased work hours, and excludes employees who resign or are terminated for “gross misconduct.” Similarly, ARPA does not extend beyond the pre-existing 18 to 36 month coverage window.

The COBRA assistance program is made to be seamless with previous operations: if an enrollee was or is eligible for COBRA, their premium payments are to be considered paid automatically. The program must be offered to both eligible beneficiaries enrolled in COBRA and non-enrolled but eligible individuals. Non-enrolled eligible recipients include 1) individuals who previously had a right to COBRA coverage, and 2) individuals who previously used COBRA and discontinued coverage before April 1, 2021.

As with regular COBRA coverage, the ARPA requires employers to provide eligible employees with notice of the extended coverage. The Department of Labor will issue guidance for identifying eligible enrollees, as well as a model notice for employers to use when notifying eligible enrollees by April 10, 2021, and employers must give notice to eligible enrollees by May 30, 2021. Because of this deadline, non-enrolled individuals eligible for COBRA may have their coverage retroactive back to April 1, 2021.

Federal COBRA applies to employers with 20 or more employees, while state-level continuation coverage (often called “mini COBRA”) applies to employers with fewer employers. The ARPA extends free coverage to those receiving benefits under a mini-COBRA program.

This extension should encourage workers to seek coverage under COBRA, or mini-COBRA for the next several months, especially because coverage may be retroacted to April 1. If you believe you are entitled to COBRA coverage, your former employer must notify you of your eligibility by the end of May. For more information about the American Recue Plan Act, its impact on COBRA, and upcoming guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor, click here.

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