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.
Niro M. Wijesooriya practices in all areas of employment law, including discrimination, harassment, retaliation, breach of employment contract, severance/separation negotiation, non-competition, and wage and hour law. He has appeared in state and federal trial and appellate courts, and before local, state, and federal agencies and commissions, including civil service commissions. Niro also provides clients with probate court representation and estate planning.
Niro has been a lawyer for over 15 years, practicing both civil and criminal law. He began his legal career as an Assistant Prosecutor for the City of Cincinnati, accumulating extensive jury and bench trial experience in criminal court while also assisting in civil matters. Niro left the Prosecutor’s office to work for a civil law firm, where he represented Public Sector unions and their members in everything from negotiating collective bargaining agreements, to grievances, to disciplinary matters. Niro also gained substantial experience representing private sector employees in a full spectrum of employment matters. Niro then started his own civil practice, while also managing the criminal and civil docket for a Hamilton County Municipal Court judge.
Before becoming a lawyer, Niro received his J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, where he served as an Editor on the Human Rights Quarterly, and his B.A. in English Literature from the George Washington University.
Outside of work, Niro volunteers with several organizations that focus on assisting under-privileged children gain access to resources and opportunities, including Found Village and Cincinnati Squash Academy. He is an avid runner, and plays tennis, squash, and soccer. He and his wife created and ran a sports boosters’ club for the new elementary public school that their children attended. His son and daughter both currently attend Walnut Hills High School. Niro has lived in Africa, Asia, Europe, and New Zealand, and enjoys international travel. He now lives in Pleasant Ridge with his wife and their two children.
Serah E. Siemann is a graduate from the University of Dayton School of Law and is a member of the Ohio Bar. After working in the social welfare system for almost a decade, Serah pursued her career as an attorney to provide guidance and assistance to individuals facing complex and diverse legal issues. Serah has previously appeared as counsel for both employers and employees in state and federal proceedings. Currently, Serah continues to focus her practice on plaintiffs work in employment law matters including discrimination, Fair Labor Standards Act, harassment, and contractual relations. In addition, Serah serves as an advocate for families and children involved in the Juvenile court. Her practices areas also include estate planning, contract review, Social Security Disability and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. In 2019, Serah was recognized by the Montgomery County Juvenile Court as Outstanding Attorney of the Year. Serah serves as co-chair of the Juvenile Law Section of the Dayton Bar Association and is actively serves as a Guardian Ad Litem in Dayton and the surrounding areas. She has been named an Ohio Super Lawyers Rising Star for 2020 and 2021.
In their free time, Serah and her husband enjoy spending time with their three children and four grandchildren. They continue to serve as foster/adoptive parents to children in the community. Serah enjoys traveling, reading and attending local festivals.
Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in 2018 challenging Ohio’s refusal to allow transgender residents to correct the gender marker on their birth certificates. The lawsuit was brought by three transgender women and one transgender man who had sought unsuccessfully to change their birth certificates to reflect their identified gender. Ohio and Tennessee are the last two states to change this discriminatory and outdated policy.
In an opinion issued on December 16, 2020, a federal judge struck down the Ohio policy, clearing the way for transgender individuals in Ohio to change their birth certificates to reflect their gender identity. The court rejected the state’s arguments that they had this policy in place to maintain “accurate records” and that somehow preventing changes the gender marker on the birth certificates of transgender Ohioans would prevent criminals from “perpetrating fraud.” The court noted that prior to 2016, Ohio had allowed such changes to be made. But in 2018, the state reversed itself and put in place a policy to prevent transgender Ohioans from changing the gender marker on birth certificates even though the state allows gender changes for driver’s licenses and official state identification cards.
The court found that the current policy, “resembles the sort of discrimination-based legislation struck down under the equal protection clause… as nothing more than a policy ‘born of animosity toward the class of person affected’ that has ‘no rational relation to a legitimate government purpose.'” The judge concluded that, “The court finds defendants’ policy to be unconstitutional and hereby permanently enjoins defendants from enforcing their policy.”
As quoted in a Columbus Dispatch article, Kara Ingelhart, Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal noted “Finally, transgender people from Ohio will be able to correct their birth certificates so that this necessary identity document is consistent with their gender identities. Accurate birth certificates are essential. They are foundational to our ability to access a variety of benefits such as employment and housing, and to navigate the world freely and safely, as who we truly are.”
For the plaintiffs who brought the case, the court’s decision tears down what they described in their complaint as a barrier to the full recognition, participation and inclusion of transgender people in society. Their legal victory means the state cannot enforce this discriminatory policy which the court found “treats transgendered people differently than similarly situated Ohioans.” The state’s policy on birth certificate gender marker changes can no longer be used to subject transgender Ohioans to discrimination, privacy invasions, harassment, humiliation, and stigma.
For more information on the court’s decision see:
Victory! Federal Court Strikes Down Ohio’s Anti-Transgender Birth Certificate Policy
Federal judge sides with transgender residents on changing Ohio birth certificates
Federal judge strikes down Ohio policy prohibiting transgender people from correcting their birth certificate
For those of you who made claims in Williams v. Duke, the claims process is underway. The review of these claims is a detailed process, with over 200,000 claims received. For more information on the estimated time frame checks will be mailed visit dukeclassaction.com.
Jon Allison’s Monday Blog
Last week federal Judge Edward Chen of the Northern District of California declined to approve a $100 million dollar settlement in a class-action suit by approximately 385 thousand Uber drivers. The Judge said that the amount was still not enough to be fair and reasonable. The Judge said drivers were potentially owed $700 million in mileage reimbursement, $122 million in tips, $2.4 million in overtime and $30 million in phone reimbursements. Attorneys for the drivers and Uber had agreed on the settlement. The risk for Uber in not settling is it could get hit with a big verdict at trial. There is risk for the drivers as well, however, aside from potentially losing at trial. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is reviewing the decision to certify the class of 385 thousand drivers. If that decision were to be overturned, nearly all of the drivers would have to pursue their claims individually in arbitration. When the same thing happened to Lyft in a similar lawsuit, it increased its proposal from $12.5 million to $27 million and that amount was approved by the judge overseeing that litigation. We’ll see what happens here.
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If you paid an electric bill to Duke between 2005 and 2008, the deadline to file a claim is today. Residential customers could receive payments of $40 to $400 and commercial customers could receive up to $6,000 each. “It takes less than five minutes to make a claim on the website, and customers do not need to find the notice that was mailed to them,” said Randy Freking. Follow this link to file. To find out more read this article in The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Tune into WLW at 4:45 today to listen to Randy Freking talk about this case and what it means for Duke Energy electric ratepayers.