John R. Cernelich's Profile Image

John R. Cernelich

The Calfee Building, 1405 East Sixth Street Cleveland, Ohio 44114-1607
Firm: Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP
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Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP

Years In Practice

Phone Number (216) 622-8251

John Cernelich is a Partner and Chair of Calfee’s Labor and Employment practice group, representing employers in all workplace-related issues, as well as in employment litigation in both state and federal court.

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 work forces 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 which 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.

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. He serves as a member of the firm’s Practice Planning & Growth Committee (formerly known as the Executive Committee).

Since 2014, John has been recognized for his work in Labor & Employment by Chambers USA. “[John Cernelich] provides outstanding service and great advice,” says one source, with another regarding John as “very knowledgeable.” In Chambers USA 2020, John is described by a client as "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."

He also has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© (2013-2021) in the areas of Employment Law – Management and Labor Law – Management. He is ranked by Benchmark Litigation as a “Labor & Employment Star – Midwest" (2019-2020). He has an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell and is listed in Cleveland’s Top-Rated Lawyers Guide. 

What legal services does this lawyer offer?
  • Chambers USA, Labor and Employment, Ohio Band 3 (2014-2022)
  • Benchmark Litigation, Labor & Employment Star – Midwest (2019-2022)
  • The Best Lawyers in America©, Employment Law – Management, Labor Law – Management (2013-2023)
  • Martindale-Hubbell, AV Preeminent rating
  • Cleveland’s Top-Rated Lawyers Guide 
University of Virginia, J.D.
Graduated 1986
Harvard University, B.A.
Graduated 1982
Contact Details and Office Locations
The Calfee Building, 1405 East Sixth Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44114-1607
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