Christine T. Cossler focuses her practice on private and public sector labor and employment law and school law. Christine has represented private and public sector employers in litigating a wide range of employment-related matters, including defending companies against discrimination, harassment and wrongful discharge allegations, breach of contract, promissory estoppel and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing actions, ERISA claims, non-compete and non-disclosure issues and various tort causes of action including intentional tort claims. Similarly, she has defended clients' interests at administrative proceedings before the State Employment Relations Board, the Unemployment Compensation Review Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. Building off of this experience, Christine regularly counsels both public and private sector clients on employment-related matters, including litigation risk management, and provides training in a variety of areas, including harassment prevention, employee privacy and technology concerns in the workplace.
In addition to employment litigation and counseling, Christine has successfully represented clients' interests in the arbitration of claims brought by employees and unions and has prosecuted and defended unfair labor practice charges with SERB and the NLRB.
Christine also represents boards of education throughout Ohio in all facets of school law, providing general counsel to those entities. Christine's diverse school law experience includes defending against a parents' challenge in the United States Supreme Court to a student's special education program, counseling school districts on special education issues, prosecuting student discipline issues, defending against a coach's claims of defamation and defending against a public records challenge. Additionally, Christine regularly deals with student and employee discipline issues, policy development and technology issues in education.
Areas Of Emphasis
Christine has represented public and private sector clients in a variety of proceedings at the state and federal level, including matters such as:
- Defending both state and federal lawsuits alleging violations of fair employment practices statutes, including sexual discrimination and harassment, racial discrimination and harassment, disability discrimination, age discrimination and other civil rights claims;
- Defending federal ERISA lawsuit alleging wrongful denial of severance benefits;
- Defending state common law wrongful discharge, defamation, invasion of privacy and various tort-based lawsuits;
- Representing employers in the defense of contract-based claims;
- Representing employers before the EEOC and state equal employment agencies when charges of discrimination have been filed;
- Representing employers in both the defense and prosecution of non-compete and confidentiality agreements, as well as enforcement actions to protect employers' trade secrets; and
- Representing employers as third-party defendants in state divorce proceedings.
Christine is a frequent lecturer and trainer on issues relating to workplace professionalism, such as harassment and discrimination, employee privacy and technology in the workplace.
Christine has experience guiding clients through ongoing labor relations issues and assisting clients in the interpretation and enforcement of collective bargaining agreements. This experience includes:
- Arbitrating grievances arising under collective bargaining agreements ranging from disciplinary issues to contract interpretation issues;
- Defending employers against unfair labor practice charges filed by unions with the NLRB and SERB;
- Advising employers on the avoidance of unfair labor practice charges; and
- Advising clients with respect to contract interpretation issues arising under collective bargaining agreements.
In addition to representing boards of education in litigation matters and labor relations, Christine has provided regular advice and counsel to school law clients in the following areas:
- Board policy formulation, implementation and administration;
- Contract advice, guidance and drafting, including third-party agreements;
- Employment and personnel issues, including hiring, firing, evaluation and corrective action counseling;
- Assisting clients to interpret, apply and administer the collective bargaining agreements;
- Defending the interests of boards of education in arbitration proceedings, including those based on contract interpretation and employee discipline;
- Public records and the sunshine law, along with privacy concerns of employees and students;
- Student legal issues, including challenges to Board policies, discipline and First Amendment issues; and
- Counseling regarding special education issues
Christine is also a frequent trainer on new teacher orientation and legal updates on education issues.
- "Professional Development Series: Session I (Legal Updates for the Start of the 2012-13 School Year)," program jointly sponsored by Walter | Haverfield LLP and the Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County, Valley View, Ohio, October 19, 2012.
- "FMLA and ADAAA Update," Marriott Cleveland East, April 27, 2012.
- "2010 Walter | Haverfield LLP Labor and Employment Law Seminar," "Employee Handbook Tips and Pitfalls," Outline, Presentation, Holiday Inn in Independence, September 30, 2010.
- "Spring School Law Seminar," Quail Hollow, April 13, 2010.
- "Frequently Asked Questions: School Law," Quail Hollow Resort, February 25, 2009.
- "Employment Laws Made Simple: Ensure compliance with employment law procedures and practices!" National Business Institute Seminar, December 10, 2008.
Case Western Reserve University School of Law, 2002, Valedictorian, Summa Cum Laude
Youngstown State University
Licensed to Practice
- All courts in Ohio
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
Awards & Recognitions2007; 2009-2012 - Selected to Ohio Super Lawyers Rising Stars list. Areas of practice: Employment & Labor; Schools & Education.
Christine is a member of the Cleveland Employment Law Inns of Court.
Prior to joining the firm, Christine was also a Law Clerk to the Honorable James S. Gwin, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio.
Articles by Christine T. CosslerFebruary 19, 2013 - "Employment laws keep changing; so should your employee handbook," Crain's Cleveland Business (Legal Guest Blog)
May 2012 - "IEP development 101: How to avoid legal pitfalls and litigation," School Management News
March 2012 - "EEOC Issues Guidance Regarding the ADAAA and Returning Military Veterans"
December 2011 - "Dog and Pony Show: New Guidance for Service Animals in the School Setting," School Business Affairs
April 2010 - "Privacy Concerns: The Effects of the Latest FERPA Changes," School Business Affairs
December 2009 - Training - Your Best Friend or Worst Enemy?, Manufacturing.Net
Summer 2009 - "The Law Tackles New Cyber Trends," Your Teen
April 2009 - "IRS Issues Guidance Regarding Meaning of "Involuntary Termination" for Purposes of the COBRA Premium Reduction"
October 2007 - "One Liners," Cleveland Business Connects