Walter Haverfield Attorney

Eric J. Johnson

  • Partner
    Labor & Employment Chair
  • Cleveland Direct: 216.928.2890
  • Cleveland Fax: 216.916.2442

Overview

Partner Eric Johnson focuses his practice on labor and employment law and school law. Ohio Super Lawyers has consistently recognized Eric as a "Rising Star" in his field, an honor going to only 2.5% of eligible attorneys. Likewise, Inside Business named Eric one of the area's "Young Legal Leaders" and Crain's Cleveland Business included Eric in its "40 Under 40" class of 2009.

As the chair of the Labor and Employment Law department, Eric represents private and public sector clients in a wide range of employment-related matters, including defending employers against discrimination, harassment and wrongful discharge allegations, FMLA and FLSA claims, non-compete issues, and various tort actions. Eric regularly counsels clients on general compliance and risk management strategy (no comma) and provides training in almost every area of employment law.

In addition to employment litigation and counseling, Eric has substantial traditional labor law experience. He represents public and private sector employers at the bargaining table as the lead negotiator with a variety of labor organizations and also counsels employers on bargaining issues from behind the scenes. Eric 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.

Eric founded the firm's Education Law department in 2006 and has guided its development for the past eight years. In 2014 and 2015, his efforts were rewarded when Walter | Haverfield LLP was named a Tier 1 firm in Cleveland for its Education Law practice by U.S. News - Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms." Eric represents boards of education throughout Ohio in all facets of school law, providing general counsel to public school districts across the state. Eric has achieved precedent-setting decisions related to unilateral implementation of contract terms and the supremacy of the teacher evaluation system over collective bargaining rights.

Experience

School District Collective Bargaining
  • Guided school district client through the process of unilaterally implementing the client’s last best offer over the unfair labor practice challenges brought by the union.
  • Represented client in achieving a precedent-setting decision with regard to the school district’s implementation of the standards-based evaluation framework over union’s demands to bargain.
  • Defends school districts in a variety of matters before the State Employment Relations Board (SERB).
  • Has served as chief negotiator on behalf of school districts of various sizes and financial states throughout the state.
  • Has provided “behind the scenes” collective bargaining support to school districts of various sizes throughout the state.
Labor and Employment
  • Achieved arbitration victories on high-profile teacher and non-teaching discipline cases, as well as high-stakes contract interpretation matters.
  • Argued to overturn an arbitrator’s decision holding that the school district did not have grounds to terminate a teacher.
  • Represents school districts in proceedings before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Ohio Civil Rights Commission with respect to claims of race, sex, age, gender and disability discrimination.
  • Represents school districts in teacher termination and discipline proceedings.
  • Represents school districts in proceedings regarding discipline and termination of classified employees including negotiation and implementation of last chance agreements.
  • Counsels clients regarding compliance with the ADA, FMLA, FLSA, ADEA and other employment laws.
  • Represents districts in defamation lawsuits.
General Counsel
  • Provides day-to-day advice to school districts regarding operational issues.
  • Assists school districts with negotiating vendor contracts and interpretation of existing vendor contracts.
  • Assists school districts with land-use and facilities issues.
  • Assists school districts with policy review and development.
Sunshine Law/Public Records
  • Counsels school districts faced with voluminous public record requests and respond to same on behalf of clients.
  • Counsels school districts on various aspects of compliance with Ohio’s Open Meetings Act, including impact of social media and text messaging.
  • Counsels school districts on compliance with Ohio’s Public Records Act, including the impact of new technologies on public records.

Recognition

  • 2019 - Selected for inclusion in the 2019 edition of The Best Lawyers in America©. Listed in the current edition for Education Law.
  • In the November 30, 2009 issue of Crain’s Cleveland Business, Eric Johnson was named to the publication’s prestigious “Forty under 40” list. In this annual listing, Crain’s honored forty of Greater Cleveland’s young professionals from a variety of fields and industries, who have taken an active role in the local business community and demonstrated leadership and vision in helping to revitalize the region’s economy. 
  • In the June 2009 issue of Inside Business magazine, Eric J. Johnson was featured in the special section, "High Bars," which highlighted 15 of Northeast Ohio's leading young lawyers.
  • 2007; 2009; 2011-2015 - Selected to Ohio Super Lawyers Rising Stars list. Areas of practice: Employment & Labor; Schools & Education.

Articles

Presentations

  • Legal Update, Northeast Ohio Association of School Personnel Administrators, September 25, 2017
  • Legal Update, Cleveland Area Minority Educators Recruitment Association, September 28, 2017
  • Legal Update, Ashtabula ESC Retreat, Ashtabula County Educational Service Center, August 3, 2017
  • Labor Concerns in Higher Education, ACUHO-I’s Mid-Level Managers Leadership Conference (Las Vegas, NV), April 24-27, 2017
  • Ohio Association of School Business Officials - Essentials of Financial Management & Administration Seminar – March 8, 2017
  • Ohio Association of School Personnel Administrators Conference (Dublin, OH) – Legal Update – March 3, 2017
  • ACUHO-I’s 2017 State of the Profession Institute (Atlanta, GA) – Panel Discussion – February 1, 2017
  • Northeast Ohio Association of School Personnel Administrators (Cuyahoga County ESC) – Human Resources Legal Update – January 24, 2017
  • "Holiday Legalpalooza – Version 3.0," NEOASBO, December 13, 2016
  • "Northeast Ohio Association of School Personnel Administrators HR Legal Update," Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County, September 19, 2016
  • "Diversity in the Workplace," Cleveland Area Minority Educators Recruitment Association, September 16, 2016
  • "Legal Update, Version 2016," Geneva Area City Schools, August 26, 2016
  • "Legal Update, Version 2016," Ashtabula County Educational Service Center, August 4, 2016
  • "Legal Update, Version 2016," Lake County ESC Board Member Dinner, April 27, 2016
  • "Transgender Issues," April 27, 2016
  • "School Law for Treasurers," OASBO Deep Dive, February 9, 2016
  • "Social Media: Employee Speech Against the Employer & Discipline," Cuyahoga County Educational Service Center, January 21, 2016
  • "Legal Updates for Administrators," Lake County Educational Service Center, January 21, 2016
  • "Holiday Legalpalooza," NEOASBO, December 11, 2015
  • "Collective Bargaining: Version 2015-2016," Lorain County Educational Service Center, October 23, 2015
  • "Assessing and Addressing Employee Performance," Willoughby-Eastlake School District, October 13, 2105
  • "Managing your Social Media Identity," iSTEM, October 9, 2015
  • "Licensure Code and Personal Conduct," Lake Erie College, October 5, 2015
  • "Personal Conduct," Geneva Schools, August 21, 2015
  • "New Teacher Orientation: Personal Conduct," Mentor Public Schools, August 13, 2015
  • Ashtabula County Administrators’ Conference, Ashtabula County Educational Service Center, August 7, 2015
  • "Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES)," Update for Westlake City Schools, August 22, 2014
  • "Ten Timely Topics for Central Office Administrators," Northeast Ohio Legal Updates Network, Cuyahoga ESC, April 17, 2015
  • "Collective Bargaining Update," North Central Ohio Education Service Center, February 26, 2015
  • "Legal Update," Geauga County Educational Service Center, February 5, 2015
  • "What Superintendents Need to Know for 2015," Ashtabula County Superintendent Retreat, January 22, 2015
  • "Discipline and Investigation," Ashtabula County Superintendents’ Retreat, January 22, 2015
  • "What Treasurers Need to Know for 2015," NEOASBO Holiday Chapter Meeting, Cleveland Skating Club, December 12, 2014
  • "Playing Well With Others," OSBA Capital Conference, November 10, 2014
  • "NEOASPA Fall Legal Update," Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County, October 20, 2014
  • "Collective Bargaining Version 2014-15," Cuyahoga County ESC Legal Update, October 6, 2014
  • "Equal Opportunity Employment – A How-To on Promoting Workforce Diversity and Avoiding Discrimination Claims," Cleveland Area Minority Educators Recruitment Association, September 19, 2014
  • "Interviewing and Hiring: Avoiding Common Pitfalls," Cleveland Area Minority Recruitment Association, September 19, 2014
  • "School Administrator Legal Update," Lake County Educational Service Center (Lakeland Community College), Kirtland, Ohio, August 8, 2014
  • "School Administrator Legal Update," Geauga County Administrator Retreat 2014, held at Lakeland Community College-Mooreland Mansion, Kirtland, Ohio, August 6, 2014
  • "Social Media: The Good, the Bad... and the Inevitable," American Planning Association's "24th Annual Cleveland Planning and Zoning Workshop," Cleveland, Ohio, November 16, 2012
  • "Old School or Bold School? Dispelling the Myths around 21st Century Technology in the Classroom," Administrative Academy for Leadership in Technology 2.0 (AALT 2.0), Valley View, Ohio, October 24, 2012
  • "Social Media: Friend... or Foe?," Ohio Provider Resource Association 2012 Fall Conference, Dublin, Ohio, September 25, 2012
  • "Issues Regarding Social Media in Schools," presentation at program titled, "Connect the Dots with College and Career Readiness...," held at Lake Erie College, Painesville, Ohio, March 29, 2012
  • "Pitfalls of Social Media - Parts One and Two," Northern Ohio Area Chambers of Commerce (NOACC) Chamber Leadership Meeting, Sandusky, Ohio, April 29, 2011
  • "Ohio Senate Bill 5: The Negotiator's Perspective," presentation at program sponsored by the Ohio School Boards Association, Columbus, Ohio, April 19, 2011
  • "Final Ohio Senate Bill 5: Public Management Perspectives on Collective Bargaining and Employment Issues," Holiday Inn Cleveland South, April 8, 2011
  • "Managing Your Child's Use of Technology," Julie Billiart School Parent Action Committee (PAC) program, Lyndhurst, Ohio, March 10, 2011
  • "The Top Ten Things You Need to Know About Social Media," presentation at seminar titled, "Growing Your Business in Geauga County," sponsored by the Geauga County Job & Family Services-Workplace, Chesterland, Ohio, March 8, 2011
  • "Cyberbullying: Challenges to the Educational Community," WVIZ Advisory Council panel discussion, October 19, 2010
  • "2010 Walter | Haverfield LLP Labor and Employment Law Seminar, "Developing Issues in Employment Law," Holiday Inn in Independence, September 30, 2010
  • "Spring School Law Seminar," Holiday Inn Cleveland West, April 14, 2010
  • "Spring School Law Seminar," Quail Hollow, April 13, 2010
  • "Developing Issues in Wage-Hour Law: Preparing Employers for the Increased Governmental Enforcement Initiatives," ADP Seminar, Embassy Suites Hotel, April 7, 2010
  • "Employment Law Update: What You Need to Know for 2010," Marriott, Cleveland East, January 19, 2010
  • "Keeping Your Workforce Union-Free Under the Threat of the Employee Free Choice Act ("EFCA")," Corporate College, April 15, 2009
  • "Public Labor and Employment Law: What's New and What's Coming," Ohio Municipal Attorneys Association, March 13, 2009
  • "Frequently Asked Questions: School Law", Quail Hollow Resort, February 25, 2009
  • "Change is Coming! How Will Employment Laws Be Affected" in Cleveland, Ohio. The event was sponsored by the National Business Institute (NBI), January 7, 2009
  • "Employment Laws Made Simple," National Business Institute, December 10, 2008
  • Employment & Labor Seminar on "Managing Employee Leaves of Absence", Marriott Cleveland East, September 23, 2008
  • "Responding to Frequently Asked Questions in Employment Law", Marriott, Cleveland East, June 17, 2008
  • "Employment Laws Made Simple; Ensure compliance with employment law procedures and practices!", National Business Institute Seminar, December 11, 2007
  • Ohio School Board Association's Capital Conference; "Can You Hear and See Me Now? Podcasting in Education" - November 2006

Associations

In addition to serving as pro bono legal counsel to a number of non-profit entities, Eric serves as a member of the board of directors for Hershey Montessori School. Eric is also active in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In 2004, City Year awarded Eric the Idealism in Action Award in recognition of his community service efforts in the Greater Cleveland area.

  • Fellow, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association
  • Cleveland Employment Law Inns of Court
  • Ohio Council of School Board Attorneys
  • National Council of School Attorneys
  • Member, Ohio Management Lawyers Association

Podcasts

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