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Keith Ashmus

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United States - OH
Mediation Profile

Profession: Attorney - Labor and Employment Litigation, Construction Labor, Business. 

Work History: Partner, Frantz Ward LLP, 2000-present; National Chair Advocacy.

Department/Partner-In-Charge/Partner/Associate, Thompson Hine & Flory LLP, 1974-00. 

General Experience: Over 30 years in labor and employment relations and business litigation. Represents employers in discrimination, harassment, wage/hour, OSHA, fair representation, affirmative action and wrongful discharge matters. Project labor counsel in construction field, including $360 million Gateway Stadium and Arena Complex in Cleveland. Appellate counsel in dozens of federal and state cases. 

Has served as mediator in approximately 100 cases, including: a multimillion-dollar multi-employer pension plan case brought by Department of Labor against plan trustees; business reorganizations; many employment cases involving discharged employees; in-school harassment claims of a student; commercial claims involving product performance; dissolution of partnerships (including law partnerships) and business ventures; and construction/work jurisdiction disputes. 

Multi Party Mediation Experience - A common circumstance has involved claims by an employee against the (often former) employer and a supervisor, with an insurer appearing under a reservation of rights. Other cases have involved more than one union and one or more contractors. Business cases have generally included, as parties, both businesses and their carriers, depending upon the terms of the policies. Medicare billing cases have involved multiple providers and government enforcement agencies. Construction matters have involved owner, architect, general or CM, trade contractors, and sometimes unions. 

Mediation Experience as an Advocate or Party Mediation advocacy is a significant portion of non-neutral practice. Court-annexed mediation programs are used in almost every case handled before going to trial. Pre-suit mediation is used whenever possible. Private (fee-based) mediation tends to have better results, perhaps because of the commitment of the parties to the process demonstrated by participating in the cost, so is used whenever the economics can be accommodated between the parties. Matters mediated as a party representative have included many collective bargaining contract negotiations, some involving strikes or other job actions, wage-hour cases, discrimination cases, retaliation cases, business owner-to-owner disputes, and appellate case mediation.

Mediation Philosophy Mediation is a preferred method of resolving disputes for many reasons: confidentiality, expense saving, time reduction, availability of "remedies" unobtainable in court, certainty, party control of results and satisfaction of parties with ultimate resolution, to name a few. The most successful case mediations seem to be those where the mediator assertively helps the parties to a resolution seen by the mediator as fair and reasonable under all the circumstances, rather than those where the mediators passively allow the parties to restate their own positions over and over without significant movement. Thus, I take a strong, active mediation role in most cases. There is flexibility for me to adopt a different manner if called for, such as with multi-cultural mediation, where it is important to allow the different participants to become comfortable with the process based on their unique backgrounds. Party representatives play key roles in the process. In order to ensure that all parties are aware of the process, a description of mediation as I generally conduct it is provided in advance to counsel for distribution to the parties.
Representative Issues Handled as a Mediator - Issues in employment cases have involved: harassment, equal pay, wrongful termination, public policy, discrimination, fair labor standards, job safety, damage determinations, disability accommodations, and leave of absence rights. Issues in other cases have included: jurisdictional bases for claims, damages, technical issues of performance, relative contributions of partners to dissolving firm, fiduciary duties and emoluments, critical path analysis, collective bargaining agreement interpretation, affirmative action, and set-aside obligations, commission disputes, and billing disputes.
  • American Bar Association
  • California Bar Association
  • Ohio State Bar Association
  • American Arbitration Association
  • National Small Business Association
Training and Education
  • "Prevailing Wage Law in Ohio: The History and Overview of Ohio & Prevailing Wage Law," Mechanical Contractors Association, Akron, OH (June 2017)
  • “Watch Out for Hidden Traps When Investigating Your Workforce,” Frantz Ward Labor and Employment Law Seminar, Cleveland, OH (May 2017)
  • “Prevailing Wage,” Mechanical & Plumbing Industry Council (MAPIC), Cleveland, OH (January 2017)
  • “DOL’s New Overtime Rules,” Council of Smaller Enterprises, Webinar (June 2016)
  • “The Clown Car: How Many Regulations Can the DOL Pack In?” Frantz Ward Labor and Employment Law Seminar, Cleveland, OH (April 2016)
  • “Rambo Litigation Tactics,” National Business Institute, Independence, OH (September 2015)
  • “NLRB Handbook Policy Rules,” OSBA Labor and Employment Law Section, NLRB Region 8 & Region 9 Seminar and Webinar (April 2015)
  • "Family & Medical Leave Act: Recent Developments," Lorman Education Services, Independence, OH (March 2014)
  • "Human Resource Law - Wage & Benefit Issues," National Business Institute, Cleveland, OH (November 2013)
  • "The Birth of the Affordable Care Act," Syracuse, NY (September 2013)
  • "Navigating the Affordable Care Act from an Employer's Perspective," ALFA International, Pittsburgh, PA (June 2013)
  • “Non-Compete Agreements for Tech Startups,” Youngstown Business Incubator, Youngstown, OH (April 2013)
  • Editor and Author, Frantz Ward Labor and Employment Blog 
  • “How Employers Can Prepare For The Perils of ‘Pokémon Go,’” Law360 (July 2016)
  • “Employers Must Plan for New Federal Overtime Rules,” Properties Magazine (July 2016)
  • The Fair Labor Standards Act, ABA/BNA (1999)—Chapter Editor
  • Public Sector Collective Bargaining: The Ohio System, Labor Relations Press (1984)

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Keith Ashmus
2500 Key Center
127 Public Square
United States