Jennifer E. Edwards

Partner

Columbus
T +1.614.462.2602
F +1.614.462.2616

Overview

Jenni Edwards is an employment litigator, labor negotiator, and trusted counselor to public- and private-sector executives and their teams. Her experience in arbitrations and the courtroom informs her approach to counseling clients on the workplace risks presented by Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and various related state and federal laws. Additionally, she has successfully defended charges of discrimination and harassment, obtained summary judgment, negotiated favorable settlements, represented clients at trial, and argued at the appellate level, all while efficiently managing legal spend for clients.

Jenni has acted as the lead labor negotiator for several public-sector clients over the years and has significant experience leading teams through negotiations, mediation, fact-finding, and conciliation. She regularly advises public-sector clients on their ethical obligations under Ohio law and on compliance obligations regarding public records and open meetings.

In addition to her roles as advocate and negotiator, Jenni is frequently called upon to conduct workplace investigations in response to employee allegations of unlawful conduct and general employer concerns regarding corporate culture. She frequently investigates claims alleging misconduct by C-suite executives and their teams.

Select Experience

  • Obtained a full defense verdict in favor of a Columbus-based employer in Massachusetts federal district court after a five-day jury trial. The former employee asserted three distinct state law claims, each with three separate sub-parts, effectively forcing litigation over nine claims. The plaintiff’s claims, which included age discrimination and breach of contract, required the trial testimony of a number of high-level executives, including the CEO, the recently-retired CFO, a senior vice president of human resources, and two vice presidents with operational responsibilities, as well as Boston-based salespeople. By filing a motion for sanctions relating to the spoliation of evidence, Jenni and her team successfully obtained an adverse jury instruction against the plaintiff for her failure to mitigate her damages.
  • Lead defense counsel in federal litigation under the Railway Labor Act alleging interference with employee rights and retaliation for alleged protected activity.
  • Argued in front of the Tenth District Court of Appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court regarding a novel issue of statutory interpretation of Ohio’s public-sector labor law.
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Experience

  • Obtained a full defense verdict in favor of a Columbus-based employer in Massachusetts federal district court after a five-day jury trial. The former employee asserted three distinct state law claims, each with three separate sub-parts, effectively forcing litigation over nine claims. The plaintiff’s claims, which included age discrimination and breach of contract, required the trial testimony of a number of high-level executives, including the CEO, the recently-retired CFO, a senior vice president of human resources, and two vice presidents with operational responsibilities, as well as Boston-based salespeople. By filing a motion for sanctions relating to the spoliation of evidence, Jenni and her team successfully obtained an adverse jury instruction against the plaintiff for her failure to mitigate her damages.
  • Lead defense counsel in federal litigation under the Railway Labor Act alleging interference with employee rights and retaliation for alleged protected activity.
  • Argued in front of the Tenth District Court of Appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court regarding a novel issue of statutory interpretation of Ohio’s public-sector labor law.
  • Lead counsel in Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services arbitration brought against construction company by union engaged in ongoing litigation in front of the National Labor Relations Board. Matter related to union efforts to expand its jurisdiction over certain types of work, allegations that the company assigned its work to a rival union, and whether the parties actually agreed to resolve issues through grievance and arbitration.
  • As in-house counsel for a regional transit authority, provided strategic guidance during nearly a year of labor negotiations and a three-day labor strike. Guided the leadership team and management in continued operational planning, including determining whether service should be provided during the strike, developing and implementing a crisis communication plan and security strategy, setting negotiation strategies, and providing in-house training for management employees on how to handle the impending strike. Once the strike commenced, provided continued guidance on communication strategies, supported the executive team and played a key role in developing a resolution between management and striking employees.
  • Assisted in the defense of an employment discrimination claim of class allegations of disparate treatment against a construction company during a three-year investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Following statistical analysis and ongoing negotiation, the situation was resolved with no complaint filed against the company. Her work with this client led to changes in the company’s internal practices to ensure that future allegations would be more easily defensible.
  • As lead counsel to a physician practice group in a dispute with a former physician-owner, was involved in discovery depositions and two days of arbitration involving alleged damages of more than $1 million.

Recognitions and Memberships

Recognitions

  • The Legal 500 United States
    • Recommended in Labor-Management Relations (2017)
    • Recommended in Labor and Employment Disputes (including collective actions): Defense (2016, 2019)
  • The Best Lawyers in America©
    • Ohio: Employment Law – Management (2018 to Present)
    • Ohio: Labor Law  – Management (2019 to Present)
  • Corporate Counsel Women, Influence & Power in Law Awards, Honoree for Collaborative Leadership (2019)
  • Ohio Super Lawyer "Rising Star" (2009 to 2011, 2015 to 2017)
  • Ohio Public Employer Labor Relations Association, Pacesetter Award (2018)
  • Ohio Diversity Council, Leadership Excellence (2017)

Memberships

  • Ohio State Bar Association
  • Columbus Bar Association
  • Ohio Public Employer Labor Relations Association
  • National Public Employer Labor Relations Association

Community

  • Columbus Police Foundation, Board of Directors: President (2018 to present)
  • Leadership Columbus Class of 2016
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio: Board of Trustees 
  • The Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law Mentoring and More @ Moritz Program: Mentor (2013 to 2014)
  • Ohio Supreme Court Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program: Mentor (2017 to present)
  • United Way of Central Ohio: Women's Leadership Council
  • Women for Economic and Leadership Development

Prior Positions

  • Regional Transit Authority: Senior Legal Counsel (2011 to 2013)
  • Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP: Associate (2005 to 2011),  Senior Associate (2011)
  • The Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law: Adjunct Professor (2008, 2012)
  • The University of Texas School of Law: Teaching Quizmaster and Section Representative (2003 to 2005)

Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, 2008
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, 2006
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, 2006
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois, 2010
  • Ohio, 2005

Education

  • J.D., The University of Texas School of Law, 2005; Texas Journal on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights (2003 to 2004); Outstanding TQ Award recipient (2003 to 2004); Winstead Sechrest & Minick Voir Dire Competition finalist (2003); Certificate of Excellence in Legal Writing recipient (2003)
  • B.A., Justice and Secondary Education, American University, 1999, cum laude