Todd H. Lebowitz

Partner

Cleveland
T +1 216.861.7899  |  F +1 216.696.0740

"[Todd] has a great legal mind and his customer service skills are phenomenal - he always follows up."

— Chambers USA 2015

Todd Lebowitz maintains a national employment litigation practice and also practices in the area of sports law. His experience includes serving as national employment law counsel for Fortune 50 and Fortune 1000 companies, and litigating employment discrimination cases in more than 20 states. He regularly advises clients on resolving complex day-to-day personnel problems covering the full scope of employment-related concerns, including background checks, hiring, disability issues, discipline, terminations and reductions in force. His approach to employment law is to help companies solve legal problems in a way that makes business sense. Todd also believes that sound advice includes consideration of how decisions are communicated to employees, recognizing that the manner in which employers deliver bad news can play a more significant role in determining whether the employee will file suit than the bad news itself. 

Todd has established a practice niche in handling independent contractor misclassification disputes and joint employment issues. He has successfully represented clients in defending claims of misclassification and in proactively evaluating clients' current use of independent contractors and other nonemployee workers. Todd speaks on these issues throughout the country and works with clients to recognize misclassification and joint employment risks, then designs and implements customized strategies for reducing those risks in a way that makes sense for each business. Click here to download Todd's 2016 white paper: Independent Contractor Misclassification: 2016 Legal Analysis. Todd is certified as a specialist in Labor & Employment Law by the Ohio State Bar Association and has been recognized in Chambers USA and as an Ohio "Super Lawyer." In the field of professional sports, Todd completed a research thesis titled "The Effect of Financial Reward on Intrinsic Motivation: A Study of Long-Term Contracts in Major League Baseball," prior to entering the practice of law. His study received national press coverage for its conclusion that players elevate their motivation and performance levels the year before they enter the free agent market. Todd currently serves on the board of directors for SABR (the Society for American Baseball Research), where he has been a member since 2000.

Select Experience

Employment Law
  • Fully admitted to practice in ten federal and state jurisdictions; has litigated cases in 20 states, including pro hac vice admissions.
  • Independent Contractor Misclassification Issues: Co-founder of multidisciplinary task force to advise employers on the use of non-employee workers, including independent contractors and staffing agencies. Multidisciplinary approach includes evaluation of employment, benefit, and tax issues, including Affordable Care Act compliance, as well as analysis using the multitude of federal and state legal standards. Actively works with national and regional employers to evaluate and advise on their use of independent contractors and regularly reviews master service agreements with staffing agencies. Recent risk assessment projects include company-wide analysis for a national insurance company and an international provider of audio and infotainment equipment.
Professional Sports
  • Drafted and negotiated player contracts for Major League Baseball team.
  • Drafted and negotiated numerous business contracts between baseball industry client and various industry partners.
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Experience

Employment Law
  • Fully admitted to practice in 10 federal and state jurisdictions; has litigated employment disputes in more than 20 states, including pro hac vice admissions.
  • Independent Contractor Misclassification and Joint Employment Issues: Co-founder of multidisciplinary task force to advise employers on the use of nonemployee workers, including independent contractors, staffing agencies and vendor labor. Multidisciplinary approach includes evaluation of employment, benefit and tax issues, including Affordable Care Act compliance, as well as analysis using the multitude of federal and state legal standards. Actively works with national and regional employers to evaluate and advise on their use of independent contractors and vendor-supplier workers; regularly reviews master service agreements with staffing agencies; and helps clients proactively reduce risks. 
  • Multiple ongoing independent contractor and joint employment projects, including proactive risk assessment and redrafting agreements, for nationwide clients across various industries, including insurance, electronics, manufacturing, property management and retail.
  • Obtained dismissal of a California class action alleging independent contractor misclassification and California Labor Code violations, with zero dollars paid to the plaintiffs. Dismissal resulted directly from changes to client’s independent contractor program that Todd had drafted a year earlier.
  • Obtained reversal of independent contractor misclassification finding by New York State Department of Labor, after $420,000 in back assessments had been issued against the client. Todd was hired three weeks before the hearing, after previous counsel had told the client that the case was unwinnable.
  • Background checks: Regularly advises employers and consumer reporting agencies on nationwide background check requirements under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and state and local laws, including ban-the-box developments. Advises clients on best practices in light of the patchwork of federal, state and local laws and the EEOC's current enforcement priorities and its disparate impact theory.
  • Obtained complete dismissal of putative class action against a nationwide retailer, in which the plaintiff alleged violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, prevailing on the grounds that the plaintiff was an independent contractor, not an employee.
  • Successfully defended a multistate retailer in a putative class action alleging willful violations of credit card truncation requirements in the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Novel strategic approach and defense strategy resulted in an extremely favorable settlement for the client and avoidance of class certification.
  • Successfully avoided class certification and obtained summary judgment for a manufacturing client in an FLSA misclassification case alleging failure to pay overtime to shift supervisors.
  • Drafted arbitration agreements, employment agreements and master services agreements for clients across multiple industries and in multiple states. 
Professional Sports
  • Drafted and negotiated player contracts for a Major League Baseball team.
  • Drafted and negotiated numerous business contracts between a baseball industry client and various industry partners.
  • Drafted a contract covering SABR's development of the SABR Defensive Index for use in the Rawlings Gold Glove Awards balloting process.
  • Drafted a uniform player contract for a professional soccer league (now defunct).
  • Represented numerous professional athletes in personal and business matters.

Recognitions

  • Chambers USA: Labor & Employment in Ohio (2011 and 2012; 2015 and 2016)
  • Ohio State Bar Association: Certified Specialist in Labor and Employment Law
  • Ohio "Super Lawyer" (2013 to 2017)
    • Ohio "Rising Star" (2011 to 2012)

Memberships

  • Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) (2000 to present)
    • Board of Directors, Secretary (2011 to present)
  • American Bar Association
  • Ohio State Bar Association
  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association

News

Community

  • Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Human Resources Committee

Services

Industries

Emerging Issues

Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, 1998
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, 2012
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, 2010
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, 2008
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, 2006
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, 2006
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, 2005
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin, 2002
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, 1998
  • Ohio

Education

  • J.D., University of Michigan Law School, 1997, cum laude
  • B.A., University of Michigan, 1993

Blog

In The Blogs

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Employment Law Spotlight
NLRB Makes Up More New Rules on Joint Employment
By Todd H. Lebowitz
July 17, 2016
Remember that kid in elementary school who, whenever you were winning at some made-up playground game, would change the rules in the middle? “Kids can be so unfair,” your parent might have said, trying to console you. “But when you get...
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Employment Law Spotlight
Labor Department Announces Plan to Find Joint Employment — in All Directions
By Todd H. Lebowitz
January 26, 2016
When I get lost (which is often, say my kids), I turn to a map. Fortunately, I always have my iPhone on me, so the Maps app can generally get me where I am going. The Wage and Hour Division needs no map to find where it wants to go. In a...
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Employment Law Spotlight
Oregon Limits Criminal Background Inquiries by Employers
By Todd H. Lebowitz
January 4, 2016
Oregon became the seventh state to ban the box for private employers, prohibiting any questions about criminal background on employment applications and at any time before an initial interview takes place. Oregon’s law took effect January...
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Employment Law Spotlight
Philadelphia Shows Brotherly Love for Ex-Felons Seeking Jobs
By Todd H. Lebowitz
December 21, 2015
Quick quiz: Which of the following statements by an employer is illegal in Philadelphia? I would never hire a vegetarian. No ugly people will be hired here. I hate dyed hair. If the carpet doesn’t match the drapes, no job for you. Our...
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Employment Law Spotlight
NLRB Blows Up Staffing Agency Model: Rewrites Joint-Employer Test
By Todd H. Lebowitz
August 30, 2015
Boom! In a 3-2 decision, the National Labor Relations Board spontaneously redefined joint employment in a way that threatens to turn almost every company that works with a staffing agency into a joint employer for collective bargaining...
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