This page is to let you know what types of cases our office can and cannot help with. Hopefully, with this information you can help make appropriate referrals, and avoid a run-around for those clients we cannot help. Our primary areas of concentration are in employment, consumer, landlord-tenant, immigration and domestic matters.
We have developed nationally recognized experience in representing environmental whistleblowers. Employees who take any action, or refuse any unlawful action, related to seven federal environmental laws can make a complaint to OSHA, and can receive a de novo hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. The full range of employment remedies are available, including compensatory damages, and in some case, exemplary damages. In one of Richard's cases, Charvat v. EORWA, 246 F.3d 607 (6th Cir. 2001), the Sixth Circuit held that reporting information to EPA was protected under the First Amendment, and retaliation against such activity was actionable under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. Richard wrote an article, "Federal Environmental Whistleblower Complaints," in Employee Rights Quarterly, Volume 3, Number 1 (Summer 2002), pp. 29-34. These cases can arise in any environmentally sensitive workplace, including local water and wastewater departments, industrial facilities, workers handling any nuclear materials, trucking, or other issues relating to toxic chemicals or air pollution. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations for most of these claims is 30 days! Truck drivers facing retaliation for insisting on compliant driving and log books, and employees of nuclear facilities, are allowed 180 days to file.
Also in the employment area, we handle Title VII discrimination claims, minimum wage and overtime claims, Family and Medical Leave Act claims, and claims for unemployment compensation. We do not handle worker's compensation matters, disability claims, or ERISA benefit claims. Of course, we are happy to make referrals in these and other areas.
We handle claims of unfair and deceptive acts or practices under the Consumer Sales Practices Act, the Home Solicitation Sales Act (HSSA), debt collection harassment claims and landlord tenant matters (for both tenants and landlords). In the debt collection area, we are happy to assist consumers who want to avoid bankruptcy by defending creditors' claims, providing protection letters, or by providing referrals to credit counseling or other services. If a bankruptcy is in the client's best interests, Tony can handle representation for the bankruptcy petition.
We represent clients in eviction and condition cases. We strive to help the law assure our community safe and affordable housing. We also handle discrimination and fair housing cases.
In the immigration area, Richard is one of the few Ohio lawyers who handle political asylum claims through the federal appellate process. We also handle immigration petitions based on marriage or other family status, and applications for relief under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). We normally do not provide defense in deportation matters as it is usually cheaper to retain an immigration attorney in Cleveland. However, we have been known to make exceptions. We also provide representation on the rights of immigrants to equal protection. Richard wrote the successful amicus briefs in State ex rel. Ten Residents v. Belskis (2001), 142 Ohio App.3d 296 and Vasquez v. Kutscher, 95 Ohio St.3d 280, 2002-Ohio-2125, establishing an immigrant's right to a marriage license without a Social Security Number.
We conduct a general practice representing individuals in divorces, juvenile court, child support and domestic violence matters. Richard prepared the amicus brief to the Ohio Supreme Court in Felton v. Felton (1997), 79 Ohio St.3d 34.
As a courtesy to our clients, we will also prepare a simple will, a living will, and a durable power of attorney for a flat fee of $50.00, but only for those clients for whom a simple will is appropriate. We will normally refer those matters requiring a trust or attention to tax consequences.
We have also handled a variety of other civil matters. For example, Richard has handled claims for access to public records. See State ex rel. Russell v. Thomas (1999), 85 Ohio St.3d 83. We have also provided representation to non-profit organizations, helping them organize and accomplish their charitable purposes.
If there are ways that our office can be helpful on these or related matters, you are welcome to make referrals, or contact our support staff, Sally Bernhart, Kandy Close, and Jeri Starcher. We normally charge $25.00 for an initial half hour consultation. For any client who says this initial consultation fee is a hardship, we will waive it. We strive to fulfill Canon 2 of the Code of Professional Responsibility: To make legal services available to those in need.
Very truly yours,
Richard R. Renner
Attorneys at Law