Whether it be regulatory or sub-regulatory guidance, resolution agreements, OCR investigations, or litigation, most institutions are well aware of the risks associated with having scant policies and procedures for addressing incidents of sexual harassment. As a result, most, if not all, institutions attempt to develop robust policies and procedures designed to address that specific issue.
However, in our sometimes-hasty approach to shore up the institution’s sexual harassment policy, we neglect to address other forms of harassment and discrimination (race, age, religion, etc.). Institutions typically focus the lion’s share of their policy efforts on student sexual harassment, carving out issues affecting faculty and staff. The result is typically a thorough, detailed sexual harassment policy for students, with faculty, staff, and their aging handbooks mixed in as afterthoughts, if at all.
Indeed, institutions often limit their stance on non-Title IX forms of harassment and discrimination to a few sentences in a stand-alone paragraph that may look more like a public service announcement than a policy. Further, there is often little or no guidance as to how an institution reviews, investigates, and resolves reported incidents in those non-Title IX areas. This disjointed approach can put the institution at great risk when it attempts to review and resolve matters using the under-developed policies, causing confusion and tension between faculty, staff, students, and administration.
So what’s the solution? Is it creating one, unified harassment and discrimination policy that applies equally to all? Or should the institution try to reconcile the language of its existing policies, procedures, and handbooks to eliminate conflicts and make sure they appropriately cross-reference each other on harassment and discrimination related issues?
Regardless of the approach, the institution should seek to create unity and harmony across policies and procedures related to all forms of harassment and discrimination, not just sexual harassment. This involves breaking down silos to design policies that apply equitably to all constituents and/or interface appropriately with existing handbooks and agreements as appropriate. One of the great things about trying to reconcile your institution’s harassment and discrimination policies is that it requires communication among a large cross-section of campus constituents and can lead to the creation of new partnerships or the strengthening of existing ones.
By taking a thoughtful and holistic approach to reviewing the harassment and discrimination policies and procedures on your campus, you can improve your campus climate and strengthen campus culture.
David J. Sipusic
MRR is pleased to announce that Joseph F. Nicholas Jr., John T. McLandrich, and George V. Pilat have been selected for the 2023 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America®. Named one of the best Transportation Law attorneys in the country, President & Managing Partner Joe Nicholas Jr. has been honored by the prestigious legal guide six years in a row. Partner John McLandrich has been recognized 12 consecutive years for his work in Civil Rights Law. In addition, Partner George Pilat has been named to the Best Lawyers® list six years in a row for his work in Insurance Law and Professional Malpractice Law.
First published in 1983, The Best Lawyers in America is the oldest and most respected peer-reviewed publication in the legal profession. Attorneys who are nominated for The Best Lawyers in America list are evaluated on the basis of professional expertise, and undergo an authentication process to make sure they are in current practice and in good standing. For the 2023 edition, Best Lawyers reviewed more than 12.2 million evaluations, resulting in the recognition of only 5.3% of lawyers in the United States.
MRR congratulates all attorneys who received this well-deserved recognition in their respective areas of practice.
John T. McLandrich (2012)
Civil Rights Law
Joseph F. Nicholas Jr. (2018)
George V. Pilat (2018)
Professional Malpractice Law – Defendants
MRR is proud to announce the promotion of John D. Pinzone to Equity Partner with the firm. John has more than 16 years of experience in public sector, employment and school law.
“John’s hard work, dedication, superior legal skills and leadership abilities warrant this well-deserved promotion,” commented Joe Nicholas, MRR’s President and Managing Partner.
Mr. Pinzone has defended governmental entities, social service agencies and school districts throughout Ohio in both state and federal courts. He represents and defends school districts and school district personnel, and has successfully defended and resolved a wide variety of legal claims involving personal injury, civil rights, and educational regulations. He also has advised school district personnel and board members as to the application of school regulations and statutes. John graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.S. degree and earned his J.D. from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.
MRR Partner James A. Climer was invited to take part in a panel discussion on “Qualified Immunity: Is It Changing? What Is Its Impact on The Justice System?” at the Twenty-Fifth Conference of the Eighth Judicial District held in Cleveland, Ohio on May 19-20, 2022.
Jim was joined by Nick DiCello (Spangenberg, Shibley & Liber), J.R. Russell (Assistant Director of Law, City of Cleveland), Sarah Gelsomino (Friedman, Gilbert + Gerhardstein), and Stanley Jackson (The Cochran Firm) for the panel discussion on Friday.
Jim specializes in public sector law, employment and labor, and school law. He has considerable experience advising and defending governmental entities and their employees, including counties, municipalities, townships, school boards, park districts, and social service agencies. He also maintains a significant labor and employment practice serving numerous private and public organizations, in addition to handling civil litigation, appellate and personal injury matters. Jim also serves as the Law Director of the Village of Oakwood.
Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder Co., L.P.A. is excited to have David J. Sipusic join the firm as a Partner to the Cleveland office. Mr. Sipusic represents clients in a number of practice areas, including insurance coverage and bad faith, public sector law, school law and general liability matters. His extensive background in these various insurance defense practice areas brings additional expertise to MRR that will continue to build on the firm’s reputation as a leader in the industry.
Before joining MRR, David served as Associate General Counsel for Research/EEO and Executive Director of the Excellence Training Center at Youngstown State University. In addition to providing legal counsel for Ohio public schools and universities, he has also represented public entities, government officials and administrative officers before federal courts, state courts and state agencies on civil rights and employment claims.
A graduate of Youngstown State University, Mr. Sipusic went on to earn his J.D. from Cleveland Marshall College of Law. He is currently a member of the Ohio State Bar Association, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder Co., L.P.A. is pleased to announce that Edmond Z. Jaber has been hired as an Associate Attorney at the firm’s Cleveland office.
Mr. Jaber focuses his practice on insurance coverage issues, public sector law and general liability matters. He has a wide range of experience in various insurance defense practice areas, including Bad Faith and General Liability Litigation. Edmond earned his Juris Doctorate from Ohio Northern University College of Law and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Walsh University. He is a member of the Ohio State Bar Association, Akron Bar Association, and Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association.
Before joining MRR, Edmond worked as an Associate Attorney at Kisling, Nestico & Redick in both their Litigation and Pre-Litigation Department, handling hundreds of claims pre-suit through trial, including health insurance liens and outstanding medical bills. Edmond has experience at the Common Pleas Court as well as the Municipal Court levels. He was the Founding Attorney for Jaber Law, where he represented business owners and property management companies, and counseled clients through matters related to COVID legislation.