U.S. News Best Law Firms 2020 BadgeBest Lawyers Cathleen M. Bolek Lawyer of the Year 2021Super Lawyers Top 100 BadgeMartindale AV Rated BadgeBBB Accredited Business Badge BBB Accredited Business Badge Best Employment Lawyers in Cleveland

Ohio Civil Rights and Employment Lawyers Fighting for Justice

Bolek Besser Glesius LLC is an Ohio employment discrimination and civil rights law firm devoted to justice for you.

But devoted to justice is more than just our slogan—it is our calling as lawyers. We pursue justice for victims of employment discrimination, whistleblower retaliation, and First Amendment violations, just to name a few things.

Whenever and wherever those in power abuse and exploit others, we are devoted to justice for the underdog, because nobody is above the law. If you need an employment or civil rights lawyer, call us today.

Experienced Cleveland Employment Law Attorneys Dedicated to Helping You

We are employment lawyers. We have more than 50 years of combined experience representing individuals in Cleveland and throughout Ohio with all types of employment law claims, including wrongful termination, employment discrimination, whistleblower retaliation, denial of overtime pay, and many others. Chances are, we have represented someone in your shoes.

You need an attorney who knows where evidence of discrimination “hides” and how to get it.

If you are facing harassment, discrimination, retaliation, or other mistreatment at your job, you may not know what your rights are, or where to turn for help. You can turn to the experienced Cleveland employment law attorneys at Bolek Besser Glesius LLC.

But we are more than just an ordinary employment law firm. Our former clients, major attorney rating services, and even the attorneys we have gone up against recognizing us for excellence, skill, and integrity in the employment law field. In addition, our attorneys have won numerous cases that helped establish important legal protections for employees in Ohio. If you need an employment attorney, we’re here to help you understand your legal rights, and are devoted to getting justice for you.

Skilled Ohio Civil Rights Lawyers Fighting for Justice

We are also a civil rights law firm. The Ohio lawyers at Bolek Besser Glesius LLC handle a wide range of civil rights cases beyond just employment law, including First Amendment freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and other constitutional matters. We focus on cases with impact—cases that will make a difference in people’s lives or improve the community as a whole.

Our Practice Areas

At Bolek Besser Glesius, we understand that when you need a lawyer, you need a lawyer you can trust. We are dedicated to helping people get justice when they are mistreated by those in power. We are a team of skilled attorneys with more than 50 years of combined experience, and have successfully resolved claims involving:

Cleveland Employment Law Attorneys, Recognized for Excellence and Ethics

When looking for an employment discrimination or civil rights lawyer, you should choose carefully. Employers often hire large defense law firms to protect themselves. You need an attorney with the skill and experience to go up against them and win. Not all attorneys have it—we do.

At Bolek Besser Glesius LLC, our Cleveland employment discrimination lawyers have been repeatedly recognized for excellence in legal advocacy and ethics.

  • U.S. News – Best Lawyers has named Bolek Besser Glesius LLC a “Tier 1” Cleveland employment law “Best Law Firm” every year since the firm’s inception. It is the publication’s highest ranking, representing “professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers.” Only a select few Cleveland employment discrimination law firms that represent individuals receive this honor each year.
  • Ohio Super Lawyers Magazine has repeatedly named each of our attorneys to its list of Cleveland “Super Lawyers” in the field of employment law representing individuals. In 2019, the publication named Cathleen Bolek one of the Top 100 Attorneys in Ohio. Super Lawyers uses both independent research and peer reviews by attorneys in the relevant practice area to determine whom to include. Ultimately, no more than five percent of attorneys in Ohio are selected for inclusion in Ohio Super Lawyers Magazine in any given year. All of our employment law attorneys have been repeatedly selected, and for 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 our entire firm was selected.
  • Cathleen Bolek, Matthew D. Besser, and Amy S. Glesius have each achieved the prestigious “AV Preeminent”® rating from the respected attorney rating service Martindale-Hubbell. An “AV” rating means that an attorney possesses the highest level of legal excellence and professionalism. The rating is earned only through careful review of an attorney’s skill and ethics, as evaluated by numerous other attorneys.
  • In 2013 and 2016, the publication Best Lawyers named Amy S. Glesius the “Lawyer of the Year” for Cleveland employment lawyers who represent individuals.

Before choosing a lawyer, you should find out whether their awards, honors, or recognitions were earned, or bought. At Bolek Besser Glesius LLC, we do not buy our accomplishments. All our awards, honors, and recognitions are earned through an independent process, typically involving reviews from the attorneys who know us best, and just as importantly, from our former clients.


Why should I call a lawyer who handles mostly employment law? Aren’t all lawyers supposed to know all of the laws?

The expression, “jack of all trades and master of none” is a good one. Employment law is complicated and the law is constantly changing. An attorney who does not focus his or her practice on employment law might not be aware of the many potential procedural and legal traps that await employees in these types of cases. Your workplace rights are too important to trust to someone who does not focus their practice on employment law.

I think I am being treated unfairly at work. Should I talk to a lawyer now or wait to see what happens?

If you have a question about your legal rights in the workplace, you should call an experienced employment lawyer. Employees who know their rights are better able to protect their rights. In many cases, even when an employee’s workplace rights were violated, the employer has a defense because the employee did not follow the right procedures. So you should not wait to seek the help of an employment law attorney.

What are my rights if my FMLA runs out?

The Family and Medical Leave Act provides only twelve weeks of job-protected leave in a given twelve month period. If the employee still needs additional leave, the FMLA does not protect the employee’s job. However, if the employee has a disability, the Americans with Disabilities Act might require the employer to provide some amount of additional leave as a reasonable accommodation, depending on the circumstances of the employee’s job and how much additional leave the employee will require.

Can I be fired for being a whistleblower at work?

Ohio and federal law prohibit employers from firing employees because they reported discrimination or harassment. If an employee makes a good faith report of suspected discrimination of harassment, the employer cannot fire the employee or take other negative action that would dissuade a reasonable employee from coming forward because of the report. Many other laws protect employees from retaliation for reporting various other kinds of illegal workplace behavior, including fraud on the government and violations of workplace safety laws.

If I am a tipped employee, am I entitled to minimum wage?

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which governs payment of minimum wage under federal law, allows employers to take a “tip credit” toward its minimum wage for employees who customarily receive tips as part of their wages. Regardless, the employer must pay the employee at least $2.13 an hour, and must ensure that the employee receives at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. If an employee’s tips, when combined with the employer-paid wages of at least $2.13 per hour, do not equal the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, the employer must make up the difference.

Representing Employees in Discrimination, Retaliation, and Harassment Cases

Ohio employees who have been fired or are facing a difficult situation at work often have a few common questions:

At Bolek Besser Glesius LLC, we have successfully represented employees facing each of these issues, and many others, in Cleveland, Columbus, Akron, Lorain County, Medina County, Lake County, and elsewhere in Ohio. Our attorneys focus their practice on helping employees facing all sorts of employment law issues, including:

Various federal and Ohio employment laws provide employees protection in the workplace. Perhaps the most well-known of those laws is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal law that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Passed in 1967, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits discrimination against employees because of their age, if they are 40 years old or older. Similarly, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act forbids employers from discriminating against employees because of pregnancy or issues related to childbirth. And the Americans with Disabilities Act protects employees from discrimination because they have a disability, a history of a disability, or are mistakenly regarded as disabled by their employers. Each of these federal laws has a counterpart under Ohio law, found in Chapter 4112 of the Ohio Revised Code.

Because employees often fear retaliation if they complain about employment discrimination, both the federal and Ohio employment discrimination laws provide protection for employees who report discrimination at work. Employers cannot take negative action against an employee because the employee has complained about discrimination or harassment, been a witness in a discrimination or harassment case, or refused to participate in discriminatory behavior. If an employer fires, suspends, demotes, harasses, or otherwise takes negative action against an employee for standing up to employment discrimination, the employee may have a claim for retaliation as a workplace whistleblower.

Representing Ohio Employees in Medical Leave and Overtime Cases

In addition to the employment discrimination and retaliation laws, our Cleveland employment law attorneys represent employees with claims under other important federal laws that protect employees.

When an employee needs medical leave, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, or “FMLA,” might protect the employee’s job. The FMLA provides certain employees with job-protected leave when necessary due to: the employee’s own serious health condition; the serious health condition of a parent, child, or spouse; pregnancy; maternity leave or paternity leave; for family emergencies caused by military deployment; and, a few other reasons. Although the FMLA provides many employees with critical job protection at a time when they need it most, it does not protect all employees under all circumstances. Thankfully, in some situations, an Ohio employee who needs medical leave and does not qualify under the FMLA may be entitled to additional protection under the disability discrimination laws.

Sometimes employees are required to work more than 40 hours per week but do not get paid overtime. Sometimes employers make illegal deductions from an employee’s pay, resulting in the employee making less than minimum wage. In either scenario, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) may entitle employees to be paid what they are owed. Ohio has a similar law that essentially tracks the FLSA, found in Chapter 4111 of the Ohio Revised Code.

Under the FLSA and Ohio wage law, employers are generally required to pay their employees time-and-a-half their usual hourly rate for every hour worked over forty hours per week. Employers must also pay their employees at least the federal minimum wage. For tipped employees, the FLSA provides special rules regulating the minimum amount employers must pay per hour. Although there are many exceptions from the overtime and minimum wage pay rules, if you have been denied overtime pay or minimum wage, you should contact an experienced Cleveland overtime pay attorney to determine whether you are entitled to fair compensation that you have not received.


You don't plan on being discriminated against... Matt and Cathy were instrumental in answering all those questions and provided insight as well. They allowed me to continue on with my life while they handled my case...
– L.R.

Employment Law Attorneys Who Know the Law

Despite all the statutory legal protections for employees, in some cases, no employment law statute will cover the unique facts of an employee’s case. It is in those situations that the skill and experience of the attorney you hire can make the difference between whether you will be able to recover or not.

If an employment law statute does not protect an employee, the employee might be able to bring a claim under Ohio common law for “wrongful termination in violation of public policy.” A wrongful termination claim prohibits employers from firing employees for reasons that would jeopardize a clear public policy contained in Ohio or United States law. However, these claims are notoriously complex. An employee needs the help of a skilled attorney to have the best chance of winning a wrongful termination claim.

Fighting for Ohioans in Civil Rights Cases

Many attorneys list employment discrimination as an area of practice, but lack the experience handling these cases needed to navigate them successfully. For several reasons, choosing an attorney who only “dabbles” in employment law can be very dangerous.

Employment law in Ohio is very complicated. There are unique procedural steps that employees must follow before they can bring certain employment law claims. Taking the wrong steps can mean you lose your right to bring a claim altogether. In addition, there are strict time limits for bringing employment law claims. The length of time an employee has to bring a particular claim can vary greatly, and failing to move quickly enough will forever bar the employee from bringing the claim. Some of these time limits are extremely short, requiring action in as short as thirty days or less. Besides these procedural traps, there are many defenses employers use to avoid liability. You need a lawyer who has enough experience to spot—and avoid—those traps and defenses. Just as importantly, evidence in employment discrimination cases can be difficult to find. Without enough experience, an attorney may not know where to look. You need an attorney who knows where evidence of discrimination “hides,” and how to get it.

At Bolek Besser Glesius LLC, we are employment lawyers. Representing employees is what we do—and we have more than 50 years of combined experience doing it.

Contact an Experienced Ohio Civil Rights Lawyer for a Free Consultation

If you are searching for a civil rights or employment lawyer, chances are you’ve been through something difficult and need somewhere to turn for help. You might be facing troubles that threaten your career and your family’s financial future. We have probably helped someone in your situation before, and are here to help you.

At Bolek Besser Glesius LLC, we know it can be scary going into the legal process, and we will help you through it to the end. We are devoted to justice, and to helping you get it.

If you need help from an experienced Cleveland, Ohio civil rights or employment discrimination lawyer, please contact us or request a consultation today.