Frederick M. Gittes is former president of the National Employment Lawyers Association and the Ohio Association for Justice (formerly the Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers). He was appointed Chair of the Civil Rights Committee of the Ohio State Bar Association for five years and elected Chairperson of the OSBA’s Labor and Employment Law Section. He has been selected by a peer review process for inclusion in Best Lawyers in America for over twenty years, in areas of practice including Employment Law, First Amendment Law and Communications Law. In 2010, as in the previous several years, Fred was honored by being voted one of the top 100 lawyers in Ohio, as reported by Ohio Super Lawyers.
Fred has represented people from all walks of life – physicians, journalists, assembly line workers, nurses, social workers, teachers, truck drivers, mechanics, firefighters, police officers, legislators, tellers, sales representatives, bankers, engineers, attorneys, janitors, secretaries, radio and TV performers and news anchors – in a wide variety of cases. His legal work ranges from assisting individuals who are unemployed and disabled to representing high profile political personalities and executives. Fred has served as lead counsel in complex civil and criminal proceedings in Ohio, California, Florida, and New York. His practice includes employment law, civil rights, invasion of privacy, defamation, medical privileging, professional negligence, police misconduct, public records, and environmental law.
In 1996, Fred’s firm became the first law firm ever presented with the ACLU of Ohio’s statewide award for contributions to the preservation of civil rights and civil liberties. Fred’s firm has also been awarded the Columbus Urban League Award for Excellence, the NAACP of Columbus’ President’s Award and the Environmental Achievement Award from the Ohio Environmental Council. In 2006, Fred was presented with the “First Amendment Award” of the Central Ohio Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for his work on free speech and public access issues and the Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers’ first ever “Courage” award for his wide ranging public interest litigation. In 2008, Fred was honored with the Ohio-NOW Legal & Education Fund’s “Hammer of Justice” award.
As lead counsel in successful class-action civil rights cases, Fred has obtained relief involving promotions, monetary awards, creation of new EEO procedures, and department-wide reassignments. He was among the first attorneys to successfully argue that police departments violated the U.S. Constitution by authorizing officers to shoot non-violent fleeing felons absent any threat of harm to citizens or officers. He won a large jury verdict in a highly publicized case in Dayton, Ohio against union officials for the severe beating and shooting of two union members who sought to speak at a membership meeting.
Fred has also won substantial awards and settlements for attorneys attacked or arrested by police for trying to represent clients, including an attorney who was severely beaten by sheriff’s deputies upon coming to the jail to speak to migrant workers arrested while protesting working conditions. Fred convinced the Ohio Supreme court to put an end to the destruction and withholding of internal police investigative files, in Police Officers for Equal Rights v. City of Columbus, and has won numerous monetary awards and appellate decisions protecting and requiring the disclosure of records under Ohio’s public records laws.
Recently, in Abdi v. Karnes, he obtained a 2008 federal court decision in favor of the mother of a mentally ill teenager who was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies. The decision created a new precedent enhancing the civil rights of the mentally ill, and resulted in a record-setting payment, along with guarantees establishing a crisis intervention team and requiring proper training of deputies for dealing with mentally ill individuals in crisis situations. He won acquittals in two nationally reported criminal prosecutions, one involving protests at a KKK rally on the Statehouse steps in Columbus, Ohio.
Fred’s appellate work includes briefing and arguing numerous cases before both the federal courts of appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court. He has also argued before the United States Supreme Court. Among the precedent-setting decisions he has argued and won from the Ohio Supreme Court are those recognizing sexual harassment as a tort, allowing court actions for employment discrimination, holding that company officers and managers who discriminate against or harass employees can be sued personally, and allowing employees to file suits against employers when they are fired for reasons that violate important public policies in state and federal laws and regulations.
Fred was a contributing editor for Model Jury Instructions Employment Litigation (American Bar Association: 1994); the author of “Taxing Our Civil Rights,” Employee Rights Quarterly (Summer, 2000), and “Paper Promises: Race and Ohio Law After 1860,” History of Ohio Law (Ohio University Press: 2004). He served on the Advisory Board for Age Discrimination and Litigation, (James Publishing, 2000). Fred has also been a columnist for Ohio Trial Magazine.
Fred received his B.A. (with honors) from Rollins College in 1968 and his J.D. (Cum Laude) from The Ohio State University College of Law in 1975. He received a Certificate of Achievement from the University of Oslo, Norway in 1967. Fred was a national finalist in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search and has published research papers concerning the interaction of Vitamin K1Analogue and radiation on blood coagulation. He completed much of the work on a Ph.D. in History before leaving graduate school for a career in law.