Lisa M. Kathumbi
Lisa Kathumbi represents and advises companies, ranging from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies, in a broad range of labor and employment matters arising under state and federal law and in denial of benefits claims arising under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). An experienced employment law litigator with a national practice, Lisa has represented companies and executives in more than twenty jurisdictions in labor and employment matters involving allegations of discrimination and harassment, leave and accommodation violations, whistleblower violations, breach of non-compete agreements, wrongful termination in violation of public policy, and alleged wrongful denial or termination of disability benefits.
In addition to her litigation practice, Lisa routinely trains and advises companies regarding day-to-day employment issues and prepares employment agreements, separation agreements, independent contractor agreements, releases, and employee handbooks, policies and procedures. Lisa also has experience conducting high-risk investigations on behalf of clients, including investigations involving executives and c-suite leaders.
Formerly, Lisa was senior legal counsel to the Ohio Department of Health where she managed litigation and served as primary advising counsel to the agency regarding both labor and employment and health regulatory matters.
COVID-19 management counseling
Helped clients understand their legal obligations under new labor and employment laws passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Drafted work-from-home, leave, and reopening policies; advised on mass layoff obligations, terminations, furloughs, unemployment issues, and alternative work arrangements; and recommended best practices for essential workers, safe reopening, employee testing and health assessments, employee travel, and face covering requirements.
Discrimination and retaliation defense
Defended an international manufacturing company against claims of race, disability and sex-based discrimination and retaliation by a former employee. The case was ultimately dismissed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Multi-jurisdiction disability discrimination litigation
Represented global retailer in more than twenty disability discrimination charges and lawsuits brought under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) involving enforcement of credentialing standards for pharmacists. Managed complex factual and legal issues related to class action avoidance and strategies for limiting discovery and defending disability-related performance decisions.
Summary judgment in age discrimination litigation
Secured summary judgment on behalf of a global manufacturing company and individually named managers in a case involving allegations of age discrimination and retaliation. Decision affirmed on appeal to the Ohio 10th District Court of Appeals.
ERISA long-term disability litigation
Represented national insurance company in an ERISA case involving a decision to terminate a plaintiff’s long-term disability benefits after 15 years. Litigated complex legal issues involving ERISA preemption, claim standard of review, and discovery, and negotiated favorable resolution for client.
ERISA preemption litigation
Represented national insurance company against breach of contract and bad faith claims following client’s denial of an accidental death and dismemberment claim preempted by ERISA. Negotiated a favorable resolution involving the dismissal of the litigation and release of all claims.
Represented university client in labor arbitration involving a campus maintenance driver who was terminated for a series of accidents in a College vehicle. Successfully argued for exclusion of information and allegations unrelated to accidents and termination decision and secured a decision upholding the university’s termination decision.
C-suite discrimination, harassment and workplace bullying investigation
Conducted high-level, confidential investigation on behalf of global retail company into allegations of discrimination, harassment and workplace bullying involving a c-suite leader. Provided recommendations based upon assessment of potential legal exposure and business considerations
Municipal collective bargaining agreement
Represented city in a politically charged case involving questions of government separation of power and authority following a municipal court judge’s ordering of the city’s finance director to pay wage increases and union dues pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement negotiated without approval from city council.
Professional & Community Activities
- President, Ohio Women’s Bar Association, 2016-2018
- Trustee, Ohio Women’s Bar Association, 2012-2015
- Fellow, Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, 2017
- Past Board Member, Ruling Our Experiences (ROX)
- Past Board Member, John Mercer Langston Bar Association
- Past Board Member, City Year Columbus
- Past Board Member, Red Cross of Greater Columbus
- Former Committee Chair, Women's Fund of Central Ohio
- Former Editor, Columbus Bar Association, Better Lawyers
- Fellow, African American Leadership Academy, 2010
Presentations & Published Works
- Panelist, "#MeToo and Time’s Up: Conducting Effective Workplace Investigations, Addressing Pay Equity & Creating Cultures of Inclusion," Hot Topics in Employment Law Seminar, October 2019
- Speaker, "The Ten Commandments of effective workplace investigations," Hot Topics in Employment Law Seminar, November 2018
- Guest, 10TV, "Me Too" Movement prompts changes in sexual harassment policies” , March 2018
- Speaker, "#MeToo: Preventing Harassment and Investigating Harassment Complaints," Ohio Hospital Association Annual Meeting, June 2018
- Panelist, “Healthcare Business Transactions and Employment Law Pitfalls”, American Health Lawyers Association webinar, January 2016
- Author, Failing to Manage Patient Conduct Can Lead to Costly Employment Litigation for Healthcare Employers, McKnights, May 2015
Bar Admissions & Activities
- Admitted, State of Ohio, 2006
- Admitted, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, 2006
Awards & Recognition
- Columbus Lawyer of the Year, Best Lawyers in America (Employment Law - Management; Litigation - Labor and Employment), 2021
- Listed, Best Lawyers in America (Employment Law - Management), 2020-2021
- JMLBA Barrister’s Salute, 2018
- WELD Women WELDing the Way, 2016
- Ohio Super Lawyers, Rising Star, 2014, 2015
- President’s Choice Award, Ohio Women’s Bar Association, 2014
- Rising Star, National Urban League, 2007
- University of Cincinnati (J.D.), 2006; Member, Immigration Law Review; Dean's List; Sixth Circuit Appellate Clinic
- University of Chicago (M.A. in International Relations), 2003
- University of Cincinnati (B.A. cum laude in Political Science), 2001; Commencement Speaker; Spirit of Community Award; C-Ring Award; Honors Scholar
Executive Order seeking to regulate “divisive” and “un-American” diversity training raises questions for federal contractors and grant recipientsMore
EEOC provides COVID-19 return to work guidance for high risk workers as Ohio governor urges they stay homeMore
Reopening business amidst COVID-19: No one-size-fits-all approach for managing employment law risksMore
Kathumbi offers emergency preparedness advice in Columbus Business First
In the wake of global uncertainty — and the chilling reality that disasters can strike close to home — local businesses are reevaluating their emergency response systems. From bomb scares to knife assaults to threats of terrorism, employers face many challenges to preparing and protecting their employees.More Dec 2, 2016