Marie-Joëlle C. Khouzam
An experienced legal advisor and litigator, Marie-Joëlle C. Khouzam provides clients with practical advice on a wide range of labor and employment issues, including discrimination, harassment, breach of contract, non-compete/restraint of trade, and other aspects of the employment relationship. Her focus is on providing pragmatic and straightforward support on personnel issues, helping management develop and implement realistic policies, and representing clients before courts and administrative agencies. For many clients, Joëlle is, in effect, their outsourced one-stop HR department.
Joëlle is also a firm believer in mediation, advocating on behalf of clients in mediations and also serving as a retained mediator (neutral). She conducts frequent in-house training to help management ensure legal compliance and avoid litigation, and is a frequent author and speaker on developing employment-law topics. Since before Ohio’s legalization of medical marijuana, Joëlle has been sought out by legislators, trade associations, and public and private-sector clients to advise them on the legal impact of this complicated issue at work.
Joëlle has served as the City Attorney for Grandview Heights since 2006. She chaired Bricker & Eckler’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee from 2014 to 2018 and continues her commitment to this work by offering training to clients and organizations that value diversity and inclusion.
"Joëlle Khouzam 'is an elegant problem-solver and one of the best listeners I have ever met. Because of [her], we were known internationally for the success of our recruitment, training and retention efforts'"
"Joëlle Khouzam 'is a valuable asset to our team. She always provides strong and sound guidance. She is extremely knowledgeable and professional.'"
"Joëlle Khouzam's strength is 'understanding the needs of the client. She is extremely responsive and goes above and beyond to find the right expertise to bring to the table.'"
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.
Resolution of civil rights charges against city and police officers
Represented a municipality and police officers sued for civil rights violations nearly two years after an allegedly unconstitutional traffic stop. The federal lawsuit and the disciplinary issues as to the police officers were resolved following negotiations in court and with the police union.
Defense of termination of executive officer
Defended a transportation company against the claims of a C-suite officer who believed the termination was based on sexual orientation discrimination, not performance deficiencies. Successfully resolved the matter for the same amount initially to the employee as severance.
Union-related risk for hospital acquisition
Managed employment law aspects of merger effort between a major health system and eastern Ohio hospital system with several unions. Counseled the health system on the risks of proceeding with the acquisition and on options for complying with the existing labor contracts. The hospital was able to successfully merge and close an inpatient unit that was unprofitable for the health system without union intervention.
Corporate employment reorganization
Implemented a corporate reorganization for a privately owned retailer operating in numerous states. This involved merging approximately 13 corporations out of existence and establishing one consolidated entity to employ all Ohio employees. Work was completed in five business days due to the impending close of the client’s fiscal year.
Diversity and inclusion training
Develop and regularly conduct corporate diversity and cultural competency training modules for employees and management teams. Trainings encourage participants to foster a welcoming work environment that curbs inappropriate conduct based on any protected class. This training has been embraced by corporations, trade associations and boards of directors.
Sexual harassment training
Develop and regularly conduct sexual harassment training modules for employees and management teams. Trainings are focused on equipping participants with an understanding of the various applicable laws and how to comply with them.
Public entity embezzlement investigations
Counseled a municipality through a series of special investigations arising from employee embezzlement. Developed a strategy for addressing unlawful communications between city council and former city employees, and advised on a number of public records, open meetings and ethical issues.
FINRA arbitration dismissal
Obtained the dismissal of a lawsuit and related FINRA arbitration claims of alleged harassment and retaliation against a national insurance company’s female executive. Obtained a court order at the conclusion of the case to permanently seal access to online pleadings and remove the case listing altogether.
Age discrimination claim settlement
Represented a public transportation system against a claim of age discrimination following a large-scale corporate realignment. Successfully negotiated a settlement prior to undertaking costly discovery.
Professional & Community Activities
- Fellow, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
- Co-Chair, Ohio State Bar Association Labor & Employment Law Section Council Webinar Subcommittee
- Chair, Nominating Committee; HR Committee, The Catholic Foundation Board of Trustees
- Steering Committee Member, Ohio Management Lawyers Association
- Former President, Ohio Municipal Attorneys Association
- Former Board Member/Officer, Grandview Chamber of Commerce; Children’s Hunger Alliance; St. Stephen’s Community House; Members First Credit Union
Presentations & Published Works
- Speaker, "CLEIRS Exceptions to Public Records Law, Dealing With "Frequent Flyer" Requesters, & Other Pesky PRA Issues," Ohio Municipal League webinar, February 2021
- Speaker, “The Straight Dope: Health-Care and Employment Implications of Ohio's Medical Marijuana Law,” Ohio Health Care Association Winter Conference, January 2020
- Roundtable discussion panelist, "D&I in the legal profession: What makes sense for Ohio?" Symposium on the State of Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession, Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession, August 2019
- Speaker, "Weed Woes: How to Manage Medical Marijuana in Your Hospital," Ohio Hospital Association Annual Meeting, June 2019
- Speaker, “Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Law,” National Association of Women Business Owners, May 17, 2018
- Speaker, “The Importance of Hiring Practices and Corporate Culture in Creating Inclusive Workplaces,” Ohio Safety Congress, March 8, 2018
- Speaker, “The Straight Dope: Medical Marijuana Legalization in Ohio,” Ohio Safety Congress, April 11, 2017
- Speaker, “Workplace Dos and Don’ts,” Builders’ Exchange, February 16, 2017
- Speaker, “School Comp Safety Seminar,” Ohio School Boards Association, December 12, 2016
- Speaker, "Is the Grass Really Greener? Workplace Implications of Medical Marijuana," Ohio State Bar Association, August 11, 2016
- Speaker, "Changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act," The Development District Association of Appalachia's Professional Development Conference, April 2016
- Speaker, "O-High-O: Workplace Considerations of Marijuana Legalization," Ohio Association of Occupational Health Nurses annual conference, November 5, 2015
- Speaker, “Challenging Human Resource Legal and Practical Issues,” Ohio Hospital Association Spring Meeting, May 13, 2015
- Speaker, “Hot Topics in Employment Law,” Ohio City and County Managers’ Association, February 26, 2015
- Speaker, "Using Non-Compete, Non-Solicitation, and Non-Disclosure Agreements," HR Academy Webinar, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, July 9, 2014
- Speaker, "Navigating the Bermuda Triangle of Leave Laws: ADAAA, FMLA, and Workers' Compensation Laws," HR Academy Webinar, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, June 11, 2014
- Speaker, "Workplace Investigations," Lorman Seminars, May 16, 2014
Bar Admissions & Activities
- Faculty Instructor, National Institute for Trial Advocacy “Deposition Skills” training program
- Member, Columbus Bar Association (Past Member, Board of Governors; Past Chair, Labor & Employment Law Committee; Past Chair, Community Service Committee)
- Member, Ohio State Bar Association
- Member, American Bar Association
- Member, Ohio Management Lawyers' Association
- Member, Ohio Municipal Attorneys' Association
Awards & Recognition
- Recognized, ChambersUSA, Labor & Employment with a Band 4 ranking, 2018–2021
- Listed, Best Lawyers in America (Employment Law - Management; Labor Law - Management), 2010–2021
- Listed, Ohio Super Lawyers (Employment & Labor: Employer; State, Local & Municipal; Workers' Compensation: Employer/Insurance; Employment Litigation: Defense; Nonprofit Organizations ), 2007–2021
- Listed, Top 25 Women Columbus, Ohio Super Lawyers, 2017–2021
- Listed, Top 50 Women Ohio, Ohio Super Lawyers, 2017–2019, 2021
- Listed, Top 50 Columbus, Ohio Super Lawyers, 2017–2019, 2021
- Recognized, Who's Who Legal, Thought Leader - Labour and Employment 2020
- Recipient, Bowling Green State University's Outstanding College Alumni Award, 2017
- Recipient, Ohio Diversity Council’s Most Powerful and Influential Women in Ohio Award, 2009, 2017
- Recipient, Multicultural Leadership Award, Ohio Diversity Council, October 2015
- Rated, AV Preeminent, Martindale-Hubbell; Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers
- Honored, Grandview Chamber of Commerce established the Khouzam Workforce Development Scholarship, 2013
- Listed, International Who’s Who of Management Labour & Employment Lawyers
- Recipient, Ohio Diversity Council’s Most Powerful and Influential Women in Ohio Award, 2009
- Recipient, Northwest Rotary Woman of the Year
- Recipient, Columbus Bar Association Community Service Award
- University of Toledo (J.D.), 1991
- Fulbright Fellowship, Universität Innsbruck, Austria, 1986
- Georgetown University Institute on Comparative Political & Economic Systems, 1985
- Bowling Green State University (B.A., cum laude), 1985
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