David D. White Award Recipient - Capital University Law School

David D. White Award Recipient

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    Fred Gittes    Frederick M. Gittes, noted for representing individuals in employment law, defamation, open government, police misconduct, and other civil rights cases, is former president of the National Employment Lawyers Association and the Ohio Association for Justice. Routinely listed as a top Ohio lawyer by Super Lawyers and The Best Lawyers in America, Fred was named Columbus Lawyer of the Year in 2013 and 2014 by Best Lawyers in two legal fields. This year he is listed in Best Lawyers in four fields of practice. His work for people from all walks of life – from disabled and unemployed individuals to political figures, executives, and professionals – has also been honored by groups including the Columbus NAACP, the Ohio Environmental Council, Ohio-NOW, the Ohio Society of Journalists, the Ohio chapter of the ACLU and Police Officers for Equal Rights. 

    Fred has served as lead counsel in successful class action civil rights cases. He won acquittals in two nationally reported criminal prosecutions, one involving protests against the KKK. Fred has also served as lead counsel in complex civil and criminal proceedings in California, Florida and New York. Among the other notable cases in which Fred was lead counsel are the following:

    • A class action for African American Columbus police officers resulting in promotions, large monetary awards, new EEO procedures and department-wide reassignments. 
    • A successful challenge to the “fleeing felon” rule in a case involving a black teenager shot while fleeing after stealing coins from a vending machine at a community center. 
    • A highly publicized jury trial in Dayton, Ohio, against union officials for the severe beating and shooting of two union members who sought to speak at a meeting. 
    • A federal action against the Sheriff of Putnam County, Ohio, and his deputies, for arresting migrant farm workers protesting their working conditions, and then severely beating and arresting their attorney while he was talking with them at the jail. 
    • A federal court decision in favor of the mother of a mentally ill teenager who was shot and killed by sheriff's deputies, which resulted in a record-setting payment to the family, the creation of a crisis intervention team, and continuing mandatory training of deputies concerning individuals with mental disabilities. 

    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). 

    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.