General Counsel

FAQ

A. General

Who does the Office of General Counsel represent?

The Office of the General Counsel provides legal advice and representation to the Board of Trustees and the President as its primary clients and various departments, divisions, and components of Cleveland State University in relation to University business. Faculty and Staff may be represented in legal matters involving action taken during the course and in the scope of their employment.

Does the Office of General Counsel provide legal advice to employees or students?

No. The Office of the General Counsel provides legal advice and representation related to Cleveland State University business only, and does not provide personal legal advice and representation to employees or students. Please refer to the Legal Links page for organizations that may be able to assist you in obtaining an attorney or other legal assistance for personal matters

What type of legal services does the Office of General Counsel provide?

The Office of the General Counsel provides a full range of legal services to Cleveland State University. The Office of General Counsel works closely with our colleagues and clients to develop and execute well-crafted legal strategies across a wide range of areas, including: academic, labor and employment, intellectual property, corporate, real estate, litigation and compliance, student issues, privacy law, constitutional law, and contract law issues.

Can the Office of General Counsel notarize documents?

Yes. The Office of the General Counsel currently has three staff members who are notaries and can notarize documents for Cleveland State-related business. We recommend that you call the Office of General Counsel first to ensure that one of the staff members will be available to notarize your document(s) when you arrive.

What do I do if I need a contract reviewed or prepared?

Contact the Office of General Counsel and a University lawyer will be assigned to handle the preparation or review of the contract.

What do I do if I'm contacted by the press and asked to comment on Cleveland State University issues or about an officer or Trustee of the University?

Contact Joe Mosbrook Director of Strategic Communication and Marketing at extension 7279.

B. Business Issues

What is Cleveland State University's policy on document retention?

Please review Cleveland State's policy on record retention located on the Office of General Counsel web site at http://www.csuohio.edu/offices/generalcounsel/index.html If you have additional questions, please contact Lee Larkin, Records Retention Manager in the Office of the General Counsel or visit the Record Retention web site at http://www.csuohio.edu/records-retention/records-retention

C. Compliance/Ethics

To whom shall I report fraudulent or illegal activity?

Fraudulent and illegal activities should be brought to the attention of the University Auditor and the Office of General Counsel.

You may report your concerns by calling the University's toll-free Action Line number. The Action Line service is provided through an independent company that will protect your anonymity to the extent feasible consistent with University policies and applicable federal, state, and local laws. You can call from any phone free of charge, and it is available to all employees, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Reports can be made by calling 888.837.1824.

Can a potential or current vendor of the University pay for my lunch or dinner?

Cleveland State University Trustees, officers and employees are prohibited from receiving or soliciting anything of value which would “manifest a substantial and improper “influence” on the Trustee or employee’s duties. We therefore recommend that Trustees and University employees do not allow a vendor or an entity/individual that does or seeks to do business with the University to pay for lunch or dinner. Please call the Office of General Counsel with questions regarding Ohio Ethics Law.

Can a potential or current vendor provide me gifts during the holidays?

Cleveland State University employees are prohibited from receiving or agreeing to receive, directly or indirectly, anything (e.g., gifts, entertainment, and travel) as compensation or as a “thank you” for service, in addition to that paid by the University for their duties.  Please call the Office of General Counsel with questions regarding Ohio Ethics Law.

D. Employment/Human Resources

Who do I call to report discrimination or harassment?  What do I do if my employee complains of discrimination or harassment?

Harassment and discrimination issues may be reported to one’s supervisor, and the Affirmative Action Office. University employees may also refer to the Complaint & Grievance procedures set forth on the Affirmative Action Office web site.  The web site for the Affirmative Action Office is http://www.csuohio.edu/offices/affirmativeaction/.

HARASSMENT AND DISCRIMINATION CAN BE REPORTED BY calling the University's toll-free Action Line number. The Action Line service is provided through an independent company that will protect your anonymity to the extent feasible consistent with University policies and applicable federal, state, and local laws. You can call from any phone free of charge, and it is available to all employees, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Reports can be made by calling 888.837.1824.

What do I do if I receive a request for a reference on a former employee?

All requests for references of former employees should be forwarded to the Human Resources Department for response.

What do I need to do to discipline or terminate an employee?

Please contact a Human Resources Department representative for assistance.

What do I do if an employee wants to see a copy of his or her employee file?

Please contact the Human Resources Department representative to discuss. Generally, current employees are allowed to sit and review their file with their manager/supervisor at a mutually convenient time.

E. Intellectual Property

How do I get permission to use the Cleveland State University name and logo?

Please contact Joe Mosebrook, Director, Strategic Communication, and Marketing, Cleveland State University’s brand manager at extension 7279.

F. Litigation

What do I do if a lawyer calls and wants me to talk about a case or give a deposition?

You should notify the Office of General Counsel immediately. Do not give any information to an attorney without first contacting the Office of General Counsel. All other requests from or communications with attorneys, legal representatives, or outside agencies should be reported to the Office of the General Counsel for appropriate handling. In no event should any written or verbal reply be made to such requesting parties on behalf of any department without prior consultation with the Office of the General Counsel.

Who may accept service of process for Cleveland State University?

The only authorized agent to accept service of legal process (such as a summons and complaint) for Cleveland State University is in the Office of the General Counsel. Accordingly, please direct the sheriff (or other process server) to the Office of General Counsel. No one else should accept service on behalf Cleveland State University.  If you are being named individually in a lawsuit as a defendant or respondent you can accept service on your own behalf. If the lawsuit involves Cleveland State University (for example, if the claim is related to your employment duties), even if the University was not named as a defendant or respondent -- please send a copy of the complaint and summons to the Office of the General Counsel immediately.

May I retain outside counsel for a matter involving Cleveland State University, my department, or student organization?

No. With few limited exceptions, only the Office of General Counsel is authorized to retain counsel on behalf of Cleveland State University.

What do I do if I have been sued?

If you have been sued because of your work at Cleveland State University you should immediately contact the Office of the General Counsel.

What do I do if I have been subpoenaed as a witness in connection with activities at Cleveland State University?

Immediately forward any subpoena you receive related to Cleveland State University to the Office of General Counsel. You should not turn over documents relating to Cleveland State University without consulting first with the Office of the General Counsel. You should, however, ensure that no documents described in the subpoena are destroyed and are kept for possible production.

What do I do if I am contacted by an outside lawyer?

If you have been subpoenaed as a witness in connection with activities at Cleveland State University, please contact the Office of the General Counsel.

G. Student Issues

What rules govern the privacy of student records?

The privacy of student records is governed by the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as amended (“FERPA”). The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. Please review Cleveland State's policy concerning FERPA  for Faculty and Staff on the  Office of the General Counsel web site. If you have additional questions, please contact the Office of the General Counsel

H. Public Records Policy

What is a "public record"?

A public record means any records kept by any public office, except those records that are otherwise identified as exempt under the Ohio Public Records Act or the release of which is prohibited by state or federal law.
Ohio Revised Code § 149.011(G):  As used in this chapter, "records" include [1] any document, device, or item, regardless of physical form or characteristic; [2] created or received by or coming under the jurisdiction of any public office of the state or its political subdivisions; [3] which serves to document the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the office.

What types of documents at the University can be considered a public record?

Public records include, but are not limited to, personnel files; salary and compensation information; search records of personnel, meeting minutes, documents created and provided to parties outside the university, such as contracts and textbook lists for the upcoming quarter; and certain correspondence, in whatever medium or format including email, which documents University operations.

Is all information that is contained in a record disclosable?

Not all information contained in a record (or for that matter the record itself) is subject to release under the public records law. For example, Social Security numbers should always be removed from a document before it is released. Moreover, certain personally identifiable information of enrolled students and records containing intellectual property or trade secrets are not to be released. For these reasons, all public records request shall be forwarded to the Office of General Counsel for handling. See Public Record Request Policy on the Office of General Counsel web site at: http://www.csuohio.edu/offices/generalcounsel/index.html.

Can an individual inspect a public record in person?

Yes. An individual may inspect records at a mutually convenient time arranged during business hours. However, if the person also would like copies of records and such records cannot be readily copied due to the volume or the need to remove certain information, you may have the requestor return at a later date to collect copies or make arrangements for copies to be mailed to the requestor. For these reasons, all public records request shall be forwarded to the Office of General counsel for handling. See Public Record Request Policy on the Office of General Counsel web site at: www.csuohio.edu/offices/generalcounsel.

Are there fees for retrieving and copying records?

The law allows us to require prepayment of costs associated with producing copies, including copying and mailing expenses. Generally, the University may charge five cents ($.05)   for producing copies of the records. For these reasons, all public records request shall be forwarded to the Office of General Counsel for handling. See Public Record Request Policy on the Office of General Counsel web site at: www.csuohio.edu/offices/generalcounsel.

What if my office or department receives a public records request?

As a public office, the University is required to provide records to a requestor within a reasonable period of time. All efforts should be made to comply with the individual's request within this timeframe. Sometimes, however, the request may be so broad and ambiguous that the request cannot be fulfilled. While an individual is not required to submit a request in writing to inspect or receive a copy of a public record, the university encourages the requestor to submit a written request as an effort to minimize any confusion and to prevent any misunderstanding on either part as to the records the requestor is seeking. A written request also assists the University in maintaining an accurate record of the request and response. For these reasons, all public records request shall be forwarded to the Office of General Counsel for handling. See Public Record Request Policy on the Office of General Counsel web site.

How do I respond to a public records request?

All records requests must be referred to the Office of General Counsel immediately.  The Office of General Counsel will request your cooperation in fulfilling the request and one of the University attorneys will respond to the request on your behalf. See CSU Public Records Policy, on the Office of General Counsel web site at: http:www.csuohio.edu/offices/generalcounsel

What is a "public record"?

A public record means any records kept by any public office, except those records that are otherwise identified as exempt under the Ohio Public Records Act or the release of which is prohibited by state or federal law.

Ohio Revised Code § 149.011(G):  As used in this chapter, "records" include [1] any document, device, or item, regardless of physical form or characteristic; [2] created or received by or coming under the jurisdiction of any public office of the state or its political subdivisions; [3] which serves to document the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the office.

I. Immigration

Does the Office of General Counsel provide legal services for immigration matters?

Yes.  When Cleveland State University hires foreign national employees who do not already have work authorization for employment in the United States, the Office of General Counsel assists with obtaining necessary documentation.  As with other legal services, the Office of General Counsel represents only the University in immigration cases.  International Students requiring assistance with student (F-1) or visiting scholar (J-1) visa matters should contact the Center for International Services and Programs.

Who may request immigration services from the Office of General Counsel?

Generally, a request for assistance with work authorization should originate with the individual having hiring authority over the new foreign national employee.  For faculty positions, this would usually be the Department Chair; for administrative positions this would usually be the manager or supervisor.

What type of work authorization is available?

For most new employees, Cleveland State University will attempt to obtain a visa in class H1B.  In cases where the employee may be eligible for work authorization in another category, the Office of General Counsel will advise the hiring department regarding which category would be most effective for meeting the needs of the University and the employee.

How long will it take to obtain work authorization for a new employee?

Processing times vary depending on factors beyond the control of Cleveland State University.  Over the past several years, average processing has required approximately two months from the date of filing.

Who is responsible for immigration fees?

For H1B and most other employment based immigration categories, the employer is responsible for all fees related to obtaining work authorization.  Cleveland State University departments are responsible for the filing fees for their new foreign national employees.   A University department may not require the employee to pay or reimburse the department for these fees.

Does Cleveland State University sponsor employees for permanent resident status?

The University may choose to sponsor a permanent employee for permanent resident status (the so-called “green card”).  As a practical matter, this is usually limited to tenure-track faculty positions.