Well-Rounded Perspective Fuels Her Passion for Legal Profession
Photo by Tracy Doyle
As counsel in Thompson Hine’s Labor and Employment practice, Heather Muzumdar is involved in a multi-faceted array of advising and litigation, whether it’s in a conference room, a board room or a court room.
“I work with HR professionals, executives, in-house counsels on any labor and employment issue that might come up in private and publicly traded companies from startups to Fortune 500 companies,” says Muzumdar, who returned to Thompson Hine in 2018 after leaving for two years to serve as employment counsel for Western & Southern Financial Group, Inc.
“From training and advising on ‘Me Too’ harassment scenarios, pay equity, wage and hour – the trending legal issues we are keeping our eye on – down to the everyday stuff like drafting employment agreements and helping with reduction-in-force issues, non-competes, compensation plans and the like…I help with anything that comes along that involves human resources.”
Her practice is part transaction and part litigation, notes Muzumdar, and the variety that is inherent in her legal specialty helps fuel her continuing passion for her life’s work. Makes sense, especially for someone who knew she wanted to be a lawyer when she was but 11 years old.
Muzumdar, who grew up in Van Wert, Ohio, received her Bachelor of Arts from The Ohio State University, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 2007.
“I worked at Thompson Hine for 10 years, starting as a summer clerk and later making partner,” Muzumdar recalls. Then an opportunity at Western & Southern presented itself, and she served as in-house counsel there for a couple of years before deciding to return to Thompson Hine where she now hones her unique perspective – a legal talent trifecta that combines her managerial, in-house counsel and litigation skills.
“Before law school, I was in management, so I have been the person who has to do performance evaluations and deliver the termination news. And having been in-house counsel at Western & Southern, I know what it’s like to work hand-in-hand with executives and HR professionals to evaluate and weigh risks and options for complying with ever-changing employment laws and make the decisions that make the most sense for their business. So, I have that close understanding of the thought processes they go through and the need for practical advice that can be operationalized.”
As a litigator at Thompson Hine, she has worked with many companies and industries, and she knows how the issues can play out if litigation occurs. “This experience, combined with my in-house and managerial experience gives me a unique, well-rounded approach, which allows me to help a lot of different clients,” she notes.
Bottom line: Muzumdar understands the importance of sound, practical legal advice designed to minimize risk while accomplishing business objectives. Hence, she advises employers on best practices, conducts proactive audits, develops policies and procedures, and provides training for human resources personnel and managers involving a broad range of complex employment issues. She might be advising clients on disability and religious accommodations one day, and background checks, drug testing, internal investigations and workplace violence the next. She can also provide practical guidance to financial services companies that are navigating both regulatory requirements and employment law considerations, such as when hiring and terminating employees. Record-keeping requirements for electronic communications? How to develop compliant social media policies and procedures? Muzumdar handles it all.
The seasoned litigator has assisted many clients in successfully defending and resolving disputes covering a variety of employment-related matters across the country, and has successfully represented clients in audits conducted by the Department of Labor, administrative proceedings before the Equal Opportunity Commission and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, as well as state unemployment commissions.
One easily gleans from her impressive resume why Muzumdar was selected as an Ohio Super Lawyer Rising Star for six straight years. Yet she remains humbled by the recognition.
“It comes from nominations within the legal community,” she explains. “I don’t know who nominated me, but I greatly appreciate it. I feel it’s not only a recognition of my work and a show of appreciation from my peers, but a recognition of and appreciation for Thompson Hine as a top law firm in Cincinnati.”
Muzumdar is also a past recipient of the YWCA Academy of Career Women Achievement Rising Star Award. The award was created by the members of the YWCA Academy of Career Women of Achievement to recognize and support younger career women destined to become future leaders. One of the Academy’s goals has always been to “lift as we climb.”
For Muzumdar, lifting and supporting other women in their professional journeys as her star continues to rise is more than a motto. It is a natural part of her life’s work.
“As I continue to climb the ladder, I really work hard to find ways to make the path easier for the person coming behind me, to promote more junior women at Thompson Hine, in the legal profession and in HR,” she says. “It’s all about helping each other find success.”
Thompson Hine is located at 312 Walnut Street,14th Floor, Cincinnati, OH 45202-4089. For more information, visit www.thompsonhine.com