Ohio is an at-will employment law state, which means that in most cases, employees can be terminated for any reason or for no reason at all. However, there are some reasons for which employees cannot legally be fired. For instance, employers are prohibited from terminating employees because of their race, gender, religion, age, or disability, as federal law specifically protects employees and applicants from being targeted because of one of these protected characteristics. Similarly, employees cannot be fired because they choose to engage in certain protected activities, such as taking FMLA leave, filing a workers’ compensation claim, or reporting safety violations.
Employers who violate these laws can be held liable for wrongful termination, so if you were fired unlawfully, it is important to retain an experienced Columbus wrongful termination lawyer who can help you hold your employer accountable.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which was enacted in 1964 offers employees and applicants protection from discrimination based on their:
Additional federal laws also protect employees from being fired because of their age, a perceived or real disability, or pregnancy. Similarly, employees cannot be fired for opposing, reporting, or participating in an investigation into this type of discrimination, sexual harassment, or hostile work environment.
Besides being shielded from termination because of a protected characteristic, employees are also protected from discrimination based on a decision to engage in certain activities. For instance, employers cannot terminate an employee because he or she:
Employers who fail to respect these protections can be held liable for back wages, reinstatement, benefits, emotional distress, legal fees, and liquidated damages.
Most employees in Ohio are hired on an at-will basis, which means that they can quit, or be fired, as long as the cause of the termination is not unlawful. However, it is possible for employees to enter into employment contracts when they begin working for a company. When these contracts state that an employee can only be fired for certain reasons, usually spelled out in the contract, or after certain procedures have been completed, an employee can only be lawfully terminated if those conditions are met.
In most cases, employee handbooks are not considered contracts, although they can be a good source when it comes to determining whether an employer’s conduct is unlawful, so if your employer provided you with an employee handbook and violated one of its provisions when terminating you, please contact our legal team today for an initial case evaluation.
Marshall Forman & Schlein LLC and its wrongful termination lawyers are dedicated to protecting the rights of employees across Ohio. Call our Columbus attorneys at (614) 463-9790 today to learn more about how we can help.
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