Like many states, employment in Ohio is considered to be ‘at-will.” This means that employers can fire employees with or without notice, and with or without cause. The at-will doctrine means employers can fire employees for nearly any reason, even an unfair reason, or for no reason at all. For example, if a worker told coworkers that their supervisor wears a toupee and the employer fired the worker for it, that is a legal termination.
However, there are exceptions to the at-will doctrine. Employers cannot fire workers for reasons prohibited by law such as discrimination, violations of employment laws, or in violation of Ohio’s public policy. If you believe you have been fired for any of these reasons, speak to a wrongful termination attorney near Columbus for help.
There are many laws that prohibit employers from treating employees differently based on protected characteristics. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers cannot fire employees based on race, sex, color, national origin, or religion. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act both prevent employers from firing workers based on illness or a disability. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes it illegal for employers to fire someone based on their pregnancy status or conditions related to pregnancy, such as breastfeeding. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits employers from firing workers age 40 or over based on their age.
The law also makes it unlawful for employers to fire someone if it is a breach of an employment contract. For example, if upon hiring, a contract was formed between the employer and employee providing that an employee would work for the employer until a certain date, the employer may not be able to fire the employee prior to that date. In some situations implied contracts may be formed based on language in an employee handbook or in an offer of employment letter.
Finally, employers cannot fire employees for reasons that violate Ohio’s public policy. These claims are difficult to prove but might include terminations that violate the state or federal constitution or violate administrative regulations or common law. For example, if an employee reported an employer for committing a felony and was terminated for doing so, this may be a violation of public policy.
Although employers have a lot of discretion when they can lawfully fire an employee, there are also limitations. When employers fire employees for any of the three exceptions to the at-will employment doctrine, those employees can hold them liable A wrongful termination attorney near Columbus can help them do it.
If you think you have been wrongfully terminated, our attorneys at Marshall Forman & Schlein LLC, can help. We will evaluate your potential case and review evidence to determine if you were wrongfully terminated. Before taking action against your employer, call us today or contact us online to speak with one of our attorneys and to learn more about how we can help.
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