What You Need to Know About Employee Whistleblower Protection in Ohio
Whistleblowing is exposing the violations of an employer or company. Employees have rights to whistleblow in Ohio. Here’s how a whistleblower is protected under Ohio law.
Whistleblower protection is integral to the function of a fair society. Ohio has several whistleblower protection laws that protect employees from employer retaliation for reporting violations. Nursing homes and care facilities have specific violations that whistleblowers can expose under the protection of Ohio law. Employees of other companies also have certain violations they can or must report their employer or fellow employee for committing.
Related: Ohio Employee Overtime FAQs
FAQs About Ohio Employee Whistleblower Laws
Does Ohio Law protect whistleblowers?
Yes. Ohio law protects whistleblowers under certain conditions and circumstances.
Can an employee whistleblow against a nursing home or care facility?
Yes. Residents, employees or any other individual who exposes violations occurring in a nursing home or residential care facility are protected under Ohio law.
Can an employer retaliate against a whistleblower for filing a complaint, affidavit or other allegation against a care facility?
Whistleblower protection under section 2903.34 of Ohio law states retaliation against the whistleblower is unlawful if a care facility is violating the civil code.
What violations can a care facility commit against the civil code of Ohio?
Section 2903.34 states no person who is a owner, operator or agent of a care facility may do the following:
- Commit abuse against a patient or resident
- Commit gross neglect of a patient or resident
- Commit neglect against a patient or resident
- Exploitation of a resident
- Misappropriation of the property of a resident
- Indicates an intention to make a report concerning abuse, neglect, exploitation or misappropriation.
- Provides information during an investigation by the director of health
- Participates in a hearing
- Participates in any other administrative or judicial proceedings concerning abuse, neglect, exploitation or misappropriation.
What does retaliation refer to in Ohio law in care facilities?
Retaliation refers to abuse, verbal threats, harsh language, change of room assignment, withholding of services, or failure to provide care in a timely manner.
When can a whistleblower lawfully expose their employer for violations?
Section 4113.52 of Ohio law protects whistleblowers in the workplace. If the employee believes the employer is violating a federal or state statute and believes the act is a criminal offense that may cause imminent risk of physical harm, public health, safetly, a felony or improper solicitation for a contribution, the employee can lawfully expose their employer.
The employee may notify an appropriate public official immediately orally or in writing.
What are the steps an employee should take if they believe their employer is committing a violation?
- The employee must verbally notify their supervisor of the violation.
- The employee must file a written report of the violation with the supervisor.
- If the supervisor and employer do not correct the violation within 24 hours of the complaint, the employee may file a report with the prosecuting authority of the county, municipal corporation, peace officer, inspector general, or with any other appropriate public official or agency.
When can a whistleblower lawfully expose another employee for violations?
If an employee becomes aware of another employee’s violation of a federal or state statute and believes the act is a criminal offense likely to cause harm, a risk to public safety, or an improper solicitation for a contribution, the employee must immediately verbally notify the employee’s supervisor and file a written complaint with the supervisor and submit a written report to the supervisor of the violation.
Can an employer take disciplinary or retaliatory action against an employee for making any report of a violation?
No, an employer cannot take disciplinary or retaliatory action against an employee for reporting a violation.
What constitutes disciplinary or retaliatory action against an employee by an employer?
An employer’s disciplinary or retaliatory action includes but is not limited to the following:
- Removing or suspending the employee from employment
- Withholding the employee from wage increases, or employee benefits
- Transferring or reassigning the employee
- Denying the employee a promotion that the employee was expecting
- Reducing the employee in pay or position