Ohio protects employees brave enough to come forward and report colleagues for their illegal behavior; its leaders understand the importance of protecting them. Here’s what you need to know about Ohio workplace retaliation laws.
What is workplace retaliation?
An employer that takes any disciplinary or revengeful action against an employee for inquiring about or reporting a law violation—whether that be company, state, or federal regulations—is committing workplace retaliation.
Under Ohio law, these specific actions constitute workplace retaliation:
- Firing or suspending the employee
- Withholding salary increases or employee benefits that they are entitled to
- Transferring or reassigning the employee
- Denying a promotion that the employee would normally have received
- Lowering the employee’s pay or position
If an employer does any of the actions listed above, the employee can bring a civil action within 180 days of the incident. The burden of proof falls on the employee, so they must collect documentation of the change in how they are treated and how their job situation has changed since they made the protected action that invited employer retaliation.
Related: What Are Examples of Retaliation in the Workplace?
If the employee wins the case, the judge can order the employer to do one or more of the following:
- Reinstate the employee to their previous position and location or similar
- Pay any wages lost due to reassignment to a lower position or similar cases (with interest if the court determines that the employer retaliated on purpose)
- Reinstate fringe benefits like private healthcare and seniority rights (higher pay or job rights during layoffs)
The court can waive part or all of the case fees for the winner. If the employee wins the case, the court may also take on a portion of their lawyer fees, witness fees, and expert fees as appropriate.
Federal law on workplace retaliation
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Commission (EEOC) defines “protected activity” that an employer cannot retaliate against on top of those mentioned by Ohio (although these still constitute violations under Ohio law). These include:
- Participating in an employer-led investigation of harassment
- Participating in an EEO complaint, investigation, lawsuit
- Refusing sexual advances or helping someone else do so
- Refusing an order that would result in discrimination
- Requesting accommodation for a disability or religious practice
- Asking a higher authority about colleagues’ salary information to uncover potentially discriminatory payments
Related: Ohio Employee Overtime FAQs
Employees can file a complaint with the EEOC if their employer retaliates against them for doing any of the above along with the civil action.
If you or a loved one would like to learn more about Ohio Workplace Retaliation Laws, get your free consultation with one of our Employment Attorneys in Ohio today!