Wrongful Termination in Ohio
If you live in Ohio and suspect that you have been the victim of wrongful termination, the first thing you should do is to determine what type of employment arrangement you had. The state of Ohio is classified as an “at-will employment” state. This means that, unless explicitly stated, both employer and employee may terminate the employment for any reason, as long as it is not illegal to do so.
Because it is an at-will state, proving wrongful termination or wrongful discharge in Ohio can be challenging at times. However, it is clear that an employer may not fire an employee if the termination violates state or federal laws.
Common examples of wrongful termination include those that are based on violations of discrimination laws (i.e., firing an employee because they belong to a certain race religion, age group, or other protected category). Also, at-will rules do not prevent the parties from forming an explicit written contract. If an employment contract exists and it defines termination procedures, both parties will be held to the contract terms.
In addition, various Ohio statutes have relaxed the at-will employment doctrine to allow for a wrongful discharge claim. Even if the employment is at-will, a person can still file a wrongful termination lawsuit based on the following two theories:
- Implied Contract: Sometimes the conduct or oral statements of an employer can create an implied contract. The employee will need to prove that the employer had made specific promises regarding the future of their employment. The employee will also have to prove that they relied on those promises to their detriment or harm.
- Public Policy Violations: Termination of an at-will employment arrangement is illegal if it violates public policy. The employee would need to prove that the termination jeopardized a clear public policy, that the termination was related to the public policy, and that the employer did not have a “legitimate business justification” for the discharge. An example of this is where the employee is fired for reporting the misconduct of the business to an outside authority.
The remedies for wrongful discharge or wrongful termination in Ohio are numerous but will depend on the particular harm that the plaintiff suffered. For example, the employee victim may: be reinstated back to their normal work title, obtain recovery of lost benefits, or obtain back pay for lost wages.
Depending on the severity of the claim, the employer may also be required to pay additional damages such as stress/suffering damages, punitive damages, and legal fees such as attorney fees and court costs. A qualified Ohio lawyer can provided you more information if there is a legal basis for a claim.
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Last Modified: 09-06-2012 08:49 AM PDT