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Public Sector Employment

Unlike employees in the private sector, public employees who work within the Ohio Civil Service have extensive and specific rights. These rights are listed in the Ohio Revised Code and the Ohio Administrative Code. Ohio public employees can be grouped into three different categories:

  • Classified civil service and not covered by a union agreement
  • Classified civil service covered by a union agreement
  • Unclassified civil service

Each group listed above is treated differently under Ohio law regarding hiring, firing, and changes in the terms and conditions of employment.

Unclassified Employees

Public employees in the unclassified civil service have the fewest protections and are most like their counterparts in the private sector. Unfortunately, unclassified employees can usually be terminated without cause.

Public employees who are unclassified according to the Ohio Revised Code section include:

  • Officers elected by popular vote
  • Heads of principal departments, boards and commissions appointed by the governor or a mayor
  • Assistants to the attorney general
  • Assistants to county prosecuting attorneys
  • Fire Chiefs
  • Chiefs of Police public employees are considered within the classified service

For other specific positions see Ohio Revised Code 124.11.

How Do I Know If I'm An Unclassified Employee?

If your position is listed as unclassified by your employer, you may actually be in the classified civil service even if you were hired in the unclassified service.

Case law has determined that an employee's actual job duties are generally the determinative factor of whether an employee's position is unclassified.

If you are having issues with your employment and are listed as unclassified because of 124.11(A)(9), contact us. You may actually be a classified employee under Ohio law with many more rights regardless of what your employer says.

Classified Employees

Ohio Revised Code Section 124.11(B) defines classified employees as follows:

"The classified service shall comprise all persons in the employ of the state and the several counties, cities, city health districts, general health districts, and city school districts thereof, not specifically included in the unclassified service... [And with some exceptions,] all persons in the employ of civil service township police or fire departments having ten or more full-time paid employees."

Ohio public employees in the classified civil service have specific legal protections regarding:

  • Unwarranted discipline
  • Termination
  • Layoff
  • Transfer
  • Other changes in the terms and conditions of employment

What Protections Are In Place For Classified Employees?

The main source of protection for Ohio public employees in the classified civil service can be found in the Ohio Revised Code Chapter 124.34.

Generally, classified employees can only be removed for good cause. Further, the courts have determined that Ohio classified employees have a property interest in their positions and cannot be removed from their positions without "due process of law."

Due process usually means that classified employees are entitled to reasonable notice and a hearing with their employer before any significant disciplinary action is taken.

How Much Time Do I Have To File An Appeal?

Ohio public employees in the classified civil service who are not covered by a union bargaining agreement, have a right to appeal actions that seem unfair before the Ohio State Personnel Board of Review.

You can appeal suspensions, terminations, disability separations, layoffs, abolishments, displacements, reclassifications, transfers, and reductions in pay or position.

The time limit for filing appeals is extremely short and is generally as follows:

  • Termination: Within 10 days after filing of the order with the SPBR
  • Layoffs abolishments, and displacements: Within 10 days after receipt of notice of action
  • Reclassifications: Within 30 days after receipt of notice of action
  • Transfers: Within 10 days after receipt of notice of transfer

Classified Employees Covered By A Union Bargaining Agreement

For those Ohio public employees who are covered by a union's bargaining agreement, the majority of your rights regarding the terms and conditions of employment are set out in your union's bargaining agreement. As each bargaining agreement may contain different grievance procedures, consult the attorneys at Mowery, Youell & Galeano..

Federal Employees In The Federal Civil Service

Ohio is home to many federal agencies, military bases and employers. Federal employees have a complex and extensive series of employment protections.  The employment law attorneys at Mowery, Youell & Galeoano can help you navigate these protections.

For more information, contact a lawyer at our firm. From our office in Dublin, we represent clients throughout the Columbus metro area and central Ohio.

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