PROTECTING YOUR RIGHTS IN THE WORKPLACE
When Employees Are Discriminated Against
Columbus Discrimination Attorneys
In the United States, most employees are protected in some manner from employment discrimination. Protections exist under both federal and state (Ohio) law.
What Protections Do Employees Have Under Federal Law?
- Employees are protected from discrimination by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
- Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on race, gender, disability, age (over 40), religion and national origin. Title VII is found at 42 U.S.C. 2000e of the United States Code. Title VII states at 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(a)(1) and (2), “It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer (1) to fail or refuse to hire or discharge an individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or (2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”
- Almost all employee actions are covered under Title VII, including hiring, promotions, discharge, pay and fringe benefits.
- Title VII also applies to applicants for employment.
- Title VII can be enforced against employers with 15 or more employees.
- The protection of Title VII has been extended through the enactment of separate provisions prohibiting discrimination. These include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA).
What Protections Do Employees Have Under Ohio Law?
- Employees are protected from discrimination by 4112.02 of the Ohio Revised Code.
- Like Title VII, 4112.02(A) makes it unlawful “for any employer, because of the race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, age, or ancestry of any person, to discharge without just cause, to refuse to hire, or otherwise to discriminate against that person with respect to hire, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, or any matter directly or indirectly related to employment.”
- Further similarities to Title VII include:
- 4112.02 usually protects most employee actions, including hiring, promotions, discharge, pay and fringe benefits.
- Likewise, 4112.02 provides protection to applicants for employment.
- However, unlike Title VII, 4112.02 can be enforced against employers with four or more employees.
What Is The Possible Relief For An Employee Who Feels He/She Has Been Discriminated Against?
- Under federal law and Ohio Revised Code 4112.02, an individual who feels he/she has been discriminated against can file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC).
- Filing claims with the EEOC and OCRC is free. However, remedies are limited and the process is long. In most instances, it will take six to nine months for the commission to issue a determination in deciding if a full hearing is necessary. The commission determines a full hearing is necessary when it issues a probable cause finding. In cases when a full hearing is imminent, the Ohio Attorney General’s office represents the OCRC against the employer to eliminate the discriminatory practice. A full hearing is a long process, sometimes lasting as long as a year and a half.
- However, an individual almost always has the right to file a claim in federal or state court depending on the statute being used. Thus, having a claim rejected by the OCRC/EEOC does not preclude an individual from bringing a private suit in federal or state court.
- The EEOC and OCRC do not provide legal counsel if you decide to file a complaint. You must retain legal counsel on your own.
- Please note that this discussion of employment discrimination is extremely general and not intended to educate one fully to this legal subject. It cannot. The intent of this discussion is to provide general information to Ohio employees regarding some of their legal protections.
- Please note that email sent on an employer’s computer system will probably be considered property of the employer and may be read or printed by the employer with or without your permission and could be the subject of discipline.