Ohio, and many states around the country, follow “at-will” employment guidelines. This guideline means that unless stated, an employer can fire an employee for any or no legal reason.
Employees cannot discriminate against employees in any way that would go against their protected characteristics, outlined by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
These characteristics include race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, skin color, national origin, the age for those 40 or older, pregnancy, disability or genetic traits.
The EEOC also protects employees against workplace retaliation. Claims of retaliation totaled more than 38,000 in 2018. Under current guidelines, it is unlawful for an employer to punish an employee for exacting any right that is labeled a “protected activity.”
Protected activities include:
- Being involved, in any way, in an EEO claim, investigation or lawsuit
- Addressing discrimination, retaliation or harassment concerns with a manager or supervisor
- Disobeying direction that would lead to discrimination, retaliation or harassment
- Addressing and stopping discriminatory, retaliatory or harassment-driven acts against an employee
- Asking your employer to make accommodations for a disability or religious practice
- Seeking salary information from bosses and co-workers to uncover discriminatory wage practices
As stated above, employers can fire or discipline an employee if not motivated by discrimination or retaliation.
Retaliatory acts could include:
- Shaming or providing an employee with a negative performance review
- Demoting the employee
- Verbally, physically or sexually harassing the employee
- Reporting or threatening to inform the employee to immigration or law enforcement
- Consistently scrutinize work performance
- Purposefully make the employees work and work/life balance more difficult to manage (shifting hours, lowering pay, adding unnecessary tasks)
Remember, you do have rights. Do not be afraid to act on them. Lawyers dedicated to protecting the rights of employees are on your side.