Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ohio Supreme Court confirms 180-day statute of limitations for most age discrimination claims


Ohio has what can best be described as a disjointed statute for age discrimination claims. Chapter 4112 of the Ohio Revised Code has four different provisions that cover age discrimination:

4112.14(B) While a six-year statute of limitations applies to claim under this section, it provides limited remedies – lost wages and benefits, reinstatement, costs, and attorneys’ fees.
4112.02(N) An age-discrimination claim under this section must be brought within 180 days of the alleged unlawful practice. Unlike 4112.14(B), it allows for the full list of available remedies, including compensatory and punitive damages.
4112.05 Allows for an individual to file an administrative charge with the OCRC, but acts as an absolute bar to filing a civil action in court for age discrimination.
4112.99 Provides an independent civil action to seek redress for any form of discrimination identified in Chapter 4112, including age discrimination.

 

In January 2008, the Hamilton County Court of Appeals held, in Meyer v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., that 4112.99 creates its own independent cause of action for age discrimination, which is subject to its own six-year statute of limitations. At the time, I argued that the Meyer case was an anomaly, and that the conventional 180-day statute of limitations for claims under 4112.02(B) was likely still good law. Yesterday, the Ohio Supreme Court agreed with my instincts and reversed the Meyer decision. In Meyer v. United Parcel Serv., Inc. (6/2/09) [PDF], the Ohio Supreme Court held that 4112.99 does not create its own cause of action, but instead any age claim brought under 4112.99 is merely subject to the specific provisions of 4112.02 and 4112.14.

Thus, a plaintiff only has 180 days to pursue an age claim and seek full remedies. Thereafter, any age claim brought up to six years hence would be restricted to 4112.14(B)’s limited damages. A plaintiff can still plead an age claim under 4112.99, but ultimately will have to elect either 4112.02 or 4112.14 as the statute under which the claim is being brought.

While Meyer may not break new ground, employers should nevertheless breathe a sigh of relief that the appellate court’s anomalous opinion was reversed. Employers will continue to enjoy Ohio’s very short window for individuals to seek a full slate of damages for age discrimination. 


Presented by Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, with offices in Cleveland and Columbus.

For more information, contact Jon Hyman, a partner in our Labor & Employment group, at (216) 736-7226 or jth@kjk.com.

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