Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Ohio’s odd anti-retaliation statute

Ohio’s employment discrimination law has lots of peculiarities that separate it from its federal counterpart—a six-year statute of limitations for all discrimination claims except age (which is only 6 months), individual liability for managers and supervisors, and the right for employees to file direct actions in court without first exhausting their administrative remedies, for example, stand out. Add to this list the fact that Ohio’s anti-retaliation statute is not limited to employers, but applies to anyone who retaliates:
It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person to discriminate in any manner against any other person because that person [1] has opposed any unlawful discriminatory practice defined in this section or [2] because that person has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in any investigation, proceeding, or hearing under sections 4112.01 to 4112.07 of the Revised Code.
In Wiltz v. Accountancy Board of Ohio, an Ohio appellate court held that a state licensing board could be liable for retaliation because of the broad definition of “person” in Ohio’s anti-retaliation statue. It was irrelevant that the defendant was not the “employer”.  So, businesses, beware and take heed. Just because you are not someone’s employer will not save you from a retaliation claim under Ohio law.