What Does the Law Say?
Where is the law regarding sex discrimination in employment in Ohio found?
Ohio's Revised Code Chapter ("R.C.") 4112, the Ohio Civil Rights Act, outlines prohibitions against sex discrimination in the workplace.
To whom does R.C. 4112 apply to?
R.C. 4112 has provisions prohibiting discriminatory practices by employers, employment agencies or personnel placement services, and labor organizations. R.C. 4112 protects employees who may be discriminated against because of gender, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, age, or ancestry.
Under R.C. 4112, what is illegal?
R.C. 4112 prohibits your employer from discriminating against you because of your status as a woman with respect to hiring and firing decisions. Additionally, your employer is prohibited from discriminating against you based on your sex with regards to other employment decisions such as tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.
What is an "employer" this law?
An "employer" is any person employing four or more persons within the state. An employer is also considered to include any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer. State organizations and any political subdivisions of the state also qualify as employers.
What is an "employee" under this law?
An employee is an individual employed by any employer, but the term employee does not include individuals employed in the domestic service of the employer.
Are women a "protected class"?
Yes. All sex discrimination is prohibited by R.C. 4112.02, regardless of whether the victim is male or female. However, employment discrimination based on sexual orientation is not actionable under this statute.
Is there a federal law regarding sex discrimination?
Yes. Federal law prohibits sex discrimination by statute -- the statute is called Title VII. In Ohio, you may file a discrimination claim under both R.C. 4112.02 and Title VII.
Are the requirements for establishing my case under state law different under federal law?
No. The requirements for establishing your sex discrimination case are the same under Title VII and Ohio law.
How does the state law compare with federal in terms of coverage?
While Title VII only covers employers with 15 or more employees, chapter 4112 covers employers with 4 or more employees. In addition, Title VII also places limits on how much you can obtain in damages, but Chapter 4112 has no limits.
Is it ever okay for my employer to treat or impact women differently because of their sex?
In limited instances, yes. If your employer can show that there was a legitimate business reason, sometimes called a legitimate business necessity, to treat you differently because of your sex, then that conduct will not be considered discrimination.
In a nutshell, what must I prove to win my case?
You must prove that you were treated differently because of your sex and not for any other reason. For instance, if you were fired, you have to prove that you were fired because you are a woman, and not because your work was unacceptable. In any discrimination case, you will have the ultimate responsibility of persuading the judge or jury that there was discrimination against you based on your sex.
What could my employer do to deny my allegations, and how do I respond to its denials?
Ohio courts use a three step process to evaluate sex discrimination cases. Initially, you are given the opportunity to present evidence of discrimination. In response, your employer can give a reason for why the adverse action taken against you was not discriminatory. In order to win, you will have to offer evidence that shows that the reason given by your employer was a false reason given to cover up the discrimination.
Does it matter when the discrimination occurred?
Yes. If you want to file a charge with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, you must file it within 6 months of the date the discrimination took place. If you choose to file a court claim under Ohio's anti-discrimination law, R.C. 4112, you must file within 6 years of the date that the discrimination happened.
What options do I have if I my employer has fewer than 4 employees?
You cannot file a charge with the OCRC or bring a claim under R.C. 4112 if your employer has fewer than 4 employees. However, you may be able to bring a personal injury claim in civil court against your employer, depending on the type of discrimination you experienced.
Who enforces the law?
In Ohio, both the OCRC and the courts enforce R.C. 4112. You do not have to file with the OCRC before filing a claim in court, but you may want to do so in order to avoid the costs and time associated with filing in court. If you file with the OCRC, you will not be precluded from later filing a court claim.
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