Ohio has long recognized a common-law claim against wrongful discharge that violates public policy. For example, firing employees for filing a workers’ compensation claim would violate public policy.
The same holds true for some claims that arguably would be covered by specific state and federal laws, such as the ADA and Ohio’s disability-discrimination law. Unlike the, which overrides common-law wrongful discharge rules, those laws aren’t broad enough to fully compensate employees fired because they’re disabled.
Recent case: Robin Bostick, who had medical problems, filed a common-law wrongful discharge claim, but no ADA lawsuit. The federal court hearing his case sent it back to the Ohio courts because those courts have jurisdiction over state claims when there is no federal claim. (Bostick v. Portage County Public Defender’s Office, No. 5:07-CV-2215, ND OH, 2007)
Final note: Never underestimate a state employment claim. Employees often file state common-law claims because the possible verdicts are unlimited (unlike those under Title VII, which are limited based on the employer’s size). Plus, state claims don’t have to be filed as quickly as EEOC and Ohio Civil Rights Commission claims. Nor do you get a chance to work with an independent agency to settle the case.
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