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Don’t punish manager for telling employee he may be discrimination victim

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Managers who raise potential discrimination claims to upper-level managers and then tell affected employees about the problem are protected from retaliation under the Ohio Revised Code’s employment discrimination sections.

The law says it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee “because that person has opposed any unlawful discriminatory practice ... or made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated” in any investigation or hearing dealing with discrimination.

Recent case: Mark Glaser worked for HLS Bonding, a bail bond company. When he was promoted from bail bondsman to office manager, the company offered him a partial ownership stake.

All that changed after he told management that it should offer health insurance to its only black employee, as it did for its white employees. Glaser also told the black employee that the company’s refusal to provide the insurance might be discrimination. The black employee sued, listing Glaser as a witness. Shortly after, the company demoted Glaser and then terminated him for alleged insubordination.

When the Ohio Civil Rights Commission ruled Glaser had experienced retaliation, the company appealed.

Now the Court of Appeals of Ohio has upheld that decision. It reasoned that employees who inform others of their rights and who agree to testify are protected from retaliation because they opposed a possible illegal practice and participated in bringing that practice to light. (HLS Bonding v. Ohio Civil Rights Commission, No. 07-AP-1071, Court of Appeals of Ohio, 10th Appellate Division, 2008)

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