No separate Ohio wrongful-discharge claim for disability discrimination

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Firing,Human Resources

A federal court has ruled that Ohio employees who want to sue for disability discrimination can’t add on an additional claim of wrongful discharge under the so-called public policy of the state of Ohio.

Employees have to use the federal ADA and the state disability discrimination statute instead. That’s good news because there are strict time limits for filing ADA and state claims.

If employees were able to sue for wrongful discharge, they would have much more time to file their suits. Plus, a separate lawsuit would open up the possibility of huge jury awards.

Recent case: James Caplinger, who worked for Uranium Disposition Services, hurt his knee. He then said the company discriminated against him because he was disabled.

Because there was a question over whether he had filed his EEOC complaint within 300 days—the time limit set by federal law—Caplinger’s attorneys also tried to sue for wrongful discharge, hoping to save his case. The court said he couldn’t add the additional claim and was stuck with his EEOC filing. (Caplinger v. Uranium Disposition Services, No. 2:08-CV-548, SD OH, 2009)

Final note:
It turned out that Caplinger had not missed his EEOC filing deadline after all, so his limited lawsuit will go forward. Although Caplinger missed the 300-day deadline by a few days, he did fill out an EEOC intake form within 300 days. The court said filling out that form meant he had done enough to start the claim.

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