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Government employees can sue without first filing administrative complaints

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

The Supreme Court of Ohio just made it easier for public employees to sue their employers. It ruled employees could go directly to court instead of pursuing administrative remedies first. That means less time and fewer opportunities for employers to resolve any discrimination complaints before they go to court.

Recent case: Michael Dworning worked for the city of Euclid’s fire department for almost 30 years, eventually becoming chief of the department. Then the mayor sent a letter to the Euclid Civil Service Commission stating that Dworning was being terminated.

Dworning didn’t appeal the termination with the Civil Service Commission, but instead retired and went directly to court. He sued the city and several individuals, alleging disability discrimination and invasion of privacy, among other state claims.

The Supreme Court of Ohio wrote, “An individual’s right to pursue private remedies is too central an aspect of Ohio’s commitment to nondiscrimination to be limited to, or delayed by, an administrative process.” It ruled that Dworning—and public employees generally—can go directly to court with claims. (Dworning v. City of Euclid, et al., No. 2007-0307, Supreme Court of Ohio, 2008)

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