Imagine you work for a large company in Painesville, Eastlake, Mentor, or somewhere else in Lake County – or anywhere in Northeast Ohio for that matter. Now imagine you show up for work one day and are fired for a reason that seems suspicious. What should you do?
You should contact an experienced wrongful termination attorney to determine if your rights have been violated.
Ohio is an at-will employment state. Under at-will employment, employees without a contract of employment can be fired for any reason, no reason, or even an unfair reason, as long as it is not an otherwise illegal reason. Under both federal and Ohio employment law, there are several situations in which firing an employee would be illegal, or to put it in non-legal terms, would be a “wrongful termination.”
First, Lake County employers may not fire employees because of their race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, pregnancy, military status, or genetic information. Firing employees for any of these reasons would be illegal employment discrimination under both Ohio and federal law.
Second, employers may not retaliate against employees by firing them for exercising their rights protected by statute or the constitution. For example, a Mentor employer would violate the law by firing an employee who made a good faith complaint of employment discrimination, who asked for or took medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (the “FMLA”), or who asked for a reasonable accommodation of a disability. In addition, public sector employees might be protected from retaliation for exercising their First Amendment right to free speech under certain circumstances.
Third, while it is true that a stand-alone claim of “wrongful termination” does exist under Ohio law, it is available only in very limited circumstances. Still, an Eastlake employee fired for reasons that would jeopardize an existing public policy might be able to bring a wrongful discharge claim, if there is not already a statute that gives the employee rights.
While the law does not protect employees from unfair terminations, it does protect them from illegal terminations. If you work in Lorain County, or anywhere else in Northeast Ohio, and feel your rights may have been violated, our experienced wrongful termination lawyers may be able to help. Contact us today.