Discrimination Overview

Ohio Discrimination Attorneys:

Discrimination presents a stressful, intimidating, and overwhelming situation. Fortunately, federal and Ohio law prohibit workplace discrimination in in all aspects of your employment. We zealously advocate on behalf of individuals and groups of employees whose rights have been violated.

Your employer cannot discriminate against you in any aspect of employment, including, but not limited to hiring and firing, compensation, assignment, or classification of employees, transfer, promotion, layoff, or recall, job advertisements, recruitment, testing, use of company facilities, training and apprenticeship programs, fringe benefits, pay, retirement plans, disability leave, or other terms and conditions of your employment.

Discrimination occurs when you are treated differently or unlawfully based on a protected class, such as age, race, national origin, religion, sex (including gender and pregnancy), or disability.  It is unlawful for your employer to treat you less favorably than other employees based on any of these protected characteristics.  If you believe you have been discriminated against in any aspect of your employment within the following categories, contact us immediately to ensure your rights are properly protected.  A non-exhaustive list of categories where discrimination most commonly occurs is summarized below.  For a more in-depth review of certain issues, please click on the Employment Issues menu at the top or send us a confidential message utilizing the contact form.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, codified as 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2, (Title VII) prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender and pregnancy), and national origin.  Discrimination involves treating a person (applicant or employee) unfavorably because of his or her race, color, national origin, sex (including gender and pregnancy), or religion.  Title VII (and Ohio law) makes it unlawful for employers and employment agencies to do the following:

  • (1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or
  • (2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Title VII also protects a person from harassment.  Harassment can include, for example, offensive or disparaging remarks about a person’s race, color, national origin, sex (gender), or religion.  When the harassment becomes so frequent or severe, it can also create a hostile work environment.  When that hostile work environment results in an adverse employment action (e.g. victim being fired, demoted, etc.), you should contact an employment discrimination attorney at Bryant Legal, LLC.

Disability Discrimination

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), codified as 42 U.S.C. § 12112, prohibits a covered entity (e.g. employer, employment agency, labor organization, or joint labor ­management committee) from discriminating against employees with a disability in all aspects of your employment.  The ADA applies if your employer has 15 or more employees.  If your employer has 4 or more employees, Ohio law prohibits discrimination against employees with disabilities.  The definition of a “disability” is intended to be all-encompassing.  Generally, a person has a “disability” if he or she:

  • has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more life functions;
  • has a record of having such impairments; or
  • is regarded (perceived by your employer) as having an impairment.

If you have a physical or mental impairment that constitutes a disability, the ADA requires that you still be able to perform the essential functions of your job with or without a reasonable accommodation.  Only then will you be a qualified individual protected by the ADA.

Next, the disabled employee (or his or her representative) must put your employer on notice of the disability by letting the employer know that he or she needs an adjustment or change at work for a reason related to a disability.  The burden is relatively low for putting your employer on notice of your disability.  Requests can be made either verbally or in writing.  For example, an employee can simply say “I’m having trouble getting to work at my scheduled starting time because of medical treatments I am undergoing.”  An employee may also tell his supervisor, “I need six weeks off to get treatment for a back problem.”

Once your employer is on notice that you have a disability, it must engage in an informal interactive process to determine what the individual needs and identify the appropriate reasonable accommodation so that you can still perform the essential functions of your job.  Indeed, the ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations (so long as it does not cause “undue hardship” to the employer) so that employees with disabilities can enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by similarly-situated employees without disabilities.  Some examples of an accommodation include, but are not limited to the following:

  • (i) modified work environment,
  • (ii) job restructuring,
  • (iii) disability leave,
  • (iv) modified or part-time schedule,
  • (v) modified workplace policies, or
  • (vi) reassignment to a vacant position when the disabled employee can no longer perform the essential functions of his or her current position with or without a reasonable accommodation and is qualified for the vacant position.

The duty to provide a reasonable accommodation is an ongoing one.  Thus, certain individuals require only one reasonable accommodation, while others may need more than one.  In the event an individual requests multiple reasonable accommodations, he or she is entitled only to those accommodations that are necessitated by a disability and that will provide an equal employment opportunity.

If there are reasonable accommodations available, but your employer terminates you or takes an adverse employment action against you, you will want to contact us to determine whether your employer has violated the ADA.

In addition to having a physical or mental impairment that constitutes a disability, you may be perceived or regarded as having a disability by your employer.  This type of situation occurs when your employer behaves toward you as if you have a substantially limiting impairment, regardless of whether the individual actually has an impairment.  This claim was intended to provide relief to individuals who are discriminated against because of the erroneous perceptions, myths, fears, and stereotypes associated with disabilities.  For example, an individual would be considered “regarded as disabled” if he or she suffered from a severe burn, but denied or terminated from his or her employment based on employer’s personal discomfort with disfigurement.  Another example includes when an individual is denied employment after a pre-employment physical exam reveals a back anomaly despite the absence of any symptoms of actual back impairment because of employer’s fear of injury and increased insurance or workers’ compensation costs.

In the event your employer unilaterally and subjectively decides that your physical or mental impairment presents workplace safety issues and takes an adverse employment action against you because of its own concerns or unfounded conclusions, you should contact us so that we can analyze your unique situation.

Age Discrimination

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), codified as 29 U.S.C. § 623, protects employees who are at least 40 years of age from being treated less favorably than younger employees in all aspects of employment.  Employers must have at least 20 or more employees to be subject to the ADEA.  In Ohio, your employer must have 4 or more employees to be subject to Ohio’s Civil Rights Act.  Age discrimination presents a higher burden for employees because the employee must prove that age was the motivating factor for discrimination rather than a motivating factor in other cases like Title (race, color, national origin, sex, religion).  However, it is still commonplace for “older” employees to be pushed out by their employers and discriminated against because of their age.  This process can occur with the termination of a large number of “older” employees or gradually.  If you believe you have been discriminated against or harassed because of your age, call one of the discrimination attorneys at Bryant Legal, LLC to assure your rights are protected.

In addition, the ADEA has an anti-retaliation provision( 29 U.S.C. § 623(d)), which prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for opposing unlawful age discrimination.  Thus, if you believe you have been retaliated against because you opposed age discrimination by your employer, call one of the discrimination attorneys at Bryant Legal, LLC.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), codified as 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq., is a federal law that requires covered employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to eligible employees for the following:

  • the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth
  • the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement
  • to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a “serious medical condition”
  • a “serious health condition” that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job
  • any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member, or
  • 26 workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the service member’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave)

A more in-depth analysis and explanation can be found in our resources above under the Family and Medical Leave Act page.

Pregnancy Discrimination

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA), codified as 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k), amended Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination in employment to include “pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.”  Thus, there is recourse for those discriminated on the basis of sex as well as “pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.”  The PDA amended Title VII to help alleviate some long-standing injustices associated with pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.  Specifically, discrimination in any aspect of work on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful discrimination under Title VII.  Title VII’s pregnancy-related protections include hiring, pregnancy and maternity leave, health insurance, and fringe benefits.

Despite the amendment, pregnancy discrimination is still a reality for many workers.  Women affected by pregnancy or related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees who are similarly situated in their ability or inability to work.  Under the PDA, pregnant employees must be permitted to work as long as they are able to perform their job functions.  Employers may not force her to remain on leave until the baby’s birth nor have a policy that prohibits an employee from returning to work for a predetermined length of time after childbirth.  In addition, employers must hold open a job for a pregnancy related absence the same length of time that jobs are held open for employees on sick or temporary disability leave.  If an employer provides any benefits to workers on medical leave, the employer must provide the same benefits for those on medical leave for pregnancy related.

If an employee is temporarily unable to perform her job due to pregnancy, the employer must treat her the same as ay other temporarily disabled employee.  For example, it must provide light duty, modified tasks, alternative assignments, disability leave, or leave without pay.  Additionally, impairments resulting form pregnancy (e.g. gestational diabetes and other conditions) may be disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  If an impairment exists, an employer may be required to provide a reasonable accommodation for a disability related to pregnancy absent undue hardship (e.g. significant difficulty or expense).

One example facing nursing mothers is breastfeeding and lactation.  In general, an employer with 50 or more employees must provide (to hourly employees only) a reasonable break time (unpaid) for nursing mothers (29 U.S.C. § 207(r)).  This includes (a) a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth; and (b) a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.

For more information about your legal issue, contact a Columbus or Toledo attorney at Bryant Legal, LLC.

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