Retaliatory Discharge and Workers’ Compensation Claims in Columbus, Ohio
Understanding At-Will Employment and Exceptions
In Columbus, Ohio, like many states, the general rule is that employment is considered “at-will.” This means that employers have the right to terminate an at-will employee at any time, with or without cause. Whether the reason for termination is justified or unjustified, the employer typically holds the authority to make such decisions. However, there are exceptions to the at-will rule, especially concerning certain protected actions by employees.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim: Employee Rights and Employer Obligations
If an employee gets injured while performing their job duties and faces an anticipated and foreseeable risk related to their employment, they have the right to seek benefits under the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Act. It is essential to understand that Ohio law prohibits employers from terminating or demoting an employee in retaliation for filing a claim seeking workers’ compensation benefits. Such actions are commonly referred to as wrongful or retaliatory discharge.
Legal Basis for Protection
The laws protecting employees from wrongful or retaliatory termination are grounded in public policy considerations. The Ohio Supreme Court has established that retaliatory termination for filing a workers’ compensation claim is a clear violation of public policy, based on relevant statutes, regulations, and case law.
Proving Retaliatory Discharge
To establish a violation of public policy leading to a retaliatory discharge, a former or demoted employee must demonstrate the following:
- Existence of Public Policy: A public policy safeguarding employees’ rights to pursue workers’ compensation claims must be identified.
- Jeopardy to Public Policy: The employer’s conduct should jeopardize or violate the public policy established to protect workers seeking workers’ compensation benefits.
- Motivation Based on Public Policy: The termination or demotion was motivated by the employee’s exercise of their right to file a legitimate workers’ compensation claim.
- Absence of Legitimate Business Reason: The employer must be unable to provide a legitimate business reason for the employee’s discharge or demotion.
Developing Landscape of Wrongful Termination Law
Ohio’s wrongful termination laws are continually evolving, granting broad protection to employees who can demonstrate harm resulting from retaliatory actions. For employers considering discharging an employee in retaliation for a valid workers’ compensation claim, the potential damages claims by the employee can be significant. As a result, employers need to exercise extreme caution when dealing with employees who have filed legitimate workers’ compensation claims.
Seek Legal Assistance from Cox, Koltak & Gibson
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated or demoted in retaliation for filing a legitimate workers’ compensation claim in Columbus, Ohio, seek legal representation from Cox, Koltak & Gibson. Our experienced attorneys can help you understand your rights, navigate the complexities of employment law, and pursue the appropriate legal action to protect your interests. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation to discuss your case and potential remedies.