Under both Ohio and federal law, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of his or her age. Age discrimination claims are based on statute. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq., and Ohio’s age discrimination statutes, R.C. §§ 4112.02, 4112.14, & 4112.99, protect employees who are at least 40 years old. Linnen Co., L.P.A. has years of experience in these cases, and we advocate for workers throughout Summit County and Northeastern Ohio.
To establish a claim for age discrimination, you will need to establish that:
If your employer indicates a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for the adverse employment action, you will need to demonstrate that the reason was pretextual and that the real reason behind the adverse action was your age.
The ADEA applies only to employers that have 20 or more employees working each day for at least 20 weeks in the previous year. Ohio’s age discrimination laws apply to employers that have four or more employees.
Employers that unlawfully engage in age discrimination violate both federal and state law and therefore can be held accountable under both. It is important to understand how both laws work in order to preserve your rights.
In Ohio, to proceed with a claim under the ADEA, you must first file a charge with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) within 180 days of the alleged wrong. You can also file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days of the alleged wrong or within 30 days after receiving notice from the OCRC that it terminated the investigation, whichever is earlier. You will then be permitted to file a civil action against your employer after 60 days have passed from filing with the EEOC.
Under the ADEA, the court can award unpaid compensation, court costs, and attorney’s fees. Under certain circumstances, in cases involving a "willful" violation of the ADEA, the court may increase the award by an amount equal to your actual damages and order reinstatement.
There are two options you can follow under Ohio law: You can institute a charge with the OCRC, or you can file your own lawsuit against your employer in court. In some cases, you may not be permitted to do both, and the filing of an OCRC charge may prevent filing a direct action in court under the Revised Code. You should obtain an opinion from an attorney experienced with employment law. The OCRC cannot provide legal advice, and this can be a confusing area of law. If you choose to file a charge with the OCRC, you must file your charge within 180 days of the adverse employment action. If you choose to file your own lawsuit against your employer in court, depending on which statute you sue under, you must file your complaint within 180 days or six (6) years of the alleged wrong (§§ 4112.02 & 4112.99 – 180 days; § 4112.14 – 6 years).
As you can see, to begin a lawsuit under the ADEA you must first file with the OCRC or the EEOC. As noted above, if you first file with the OCRC, you may be precluded from filing lawsuit against your employer under state law in an Ohio court. You are highly encouraged to speak with an attorney specializing in labor and employment law, who can advise you of your rights if you believe that you have been discriminated against on the basis of your age.
To request a confidential analysis by an Akron age discrimination attorney, you may contact us by email, by completing our confidential Do I Have a Case? form, or by calling us directly at (330) 258-8000.