New Ruling for DACA Recipients

Updates for DACA Recipients in 2020

On June 18, 2020, another long-awaited Supreme Court ruling regarding the status of those participating in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was decided. The decision was made up of a variety of different elements including holding that the Trump administration did not properly terminate the existing DACA program, that DACA program as of the decision will be completely restored as it existed prior to the rescission in 2017, and, most importantly, that current DACA recipients will continue to be protected from deportation and have their employment authorized. Also, new DACA applicants will be able to apply for deportation protection and employment authorization as soon as the DHS implements the Supreme Court decision.

The much-deliberated DACA recipients are undocumented individuals that were brought into the United States as children under 16. Individuals that qualify for the program receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and will become eligible for a work permit. To qualify for the program, recipients cannot have felonies or serious misdemeanors on their criminal records as well as must have completed certain educational requirements. It should be noted that individuals in the program don’t necessarily receive citizenship status through participation in DACA, just the deferral of deportation actions.

The program was started in 2012 under President Obama amidst an elevated amount of undocumented high school graduates in the US. Presently, approximately 700,000 people nationwide are participants in the DACA program and 3,880 of them live in Ohio alone. The Supreme Court decision regarding the program arose from President Trump attempting to completely rescind the program through an Executive Order in September of 2017.

The 5-4 decision comes as good news for some employers as they can continue to legally employ DACA recipients. However, DACA participants should note that they need to file timely applications to renew their protections.  The decision still raises some questions. The Supreme Court did not discuss or decide on the general legality of DACA.  Because of this, the decision essentially reads as saying that DACA participants are safe in the United States “for now” and leaves open the possibly for another decision to change the status of the DACA program and its participants in the future.


– Audrey Bidwell

Can My Employer Discriminate Against Me? SCOTUS and LGBT Workers

Recent Law Changes and LGBT Worker Protections

Using the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Supreme Court ruled that it unlawful to discriminate against an employee on the basis of their sexuality and gender identity. Now LGBTQ+ workers have a legal recourse to pursue workplace discrimination claims, even in states that do not already have protections in place. The 6-3 decision was a consolidation of three cases: Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia; Altitude Express v. Zarda; and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC. The majority ruled this way as they reasoned that “it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”


To prove an employment discrimination claim, an employee must prove either disparate treatment or discriminatory harassment. Generally, this means an employee must prove they are a member of a protected class, that their employer or workplace harasser knew that they were a member of a protected class, that they were harmed by the actions of their employer or harasser, and finally, that others of that class were similarly treated or that the harassment was because of their status as a member of a protected class. The Supreme Court also held that although there can be multiple “but for” causes of employee discrimination, termination, or harassment, if any of them are because of a protected classification then there has been a violation of federal law.


This landmark case will be a drastic change for the 27 states that prior to this decision did not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status. These states include: Arizona, Michigan, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. This may mean employers in these states will need to offer new anti-discrimination training and update their employee handbooks regarding gender and sexuality issues in the workplace.

However, this decision does not provide all the answers that employees will need regarding gender and sexuality-minorities in the workplace. The Supreme Court themselves noted there will likely be more cases in the future that further addressing the extent and influence of this opinion. For example, the disputes over restrooms and other gender-specific facilities being available for transgender employees may still be an issue as well as mandating certain healthcare benefits for transgender employees and potential religious liberty claims.


-Audrey Bidwell



Employers across Ohio are closing their operations due to Gov. DeWine’s declaration of a state of emergency and the “Shelter in Place” Order.  While the emergency declaration and the “Shelter in Place” Order are necessary to #flattenthecurve, many Ohio businesses are reducing their workforce due to the coronavirus pandemic through layoffs, furloughs, reductions in hours, and pay cuts. The business decisions an employer makes have different impacts on its employees.

If you have been laid off, furloughed or had a reduction in hours, you have important rights.


The emergency declaration expands unemployment coverage in Ohio until the emergency declaration is lifted.

  • If you are quarantined due to COVID-19 you are eligible for unemployment benefits.
  • The one week waiting period to file for unemployment benefits has been waived so an unemployed worker can file for benefits immediately upon being separated.

The online form to apply is found at: Applying online will help expedite your application.

If you are working, but have a reduction in hours, you may still be eligible to apply; however, your earnings will be deducted from your maximum benefit amount. This means if what you earn in a week with reduced hours is more than your state maximum benefit, you will not receive unemployment. Maximum Weekly Benefits are:

Number of Dependents If your Average Weekly Wage was: Maximum Weekly Benefit
0 $960 or higher $480
1 or 2 $1,164 or higher $582
3 or more $1,294 or higher $647


  • The emergency declaration has waived the requirement that a person receiving unemployment benefits is “actively seeking work.”


The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Emergency Security Act or the “CARES Act” that passed on March 27, 2020 impacts your unemployment benefit entitlement and Maximum Weekly Benefits. Under this federal stimulus law, if you have an unemployment claim in Ohio, you are entitled to an additional weekly $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payment on top of existing state unemployment benefits for a maximum of thirty-nine weeks, subject to further extension rules. Further, sick employees who have the coronavirus can also collect unemployment if they are not receiving paid leave benefits.

The CARES Act mandates extension of unemployment coverage to an individual who is otherwise able to work and:

  1. who is not eligible for regular compensation or extended benefits under State or Federal law or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation;
  2. who has exhausted all rights to regular unemployment or extended benefits under State or Federal law or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation;
  3. who is unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because the individual has been diagnosed with COVID–19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID–19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. who is caring for a household family member who has been diagnosed with COVID–19;
  5. who is primary caregiver for a child or other person in the household who is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and this prevents work;
  6. who is an employee or new hire that is unable to reach the place of employment because of a COVID-19 quarantine or health provider self-quarantine;
  7. who has become the breadwinner or source of major support for a household because the head of the household has died from COVID–19;
  8. who has to quit his or her job as a direct result of COVID–19 due to closure of the place of employment; or
  9. who is self-employed, is seeking part-time employment, does not have sufficient work history, or otherwise would not qualify for regular unemployment or extended benefits under State or Federal law or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation.


No pay means no work.

If you have had your normal work hours reduced, your employer cannot require you to do any work outside of those reduced hours without you getting paid for it.  In other words, if an employer asks an employee to do any work during the reduced hours, then the employee must be compensated for that time.   Things like answering emails, taking phone calls, picking up mail, etc. are all work activities for which employees must be compensated.


An employer cannot reduce an hourly employee’s pay below the Ohio minimum wage which is currently $8.70 per hour.  Employers cannot reduce a salaried employee’s weekly wage below $684 per week.  Both of these are still violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Ohio Wage Act.


The Ohio Prompt Pay Act remains in effect.  Employers must still pay employees at least on a bi-weekly basis and cannot make an employee wait more than 30-days for their paycheck.


On March 18, 2020, the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFRCA) became law.  The law includes two new important provisions for Ohio workers: 1) an emergency expansion to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and 2) a new Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act that requires paid leave for employees forced to miss work because of the COVID-19 outbreak in certain circumstances:


  • Applies to private employers with fewer than 500 employees and to all public employers that are covered by the FMLA regardless of size.
  • An employee is eligible after he or she has been employed for at least 30 calendar days before the first day of the leave.
  • Employees are entitled to 12 weeks of protected leave if the employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave to care for the son or daughter under 18 years of age of such employee if the school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to a public health emergency. A public health emergency means an emergency with respect to COVID-19 declared by a federal, state, or local authority.
  • The first 2 weeks of leave are unpaid, but an employee may elect to substitute any accrued vacation leave, personal leave, or medical or sick leave for unpaid leave.
  • After the first 2 weeks, leave is paid at two-thirds of the employee’s usual pay, with a cap of $200 per day. For employees with schedules that vary from week to week, a six-month average is to be used to calculate the number of hours to be paid. Employees who have worked for less than six months prior to leave are entitled to the employee’s reasonable expectation at hiring of the average number of hours the employee would normally be scheduled to work.
  • The Secretary of Labor is empowered to issue regulations to exclude healthcare providers and emergency responders from the definition of employees who are allowed to take such leave, and to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if the required leave would jeopardize the viability of their business.


Requires private employers with fewer than 500 employees and public employers regardless of size to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to employees on top of what the employer now provides (if any). This new paid sick time applies to employees who are unable to work, or telework, because the employee:

  1. Is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order.
  2. Has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  3. Is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  4. Is caring for an individual who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order or has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine as described above.
  5. Is caring for his or her child whose school or place of care has been closed or whose childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions.
  6. Is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health & Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

Steps to Take After Wrongful Termination in Ohio

Wrongfully Terminated in Ohio? Here Are the Steps to Take

Getting fired hurts. Losing your job creates financial problems and makes you doubt yourself. The pain is even worse if you believe you suffered a wrongful termination.

In Ohio, employers have broad discretion to fire workers for any reason or no reason at all, so long as the reason is not discriminatory. Valid reasons to let an employee go range from poor performance, policy and safety violations, economic considerations, to shifts in priorities that require different skills.

What employers cannot do, however, is fire you in retaliation for exercising your rights to receive fair pay or to work free from discrimination and abuse, or for specifically discriminatory reasons. When that happens, you may have grounds for filing a wrongful termination lawsuit and receiving monetary damages in Ohio. Although, it is important to note, you must have significant proof of the retaliation or discrimination.

Succeeding with a wrongful termination claim is not easy but taking the correct steps when you lose your job will set you on the proper path. Here are five things to do if you suspect your employer fired you illegally.

Do Not Lose Your Cool

No matter how good it feels at the moment, cursing out your boss and threatening to sue will not serve you well in the long run. We understand that remaining calm may be a struggle, especially if you have suffered harassment and other forms of unfair treatment leading up to the final notice of your firing. But you will want to resist any urge to create a scene.

If you file a wrongful termination lawsuit in Ohio, your former employer can cite threatening behavior or damage to equipment as valid reasons for ending your time with the company. Do not give them an excuse that a court could accept.

Ask for an Official Termination Notice

You have the right to know why you are being fired. Also, a company facing a wrongful termination claim must explain why it took what the court will call the adverse employment action.

Getting the stated reason for your termination in writing allows you and your Ohio employment law attorney to build a case for why that reason does not make sense. It may also turn out that the company gives a different reason during the trial then it did when it wrote your termination letter. Calling attention to the shifting explanation can work in your favor.

Save Emails and Texts Related to Your Firing

If you see your wrongful termination coming, forward harassing emails and texts to your personal accounts, keep notes of when and how conversations that you feel are inappropriate occur. Make sure to save performance reviews And other information that reflects well on you as an employee.

Additionally, take notes on threatening or abusive conversations, and keep track of demotions or reassignments that strike you as unfair or done to convince you to quit. All this information can be used to support your wrongful termination claim.

Learn What Justifies a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit in Ohio

Employers cannot fire an employee if the principal reason for doing so is one or more the following:

  • Discrimination based on the employee’s race, national origin, sex, religion, genetic profile, or age if older than 40
  • Discrimination based on the employee’s known or suspected disability
  • Requests from the employee for the accommodation of a disability
  • Use of available Family and Medical Leave Act leave by the employee
  • Military service by the employee
  • Pregnancy or childbirth for the employee
  • Retaliation against the employee for reporting or participating in the investigation of discrimination or retaliation
  • Reporting safety problems
  • Reporting violations of laws and regulations
  • Engaging in union or labor organizing activities

Speak With an Ohio Wrongful Termination Lawyer

If you recognize your situation in the list above, it is time to meet with a Columbus wrongful termination attorney and discuss your legal options. Do not wait long. Several different employee rights laws can be cited in wrongful termination lawsuits, and each has a short statute of limitations.

At Barkan Meizlish, LLP, we offer free, confidential, no-pressure consultations to victims of wrongful termination throughout Ohio. Call us at (614) 221-4221 to learn if we can help you. You can also schedule an appointment online.

How Victims Of Wage Theft Can Fight Back: Fee-Shifting Protections and the FLSA

My Employer Didn’t Pay Me Correctly but I Can’t Afford an Attorney, Now What?

Have you ever worked somewhere that didn’t pay you on time, or didn’t pay your wages properly? If yes, you probably talked about it with a friend or family member who suggested you pursue legal action. Your response may have been that you couldn’t afford a FLSA attorney, you didn’t have the time to pursue it, or that the time and cost it would take wouldn’t be worth it since it wasn’t THAT big of a deal. If you’ve ever been the victim of wage theft, you may have found yourself in this difficult position. The big question facing most victims of wage theft is- is pursuing this legally worth the money that I lost?

You are not alone in this experience. Fortunately, this does not have to be your reality and there are attorneys that will help you with no cost out of pocket to you!

Under the federal law, 29 U.S.C.sec216(b), recovery of attorney’s fee is a required aspect of a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violation claim. In simpler terms, this means when a successful FLSA claim is filed, the Court can make it the employer’s responsibility to pay for the cost of your attorney’s services. This is incredibly important for victims of wage theft and other violations of the FLSA to be aware of, as it can be the deciding factor for many who are on the fence about pursuing legal action.

What Does This Mean for Me?

As the victim of wage theft, these rules and guidelines help ensure that even the most seemingly harmless cases (emphasis on ‘seemingly’) are taken seriously by the American legal system. Often, the monetary value of a wage theft complaint is less than the potential cost of legal assistance for resolving the issue. This shifting of the attorney fees from the employee to the employer in wage theft cases is meant to eliminate the issue that may deter employees from pursuing legal action. With the federal minimum wage set at $7.25, many hourly employees are not capable of retaining legal counsel, and the fee shifting structure of the law eliminates that concern. The FLSA allows employees an opportunity to fight against an employer who has done them wrong, no matter how small the amount of wages stolen. However, it is also important to note that the statute necessities that a plaintiff receive a judgement in their favor, rather than the employers favor, for the fee-shifting to be upheld by a court.

Okay, I Want to Take My Claim to Court

Hopefully, this information has given you some peace of mind and let you know the most important part of all of this: you deserve to be treated fairly by your employer. Your next step is to contact an attorney and discuss your case. The Paycheck Warriors at Barkan Meizlish, LLP are here to help. Send us an email at or give us a call at (800)-274-5297 for more information.

Enhanced Employees, Enhanced Productivity? Not Necessarily. How Technological Advancements, Such As Micro-Chipping for Humans, Could Be Harmful to Employees.

Modified Mentalities:

If you were on YouTube in the early half of the last decade, you may remember Neil Harbisson’s incredible Ted Talk “I listen to color.” For those who do not recall, Harbisson discusses his cranial implant and its associated external antenna. The implant processes color and turns them into sound waves within his skull. Having lived his whole live colorblind, Harbisson went from seeing grey scale to processing color in a way only made possible by technology.

All of this is to say that there has been an active venture to technologically modify humans for some time. It should come as no surprise that employers have tried to utilize this fascinating trend to appeal to a hip and young pool of prospective employees, and potentially exert control over them in an unprecedented way in years to come.

Blurring Boundaries:

An article published on February 3rd, 2020 by outlined the proposed legislature in the state of Indiana that would ban employers from requiring their employees to receive mandatory microchip implants. While it seems like actual cases of employers expecting their employees to receive these small, sub-dermal implants, it is an important discussion to be having in 2020. In the discussion surrounding the benefits of micro-chipping employees on a voluntary (for now) basis, there seems to be a reoccurring focus on productivity—simplify your employee’s life, improve their work ethic. It is impossible to overlook the statistics that show the contrary.

In a world where your employer is quite literally under your skin, how can employees take time for themselves or remove the potential stress of feeling on-the-clock 24/7? A recent op-ed featured in Bloomberg focused on the “always on” mentality many workers feel they cannot switch off, leading to burn out and lowered productivity. The answer to employee burnout and dissatisfaction, then, seems to be a focus on intentional away time from work rather than an increased presence in employee’s day-to-day life.

Expectations Vs. Reality:

The federal minimum wage has remained $7.25 since 2009, and yet employers continue expect more and more of their workers. In the current gig economy, many workers are left scraping together what they can from freelance or independent contracting work, desperately waiting for a full-time opportunity to take the burden of gig work off their shoulders. While many states have taken preventative action and outlawed mandatory microchip implants for employees, many people are still left questioning just how far an employer may be willing to go for their companies’ best interest. These sorts of changes will continue to challenge the current state of labor and employment law, and we must constantly be adapting to prepare ourselves for these upcoming challenges.


If you have any concerns about your employers’ treatment of their employees, give us a call today at 800-274-5297.

Mara Siegel is the Marketing Director at Barkan Meizlish DeRose Wentz McInerney Peifer, LLP.

What Can I Do If My Employer Does Not Want to Pay Wages and Overtime in Ohio?

During the 2019 fiscal year, the federal agency that enforces overtime rules recorded just over 11,000 violations and collected more than $186 million in unpaid wages for nearly 215,300 workers. Ohio employers were as likely as companies and agencies everywhere else to deny overtime to employees who had earned it.

Employee rights attorneys with Barkan Meizlish, LLP, welcome opportunities to help fellow Ohio residents hold every employer that refuses to pay overtime accountable. Here are four steps workers can take on their own to make that happen.

Determine Your Eligibility to Earn Overtime

Rules set by the U.S. government under a law called the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, say who must be paid overtime. Discussing all those rules in detail would create more confusion than clarity. At a practical level, you need to answer the following questions to know if you should be receiving overtime pay.

  • Did you work more than 40 hours during a 7-day workweek? This is the minimum requirement for overtime eligibility.
  • Do you earn less than $455 per week? Earning more than that allows your employer to automatically exempt you from earning overtime. This salary threshold rises to $684 per week in 2020.
  • Do you supervise coworkers? Employers can exempt managers from overtime eligibility regardless of what a manager earns each week.
  • Do you hold a job with a position title or job description that includes the word “executive,” “administrative,” “professional,” “computer,” or “outside sales”? Complicated duties tests exist for workers in several types of jobs. Your employer is allowed to make you exempt from overtime depending on your duties.

Keep a Record of the Hours You Work Each Week

The FLSA requires your employer to keep accurate records of the time you spend working and how much you get paid. Companies and agencies that refuse to pay overtime often fail to do that. Sometimes, the problem is just sloppiness, but many employers actually falsify wage and hour records.

If you believe you are being denied overtime pay, you can build your case by keeping your own records. Federal and state investigators, as well as a lawyer you hire to pursue an unpaid overtime claim, can force your employer to hand over its records. Comparing your notes with what the employer reported can reveal FLSA violations.

Ask Coworkers if They Are Being Paid for All the Hours They Work

Employers that refuse to pay overtime to you may be cheating other workers. You have the right to discuss this with your coworkers, and gathering evidence of a pattern of FLSA violations can strengthen your claim for unpaid overtime. A judge may also allow you and your coworkers to sue as a group, which ensures justice for as many people as possible.

Consult With an Employment Lawyer Who Handles Overtime Cases

You can and should bring your concerns about unpaid overtime directly to managers and supervisors. Meeting with an experienced employee rights attorney before doing so will ensure that you have solid evidence and also help protect you from retaliation. Laws exist to make firing or harassing an employee for complaining about illegal pay practices, but employers break those laws all the time. At Barkan Meizlish, LLP, we only advise and represent workers. The Paycheck Warriors at Barkan Meizlish, LLP, will work with you throughout your case and help assure the best possible outcome. Let us know how we can assist you with securing unpaid overtime by calling our Columbus offices at (614) 221-4221 to schedule a free and confidential consultation. We take cases all across Ohio, and we book appointments online.

How to Recognize and Report Workplace Harassment

Harassment in the workplace takes many forms. Although sexual harassment has stayed in the headlines recently, thanks to the #MeToo movement, bullying and assaults against workers based on their race, religion, age, disability and other characteristics are equally  serious and illegal.

Workplace harassment laws match the federal laws to protect employees’ rights. These laws, under both state and federal,  give harassed and/or bullied workers powerful tools to hold employers accountable for failing to protect them.

The first step toward invoking protection under a law like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Americans With Disability Act (“ADA”) is to recognize what constitute legally actionable harassment. So, to quote the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), “Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

Workplace harassment becomes unlawful where:

  • Enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or
  • The conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.”

To take this definition apart a little bit and put it into practical terms, an employee cannot claim to be suffering from harassment when they invite or willingly participate in potentially uncomfortable conduct. The actions must be uninvited and unappreciated to provide the basis for a harassment complaint and lawsuit.

It is also important to note that neither a single request for a date nor a playful remark constitute harassment. The problem must come up repeatedly, be serious enough to warrant a call to the police, or cause the victim to quit or seriously consider quitting.

Report Harassment to HR or a Trusted Supervisor First

Under workplace harassment laws, a victim of harassment can consult with an employee rights attorney at any time. Doing this before filing a formal complaint can be helpful for understanding the process for pursuing a complaint and considering the possible results of taking action. A lawyer who has helped other harassment victims will also have advice on how to write a complaint and which types of evidence will support a claim.

Whether a lawyer is consulted or not, the first place to go with a harassment complaint is human resources or a supervisor. Employers are required to have processes for receiving and investigating complaints. Agencies like the EEOC and courts that handle workplace handle workplace harassment cases want to see that those processes were followed.

When a complaint filed with the employer fails to resolve the problem, a workplace harassment victim can then file a complaint with the agency that administers the applicable employee rights law. This is usually the EEOC, but a lawyer who represents harassment victims will know which agency to contact.

The agency will investigate the complaint and take one of three actions:

  • Ask the employer to find a solution that protects the harassment victim,
  • Issue a letter authorizing the victim to file a lawsuit against the employer, or
  • File a lawsuit against the employer on behalf of the victim.

An Employer Cannot Retaliate Against an Employee Who Reports Harassment

No matter what else happens, an employee who files a complaint about workplace harassment cannot legally be fired, demoted or harassed for doing so. To quote the EEOC one more time: “Antidiscrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.”

Contact our Workplace Harassment Attorney

Still, too many employers retaliate against workers despite knowing they can face legal consequences. It is not uncommon for a harassment victim to file a lawsuit that lists separate claims for harassment and retaliation. An employee rights attorney with Barkan Meizlish, LLP, can provide advice on all types of potential workplace harassment and retaliation cases. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us at (614) 221-4221 or complete this contact form.

Can You Sue For Emotional Distress Lawsuit Against Employer in Ohio?

Can an Employer Be Sued for Emotional Distress in Ohio?

You can file an emotional distress lawsuit against your employer if you have proof that some action by the company’s managers triggered serious shame, fear, embarrassment, depression or post-traumatic stress. You will encounter high barriers to succeeding with such a lawsuit, however.

Grounds for Bringing an Emotional Distress Lawsuit Against an Employer

First, state laws in Ohio make it nearly impossible for employees to sue their employers after work-related accidents induce emotional distress. That is to say, personal injury lawsuits, which often include emotional distress claims, almost never move forward against employers when the plaintiff is an employee.

Pretty much every claim related to an on-the-job injury or illness must be handled through the workers’ compensation program. A workers’ comp claim can include requests for the coverage of treatment for mental and emotional problems that develop as a result of the injury or illness, but the program will not approve a claim for just emotional distress.

The types of lawsuits against employers that can include claims for emotional distress usually relate to violations of employment laws that prohibit discrimination, harassment and illegal forms of retaliation. For instance, a worker who brings a wrongful termination lawsuit can include a claim for the emotional distress they suffered while unemployed and struggling financially.

Importantly, stress itself cannot support either a workers’ comp claim or a lawsuit against an employer. Lawmakers and courts expect all jobs to be stressful. An employer can only be sued when its managers deliberately make a position more stressful than it needs to be in order to harm an employee or to compel the employee to quit.

Standards of Proof in an Ohio Emotional Distress Lawsuit

To succeed in convincing a judge and jury that you suffered emotional distress because of something you employer did, you must present convincing evidence of all the following facts:

  • Your employer acted recklessly or with intent,
  • The action was illegal or extreme and outrageous,
  • The action directly caused your emotional distress, and
  • Your emotional distress was severe.

You can prove intent by documenting complaints about distressing treatment such as harassment or discrimination. Partnering with an experienced and understanding employee rights attorney will help you cite which laws were violated and to make a case for actions being beyond ordinary teasing or everyday stressors.

You can use medical records, insurance claims, pharmacy bills, and therapists’ notes to demonstrate the connection between the action and your emotional distress. That health information can also establish the severity of the distress.

Finally, to secure a jury award, you must be able to show that your employer knew about the issue that was causing emotional distress and either caused the issue or did nothing to resolve it. Internal records of meetings and emails can be important forms of proof in this regard. At Barkan Meizlish, LLP, our attorneys only advise and represent employees. If you think you have grounds for filing an emotional distress lawsuit against your current or former employer, give us a call at (614) 221-4221 to let us know how we may be of assistance, You can also schedule a consultation online. The initial discussion will cost you nothing.

What You Need to Know About Workplace Discrimination Laws

During 2018, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed 2,274 charges for employment discrimination in Ohio. Far more workers and job applicants suffered from discrimination, however. The EEOC handles most such cases, but it is not the only federal or state agency that does so. Additionally, 75 percent or more of the discriminatory actions taken by employers go unreported.

One reason so many victims of workplace discrimination do not file complaints is that discriminatory motives for what Columbus employee rights lawyers call adverse employment actions go unspoken or get expressed in coded language. For instance, a subtle method many employers use to engage in discrimination against older workers involves writing job ads that include phrases like “cutting edge” or “energetic.” Such terms suggest that younger applicants are sought.

Workplace Discrimination may also lead an employer to

  • Decide not to hire or promote a qualified individual,
  • Set unrealistic performance goals,
  • Target certain individuals for harsh discipline while allowing other people to break the same rules without experiencing consequences,
  • Subject people to harassment,
  • Layoff or fire someone without having a solid reason for doing so, or
  • Refusing to recall a laid-off worker while welcoming back other employees.

Who Has Legal Protections Against Workplace Discrimination?

A number of federal and state laws define so-called “protected classes” of employees and jobseekers. U.S. laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans With Disability Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act protect people from discrimination based on their

  • Race,
  • Skin color,
  • National origin,
  • Religion,
  • Sex,
  • Pregnancy and recent childbirth.
  • Disability,
  • Age when older than 40,
  • Citizenship status, and
  • Genetic information.

Ohio statutes follow the U.S. Code very closely, but it is worth noting that state-based claims of workplace discrimination can be filed in relation to

  • Race,
  • Skin color,
  • National origin,
  • Ancestry,
  • Religion,
  • Sex,
  • Pregnancy and recent childbirth,
  • Disability,
  • Age when older than 40,
  • Military status, and
  • Caring for a parent, child, sibling, or spouse who was injured while serving in the military.

The cities of Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton and Toledo also have local ordinances that prohibit workplace discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Note, too, that for the purposes of federal and workplace discrimination laws, classes such as race and religion include people of all races and religions. The legal protections are not reserved for people from specific racial groups or faith traditions.

What Is the Process for Filing a Claim for Workplace Discrimination?

The EEOC process—which is the one most people follow and which serves as a model for the process used by the Ohio Civil rights Commission—starts with the victim of workplace discrimination making a formal complaint to their employer. The report can go to a human resources representative or a trusted manager or supervisor. Receiving the complaint legally obligates the employer to conduct a good-faith investigation into the problem.

The next step involves the employer working with the parties involved in the complaint to resolve the problem. The victim of discrimination can then take their complaint to the EEOC if any of the following situations develop:

  • The employer does not conduct an investigation,
  • The investigation is conducted sloppily or unfairly,
  • No action is taken to resolve the problem, or
  • The action taken fails to prevent the problem from recurring.

The EEOC will then conduct its own investigation. Depending on what the commission finds, it can dismiss the complaint, ask the employer to implement another solution, issue a letter authorizing the victim to sue their employer, or sue the employer on the victim’s behalf.

Winning an workplace discrimination lawsuit allows the victim to receive monetary damages, past and future wages (sometimes with interest), attorney fees, and, when appropriate and requested, reinstatement to their previous position. A ruling against an employer may also include court orders to change and document its policies and practices to ensure other workers do not suffer discrimination.

How to Get Help From an Attorney With Your Workplace Discrimination Lawsuit

Any person who thinks they have suffered workplace discrimination has an undeniable right to seek advice and representation from an employment discrimination lawyer. It can help to speak with an attorney before filing an official complaint with an employer because the lawyer will be able to offer an opinion on whether a problem could potentially merit filing a lawsuit. The attorney can also help with gathering evidence and drafting a letter that states the complaint. At Barkan Meizlish, LLP, we partner with workers all across Ohio to combat workplace discrimination and to hold employers accountable for illegal employment practices. You can schedule a free and confidential consultation online or call us at (614) 221-4221.

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