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Ohio Employment Law Blog

Updated guidelines offer more protection for pregnant employees

In Ohio, as elsewhere in the country, employment disputes often arise when employees believe they are being deprived of certain rights or privileges to which they are entitled. Most employers understand that it is in their own best interests to protect their employees' rights because they are what make most companies operate effectively each and every day. Unhappy employees do not perform their duties as well, which can mean lower profits or returns.

As part of its effort to protect employees from harassment, defamation and other forms of workplace discrimination, one federal agency has issued a new set of guidelines that update protections from workplace discrimination that pregnant employees are afforded under federal law. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's update clearly states that any form of harassment or discrimination against pregnant women at work is illegal. Discrimination based on childbirth, pregnancy and related medical conditions are known forms of sex discrimination that are prohibited in all workplaces. The latest clarification on pregnancy discrimination should encourage employers to comply with the laws or face employment lawsuits. Pregnant workers will no longer need to fear losing their jobs just because they are pregnant.

Employer terminates waitress due to her Facebook post

An employee's contract can be terminated for a number of reasons, such as failure to abide by the company's polices and other infractions that can escalate if a worker continues to commit the same mistakes over and over again. Here in Franklin, Ohio, employees understand that it is their responsibility to follow what is written in their contracts or risk losing their jobs. However, in some cases, employees are terminated even though what they did may have seemed minor or nothing at all. Such cases are often considered wrongful termination and employers can be held liable if it can be proven that they terminated an employee due to discrimination or some other unlawful factor.

In Findlay, Ohio, an employee's contract was terminated after she posted a message on Facebook, stating that customers who can afford to spend $50 in a restaurant should be able to tip generously. Based on a report, the terminated worker was a waitress at a Texas Roadhouse restaurant. Last Friday night, the employee posted the message on Facebook without knowing that one of her Facebook friends was also one of her customers that night. That customer took a screen shot of the message and showed the post to the woman's managers. According to restaurant management, it is strictly forbidden for the restaurant's employees to mention the restaurant's name and post derogatory messages on social networking websites. According to reports, the waitress who was terminated did not mention the restaurant's name in the Facebook post.

City of Cleveland settles wage dispute with employees

Those who live in Columbus may have heard that Cleveland, one of the other major cities in Ohio, recently settled a suit filed by its municipal employees. The employment litigation sought back pay from the city and accused the city of not keeping proper documentation of how many hours its employees worked.

Specifically, the city had a policy of rounding off employees' time cards at both the beginning and the conclusion of their shifts. While rounding a punch card is not unacceptable per se, the problem was that the city also rounded in the city's favor, meaning that over time, employees could stand to lose significant dollars in both base pay and overtime.

Laid-off Ohio workers plan rally to extend benefits

While an employee may primarily work for a company for financial compensation, they may also acquire other benefits while working including medical insurance, life insurance and a pension. Workers in Columbus, Ohio, know that one of the most important things to do once a person is hired for a job is to read the contents of the employment contract. Doing this allows the employee to fully understand the pension, benefits and compensation to which the worker is entitled. Failure to do so can increase the chances of being victimized by fraud, mismanagement or denial of benefits.

In Ohio, the United Steelworkers, which represent 850,000 employees from different industries like auto supply, glass, chemicals, rubber, paper and mining, recently stated that laid-off workers from the Ormet factory will hold a rally for extending unemployment benefits. The workers plan to meet with community leaders and elected officials concerning the issue, which affects workers across the country.

Has your employer breached the terms of an employment contract?

Residents in Ohio usually find themselves fortunate to obtain a well-paying job that utilizes their skills and knowledge. Upon being hired for the position, most employees sign an employment contract. This legal document outlines the policies and details of their employment. Moreover, this also could include more specific terms that better define their job and what rights they have. After signing the agreement, employees follow the terms of the employment agreement, but some employees fail to notice whether their employers are following those same terms.

A recent report focused on employees who are currently in a position or have job responsibilities that do not align with the terms of their employment contract. When this occurs, an employee could claim a breach of contract. Simply put, if an employee is not doing the job that he or she signed up to do, that employee could have a cause of action.

Mason teachers seek to revise their employment contracts

Negotiating a contract is not always a simple process. Before employees are hired by an employer, they will be required to sign an employment contract, which gives the soon-to-be employee an overview of the company's policies, compensation and benefits that they will be receiving as an employee. Ohio residents know that it is very important to read the contents of the employment contract in order to avoid making mistakes that can lead to termination or to know the type of benefits can be sought in the event of a workplace accident.

Employment contracts can be revised under certain circumstances. This is the case of the Mason Education Association, a union of teachers that recently voted to allow their leaders to call a strike. The union seeks higher compensation during their contract negotiations. Based on the report, the teachers' salary has remained stagnant under the current contract.

ERISA CLE on July 16 and 23

Join Scott J. Stitt for a day-long ERISA CLE provided by the Ohio State Bar Association, either in person or webcast to your desktop. This CLE has already been approved for 6 hours of credit in Ohio, and will cover benefit claims, fee transparency, healthcare reform, and employer stock, among other timely ERISA issues. This CLE is available in person in Columbus, Ohio or by webcast on July 16, or in person in Cleveland on July 23. The brochure and registration form is available here: SCOTT CLE.pdf

Wrongful termination lawsuit looms after NFL scout's firing

Firing an employee seems like a simple and straightforward act. However, there are many important points to consider before employers relieve their workers from their positions. Giving a worker due process is one of those things, and considering labor rights is another. If a Franklin, Ohio employee is unfairly dismissed from the job, the employee can file a wrongful termination lawsuit.

A former team scout of the National Football League's Miami Dolphins is threatening such a legal action. The scout, who worked for the team for the past 17 years, felt his firing was a case of wrongful dismissal. The scout, through his attorney, sent a letter to the league and his former employer signifying the intent to litigate. He stated that the general manager fired him because the scout was working from home. While a scout working from his own residence will certainly raise more than a few eyebrows, the man's case is considered special. He began the practice in 2004 when his wife got sick from a serious blood vessel ailment and cystic fibrosis.

Workplace issues should be sorted out as soon as possible

Lighthearted moments in the workplace are not uncommon; it is not unnecessarily unhealthy either. In a dynamic workplace where employees are usually serious and intense, a little joking and teasing can relieve the stress and even make employees closer to each other. However, when jokes border on hostility and start to step on sensibilities, it can be considered as an employment dispute and such a workplace issue needs to be addressed immediately.

A recent case involving five African-American employees clearly demonstrates the need for such action. The employees, who work at a prison, filed a lawsuit alleging that jokes made by their co-workers and superiors were racially inappropriate and created a hostile environment. They even stated that they were relocated when they complained about the incident.

Ohio archdiocese's employment contract spurs controversy

An employment contract addressing all the necessary benefits, compensation and needs of a worker is a godsend. A worker can sleep better at night knowing his or her job tenure is safe after signing a beneficial employment contract. However, not every worker is blessed with a contract. Some workers are offered less than beneficial contracts and others, like a recent contract that is causing controversy in Ohio, can even challenge a worker's sense of fairness.

According to the recent reports, a 49-year-old Catholic teacher resigned as a form of protest after being presented with a contract that included provisions demanding teachers refrain from supporting "homosexual lifestyles." The teacher, who has a gay son, spurned the contract and more than 2,200 teachers have also refused to sign the contract. The woman was the first one to express her thoughts publicly. Teachers have until the school year's end to sign the contract or risk being unemployed.

James E. Arnold & Associates, LPA
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