In Ohio, age discrimination claims are unique from other types of discrimination claims due to the specific language contained in § 4112.08 of the Ohio Revised Code. Specifically, R.C. § 4112.08 provides in part: “[E]xcept that any person filing a charge under division (B)(1) of section 4112.05 of the Revised Code, with respect to the unlawful discriminatory practices complained of, is barred from instituting a civil action under section 4112.14 or division (N) of section 4112.02 of the Revised Code.”
What does this mean? Well, R.C. § 4112.05 is the specific section in the Ohio Civil Rights Act that governs the filing of Charges for Discrimination with the Ohio Civil Rights Commissions (“OCRC”). Under the law, filing a Charge with the OCRC is virtually the same as filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) as both entities are designed for handling administrative complaints filed by employees against their current or former employers. Furthermore, a closer look at R.C. § 4112.08 provides that if you file a Charge of Discrimination, you are then barred from bringing a civil action under R.C. § 4112.14 or § 4112.02, the two available Ohio statutory provisions for age discrimination.
Oftentimes, a current or former employee will file a Charge of Discrimination with the OCRC and/or EEOC prior to consulting with an attorney. However, if an employees’ complaint is for age discrimination, the employees filing of a Charge of Discrimination likely has now barred that employees ability to file a civil suit for damages against the employer. In fact, even if the employee withdraws the EEOC/OCRC Charge before it is investigated, that employee still, under Ohio law, have waived your ability to file a civil action for age discrimination. Simply filing the Charge is enough to ruin your age discrimination case.
So how can you protect yourself and your potential age discrimination lawsuit? The safe approach is simply to not file a Charge of Discrimination with either the OCRC or the EEOC. However, if you want to file a Charge of Discrimination, there are three ways to do it while preserving your age discrimination lawsuit: (1) If you file a Charge of Discrimination, you must expressly indicate at the time of filing that the Charge is for procedural purposes only in connection with a claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) and that no investigation is requested; (2) You must file the Charge after filing your lawsuit; or (3) You must file the Charge and the lawsuit at the same time.
The first option is intended to be used only when employees are seeking to bring a federal age discrimination claim under the ADEA. This option is not overly useful because the Charge will not be investigated and serves merely as a procedural step to an employee’s ADEA claim. The second and third options are better because they allow the employee to bring both the Charge and the lawsuit and the Charge can be fully investigated. Therefore, if employees are intent on filing a Charge with the EEOC or OCRC, it is best to wait until the age discrimination lawsuit is filed before employees file the Charge. In doing so, you should always consult with an attorney who can provide you with assistance throughout this process.
If you even think that your employment rights have been violated or that you might need an employment lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. The Spitz Law Firm is dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.
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