In most of the employment discrimination cases that our employment law firm sees, the plaintiff-employee is seeking money damages. In these types of cases, the most common barometer of damages is the plaintiff’s back-wages and lost benefits. But what if the plaintiff also wants to prevent the defendant-employer from engaging in further discriminatory conduct in the future? Can the plaintiff enjoin the defendant from doing so by seeking an injunction? Under Ohio and Federal employment discrimination statutes, the answer should be yes.
In Ohio, a plaintiff may bring a private cause of action for employment discrimination under R.C. § 4112.99. Dworning v. Euclid. Plaintiffs claiming employment discrimination on account of their race, sex, or religion may enforce Ohio’s employment discrimination statutes by filing a civil lawsuit under this statute. R.C. § 4112.99 expressly authorizes a plaintiff to seek an injunction to enjoin the defendant from engaging in further discriminatory behavior (“Whoever violates this chapter is subject to a civil action for damages, injunctive relief, or any other appropriate relief.”).
If the plaintiff is pursuing a claim for age discrimination – in addition to filing under R.C. § 4112.99 – the plaintiff may file under R.C. § 4112.02(N), R.C. § 4112.05, or R.C. § 4112.14. Leininger v. Pioneer Nat’l Latex. Courts have acknowledged that R.C. § 4112.02(N), like R.C. § 4112.99 – which explicitly authorizes plaintiffs to seek an injunction – is remedial in nature and ought to be construed liberally. Id.; see also Jones v. Bd. of Elections. To be sure, R.C. § 4112.02(N)’s language that the plaintiff may seek “any legal or equitable relief that will effectuate the individual’s rights” surely includes obtaining an injunction.
This conclusion is supported by the federal case law on point. As Ohio courts are quick to point out, “we have looked to federal case law when considering claims of employment discrimination brought under the Ohio Revised Code.” Coryell v. Bank One Trust Co. N.A.; see also McCray v. City of Springboro. The federal courts have long recognized that plaintiffs are free to seek an injunction under the federal employment discrimination statute, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Indeed, as one federal appellate court has recognized, district courts are given wide discretion under Title VII to fashion equitable relief that makes whole a plaintiff that has been discriminated against by an employer. Bruso v. United Airlines Inc.
Federal courts have recognized that an injunction is appropriate in the following areas: retaliation (Id.; EEOC v. DCP Midstream, L.P.), race discrimination (EEOC v. HBE Corp.; O’Sullivan v. City of Chicago), sex discrimination (EEOC v. N.Y. Times Broad. Serv., Inc.), sexual harassment (EEOC v. Gurnee Inn Corp.), age discrimination (U.S. EEOC v. Massey Yardley Chrysler, Inc.), and hostile work environment (U.S. EEOC v. Clayton Residential Home, Inc.).
Generally, to be entitled to an injunction, all that the plaintiff must show is that the defendant’s discriminatory conduct could possibly persist in the future. O’Sullivan. In fact, the plaintiff need not demonstrate that the defendant engages in a pattern or practice of discrimination in order to obtain an injunction. That is, the plaintiff need not produce any evidence beyond that going to his particular case. Id.; see also Bruso. The federal courts caution, however, that injunctive relief is not appropriate if the discriminatory conduct has ceased and there is no reasonable probability that it will continue in the future. DCP Medstream, L.P. Additionally, an injunction may be struck down if it exceeds to scope of future discriminatory conduct and/or it is broader than necessary to remedy the underlying wrong. Marshall v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.; HBE Corp.
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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