Employment Discrimination in Ohio

Avoid employment discrimination against protected classes in Ohio.

Employers in Ohio must follow both federal and state antidiscrimination laws. While the laws are similar, Ohio's law applies to smaller employers and protects additional classes.

What Are the Protected Classes Under Federal Law?

In all 50 states, federal law makes it illegal to discriminate based on:

  • race
  • color
  • national origin
  • religion
  • sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
  • disability
  • age (40 and older)
  • citizenship status, and
  • genetic information.
To learn more about these types of discrimination, see our article on federal antidiscrimination laws.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is also currently accepting complaints of sexual orientation discrimination and gender identity discrimination, on grounds that they constitute discrimination based on "sex" under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. However, this issue is being litigated in court and far from settled. If you have questions, consult with a local lawyer.

What Are the Protected Classes Under Ohio Law?

In addition, Ohio state law also prohibits discrimination based on:

  • race
  • color
  • national origin
  • ancestry
  • religion
  • sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
  • disability: physical, mental, or learning
  • age (40 and older)
  • military status, and
  • caring for a parent, child, sibling, or spouse injured while in the armed service.
Some cities in Ohio protect additional characteristics, such as sexual orientation and gender identity.

Which Employers Are Covered By Antidiscrimination Laws?

Under federal law, companies with 15 or more employees are covered by Title VII, the primary law prohibiting employment discrimination, the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination based on genetic information. Companies with 20 or more employees are subject to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the federal law that prohibits discrimination against employees 40 years or older. Companies with four or more employees must comply with the employment discrimination provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of citizenship status. And all companies of any size must pay men and women equally for doing equal work, by virtue of the Equal Pay Act.

In Ohio, companies with four or more employees are subject to the state's antidiscrimination law.

What Government Agency Regulates Workplace Discrimination in Ohio?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that regulates workplace discrimination. You can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by calling 800-669-4000 or check out its website at www.eeoc.gov. The website will help you locate an EEOC field office in Ohio. (See our article on filing a discrimination claim with the EEOC.)

The Civil Rights Commission enforces state antidiscrimination law in Ohio. You can contact the Civil Rights Commission at 888-278-7101.

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