Labor and Employment

Laws Against Employment Discrimination in Ohio

By Lisa Guerin, ​J.D., Boalt Hall at the University of California at Berkeley
Learn about protections against workplace discrimination for employees in Ohio.

Employees in Ohio are protected from workplace discrimination based on certain traits, such as ethnicity or sex. Congress and the Ohio legislature have decided that these traits, called protected characteristics, are not a fair basis for employment decisions—including who to hire, who to fire, and how much to pay employees. Below, we explain your rights under the state and federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination, including which employers must comply with the laws. (For more on this topic, see our employment discrimination and harassment page.)

Federal Laws Banning Employment Discrimination

Federal laws—including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act—protect employees in all 50 states against discrimination based on:

  • race
  • color
  • religion
  • sex
  • pregnancy
  • national origin
  • age (applies only to employees who are 40 years of age or older)
  • genetic information, or
  • physical or mental disability.

These federal laws make it illegal for employers of a certain size to discriminate in all aspects of employment, including hiring, benefits, promotions, pay, discipline, and termination. You are protected from discrimination if you work for a private employer with at least 15 employees (or 20 employees, for age discrimination only).

Government employees are protected from discrimination, too. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act applies to all federal, state, and local government employers. For other types of discrimination, all federal government employers are covered, and state and local government employers are covered if they have at least 15 employees.

Ohio Laws Banning Employment Discrimination

Ohio's workplace discrimination law applies to even smaller employers. Private employers with four or more employees may not discriminate based on:

  • race
  • color
  • age (40 or older)
  • ethnicity or national origin
  • disability
  • sex
  • religion, or
  • military status.
State laws protects additional characteristics, including sexual orientation, for certain public employees.

Agencies That Enforce Discrimination Laws

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the government agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting workplace discrimination. The EEOC website provides details on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the primary federal law that prohibits employment discrimination, as well as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other federal laws. See Laws Enforced by EEOC for details. See our article on how to file an EEOC claim or visit the EEOC’s website for more information.

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission enforces state laws prohibiting workplace discrimination. To learn more, visit the Office’s website, which provides information on state laws prohibiting discrimination and the process for filing a complaint.

Finding an Employment Law Attorney in Ohio

If you believe you have been discriminated against at work, you should talk to an experienced Ohio employment lawyer. A lawyer can assess your situation, explain the laws that might apply, and evaluate the strength of your claims. A lawyer can also advise you on how to proceed, including filing a complaint or lawsuit, and what damages might be available if you win.

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