The Ohio Civil Rights Act (O.R.C. Chapter 4112)
The Ohio Civil Rights Act, R.C. §4112.01, et seq. prohibits discrimination against employees who are members of certain protected classes. The Act provides, in pertinent part, as follows:
“It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any employer, because of the race, color, religion, sex, military status, national origin, disability, age, or ancestry of any person, to discharge without just cause, to refuse to hire, or otherwise to discriminate against that person with respect to hire, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, or any matter directly or indirectly related to employment.” R.C. §4112.02(A).
Federal case law construing Title VII is generally applicable to cases involving alleged violations of the Ohio Civil Rights Act. Plumbers & Steamfitters Joint Apprenticeship Cmte. v. OCRC, 66 Ohio St.2d 192 (1981). This means that employees may prove discrimination either directly (e.g. with expressly stated discriminatory reasons advanced by the employer) or indirectly. Most employees must prove discrimination indirectly, as direct evidence of discrimination is rare.
To prove discrimination indirectly under the Ohio Civil Rights Act, an employee must show that: (1) they are a member of a class protected by R.C. 4112.02(A); (2) they were qualified for the position sought or held; (3) they were subjected to an adverse action (e.g. not hired, demoted or terminated); and (4) a similarly-situated person outside the protected class was hired instead of the complaining employee, treated differently than the complaining employee, or replaced the complaining employee.
If the employee can establish these four elements, the employer then has the opportunity to advance a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason as to why the employer took the employment action. Thereafter, the employee may show that that employer's stated reason(s) are pretextual (i.e. false assertions or a mask for discrimination).
Unlike Title VII however, the Ohio Civil Rights Act itself prohibits age and sex discrimination, in addition to the other protected classifications. Ohio age discrimination claims may be brought under 3 separate provisions of Chapter 4112, as explained more HERE. The Ohio Civil Rights Act's prohibition on sex discrimination further prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy or child bearing, as explained more HERE.
For federal laws prohibiting discrimination, see Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.