Written by attorney Jerome Thomas Linnen Jr.

Age Discrimination Under Federal & Ohio Law

Under both Ohio and federal law it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of his or her age. Age discrimination claims are based on statute. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq., and Ohio’s age discrimination statutes, R.C. §§ 4112.02, 4112.14, & 4112.99, protect employees who are at least 40 years old.

To establish a claim for age discrimination, you will need to establish the following:

  1. that you were at least 40 at the time of the alleged wrong;
  2. that you were subjected to an adverse employment action;
  3. that you were otherwise qualified for the position; and
  4. that after you were terminated or rejected, a substantially younger applicant replaced you or your termination permitted the retention of a substantially younger employee.

If your employer indicates a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for the adverse employment action, you will need to demonstrate that that reason was pretextual and the real reason behind the adverse action was your age.

Do the age discrimination statutes apply to my employer?

The ADEA applies only to employers that have 20 or more employees working each day for at least 20 weeks in the previous year. Ohio’s age discrimination laws apply to employers that have 4 or more employees.

Employers that unlawfully engage in age discrimination violate both federal and state law and therefore can be held accountable under both. It is important to understand how both laws work in order to preserve your rights.

Procedure under the ADEA

In Ohio, to proceed with a claim under the ADEA, you must first file a charge with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) within 180 days of the alleged wrong. You can also file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days of the alleged wrong or within 30 days after receiving notice from the OCRC that it terminated the investigation, whichever is earlier. You will then be permitted to file a civil action against your employer after 60 days have passed from filing with the EEOC.

Remedies available under the ADEA

Under the ADEA, the court can award unpaid compensation, court costs, and attorney’s fees. Under certain circumstances, in cases involving a "willful" violation of the ADEA,the court may increase the award by an amount equal to your actual damages and order reinstatement.

Procedure under Ohio law

There are two options that you can follow under Ohio law. You can institute a charge with the OCRC or you can file your own suit against your employer in court. In some cases you may not be permitted to do both and the filing of an OCRC charge may prevent filing a direct action in court under the Revised Code. You should obtain an opinion from an attorney experienced with employment law. The OCRC cannot provide legal advice and this can be a confusing area of law. If you choose to file a charge with the OCRC, you must file your charge within 180 days of the adverse employment action. If you choose to file your own suit against your employer in court, depending on which statute you sue under, you must file your complaint within 180 days or 6 years of the alleged wrong. (§§ 4112.02 & 4112.99 – 180 days; § 4112.14 – 6 years).

As you can see, to begin a suit under the ADEA you must first file with the OCRC or the EEOC. As noted above, if you first file with the OCRC, you may be precluded from filing suit against your employer under state law in an Ohio court. You are highly encouraged to speak with an attorney that specializes in labor and employment law who can advise you of your rights if you believe that you have been discriminated against on the basis of your age.

To determine if Linnen Co., L.P.A. can assist you, you may contact us by completing a confidential case analysis form or by calling us directly at (330) 258-8000.

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