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Understanding At-Will Employment in Ohio

Duwel Law April 18, 2023

Book with title employment law on a tableIn the state of Ohio, it is assumed that an employee is employed "at-will." As a result, an employer or employee is within their right to terminate the employment at any time and for any legal reason. However, this doesn't mean that the employee can terminate employment for unlawful reasons, such as the employee's religion, race, sex, national origin, or age. 

At Duwel Law, we have the diligence and expertise to direct and represent clients in their wrongful termination cases. Our highly-skilled Ohio employment law attorneys are here to tell you about your rights under the state's at-will employment statute. We're proud to serve clients across Dayton, Greene County, Montgomery County, Miami County, Warren County, and Darke County, Ohio. 

At-Will Employment in Ohio 

At-will employment can be described as an employment contract which states that employment can be terminated at any time by either the employer or the employee, with or without any prior notice, provided that the reason doesn't violate federal or Ohio employment laws. 

In addition, Ohio is an "at-will" employment state. Pursuant to Ohio law – Ohio Administrative Code Section 3358:17-9-03 (B), an at-will employee or the employer may end the employment relationship with or without notice and with or without cause, except for unlawful reasons. 

Exceptions to At-Will Employment

However, under certain exceptions, an employee whose employment was wrongfully terminated may be entitled to file a wrongful termination action against their former employer. Here are some exceptions to at-will employment in the state of Ohio: 

Implied Contract: The surrounding facts and circumstances of the employment may imply a contract that is legally binding, even when not in writing. Under the implied contract exception, the employer may imply that the employment will last for a particular period, guarantee job security for excellent performance, or not fire the employee without a justifiable cause. 

Public Policy: Under public policy exceptions, an employee may be able to sue their employer for wrongful termination if the termination violates certain public policies. For instance, the employment was terminated for: 

  • Performing a legal obligation 

  • Refusing to violate a law 

  • Taking time off to perform jury service

  • Reporting an unlawful activity at the workplace to the police

  • Exercising their constitutional rights

Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing: Also, you can support your wrongful termination claims with an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing if you can show that your employee fired you in bad faith to deny or deprive you of your employment benefits. 

A trusted Ohio employment law attorney can investigate every aspect of your personal situation, determine whether you have a wrongful termination case against your former employer, and help you seek your deserved relief. 

Unlawful Termination in an At-Will Employment State 

However, both Ohio and federal laws prohibit employers from firing employees wrongfully, on the basis of an employee's age, race, sex, disability, national origin, or religion. Likewise, an employer may not fire an employee for participating in protected activities or in retaliation for filing a complaint or claim against the employer. 

Hence, employers are required to follow state and federal employment or labor laws guiding issues such as unfair treatment, discrimination, harassment, wages and hours, and the National Labor Relations Act when terminating employment in order to avoid possible liability. 

If your employment has been wrongfully terminated or you were fired for unlawful reasons, you may be eligible to bring a wrongful termination action against your former employer and pursue damages. A seasoned Ohio wrongful termination attorney can evaluate your possible legal options and represent you diligently in your case. 

Understand Your Rights in the Workplace

Generally, employers can terminate employment in Ohio at any time and for legal reasons. However, firing an employee for discriminatory or illegal reasons is a violation of both state and federal laws. At Duwel Law, we are committed to advocating for the best interests of employees whose employment has been wrongfully terminated. 

Our trusted attorneys can analyze the employer's actions and determine if you have a wrongful termination case. In addition, we will fight intelligently to protect your legal rights, attempt to get your employment reinstated, or take additional legal action against your employer. Having our team on your side can mean a big difference in your wrongful termination lawsuit. 

Contact us at Duwel Law today to arrange a case assessment with experienced employment law attorneys. Our dedicated team provides the compassionate representation you need in your claims. We're proud to serve clients across Dayton, Greene County, Montgomery County, Miami County, Warren County, and Darke County, Ohio.