Ohio Whistleblower Laws

A whistleblower is an employee who alerts the proper authorities and/or news outlets that the company is doing something illegal or otherwise against the public trust. Therefore, whistleblower laws are meant to protect employees from being retaliated against by their employers. Ohio whistleblower laws protect employees of both public and private organizations, who may file a civil lawsuit to recover damages.

According to Ohio whistleblower law, prohibited actions in retaliation to an employee's complaint or report about a legitimate violation include the following:

  1. Removing or suspending the employee from employment (i.e. termination);
  2. Withholding from the employee salary increases or employee benefits to which the employee is otherwise entitled;
  3. Transferring or reassigning the employee;
  4. Denying the employee a promotion that otherwise would have been received; or
  5. Reducing the employee in pay or position.

However, the law also makes it clear that any employee who chooses to "blow the whistle" on their employer must make a "reasonable and good faith effort" to make sure they have accurate information. In other words, exagerrating or misreporting a problem -- which can seriously hurt an organization's reputation -- may result in termination or other disciplinary actions.

Any whistleblower who is retaliated against may file a civil suit against the employer (whether it's a public or private entity) for remedies including reinstatement; payment of back wages; full reinstatement of fringe benefits and seniority rights; and reimbursement of legal expenses.

The basics of Ohio whistleblower laws are listed in the chart below. See Whistleblower Retaliation Could Land You in Trouble for a small business perspective.

Code Section 4113.52
Prohibited Employer Activity Can not take any disciplinary or retaliatory action including withholding pay, benefits, transfer/reassigning, removing/suspending, reducing pay/position or denying a promotion; if employee reports a violation of state or federal statute, ordinance, or regulation of a political subdivision
Protection for Public or Private Employees? Both
Opportunity for Employer to Correct? Must notify and file a report; employer has 24 hours to correct
Remedies Can file a civil action for injunction, reinstatement, back pay, full fringe benefits and seniority rights, court and attorney's fees. If employer deliberately violates statute, court can award interest on back pay
Penalties -

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact an Ohio employment attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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