Employment Discrimination: Appealing a 'No Finding' Decision
If you have filed a claim because you were fired due to discrimination, you may receive a “no finding” letter. The Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) has told you that their investigation is closed.
If an agreement between the employer and a terminated employee cannot be reached, the OCRC orders a full investigation. The OCRC investigator acts as a neutral fact-finder. The OCRC determines whether or not "it is probable" the discrimination occurred. Where the facts support a finding of "no cause", the complaint is referred back to the OCRC with a recommendation for dismissal. This has occurred if you receive a ‘no finding’ letter.
You have the right to appeal this decision to the Court of Common Pleas. The court would review the record to determine if the OCRC's decision was arbitrary, unlawful or capricious. The Attorney General represents the OCRC. You would represent yourself or hire an attorney.
State and federal laws protect employees against certain types of discrimination. Employers cannot discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, military status, national origin, disability, age or ancestry. These are called ‘protected classes.’
In a lawsuit, employees must show that:
- they belong to a ‘protected’ class;
- they were fired because they belong to the class
- they have the ability to perform the required work, and
- they were replaced by, or that the discharge permitted the retention of, a person not belonging to the protected class.
The employer must show that:
- an employee was fired for legitimate reasons like poor work or absenteeism;
- it was not possible to reasonably accommodate a disability;
- the employee is a health or safety risk to others. If your employer raises these defenses, you have the burden of convincing the court that the employer’s reasons were mere ‘pretext’ for the unlawful discrimination.
A discrimination lawsuit is usually filed after a determination by the OCRC that it is probable that illegal discrimination occurred. If you are considering whether to file a lawsuit, you should consult an attorney experienced in this complicated area of law immediately. You have only a limited time to file in court. Normally, you have only ninety (90) days from the date of the OCRC notice to file a lawsuit.
This article is meant to give you general information and not to give you specific legal advice.
Prepared by Community Legal Aid Services, Inc. Updated April 2012.