|Federal Discrimination Laws
Age Discrimination in
Employment Act (ADEA)
Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals who
are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on
age. ADEA covers all private employers with 20 or more
employees, state and local governments (including school districts),
employment agencies and labor organizations.
charge shall be filed within 180 days after the alleged unlawful
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act
of 1990 prohibits private employers, state and local governments,
employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against
qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures,
hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other
terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The ADA covers
employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local
governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor
organizations. The ADA’s nondiscrimination standards also apply to
federal sector employees under section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, as
amended, and its implementing rules.
Most circuits that have adopted a statute of
limitations for ADA or Rehabilitation Act claims have looked to the
state’s limitations period for personal injury actions.
ADA Definition: “Disability”
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”),
“[d]isability means, with respect to an individual, a physical or mental
impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life
activities of such individual; a record of such an impairment; or being
regarded as having such an impairment.” 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2 (g) (2003).
Ohio defines “disability” in an identical manner. Ohio Rev. Code §
Ohio Definition: “Disability”
The definition of disability under Ohio law and
the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12102, are virtually
identical. Moreover, “[t]he essential elements of a claim brought under
the ADA and the Ohio handicap discrimination statute are the same.
Therefore, the case law regarding claims brought under the ADA applies
equally to claims brought under the Ohio Statute.” Hoffman v.
Fidelity Brokerage Servs., Inc. 959 F. Supp. 452, 457 n. 1 (S.D.
Income Security Act (ERISA)
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)
regulates employers who offer pension or welfare benefit plans for their
employees. Title I of ERISA is administered by the Employee Benefits
Security Administration (EBSA) (formerly the Pension and Welfare
Benefits Administration) and imposes a wide range of fiduciary,
disclosure and reporting requirements on fiduciaries of pension and
welfare benefit plans and on others having dealings with these plans.
These provisions preempt many similar state laws. Under Title IV,
certain employers and plan administrators must fund an insurance system
to protect certain kinds of retirement benefits, with premiums paid to
the federal government’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).
EBSA also administers reporting requirements for continuation of
health-care provisions, required under the Comprehensive Omnibus Budget
Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) and the health care portability
requirements on group plans under the Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act (HIPAA).
The statute of limitations for breach of fiduciary
duty claims is six years from the date of the last action which
constituted a breach or six years from the latest date the fiduciary
could have cured a breach of omission. If the claimant had actual
knowledge of the breach, the statute of limitations runs three years
from the date of the claimant had actual knowledge.
Fair Labor Standards
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes
minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards
affecting full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in
Federal, State, and local governments. Covered nonexempt workers are
entitled to a minimum wage of not less than $5.15 an hour. Overtime pay
at a rate of not less than one and one-half times their regular rates of
pay is required after 40 hours of work in a workweek.
Equal Pay Act
The Equal Pay Act, which is part of the Fair
Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended (FLSA), and which is
administered and enforced by the EEOC, prohibits sex-based wage
discrimination between men and women in the same establishment who are
performing under similar working conditions. The Equal
Pay Act covers all employers who are covered by the Federal Wage and
Hour Law (the Fair Labor Standards Act). Virtually all employers are
subject to the provisions of this Act.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Covered employers (29 CFR 825.104) must grant
an eligible employee (29 CFR 825.110) up to a total of 12 workweeks of
unpaid leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following
the birth and care of the newborn child of the employee;
placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster
care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a
serious health condition; or
take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a
serious health condition.
an action may be brought under FMLA not later than 2 years after the
date of the last event constituting the alleged violation for which the
action is brought.
The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH)
The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act is
administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Safety and health conditions in most private industries are regulated by
OSHA or OSHA-approved state programs, which also cover public sector
employers. Employers covered by the OSH Act must comply with the
regulations and the safety and health standards promulgated by OSHA.
Employers also have a general duty under the OSH Act to provide their
employees with work and a workplace free from recognized, serious
hazards. OSHA enforces the Act through workplace inspections and
Title VII (of the
Civil Rights Act)
Title VII, as amended, as it appears in volume
42 of the United States Code, beginning at section 2000e. Title VII
prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex,
pregnancy, and national origin. The Civil Rights Act of 1991 (Pub. L.
102-166) (CRA) amends several sections of Title VII.
Title VII covers all private employers, state and local governments, and
education institutions that employ 15 or more individuals. These laws
also cover private and public employment agencies, labor organizations,
and joint labor management committees controlling apprenticeship and
Title VII extends protection to “applicants” for
employment; ADEA does not.
All laws enforced by EEOC,
except the Equal Pay Act, require filing a charge with EEOC before a
private lawsuit may be filed in court. There are strict time limits
within which charges must be filed.
A charge must be filed with
EEOC within 180 days from the date of the alleged violation, in order to
protect the charging party’s rights.
This 180-day filing deadline is
extended to 300 days if the charge also is covered by a state or local
anti-discrimination law. For ADEA charges, only state laws extend the
filing limit to 300 days.
Discrimination – Generally
Under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), it is illegal to
discriminate in any aspect of employment, including:
- hiring and firing;
- compensation, assignment, or
classification of employees;
- transfer, promotion, layoff,
- job advertisements;
- use of company facilities;
- training and apprenticeship
- fringe benefits;
- pay, retirement plans, and
disability leave; or
- other terms and conditions
Discriminatory practices under
these laws also include:
- harassment on the basis of
race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age;
- retaliation against an
individual for filing a charge of discrimination, participating in an
investigation, or opposing discriminatory practices;
- employment decisions based
on stereotypes or assumptions about the abilities, traits, or
performance of individuals of a certain sex, race, age, religion, or
ethnic group, or individuals with disabilities; and
- denying employment
opportunities to a person because of marriage to, or association with,
an individual of a particular race, religion, national origin, or an
individual with a disability. Title VII also prohibits discrimination
because of participation in schools or places of worship associated
with a particular racial, ethnic, or religious group.
Employment - General - McDonnell Douglas Framework
In a case alleging employment discrimination, the
plaintiff bears the initial burden of either presenting direct evidence
of discrimination, or of establishing a prima facie case of
discrimination indirectly by following the standard set forth in
McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green (1973), 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct.
1817; and Byrnes v. LCI Communication Holdings Co. (1996), 77
Ohio St.3d 125. Peters v. Ohio Dept. of Nat. Resources, Franklin
App. No. 03AP-350, 2003-Ohio-5895.
In order to establish a prima facie case, the
plaintiff must demonstrate that: (1) she is a member of a protected
class; (2) that she suffered an adverse employment action; (3) that she
was qualified for the position; and (4) either that she was replaced by
someone outside the protected class or that a comparable, non-protected
person was treated more favorably. See, e.g., Samadder v. DMF of
Ohio, Inc., 154 Ohio App.3d 770, 2003-Ohio-5340, at ¶35; Ferguson
v. Lear Corp., 155 Ohio App.3d 677, 2003-Ohio-7261, at ¶17, citing
Brewer v. Cleveland Bd. of Edn. (1997), 122 Ohio App.3d 378, 385;
Plumbers & Steamfitters Joint Apprenticeship Commt. v. Ohio Civ.
Rights Comm. (1981), 66 Ohio St.2d 192, 197.
Once the plaintiff establishes a prima facie case,
the burden shifts to the employer to set forth a non-discriminatory
reason for the discharge. If the employer does so, the burden then
shifts back to the plaintiff to demonstrate, by a preponderance of the
evidence, that the legitimate, non-discriminatory reason was merely a
pretext for discrimination. Id.