Labor and Employment Law Overview: Ohio

Labor and Employment Law Overview requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Summary

  • Ohio employers are prohibited from discriminating and retaliating against employees in a variety of protected classes. Employers must also provide equal pay and whistleblower protections. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • Ohio permits preemployment background checks. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • In Ohio, there are requirements relating to the minimum wage, overtime and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • Ohio has laws that relate to employee pay and benefits, including health care continuation, payment of wages, pay frequency and wage deductions. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under Ohio law, employees are entitled to certain leaves or time off, including family military leave, emergency responder leave, voting/election official leave, witness leave and crime victim leave. See Time Off and Leaves of Absence.
  • Ohio prohibits smoking in the workplace and texting while driving. An employer may prohibit weapons in the workplace, but not in company parking lots. See Health and Safety.
  • When employment ends, Ohio employers must comply with applicable final pay, job reference and mass layoff notification requirements. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Ohio

Ohio has laws that provide greater protections to employees than federal law, including antidiscrimination requirements and health care continuation coverage obligations for smaller employers and a higher minimum wage, but generally follows federal law with respect to topics such as overtime pay and occupational safety.

Select Ohio employment requirements are summarized below to help an employer understand the range of employment laws affecting the employer-employee relationship in the state. An employer must comply with both federal and state law.

An employer must also comply with applicable municipal law obligations affecting the employment relationship, in addition to complying with state and federal requirements.

EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations

Key Ohio requirements impacting EEO, diversity and employee relations are:

Fair Employment Practices

The Ohio Civil Rights Act prohibits employers with four or more employees from discriminating on the basis of protected characteristics, including:

  • Race;
  • Color;
  • Religion;
  • Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions);
  • Military status;
  • National origin;
  • Disability;
  • Age; and
  • Ancestry.

The law also prohibits employers from retaliating against any person because he or she:

  • Opposes any unlawful discriminatory practice;
  • Makes a charge; or
  • Testifies, assists or participates in any manner in any investigation, proceeding or hearing.

Equal Pay

Under Ohio law, an employer is prohibited from discriminating in the payment of wages on the basis of:

  • Race;
  • Color;
  • Religion;
  • Sex;
  • Age;
  • National origin; and
  • Ancestry.

However, payment at a different rate for equal work is allowed if based on a:

  • Seniority system;
  • Merit system;
  • System that measures earnings by the quantity or quality of production; or
  • Factor other than race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin or ancestry.

Whistleblower Protections

In Ohio, an employee is protected from adverse employment action for reporting an employer's or co-worker's violation of any local, state or federal statute, ordinance or regulation that the employee reasonably believes is a criminal offense that:

  • Is likely to cause an imminent risk of physical harm to persons;
  • Is a hazard to public health or safety;
  • Is a felony; or
  • Is an improper solicitation for a contribution.

The employee must notify the employer of the violation and provide a detailed written report.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on EEO, diversity and employee relations practices in Ohio can be found in the Ohio Employee Handbook Table of Contents, EEO - Discrimination: Ohio, EEO - Harassment: Ohio, EEO - Retaliation: Ohio, Disabilities (ADA): Ohio, Employee Discipline: Ohio, Ohio Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Ohio? Federal requirements can be found in EEO - Discrimination: Federal, EEO - Harassment: Federal, EEO - Retaliation: Federal, Disabilities (ADA): Federal and Employee Discipline: Federal.

Recruiting and Hiring

Ohio law does not prohibit an employer from running a criminal background check. Generally, however, an employer may not question a job applicant regarding sealed or expunged arrests or convictions. An employer may ask about a sealed conviction record only if it bears a direct and substantial relationship to the job.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on recruiting and hiring practices in Ohio can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Ohio and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Ohio? Federal requirements can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Federal.

Wage and Hour

Key Ohio requirements impacting wages and hours are:

Minimum Wage

Employers with annual gross receipts of $305,000 or more must pay their nonexempt employees a minimum wage of $8.30 per hour. The federal minimum wage applies to employers with annual gross receipts of less than $305,000. Exceptions apply for tipped employees and employees under age 16.

Overtime

Ohio law requires employers to pay employees overtime at a rate of one and one-half times the employee's wage rate for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in one week in the manner provided for and subject to the exemptions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Ohio's overtime law specifically exempts employers with gross receipts of less than $150,000 per year.

Child Labor

Child labor laws in Ohio restrict the occupations in which minors may be employed and the number of hours and times during which they may work.

All minors are prohibited from working in occupations found to be hazardous or detrimental to the well-being of minors. Minors who are 14 and 15 years old are prohibited from working in additional occupations.

With some exceptions, minors who are 14 or 15 years of age may not work:

  • During school hours;
  • Before 7 a.m.;
  • After 7 p.m. when school is in session (9 p.m. from June 1 to September 1 or during school holidays);
  • More than three hours in any school day;
  • More than eight hours in a nonschool day;
  • More than 18 hours in any week while school is in session; and
  • More than 40 hours in any week while school is not in session.

When school is in session, minors who are 16 or 17 years old and who are required to attend school under Ohio law may not be employed:

  • Before 7:00 a.m. (6 a.m. if the minor was not employed after 8:00 p.m. the night before); and
  • After 11:00 p.m. on any night preceding a school day.

Additionally, minors must be provided with a 30-minute break when working more than five consecutive hours. Employers need not compensate minors for this time, but must keep records of this time.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on wage and hour practices in Ohio can be found in the Ohio Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Minimum Wage: Ohio, Overtime: Ohio, Child Labor: Ohio, Ohio Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Ohio? Federal requirements can be found in Minimum Wage: Federal, Overtime: Federal and Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key Ohio requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Payment of Wages

Ohio employers may pay employees in cash or with checks drawn on banks convertible into cash on demand at full face value.

Pay Frequency

Employees in Ohio must be paid at least semimonthly. Longer periods, such as monthly, are permitted under certain circumstances.

Wage Deductions

An employer may make deductions from employees' wages under limited circumstances, including:

  • For federal, state or local taxes;
  • According to a court order;
  • According to a written agreement to provide the employee with certain benefits; and
  • With the employee's written authorization.

Other deductions require approval from the state.

Authorized employee deductions include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Purchases of US savings bonds, corporate stocks or bonds;
  • Contributions to charity;
  • Savings programs (credit union or other regular savings programs); or
  • Loan or other obligation repayment.

An employer may not deduct or retain the employee's wages, or a part of wages, for wares, tools or machinery that are destroyed or damaged.

Health Care Continuation

Eligible employees and their covered dependents who lose group health care coverage due to the employee's involuntary termination (other than for gross misconduct) are entitled to elect continuation coverage for up to 12 months.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on pay and benefits practices in Ohio can be found in Payment of Wages: Ohio, Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Ohio and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Ohio? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal.

Time Off and Leaves of Absence

Ohio has several laws relating to required time off and leaves of absence for employees. These laws include:

  • Family military leave (covering employers with 50 or more employees);
  • Emergency responder leave;
  • Voting/election official leave;
  • Jury duty leave;
  • Witness leave;
  • Crime victim leave; and
  • Military leave.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on time off and leave of absence practices in Ohio can be found in the Ohio Employee Handbook Table of Contents, FMLA: Ohio, Other Leaves: Ohio, Jury Duty: Ohio, USERRA: Ohio and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Ohio? Federal requirements can be found in FMLA: Federal, Other Leaves: Federal, Jury Duty: Federal and USERRA: Federal.

Health and Safety

Key Ohio requirements impacting health and safety are:

Smoke-Free Workplace

The Smoke Free Workplace Act forbids smoking in all workplaces and requires employers to post "No Smoking" signs at all entrances.

Weapons in the Workplace

An employer is permitted to ban guns and weapons in the workplace. However, an employer may not prohibit an employee from carrying or storing firearms in the trunk, glove compartment or other enclosed container within his or her private, locked vehicle.

Safe Driving Practices

Ohio prohibits driving a vehicle while writing, sending or reading a text-based communication on a handheld electronic wireless communications device.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on health and safety practices in Ohio can be found in the Ohio Employee Handbook Table of Contents, HR and Workplace Safety: Ohio, Employee Health: Ohio, Workplace Security: Ohio, Ohio Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Ohio? Federal requirements can be found in HR and Workplace Safety (OSHA Compliance): Federal, Employee Health: Federal and Workplace Security: Federal.

Organizational Exit

Key Ohio requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Final Pay

Employees who voluntarily or involuntarily leave employment must be paid final wages by the next regular payday.

An employer must honor company policy that requires the value of accrued vacation time to be paid to a terminating employee.

An employer must pay all wages due to a deceased employee at any time after the employee's death provided no letters testamentary or letters of administration have been issued against the estate. Payment made be made to the employee's relatives in a certain order, beginning with his or her spouse.

References

An employer that, upon request, discloses information pertaining to an employee's job performance to a prospective employer generally cannot be found liable for harm caused as a result of the disclosure. This immunity may be lost if the employer disclosed the information in bad faith, with malicious purpose or knowing it was false, or the disclosure constitutes illegal discrimination.

Mass Layoff Notifications

An Ohio employer that lays off 50 or more employees in any seven-day period due to lack of work must notify the state at least three working days before the first day of the layoff.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on organizational exit practices in Ohio can be found in Payment of Wages: Ohio, Employee Communications: Ohio, Involuntary Terminations: Ohio and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Ohio? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal, Employee Communications: Federal and Involuntary Terminations: Federal.