Ohio law protects employees from discrimination based on race, color, religious beliefs, gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation and military status. People who think themselves victims of discrimination often do not know what to do. Understanding how to report problematic workplace behavior is useful to prepare for an unpleasant incident or seek justice from a toxic co-worker or employer. 

Workers may receive compensatory or punitive damages for filing a claim. They are only eligible for compensation, however, if they file within a window of time after an alleged act of discrimination. 

Contact the right agencies for a discrimination claim 

Employees can file a claim through the Equal Opportunity Division of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is a branch of the federal government. The two agencies collaborate to process claims; it is up to the individual to decide which route to take. The only exception is if a workplace has fewer than 15 employees, in which case, an individual has to go through the OCRC. 

People should not delay filing a claim. The OCRC can only act on behalf of a person if they receive the proper paperwork 180 days after an incident. The EEOC has a 300-day deadline. 

Prepare to appear in court 

Every claim is different. Agencies can only resolve some cases, which opens the door to court action. Before taking a claim to federal court, an individual must receive a “Dismissal and Notice of Rights” or “Notice of Right to Sue” document from the EEOC. The OCRC does not have to send a notice to an individual before taking a case to the Ohio state courts. 

Again, time is of the essence. Victims of perceived discrimination have only 90 days after response from an agency to begin a court case. Because many employers have stringent rules and regulations, those impacted should strive to collect as much evidence as possible, such as videos, text messages, emails or phone calls. 

Workplace discrimination is a serious affair. Those who want to stand up for themselves after an alleged wrong are, in effect, helping make their community and society better.