Two former employees of the defendant were subjected to repeated instances of sexual harassment by the clinic’s patients. The employees alleged that they complained to the defendant about the conduct, but he failed to take any corrective action. They filed suit in the Clark County Court of Common Pleas alleging sexual harassment. The court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, holding that Ohio law did not recognize such a claim based on the conduct of non-employees. The Court of Appeals of Ohio reversed, holding that Ohio Civil Rights law does permit courts to impose liability on employers for non-employees’ sexual harassment at the place of employment.
Women and Justice: Court: Court of Appeals of Ohio
The plaintiffs worked at a restaurant operated by GZK. They alleged that a cook who worked with them repeatedly made lewd and sexually violent comments toward them, as well as touched them inappropriately without consent. The plaintiffs also alleged that a supervisor also made inappropriate sexual comments and groped them as he pretended to accidentally brush against them. They testified that they had brought this behavior to the attention of the management. The plaintiffs filed suit in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, claiming sexual harassment, negligent supervision and retention, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and retaliatory discharge. The Court granted summary judgment in favor of their employer and the manager, but the Court of Appeals of Ohio reversed on all charges except the retaliatory discharge, finding genuine issues of material fact as to whether evidence of the cook and the manager’s inappropriate behavior rose to the level of creating a hostile work environment.
Marilyn Payton worked for Receivables Outsourcing for six weeks, during which time she was sexually harassed by a fellow employee who was assigned to train her at her new job. The harassment consisted of inappropriate comments until one day the coworker pulled up to her car as she was driving away from work, asked her to roll down her window, and then offered her ten dollars to perform a sex act. She complained to her manager that she felt unsafe, and the manager said he would “take care of it.” When she returned to work to find the manager not there, she informed the company lawyer of the harassment and left work, stating that she felt unsafe without the manager there. The next day she was fired for leaving work. She filed suit against her employer in the Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas for hostile work environment sexual harassment and retaliatory discharge, but the Court granted summary judgment in favor of her employer. The Court of Appeals of Ohio reversed, finding that a genuine dispute of material fact existed as to whether the alleged harassment rose to the level of creating a hostile work environment and whether the employer negligently retained the alleged harasser.
The plaintiff-appellant worked as a scheduler at the Ohio Institute of Cardiac Care when she began to receive emails from her supervisor—approximately six to ten per day—that made her uncomfortable. Her supervisor then began touching her at work, such as on the lower back or shoulder, and his emails became more frequent. After she complained about this conduct, she began to receive tardy forms, and she was soon after fired, allegedly for changing clothes at work before Fourth of July weekend. She filed suit in the Greene County Court of Common Pleas, claiming sexual harassment and retaliation. After a jury trial, the court ruled in the plaintiff’s favor on her harassment claim but for the defendant on the retaliation claim, but the appellate court reversed and remanded because the defendant was entitled to a jury instruction as to its affirmative defense. Notably, the court held as a matter of first impression that a settlement between a supervisory employee and another employee does not extinguish the employer’s liability for sexual harassment claims.
The plaintiff -appellant was the “head golf professional” at the Congress Lake Golf Club. Despite her formidable golfing pedigree, the club’s board of directors requested her resignation, ostensibly because of her inability to manage various golf programs. She sued the defendant for sex discrimination in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas. The Court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, but the Court of Appeals of Ohio reversed, finding that there was an issue of fact as to whether the golf club’s proffered legitimate reason for her termination were pretextual.
A juvenile filed an application seeking permission to have an abortion without parental notification, but the Columbiana County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division dismissed the application, finding that the juvenile was not sufficiently mature and well-informed enough to intelligently decide whether to have an abortion. The Court of Appeals of Ohio reversed and granted her petition. The Court of Appeals determined she was sufficiently mature and well-informed in part due to the following factors: that she was a few months away from turning 18, that she had good grades and planned to attend college in the fall, and that she had been using an oral contraceptive and only became pregnant when she ran out and her prescription expired.
The plaintiff-appellant had been employed at Apex for approximately 30 years before being fired in connection with Apex’s reduction in force. She filed suit in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, alleging that she was the victim of gender discrimination. The Court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, and the Court of Appeals of Ohio affirmed, holding that her unsupported assertions of discrimination were insufficient to overcome the defendant's legitimate reduction-in-force justification.
The plaintiff-appellant worked as an assistant manager of a Valvoline Instant Oil Change branch. She was on track for a promotion but did not pass all the required courses. When she was eight months pregnant, she tripped and fell at work. On the advice of her doctor, she reported the injury to her employer. Later, when she returned form maternity leave, she found the work environment distrusting, and she was often not permitted to take breaks to pump her breast milk for long periods of time. After she failed to follow correct procedures on an oil change, her employment was terminated. She sued Valvoline alleging gender discrimination and retaliation, but the Stark County Court of Common Pleas granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The Court of Appeals of Ohio affirmed, holding that the plaintiff had failed to show that the defendant’s legitimate reason for terminating her employment was not a pretext.
The plaintiff was fired from his job with MTD Consumer Group after sexually harassing a coworker. He and the coworker had been in a romantic relationship, which had since ended, when the coworker complained that the plaintiff had made a threatening gesture to her and her new boyfriend outside of her home. The plaintiff was also verbally derogatory toward this coworker until his employment was terminated. He sued MTD in the Medina County Court of Common Pleas, alleging reverse gender discrimination and negligent retention of his coworker. The Court granted the employer’s motion for a directed verdict, and the Court of Appeals of Ohio affirmed, holding that the evidence at trial was insufficient to support the plaintiff's claim that he was treated differently form a similarly-situated coworker.
Ginger Mender, who was elected mayor of the Village of Chauncey, alleged that immediately after she took office, the Village conspired to force her to resign. She claimed that Village employees refused her an office, keys to Village buildings, basic office equipment, and disrupted her attempts to speak at Village council meetings with ridicule and laughter. After she refused a request to resign, three different petitions were filed in the Athens County Court of Common Pleas. She filed suit for gender discrimination, among other claims, in the Athens County Court of Common Pleas. The defendants argued that the disagreements were not gender discrimination but political power struggles. After a jury trial, the court granted the Village’s motion for a directed verdict. The Court of Appeals for Ohio affirmed, holding that the evidence was insufficient to support a prima facie case of gender discrimination; even though her successor was a man and thus outside the protected class, the voters of the Village rather than the Village government itself made the decision regarding her replacement.
The plaintiff-appellant worked as a customer service representative for Ferrellgas and received high marks on her employment evaluations. When her employer opened a position for which the plaintiff thought she was qualified, her supervisor discouraged her from applying, saying that it would be a difficult job for her because she had children. About six months later, she reported this conversation to the regional vice president, who mediated a meeting between the two. When another employee alleged that the plaintiff had suggested transferring funds owed to a customer to her personal account, she was fired for violating the company’s ethics policy. She filed suit against Ferrellgas for gender discrimination and retaliation, but the Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas entered summary judgment in favor of the defendant. The Court of Appeals of Ohio affirmed, holding that she had not established a prima facie case of gender discrimination.
Capital Care is a medical facility that offers abortion services. It had been licensed for years to operate as an ambulatory surgical facility. An Ohio statute was passed that required all abortion providers to have a license from the Director of the Ohio Department of Health, and such licenses required providers to have a written transfer agreement with a local hospital. Capital Care could not obtain a transfer agreement with a local hospital, but had such an agreement with a nearby hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, yet was denied a license. The plaintiff sued in the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas, claiming this requirement placed an undue burden on women’s access to abortions. The Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, and the Court of Appeals of Ohio affirmed that the transfer agreement requirement was unconstitutional as applied to Capital Care.