Ohio

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Domestic Case Law

Roe v. Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region Supreme Court of Ohio (2009)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

The parents of a minor who received an abortion sued Planned Parenthood, which they alleged had performed the abortion illegally because the clinic did not notify them in advance. The plaintiffs sought the medical records and any reports of abuse relating to minors who had received abortions in the prior 10 years. The defendant refused to produce the records of nonparty patients on the ground of physician-patient privilege. The trial court ordered the defendant to produce the non-party records with identifying information redacted, but the Court of Appeals of Ohio reversed. The Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the Court of Appeals’ ruling, holding that the medical records of non-party patients were not discoverable.



Women's Medical Professional Corp. v. Voinovich United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (1997)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

The plaintiff-appellant, an abortion clinic, sued the Governor of Ohio, the Attorney General of Ohio, and the prosecuting attorney for Montgomery County, challenging the facial constitutionality of an Ohio law regulating abortions. The district court ruled (i) that the prohibition on dilation and extraction abortions placed substantial, and hence unconstitutional, obstacles in the way of women seeking pre-viability abortions; (ii) that the combination of subjective and objective standards without scienter requirements rendered the “medical emergency” and “medical necessity” exceptions to the abortion prohibitions were unconstitutionally vague; and (iii) that the constitutional and unconstitutional provisions in the law could not be severed. The district court thus struck down the entire law and prohibited its enforcement. The Sixth Circuit affirmed.



Smith v. City of Salem United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2004)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff-appellant a trans woman lieutenant in the Salem, Ohio, Fire Department, sued the City of Salem, alleging discrimination based on sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. According to the plaintiff’s complaint, after she began expressing a more feminine appearance at work on a full-time basis, her co-workers informed her that she was not acting masculine enough. She then notified her immediate supervisor that she had been diagnosed with gender identity disorder and that she planned to physically transition from male to female. The plaintiff’s supervisor met with the City of Salem’s Law Director and other municipal officials, who required the plaintiff to undergo three psychological evaluations. The plaintiff retained legal counsel, received a “right to sue” letter from the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, and was shortly thereafter suspended for one 24-hour shift, allegedly in retaliation for retaining counsel. The district court dismissed his complaint, but the Sixth Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that the plaintiff sufficiently plead a prima facie case of retaliation under Title VII, as well as claims of sex stereotyping and gender discrimination.



Barnes v. City of Cincinnati United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2005)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff-appellant, a trans (“a pre-operative male-to-female transsexual”) police officer, applied to be promoted to sergeant within the Cincinnati Police Department. The plaintiff passed the sergeants exam but failed a rigorous training program and was denied promotion. The plaintiff sued the City of Cincinnati, alleging that the denial of her promotion was due to sex-based discrimination and failure to conform to male sex stereotypes, such as wearing makeup, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause. The district court ruled in favor of the plaintiff and awarded her $320,511 as well as attorney’s fees and costs. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that the plaintiff met all four requirements of a claim of sex discrimination: that the plaintiff is a member of a protected class, that she applied and was qualified for a promotion, that she was considered for and denied a promotion, and that other employees of similar qualifications who were not members of the protected class received promotions.



Women's Medical Professional Corp. v. Baird United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2008)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

The plaintiff-appellant operated an abortion clinic in Dayton, Ohio. Ohio law required it to be licensed, which in part required it to enter into a written transfer agreement with a Dayton-area hospital. When no hospital would enter into such an agreement with the plaintiff, it sought a waiver of the transfer agreement requirement. Even though the plaintiff had both a back-up group of physicians ready to provide emergency care and a letter from Miami Valley Hospital confirming that it would admit patients in the event of an emergency, the Director of the Ohio Department of Health denied the plaintiff’s request for a waiver and ordered that it immediately close. The plaintiff sought a temporary restraining order and an injunction against the Department of Health’s order. The District Court granted both requests and awarded attorney’s fees and expenses to the plaintiff. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that the plaintiff’s procedural due process rights were violated, but vacated the permanent injunction and remanded the case for a hearing on the denial of the plaintiff’s application.



Ault v. Oberlin College United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2015)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff-appellants, three female dining services department employees, sued Oberlin College, the defendant alleging that they suffered various acts of sexual harassment at the hands of the executive chef of the private contractor, Bon Appetit, that operated the dining facilities. The plaintiffs brought this suit under Chapter 4112 of the Ohio Revised Code, which prohibits sexual harassment in the work place and holds employers responsible for sexual harassment committed by employees or nonemployees in the work place, where the employer knows or should have known but fails to intervene. The plaintiffs initially sued in state court, and the defendants removed. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, and the Sixth Circuit affirmed on all but one count. The court held that, with respect to one of the plaintiffs but not the other two, there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the conduct the employee endured was sufficiently severe or pervasive enough to affect the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.



Anania v. Daubenspeck Chiropractic Court of Appeals of Ohio (1998)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

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.



Harmon v. GZK, Inc. Court of Appeals of Ohio (2002)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape

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. 



Payton v. Receivables Outsourcing, Inc. Court of Appeals of Ohio (2005)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

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.



Edwards v. Ohio Institute of Cardiac Care Court of Appeals of Ohio (2007)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

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.



Egli v. Congress Lake Club Court of Appeals of Ohio (2010)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

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.



In re Doe Court of Appeals of Ohio (2011)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

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.



Lascu v. Apex Paper Box Co. Court of Appeals of Ohio (2011)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

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.



Pitts-Baad v. Valvoline Instant Oil Chage Court of Appeals of Ohio (2012)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

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.



Jones v. MTD Consumer Group, Inc. Court of Appeals of Ohio (2015)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

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.



Mender v. Chauncey Court of Appeals of Ohio (2015)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

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.



Weber v. Ferrellgas, Inc. Court of Appeals of Ohio (2016)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

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 Network of Toledo v. State of Ohio Dept. of Health Court of Appeals of Ohio (2016)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

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.



Vogt v. Total Renal Care, Inc. (2016)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff-appellant worked as a regional operations director for Total Renal Care, Inc., which operated dialysis centers. The plaintiff received positive reviews by her coworkers and supervisors, but following Total Renal Care’s acquisition, she was transferred to a different group than the one she had previously worked in, which came with a reduced bonus and fewer stock awards. In addition, her employer filled her previous position with a male and promoted another male to a position for which she was potentially eligible. She brought suit in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas for gender discrimination and retaliation, but the court granted summary judgment in favor of her employer. The Court of Appeals of Ohio affirmed on all counts except the plaintiff's gender discrimination claim, finding that there was a fact issue as to whether the plaintiff suffered an adverse employment action necessary for sustaining a gender discrimination claim.



Allen v. Totes Isotoner Corp. Supreme Court of Ohio (2009)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff-appellant, an employee of Totes/Isotoner Corporation, had for two weeks taken breaks without her employer’s knowledge to lactate. After the defendant fired her “for her failure to follow directions,” the plaintiff filed suit alleging wrongful termination on the basis of her pregnancy. The Butler County Court of Common Pleas granted summary judgment in favor of her employer, and the Court of Appeals of Ohio affirmed. The Supreme Court of Ohio also affirmed, holding that there was no evidence that employer's articulated legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for employee's termination, i.e., failure to follow directions, was pretext for pregnancy discrimination.



State v. Goff Supreme Court of Ohio (2010)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Defendant Megan Goff shot and killed her estranged husband.   The State moved the trial court to order Goff to submit to a psychological examination, knowing that she planned to use battered women’s theory in her defense.  The court held that a defendant’s right against self-incrimination is not violated when the court orders the defendant to submit to a psychiatric evaluation by a state expert in response to the defendant’s assertion of battered women’s syndrome.  However, to preserve the right, the examination must be limited to information regarding battered women’s syndrome and “whether the defendant’s actions were affected by the syndrome.”  In this case, the examination and testimony were not so limited; therefore, the court held that the defendant’s right against self-incrimination was violated.  One of the State’s experts testified about inconsistencies in the defendant’s statements.



Ohio Government Risk Management Plan v. Harrison Supreme Court of Ohio (2007)

Sexual harassment

The Court held that alleged 13 by police chief was not outside the scope of his employment; therefore the insurer owed the police chief a duty to defend him in a lawsuit brought by a former employee alleging 13.  Plaintiff alleged that defendant used the department’s computer system to distribute pornographic images and emails and also used hidden electronic devices to record female employees in the restroom.  Plaintiff filed a five-count complaint that included claims for hostile work environment due to her gender and a sex-discrimination claim.  She sued him in his individual and official capacity, arguing that he acted in his official capacity as chief of police.  At the time, the Ohio Government Risk Management Plan provided liability insurance coverage to Harrison, the police chief.  It filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a declaration that it had no duty to provide coverage or a defense to Harrison. The court held that whether acts fall within the scope of employment will vary from case to case; however, the court would not find that 13 always lies outside the scope of employment.  Whether or not acts occurred within the scope of employment “turns on the fact-finder’s perception of whether the supervisor acted, or believed himself to have acted, at least in part, in his employer’s interests.”  The Court also examined the language of the policy and held that the insurer had a duty to defend.



Kroh v. Continental General Tire, Inc. Supreme Court of Ohio (2001)

Gender discrimination

Plaintiff Kroh filed a suit against Continental General Tire, Inc., claiming that it discriminated against her based on her gender, in violation of R.C. 4112.02 and 4112.99.  After trial, the jury found for Kroh, awarding her $ 708,000 in damages.  The appellate court reversed, finding that Kroh did not demonstrate that she was treated differently from similarly situated male employees.   Kroh was promoted to cash manager after working for approximately twenty years for General Tire.  Kroh was the only cash manager so she couldn’t compare herself to anyone with exactly the same duties.  However, Ohio Supreme Court found that the male managers to whom she compared herself reported to the same boss, had similar titles, were at a similar level on the company’s organizational chart and had the same salary classification.”  The court concluded that Kroh was similarly situated to non-protected employees in all relevant respects and concluded that therefore, there was credible evidence based on which reasonable minds could reach different conclusions, and thus did not reverse a jury verdict.



Felton v. Felton Supreme Court of Ohio (1997)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Trial court issued a protective order based on testimony of violent episodes of appellant’s husband.  Because of these episodes, she feared that he would kill her.  She filed criminal charges of domestic violence against him, and the county court issued a temporary protection order.  The court held that the testimony regarding the former husband’s violent tendencies warranted the issuance of a protective order, and the fact that the marriage dissolution decree already forbade them from harassing each other didn’t bar the issuance of the order.  It held that the preponderance of the evidence standard applied.