A number of federal laws protect workers in the United States, and sometimes state laws come into play, too. Here's an overview of issues in Ohio.
The second the "help wanted" ad appears, anti-discrimination laws apply. Companies can't advertise a preferred gender, age or marital status. Later, during interviews, employers can't ask applicants about their health or religious practices. Generally, age is a forbidden topic, too.
Ohio's minimum wage is $7.85 for companies with gross receipts of more than $288,000. Otherwise, the $7.25-an-hour federal minimum applies. The minimum is $3.93 for tipped employees. Unless they're on salary, workers at companies that gross more than $150,000 are eligible for time and a half pay after they work beyond 40 hours each week. Other companies are not required to pay overtime.
Staying Safe on the Job
Under federal law, companies must keep job sites safe and set up training programs aimed at preventing injuries. They also have to make sure equipment works properly and provide any needed protective gear. Workers can report any safety problems to the government, and companies can't retaliate by demoting employees, cutting their hours or firing them.
In Ohio, any company that has employees—even a single part-time worker—has to carry workers' compensation insurance. Most businesses have to purchase coverage through the state, though if a company can prove it's financially able, it will be allowed to self-insure. The insurance is to cover medical and rehabilitation payments for workers injured on the job, and it also pays a percentage of their usual wages while they're off due to a work-related accident.
Holidays and Vacation
Businesses in this state don't have to provide paid or unpaid vacation or holidays. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act does guarantee workers at businesses with 50 or more employees unpaid leave under certain circumstances, but otherwise companies are not obligated to allow sick leave. Employers also don't have to pay Ohioans who are on jury duty, and they can't they force workers to use paid vacation or sick time to serve or retaliate against employees who serve on juries.
Illegal harassment is conduct or comments so severe that a reasonable person would object or if the harassment is made a condition of keeping the job. In such cases the victim can take legal action under federal law. Harassing comments include those based on gender, national origin, race, age or disability.
Ohio is an "at will" state—employers can let workers go for any or no reason as long as it's not discriminatory or retaliatory. At the same time, employees can quit whenever they wish. Final paychecks must be issued by the first of the following month for work completed in the first half of the previous month or by the 15th of the following month for work during the final two weeks of the prior month.
Unless they're dismissed for misconduct, workers who are laid off or fired can draw unemployment. Companies with more than 20 workers must let former employees continue health insurance, though workers pay the full premiums.
Contact a Labor and Employment Lawyer
This article is a general overview of a complicated topic. For help with a specific employment law issue, consult a local Ohio labor and employment lawyer.