Leininger v. Pioneer National Latex

September 27, 2007

Today, the Ohio Supreme Court released its opinion in Leininger v. Pioneer National Latex.  The court held that plaintiffs cannot pursue a public policy claim for wrongful discharge based on the public policy against age discrimination.  In other words, plaintiffs are limited to the statutory remedies provided for age discrimination.  

In the past, some courts allowed age discrimination plaintiffs to avoid the requirements of the Ohio Civil Rights Act, R.C. 4112, by bringing a tort claim for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy.  This loophole allowed plaintiffs to avoid the limitations on remedies and time limits in the Act.  In Leininger, the Court closed this loophole and determined that, because the anti-discrimination statute provides adequate relief for violations of Ohio’s policy against age discrimination, no additional claim is necessary.  Because the Court eliminated the tort claim for wrongful discharge, age discrimination claimants will now have to follow the procedures outlined in the anti-discrimination statute.  

Notably, six of the seven justices on the Court agreed that there should not be a tort claim for wrongful discharge based on the public policy against age discrimination.  In the past, several of the Court’s key decisions regarding such claims split the Court 4-3.  Today’s decision could demonstrate the Court’s willingness to limit the scope of public policy wrongful discharge claims on a broader basis. 

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