In Ohio, employees are presumed to be employed "at-will." This means that unless evidence exists to show that the employee and the employer agreed that the employment would last for some specific, limited, duration, the employment relationship can be terminated for any reason, or no reason, at any time by either the employee or the employer. Over time, however, Ohio courts have recognized certain exceptions to the rule that employment can be terminated at any time for any reason. One of those exceptions is that an employer cannot discharge an employee for a reason that is contrary to Ohio public policy.
Some examples of public policies that cannot be violated by employers when firing employees are policies against retaliation for an employee's: consulting with an attorney, or receiving unemployment compensation benefits, or giving truthful testimony in a judicial proceeding, or reporting insurance fraud schemes, or reporting crimes.
To prove a case for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, an employee must satisfy four elements. The employee must prove that (1) a clear public policy exists; (2) the employer's firing the employee jeopardizes the public policy; (3) the employer fired the employee because of the conduct related to the public policy; and (4) the employer had no legitimate business justification for firing the employee.