4113.52 Reporting violation of law by employer or fellow employee.

(A)

(1)

(a) If an employee becomes aware in the course of the employee's employment of a violation of any state or federal statute or any ordinance or regulation of a political subdivision that the employee's employer has authority to correct, and the employee reasonably believes that the violation is a criminal offense that is likely to cause an imminent risk of physical harm to persons or a hazard to public health or safety , a felony, or an improper solicitation for a contribution, the employee orally shall notify the employee's supervisor or other responsible officer of the employee's employer of the violation and subsequently shall file with that supervisor or officer a written report that provides sufficient detail to identify and describe the violation. If the employer does not correct the violation or make a reasonable and good faith effort to correct the violation within twenty-four hours after the oral notification or the receipt of the report, whichever is earlier, the employee may file a written report that provides sufficient detail to identify and describe the violation with the prosecuting authority of the county or municipal corporation where the violation occurred, with a peace officer, with the inspector general if the violation is within the inspector general's jurisdiction, or with any other appropriate public official or agency that has regulatory authority over the employer and the industry, trade, or business in which the employer is engaged.

(b) If an employee makes a report under division (A)(1)(a) of this section, the employer, within twenty-four hours after the oral notification was made or the report was received or by the close of business on the next regular business day following the day on which the oral notification was made or the report was received, whichever is later, shall notify the employee, in writing, of any effort of the employer to correct the alleged violation or hazard or of the absence of the alleged violation or hazard.

(2) If an employee becomes aware in the course of the employee's employment of a violation of chapter 3704., 3734., 6109., or 6111. of the Revised Code that is a criminal offense, the employee directly may notify, either orally or in writing, any appropriate public official or agency that has regulatory authority over the employer and the industry, trade, or business in which the employer is engaged.

(3) If an employee becomes aware in the course of the employee's employment of a violation by a fellow employee of any state or federal statute, any ordinance or regulation of a political subdivision, or any work rule or company policy of the employee's employer and the employee reasonably believes that the violation is a criminal offense that is likely to cause an imminent risk of physical harm to persons or a hazard to public health or safety , a felony, or an improper solicitation for a contribution, the employee orally shall notify the employee's supervisor or other responsible officer of the employee's employer of the violation and subsequently shall file with that supervisor or officer a written report that provides sufficient detail to identify and describe the violation.

(B) Except as otherwise provided in division (C) of this section, no employer shall take any disciplinary or retaliatory action against an employee for making any report authorized by division (A)(1) or (2) of this section, or as a result of the employee's having made any inquiry or taken any other action to ensure the accuracy of any information reported under either such division. No employer shall take any disciplinary or retaliatory action against an employee for making any report authorized by division (A)(3) of this section if the employee made a reasonable and good faith effort to determine the accuracy of any information so reported, or as a result of the employee's having made any inquiry or taken any other action to ensure the accuracy of any information reported under that division. For purposes of this division, disciplinary or retaliatory action by the employer includes, without limitation, doing any of the following:

(1) Removing or suspending the employee from employment;

(2) Withholding from the employee salary increases or employee benefits to which the employee is otherwise entitled;

(3) Transferring or reassigning the employee;

(4) Denying the employee a promotion that otherwise would have been received;

(5) Reducing the employee in pay or position.

(C) An employee shall make a reasonable and good faith effort to determine the accuracy of any information reported under division (A)(1) or (2) of this section. If the employee who makes a report under either division fails to make such an effort, the employee may be subject to disciplinary action by the employee's employer, including suspension or removal, for reporting information without a reasonable basis to do so under division (A)(1) or (2) of this section.

(D) If an employer takes any disciplinary or retaliatory action against an employee as a result of the employee's having filed a report under division (A) of this section, the employee may bring a civil action for appropriate injunctive relief or for the remedies set forth in division (E) of this section, or both, within one hundred eighty days after the date the disciplinary or retaliatory action was taken, in a court of common pleas in accordance with the Rules of Civil Procedure. A civil action under this division is not available to an employee as a remedy for any disciplinary or retaliatory action taken by an appointing authority against the employee as a result of the employee's having filed a report under division (A) of section 124.341 of the Revised Code.

(E) The court, in rendering a judgment for the employee in an action brought pursuant to division (D) of this section, may order, as it determines appropriate, reinstatement of the employee to the same position that the employee held at the time of the disciplinary or retaliatory action and at the same site of employment or to a comparable position at that site, the payment of back wages, full reinstatement of fringe benefits and seniority rights, or any combination of these remedies. The court also may award the prevailing party all or a portion of the costs of litigation and, if the employee who brought the action prevails in the action, may award the prevailing employee reasonable attorney's fees, witness fees, and fees for experts who testify at trial, in an amount the court determines appropriate. If the court determines that an employer deliberately has violated division (B) of this section, the court, in making an award of back pay, may include interest at the rate specified in section 1343.03 of the Revised Code.

(F) Any report filed with the inspector general under this section shall be filed as a complaint in accordance with section 121.46 of the Revised Code.

(G) As used in this section:

(1) "Contribution" has the same meaning as in section 3517.01 of the Revised Code.

(2) "Improper solicitation for a contribution" means a solicitation for a contribution that satisfies all of the following:

(a) The solicitation violates division (B), (C), or (D) of section 3517.092 of the Revised Code;

(b) The solicitation is made in person by a public official or by an employee who has a supervisory role within the public office;

(c) The public official or employee knowingly made the solicitation, and the solicitation violates division (B), (C), or (D) of section 3517.092 of the Revised Code;

(d) The employee reporting the solicitation is an employee of the same public office as the public official or the employee with the supervisory role who is making the solicitation.

Cite as R.C. § 4113.52

History. Effective Date: 07-06-2001; 2006 HB3 05-02-2006