Ohio Employment Contracts: What you need to know

Every employment relationship is a contractual one, regardless of whether or not a written contract exists. Employment contracts take many forms, including at-will employment, implied contracts created by offer letters or employee handbooks, collective bargaining agreements, and individual written employment agreements.
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The default rule in Ohio is employment at will. This means that both the employee and employer are generally free to terminate the employment relationship at any time and for any reason, as long as the reason is not illegal or in violation of public policy. While there is a strong presumption in favor of at-will employment in Ohio, the courts have recognized exceptions in some circumstances.
The Ohio courts have created two exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine; namely, where implied or express contractual provisions exist that alter the terms and conditions of employment or discharge, and when oral promises regarding employment have been made to an employee. As such, certain oral statements or documents, such as employee handbooks or offer letters, can create an implied contract that limits the employer's right to terminate an employee.
Ohio courts have held that employment contracts may be formed through oral statements. This is particularly true when the employer has led an employee to rely on a promise to his or her detriment (Mers v. Dispatch Printing Co., 483 N.E.2d 150 (Ohio 1985)). For example, a court may conclude that a contract has been created if an employee leaves his or her current job based upon a reasonable belief that new employment has been promised elsewhere. Therefore, employers should train ...

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