The Ohio Civil Rights Act specifically prohibits employers from eliciting or attempting to elicit any information concerning the race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), military status, national origin, disability, age, or ancestry of a job applicant. There is an exception for questions that are based on a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ). The law covers private employers with four or more employees and all state and local government agencies, regardless of size (OH Rev. Code Sec. 4112.01 et seq.).
BFOQ exception. An employer may make an employment inquiry about a protected characteristic only if the characteristic is reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the employer's business, and there is no less intrusive way to ensure that the applicant will be able to perform the essential functions of the job in question. For example, being female would be a legitimate BFOQ for a person applying for a job as a model of women's clothing. The BFOQ exception applies in only limited circumstances and, in general, courts have been extremely reluctant to sanction otherwise discriminatory practices on BFOQ grounds. Employers should use caution in relying on the BFOQ rationale.
The Ohio Civil Rights Act prohibits employment practices that discriminate based on disability. Examples of diseases and conditions that are specifically named by the statute as disabilities include:
• Orthopedic, visual, speech, and hearing impairments
• Human immunodeficiency virus infection
• Intellectual disability