Business Insurance reports that, in overturning previous decisions by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and lower courts, the state’s high court said the former jewelry store owner’s suit was not necessarily retaliation, and that he should be given the chance to prove there is an objective basis for his suit: “The filing of a lawsuit by an employer against an employee or former employee who has engaged in a protected activity is not per se retaliatory — If an employer can demonstrate that a lawsuit against an employee who has engaged in a protected activity is not objectively baseless, the suit shall be allowed to proceed…,” the court said in its opinion.
“The right to petition one’s government for the redress of grievances is enshrined within the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” said the court, which also expressed that the commission’s position, “has the potential to give employees a carte blanche right to file malicious, defamatory and otherwise false claims,” according to the news report.
Tammy Greer-Burger sued her former employer Laszlo Temesi for sexual discrimination and lost that suit. Temesi then sued Greer-Burger for abuse of process, malicious prosecution, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
An administrative judge for the Ohio Civil Rights Commission ruled that Temesi’s suit was retaliatory and ordered him to drop the suit and pay Greer-Burger the $16,000 for her attorney’s fees in defending the suit. The commission’s decision was affirmed by a state court and an appellate court.
The Ohio Supreme Court remanded the case to the commission “to determine whether Temesi can establish that his claims are not objectively baseless,” the news report said.
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