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Employers In Ohio Can Now Restrict The Time Employees Have To Bring Employment-Related Claims

Fry v. FCA US L.L.C., 2017-Ohio-7005 (6th District)

In the spring of 2014, Jason Fry, who is legally blind, applied to work at the Chrysler plant in Toledo.  After an initial phone screening, he traveled to the plant for an onsite assessment, which included several hours of various tests.  Fry was offered a position and underwent a physical examination.  A doctor determined that due to his vision problems Fry could not operate forklifts or company vehicles, but he was not given any other restrictions or limitations.  Fry then started work, but after two days was terminated and told that Chrysler could not accommodate his vision impairment.

Fry brought suit nine months after his termination, arguing that it had been pretextual and based on his disability.  However, Fry’s application included a clause stating that the statute of limitations for any claims against Chrysler related to his application/employment would be 180 days in consideration for Chrysler agreeing to review the application.

The Sixth District Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of Fry’s claim on the basis that it was untimely since it was filed more than six months (180 days) after his termination.  Specifically, the Sixth Circuit held that the clause in the application created a binding contract and Chrysler’s agreement to review the application constituted sufficient consideration for the modified statute of limitations.  Additionally, the Sixth Circuit also rejected Fry’s argument that the clause was unconscionable, finding that even though Fry was blind and only had a high school education, he was not illiterate and never asked any questions regarding the terms of the contract.

While the employee still may attempt an appeal to the Unites States Supreme Court, the decision as it stands has positive effects on employers’ ability to restrict the time employees have to file employment-related claims in certain situations, thus aiding in risk management of those types of claims.

The author, Jared A. Wagner, Esquire, is a shareholder at Green & Green, Lawyers whose practice includes employment litigation.  If you have questions in these areas, the lawyers at Green & Green have the experience and skill to assist.