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Wrongful termination: probably not. Ohio is an "at will" employment state. At-will employment means that without a contract, you have no contractual or other right to employment with the company. The company is entitled to fire you for any reason: a good reason, a poor reason, or no reason at all--as long as the company does not fire you for an illegal reason (race, gender, age, religion, etc...). Since you only have 5 employees, he doesn't qualify for any Federal or state medical leave law. And under the Ohio Workers’ Compensation law and the Ohio Constitution, an employee is not allowed to sue the employer in negligence for the injury if that employer is current on its premium payments into the Workers’ Compensation system.
Now technically speaking he could sue for wrongful termination. Anyone can sue anyone for anything. A lawsuit is merely a legal complaint. It does not require that the person be right when the suit is filed. That is what the judges are for: making determinations of law. He just could not win.
As for unemployment, if he's unable to work, he wouldn't qualify for unemployment. One of the criterion for unemployment eligibility is that the worker is "ready, able and willing" to work, and actively looking for work.
If he's injured, he would not qualify until he was done with disability.
Should I use lack of work, or just tell him to stay home and collect his BWC benefits ?
You can certainly use lack of work, or even the need to hire a new individual and inability to carry multiple people on the payroll. You don't have to pay someone for not working.
That's already happened, I had a talk with him last week about our need to hire a temp to pick up his slack
coincidently, after our talk, his PT notes stated "increased Pain"!!
I would like whatever I do to be the end of our work relationship.
The key is to make it absolutely clear that this is a termination, that you can no longer keep him on, and that the position will no longer be open.
Some "layoffs" are temporary, but you should let him know that it's permanent.
Ok, then, we say we can't keep you on any longer, please remove your personal property and go home. Collect your BWC benefits?
Certainly. Again, he doesn't have recourse against you for this if your premium payments were current, even though he might still try to allege that your actions were gross negligence (they weren't) and I would doubt that any attorney would take such a case anyway.
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Thank You, sir.
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