I try to stay on top of all issues that impact Ohio employers, but this one simply fell beneath my radar. On December 20, Governor Strickland signed into law House Bill 372 – The Ohio Veterans Package.
Of importance to employers, the law, which will go into effect on March 18, 2008, adds "military status" to the list of classes protected from discrimination in employment by Ohio Revised Code chapter 4112. "Military status" means a person's status in "service in the uniformed services," which includes active duty, active duty for training, initial active duty for training, inactive duty for training, full-time national guard duty, and performance of duty or training by a member of the Ohio organized militia, in addition to any period of time a person is absent from work for a fitness for duty exam for such service.
Ohio now joins a handful of other states in which it is illegal to discriminate based on military status. This law does will not affect the rights that employees already enjoy under the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Now is as good a time as any to educate your supervisors and managers that "military status" will be joining the list of employment law no-nos in Ohio, alongside race, sex, age, disability, religion, national origin, color, and ancestry.
(Hat tip to John Phillips' Word on Employment Law.)