Showing posts with label legislation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label legislation. Show all posts

Thursday, April 1, 2021

No foolin': the most meaningful changes to Ohio's employment discrimination law take effect in two weeks


Two weeks from today, H.B. 352 takes effect and brings the most significant changes to Ohio's workplace discrimination statute since its passage decades ago. What are these changes?

  • Creates a universal two-year statute of limitations for all employment discrimination claims.
  • Requires individuals to file an administrative charge with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission as a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit.
  • Unifies the filing of age discrimination claims to the same procedures and remedies as all other protected classes.
  • Eliminates individual statutory liability for managers and supervisors.
  • Caps non-economic and punitive damages based on the size of the employer.
  • Establishes an affirmative defense to hostile workplace sexual harassment claims not alleging that did not result in an adverse, tangible employment action, when 1) the employer exercised reasonable care to prevent or promptly correct the alleged unlawful discriminatory practice or harassing behavior, and 2) the employee failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer or to otherwise avoid the alleged harm. 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

H.B. 352 finally fixes Ohio’s broken employment discrimination statute for employers


For lack of more artful description, Ohio's employment discrimination law was a mess. It exposed employers to claims for up to six years (the longest such statute of limitations in the country), contained no less than three different ways for employees to file age discrimination claims (each with different remedies and filing deadlines), rendered managers and supervisors personally liable for discrimination, and omitted any filing prerequisites with the state civil rights agency.

The start of 2021, however, provides Ohio businesses much-needed reform of this previously broken law. Earlier this week, Governor DeWine signed House Bill 352 [pdf]

Thursday, October 3, 2019

If at first you don’t succeed … Ohio will again try to fix its broken employment discrimination law


For lack of more artful description, Ohio’s employment discrimination law is an awful mess.

Among other problems, it exposes employers to claims for six(!) years; contains no less than four different ways for employees to file age discrimination claims (each with different remedies and filing deadlines); renders managers and supervisors personally liable for statutory discrimination; omits any filing prerequisites with the state’s civil rights agency; and contains no affirmative defenses for an employer’s good faith efforts to stop workplace harassment.

There have been several prior attempts to fix this law and harmonize it with its federal counterparts. All have died on the legislative vine.

Welcome House Bill 352 [pdf], introduced on October 1. It’s yet another business-friendly attempt at comprehensive reform of Ohio’s employment discrimination statute.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Proposed law wants to convert “anti-vaxxer” into a protected class


With a couple of important exceptions, an employer can require that employees be up to date on their vaccinations.

The exceptions?

     1/ An employee with an ADA disability that prevents him or her from receiving a vaccine may be entitled to an exemption from a mandatory vaccination requirement as a reasonable accommodation.

     2/ An employee with a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance that prevents him or her from receiving a vaccine may also be entitled to an exemption from a mandatory vaccination requirement as a reasonable accommodation.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Is joint employment the issue that unites our divided government?


I cannot recall a time when our government has been more divided across ideological and party lines. (I don’t count the early 1860s, because that’s not a time a can remember.) Thankfully, an issue has come along to build a peace bridge over the streets and through the halls of Washington D.C.

This issue—joint employment, via the Save Local Business Act [pdf], which clarifies that two or more employers must have “actual, direct, and immediate” control over employees to be considered joint employers.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Ohio looks to put enforcement muscle behind workplace concealed carry law


It’s been six months since Ohio made it illegal for employers to prohibit employees (or anyone else for that matter) from storing a firearm in their vehicles on the employer’s property. This law, however, lacks any specific statutory teeth (sort of). If Ohio legislators get their way, this omission will soon change.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Ohio again tries to restore sanity to its bonkers employment discrimination law


It was almost one year ago to the day that I penned, Now is the time to restore balance to Ohio’s employment discrimination law: Endorsing the Employment Law Uniformity Act. I wrote:
For lack of more artful description, Ohio’s employment discrimination law is a mess. It exposes employers to claims for up to six years, renders managers and supervisors personally liable for discrimination, contains no less than four different ways for employees to file age discrimination claims (each with different remedies and filing deadlines), and omits any filing prerequisites with the state civil rights agency.
Last year’s attempt at this sanity restoration, Senate Bill 268, died at the end of 2016 with the expiration of the last legislative session.

Thankfully, however, House Bill 2 has resurrected this attempt. (And, yes, the irony that today is Groundhog Day is not lost on me.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Why it doesn’t matter that Ohio’s concealed-carry law removed its discrimination protections


We are going to begin 2017 near where we brought 2016 to a close—gun-owner protections.

Shortly before the end of Ohio’s 131st legislative session, Governor Kasich signed into law Amended Substitute Senate Bill 199, which, among other provisions, creates certain rights for lawful handgun owners to store said handguns in their vehicles parked on the property of their employers. You can read the specifics here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Ohio set to maintain stable statewide minimum wage


A bill is on its way to Governor Kasich’s desk for signature that would prohibit any municipality or other political subdivision from establishing a minimum wage different from Ohio’s state minimum wage.

Sub. S.B. 331 [pdf] is a reaction to efforts of the “Fight for 15” movement to create piecemeal minimum wage increases city by city. Recall that earlier this year, Ohio’s attorney general issued an advisory opinion that a municipal ordinance may not require an employer to by a to pay its employees an hourly minimum wage rate that is in excess of the statewide hourly minimum wage rate,which is fixed by Ohio’s Constitution. This bill clears up an ambiguity over this issue.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Common sense (sort of) prevails in Ohio over gun-owner discrimination law


Last week, I reported on Ohio Senate Bill 199 / Sub. House Bill 48, which would have elevated “concealed handgun licensure” to a protected class under Ohio’s employment discrimination law, on par with race, color, religion, sex, military status, national origin, disability, age, and ancestry.

My Twitter feed absolutely exploded with confusion and outrage. Some of the better replies:

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Ohio set to elevate gun ownership to a protected employment class #TerribleIdea


How do you get conservative lawmakers to agree to add a protected class to an employment discrimination law? Focus on protecting on gun ownership, apparently.

Believe it or not, the right to conceal carry is about to join race, sex, age, religion, national origin, and disability as a class against which employers cannot discriminate against their employees. Really. I’m not making this up. Senate Bill 199 and Sub. House Bill 48 would make it illegal for an employer to fire, refuse to hire or discriminate against someone who has a concealed-carry permit and keeps a gun within a vehicle that may be parked on the employer’s property.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

$15 minimum wage is unconstitutional, says Ohio Attorney General


The drive to push local minimum wags in Ohio municipalities to $15 an hour may have hit a significant snag—Ohio’s Constitution.

According to an advisory opinion [pdf] issued by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, a municipal ordinance may not require an employer to by a to pay its employees an hourly minimum wage rate that is in excess of the statewide hourly minimum wage rate.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Amended medical marijuana bill offers employers higher protections


Last month, I reported on the introduction of Ohio House Bill 523, which would legalize medical marijuana in Ohio. I suggested that the bill’s protections for employers, which go further than those of either of the two competing November ballot measures, are a good start, but would likely need some tweaks to provide employers all of the protections they need.

Yesterday, employers got some much needed help, with an amended H.B. 523 [pdf], which significantly expands the rights of employers in regard to employees legally using marijuana.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Ohio introduces employee background check legislation


It’s been a busy couple of months for employers, keeping up with the employment-related legislation popping up in Columbus. First, we had the Employment Law Uniformity Act, then the Pregnancy Reasonable Accommodation Act, next the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Benefits Act, and finally the Medical Marijuana Act.

Next on the docket? Legislation to regulate how employers compile and use certain background information in the hiring process.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Are you ready for medical marijuana?


Sooner rather than later, medical marijuana will be a reality in Ohio. Currently, there are three separate efforts to enact this law: two ballot initiatives and one piece of legislation.

What does this mean for Ohio employers? Let’s start with the legislation, H.B. 523.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Ohio introduces paid-sick-leave legislation


sick daysThere is little argument that the U.S. lags behind the rest of the civilized world on paid sick leave. As the federal government has failed to act on this issue for all but a small minority of federal-contractor employees, the state and local governments have started to pick up the slack.

Now, Ohio is considering getting in the game. H.B. 511—the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Benefits Act [pdf]—would, in essence, create state-administered short-term disability insurance for employees who need time off for an FMLA-covered reason.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Now is the time to restore balance to Ohio’s employment discrimination law: Endorsing the Employment Law Uniformity Act


For lack of more artful description, Ohio’s employment discrimination law is a mess. It exposes employers to claims for up to six years, renders managers and supervisors personally liable for discrimination, contains no less than four different ways for employees to file age discrimination claims (each with different remedies and filing deadlines), and omits any filing prerequisites with the state civil rights agency.

Monday, State Senator Bill Seitz introduced Senate Bill 268 [pdf], the Employment Law Uniformity Act. It is a business-friendly attempt at comprehensive reform of Ohio’s employment discrimination statute.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

More on marijuana and off-duty conduct laws


The Browns still can’t beat the Broncos, and, it appears that Ohio’s proposed off-duty conduct law is a whole lot worse for employers than Colorado’s similar (but very different) statute.

WUII received an email from a long-standing reader, asking if I could reconcile my opinion that Ohio’s proposed off-duty conduct law would prohibit an Ohio employer from terminating an employee for off-duty marijuana use if Issue 3 [pdf] passes, with the decision of the Colorado Supreme Court in Coates v Dish Network [pdf], which held that Colorado’s off-duty conduct law did not prohibit such a termination despite that state’s legalization of pot.

It all comes down to statutory language.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Union organizing as a protected class? Worst … idea … EVER


Raise your hand if you think that it needs to be easier for workers to unionize? If I could look through my computer screen, I’d see very few of my readers’ hands raised.

Two hands that would be raised, though, are those of Washington Senator Patty Murray and Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott (both Dems), who, last week, introduced and sponsored the Workplace Action for a Growing Economy (WAGE) Act.

What would the WAGE Act do?

  • Triple the back pay to employees fired or retaliated against for engaging in protected concerted activity.
  • Provide employees with a private right of action to bring suit to recover monetary damages and attorneys’ fees in federal district court, in addition to injunctive relief.  
  • Clarify that joint employers are jointly responsible for violations affecting workers supplied by another employer.
  • Establish civil penalties up to $50,000 for employers that commit unfair labor practices, with double penalties for repeat violations.
  • Impose individual liability for employer violators on officers and directors. 
  • Allow the NLRB to issue a bargaining order upon finding that an employer prevented a free and fair election, provided that a majority of employees signed authorization cards within the previous 12 months.

What else do you need to know about the WAGE Act? It’s supported by the AFL-CIO, the Teamsters, the Communication Workers of America, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, The Century Foundation, and other worker-rights groups.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka described the legislation: 

The WAGE Act puts corporations who abuse working people on notice that there will be real penalties for lawbreaking. Penalties like triple back pay, strong civil penalties and preliminary reinstatement.

Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa added:

For too long employers have manipulated and abused the system under the NLRA. The WAGE Act offers real reform to our current laws and provides worker protections through significant penalties that will discourage employers from acting illegally. It is long past time to bring our labor laws into the 21st century.

The Act’s co-author, Senator Murray, continued:

Too often, as workers are underpaid, overworked and treated unfairly on the job, some companies are doing everything they can to prevent them from having a voice in the workplace. The WAGE Act would strengthen protections for all workers and it would finally crack down on employers who break the law when workers exercise their basic right to collective action.

This bill has no chance to become law. But that’s not the point. The labor movement is setting up the 2016 election to be a referendum on the American working class. This bill is a symptom of this problem, not the solution. Nevertheless, it illustrates the class divide that could lead to a greater resurgence of organized labor.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Ohio considers paid leave for quarantined employees


As just-back-from-Sierra-Leone Kaci Kickox continues to fight efforts to bind her to a mandatory 21-day Ebola quarantine, states around the country continue to figure out how to deal with these very new issues.

Ohio (which was Ebola ground-zero only a few weeks ago) has entered the fray with H.B. 647. The bill would:

  • Provide paid leave to any employee unable to work because of a quarantine or placement in medical isolation.
  • Prohibit an employer from requiring the employee to use paid time off in lieu of the statutory paid leave.
  • Prohibit an employer from taking any adverse action against an employee who failed to report to work because of a quarantine or placement in isolation, or who has requested quarantine or isolation pay.
  • Provide for both administrative and judicial remedies for aggrieved employees.

The bill has only just been introduced, and has not yet even been assigned to a committee. If any action is taken on this bill, I will pass it along.

In the meantime, employers need to be flexible with employees who have potentially been exposed to Ebola or other dangerous infectious diseases. If you send the employee home, do it with pay. Otherwise, you are inviting legislative fixes to what should be common-sense issues.