The Ohio Normal Meeting just lately overhauled its employment discrimination legal guidelines and adopted a number of employer-friendly provisions. Governor Mike DeWine signed the Employment Regulation Uniformity Act (often known as Home Invoice 352) on January 12, 2021, and it’ll change into efficient on April 15.
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce lobbied efficiently to incorporate a number of provisions, a few of which reply to Ohio Supreme Court docket choices that had expanded the attain of the state’s employment discrimination legal guidelines.
Limitation on supervisor legal responsibility. Underneath Ohio’s prior employment discrimination legal guidelines, the Ohio Supreme Court docket allowed substantial legal responsibility to be imposed on managers and supervisors. The Act largely eliminates particular person legal responsibility for managers and supervisors, besides the place they both act exterior the scope of their employment or retaliate or discriminate in opposition to the worker.
Limitation on damages. The Act redefines tort (wrongful act) claims to incorporate employment discrimination claims introduced below Sections 4112.052 and 4112.14 of the Ohio Revised Code. The impact shall be to make such claims topic to each the statutory limitations on compensatory damages for noneconomic loss and the statutory procedures and limitations relevant to claims for punitive damages.
Requirement to file with the OCRC. The Act prevents workers from submitting an employment discrimination lawsuit that seeks damages till they’ve first exhausted their administrative cures by submitting a cost with the Ohio Civil Rights Fee (OCRC). They have to file an OCRC cost inside 2 years after the alleged violation occurred.
The Act units forth particular listening to procedures and cures for the OCRC to observe when dealing with such expenses. The Normal Meeting acknowledged its intent is that “human useful resource professionals ought to have the primary alternative to resolve personnel complaints and rectify detrimental office habits earlier than such points end in expensive litigation.”
The Act does permit workers to keep away from the requirement to file a cost with the OCRC in the event that they file an employment discrimination lawsuit solely to hunt injunctive reduction.
Statute of limitations. The prior model of Chapter 4112 of the Revised Code didn’t comprise a statute of limitations. The Ohio Supreme Court docket had beforehand held a 6-year statute of limitations applies to employment discrimination lawsuits. The revised legislation lowers the statute of limitations from 6 years to 2 years.
Hostile work surroundings protection. The Act adopts and incorporates an affirmative protection to hostile work surroundings claims that was acknowledged by the US Supreme Court docket in Faragher v. Metropolis of Boca Raton and Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth. The Normal Meeting acknowledged its intent is to encourage employers “to implement significant antidiscrimination insurance policies and foster a piece surroundings that’s truthful and tolerant.”
Employers gained’t be held answerable for employment discrimination claims primarily based on an alleged hostile work surroundings if all the following are true:
- The employer had strong antidiscrimination insurance policies;
- It correctly educated workers on acceptable office habits and criticism procedures;
- It exercised affordable care to stop or right harassment within the office; and
- The worker didn’t make the most of the employer’s criticism procedures or different alternatives to stop or right the alleged harassment.
The protection gained’t apply if the worker can present it could have been futile to invoke the employer’s insurance policies and procedures, or that preventive or corrective motion was unavailable.
Limitation on wrongful discharge claims. Some employment discrimination lawsuits embrace frequent legislation claims for wrongful discharge. The Normal Meeting acknowledged its intent in enacting Home Invoice 352 is that “frequent legislation claims for wrongful discharge aren’t accessible for actions maintainable below Chapter 4112 of the Revised Code and that the procedures and cures set forth in Chapter 4112 of the Revised Code are the only real and unique procedures and cures accessible below state legislation for claims of illegal discriminatory observe regarding employment which can be ruled by that chapter.” Wrongful discharge claims primarily based on violations of public coverage would nonetheless be cognizable, nevertheless.
Ohio employers are anticipated to profit from lots of the modifications made to the state’s employment discrimination legal guidelines, which can go into impact on April 15.