Ohio Senate Bill 268 was introduced February 1, 2016, and aims to change Ohio’s employment discrimination laws in a number of ways. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce states that the bill will bring Ohio law in line with federal law. Proponents of the bill say that the changes will also eliminate the disadvantage the current laws place businesses at while still protecting employees. Ohio employers and employees should pay attention to this potential change, as it will greatly affect employment discrimination law in the state for all parties.
One of the biggest proposed changes under Bill 268 is reducing the statute of limitations for employment discrimination claims from six years to one year from the date of the alleged unlawful discriminatory employment practice. Individuals who believe they are subject to this discrimination may also file an administrative charge with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. Filing a charge with the Commission tolls the statute of limitations for filing a claim in court until the resolution of the administrative charge. The proposed bill also encourages mediation and conciliation for charges filed with the Commission.
Another difference with the proposed bill would be new caps on non-economic and punitive damages. Currently, the only caps for employment discrimination claims are those imposed by Ohio’s Tort Reform Act. The proposed bill’s caps depend on the number of people employed by a company. They range from $50,000 for employers with four to 50 employees, to $300,000 for employers with over 500 employees.
The proposed bill also eliminates individual statutory liability for managers and supervisors, allowing only a company to be named in a lawsuit. Additionally, companies would have an affirmative defense to employment discrimination claims not alleging an adverse, tangible employment action. Under the bill, an adverse, tangible employment action is one resulting in material economic detriment such as failure to hire or promote, firing, or demotion. In cases not alleging adverse action, an employer would be able to raise an affirmative defense if the employer exercised reasonable care to prevent or promptly correct the alleged unlawful discriminatory practice or if the employee failed to take advantage of any available preventive or corrective opportunities to avoid the alleged harm.
The bill has not yet been voted on, but is something that both employers and employees should pay attention to. If passed, the bill would bring significant changes to Ohio’s employment discrimination laws. Lardiere McNair will also follow this proposed bill and inform our readers of major developments.
Joe Burke is a Law Clerk at Lardiere McNair, LLC. To read more about our firm, please visit www.lmcounsel.com.
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