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CLIENT ALERT: Update on Discrimination

The “#metoo” presence and the recent Kavanaugh confirmation hearings have brought sexual discrimination issues to the forefront of the American mind.  Always an incendiary and confusing topic, it also includes various permutations of issues involving sex, sex stereotyping, sexual orientation, and  transgender  situations.  Employment issues abound, including proper use of restrooms and disciplinary matters. “LBGTQ” are more than mere letters strung together.

Cuyahoga County passed an ordinance recently which applies to all Cuyahoga County cities and townships, making it unlawful for any business to discriminate against any person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.  A Commission on Human Rights was designated to investigate and rule on complaints.

Similarly, the City of Akron passed an ordinance expanding equal employment for employees working in the city.  Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees located in the city, as well as businesses that take contracts from the City but are located elsewhere.  Employers with 4 or more individuals are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of the “traditional” bases (such as race, color, religion, etc.), but also on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.  The ordinance also created the Akron Civil Rights Commission to receive and investigate complaints.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has taken the position that discrimination on the basis of sex includes transgender, sexual identity, and sexual orientation.  The Ohio Civil Rights Commission is the state investigative arm that similarly investigates such complaints (which they often term as a “Charge”).

Ohio is located in the Federal Sixth Circuit.  The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided a case involving transgender issues, and also discussed whether a religious belief may play a part in an employer’s decision to terminate an employee.  That case is now on appeal to the United States Supreme Court and, no matter how the Supreme Court rules (and whether or not the Court decides to take the case for review), employer-employee relations will be affected.

Given the currently charged atmosphere, employers should consider a review of their employment practices and handbooks.  In addition, management training should be considered to stay ahead of the trends in this important area. 

If you would like more information, please contact Richard L. Williger at (330) 253-3770 or rlwilliger@bmdllc.com.

 

BMD Appellate Win Clarifies Waiver of Contractual Right to Arbitrate

Brennan, Manna & Diamond, LLC attorneys David M. Scott, Lucas K. Palmer, and Krista D. Warren prevailed before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit regarding if/when a party waives a contractual right to arbitrate. Borror Property Management, LLC v. Oro Karric North, LLC, No. 20-3146 (the “Decision”).

Relief for Ohio Under the Federal American Rescue Plan Act

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (the “Act”) — a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package — a significant portion of which will be directed to the State of Ohio to support economic recovery, as outlined below.

Cleveland Manufacturer Violated OFAC Sanctions By Allowing Shipments To Iran - Know Your Customer and Know Their Customer

UniControl, Inc., a Cleveland, Ohio manufacturer of process controls, airflow pressure switches, boiler controls and other instruments, agreed to pay the Office of Foreign Assets Control “OFAC,” the financial enforcement agency of the U.S. Treasury Department, $216,464 to settle its liabilities for violations of the Iran Sanctions Program. OFAC stated that “this enforcement action highlights the importance of identifying and assessing multiple warning signs that indicate a foreign trade partner may be re-exporting goods to a sanctioned jurisdiction.”

Ohio Breach of Contract Statute of Limitations Shortened to 6 Years

On March 16, 2021, Governor DeWine signed into law S.B. 13 which shortens Ohio’s statute of limitations for filing lawsuits based on breach of contract. A statute of limitation is the time period within which a party must file a lawsuit before its claim expires as a matter of law.

Chinese Product Tariff Challenge Causes Flurry of Importer Lawsuits

A lawsuit filed late in 2020 at the U.S. Court of International Trade (“CIT”) challenging the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) implementation of Section 301 “List 3” and “List 4” duties on products from China, HMTX Industries LLC et al. v. United States (Court No. 20-00177), has resulted in the filing of thousands of additional lawsuits brought by other affected importers. There are now 3,700+ companies added to the list, including Ford, Home Depot, Target, Tesla, and Walgreens, along with many other smaller importers.