Client Alerts, News Articles & Blog Posts

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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.

 

DOL Proposes New Rule Regarding Independent Contractor Status - But How Will the Election Affect Its Future?

On September 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a new proposed rule regarding employee and independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The full text of the proposed rule is available here. The rule's drafters intend to reduce uncertainty and enhance the precision and predictability of the long-standing "economic reality" test, which currently relies on a multifactor balancing test.

Major Change to Franklin County, Ohio Eviction Process: Landlord Testimony Required

Although there is currently a nationwide temporary halt on all residential evictions through December 31, 2020 in place, the eviction process in Franklin County – which processes the highest number of evictions in the State of Ohio at approximately 18,000 a year – recently changed significantly.

UPDATE: Governor Dewine Signs HB 606 Granting Short Window of Immunity from COVID-19 Personal Injury Lawsuits

The Ohio General Assembly, in Am. Sub. H.B. No. 606, is in the final stages of passing a law that will prohibit lawsuits seeking damages from COVID-19. This includes injury, death, or loss to person or property if the lawsuits are based, in whole or in part, on the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of the coronavirus, unless the defendant in the lawsuit acted intentionally or recklessly. In circumstances where this immunity does not apply, H.B. 606 prohibits such claims being aggregated and brought as a class action.

Revised Department of Labor FFCRA Guidance, Effective September 16, 2020

In response to attacks on the legality of the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Final Rule regarding the Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCRA” or the “Act”), which took effect in April 2020, the Department of Labor issued new guidance on Friday, September 11th to formally address ongoing questions and concerns related to the COVID-19 legislation.

FCC Adds $198 Million to Strengthen Telehealth for Rural Healthcare Providers

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has added an additional $198 million in funding to its Rural Health Care Program. These funds will be used to increase broadband services and telecommunications to bolster telehealth/telemedicine services for rural healthcare providers. Funding for rural healthcare providers was initially capped at $605 million in 2020, but the added funds will now allow the FCC to provide over $800 million to eligible providers.