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Ohio Enacts Substantial Changes to Employment Discrimination Laws

Client Alert

In January, Governor Mike DeWine signed into law the Employment Law Uniformity Act, amending the employment protections in the Ohio Civil Rights Act in several significant ways. Such changes to the state’s anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws have been considered and debated for years and finally made their way into Ohio law.

What has changed for employment claims under the amended Ohio Civil Rights Act?

  • Statute of Limitations: The statute of limitations for employment discrimination claims has been reduced from 6 to 2 years, bringing Ohio in line with federal law.
  • Administrative Remedies: Prior to filing suit in court alleging employment discrimination, individuals must first exhaust administrative remedies by filing a charge with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and obtaining a right-to-sue-letter. Filing a charge tolls the statute of limitations during pendency and for 60 days after closure of the charge. The deadline to file a charge has been expanded from 180 days to 2 years after the alleged discrimination.
  • Supervisor Liability: Personal liability for supervisors, managers, and coworkers for discrimination or harassment has been eliminated except in limited circumstances. This brings state law more in line with federal and will likely curtail a very common practice by plaintiffs' attorneys in Ohio of suing supervisors in their individual capacity.
  • Sexual Harassment Defense: The employer’s affirmative defense for sexual harassment claims has been codified and mirrors the Faragher/Ellerth affirmative defense established by the U.S. Supreme Court and already recognized by Ohio courts. An employer may assert an affirmative defense against hostile work environment sexual harassment claims if it had anti-harassment policies and complaint procedures in place, and the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of them. This defense is not available if the harassment was committed by a supervisor and also resulted in a tangible employment action such as firing, demotion, etc.
  • Age Discrimination: The Employment Law Uniformity Act has also simplified the tangled web of age discrimination claims that existed in Ohio, which had varying statutes of limitations, administrative exhaustion requirements, and remedies. The characteristics of age discrimination claims have been harmonized with other employment claims under the Ohio Civil Rights Act.

When do the changes go into effect?

  • The Employment Law Uniformity Act becomes effective April 15, 2021.

What actions should employers take now?

  • The most important thing Ohio employers need to do as a result of these amendments is review their policies and procedures to ensure that they have anti-harassment provisions and reporting procedures in place and provide training to their employees. Effective policies, procedures, and training can help prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, ensure prompt action when a complaint arises, and mitigate liability if legal action ensues.  

The Labor and Employment team at BMD is available to assist if you have questions related to these important developments. For more information, please contact Employment and Labor Law Attorney Russell Rendall at 216.658.2205 or rtrendall@bmdllc.com.


Valley National Bank/Trulieve Loan: A Big Step Out of the Shadows

In a late December press release, Trulieve announced that it had secured a $71.5 million commercial bank loan. In addition to the amount of the loan, which may be the largest commercial bank loan to date to a cannabis company, the release prominently identified Valley Bank and featured both a quote from Valley’s Senior Vice President, John Myers, and a description of the Bank’s service platform and commitment to the cannabis industry.

The End of Non-Competes? The Impact It Will Have on the Healthcare Industry

On January 5, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced a proposed rule that, if enacted, will ban employers from entering into non-compete clauses with workers (the “Rule”), and the Rule would void existing non-compete agreements. In their Notice, the FTC stated that if the Rule were to go into effect, they estimate the overall earnings of employees in the United States could increase by $250 billion to $296 billion per year. The Rule would also require employers to rescind non-competes that they had already entered into with their workers. For purposes of the Rule, the FTC has defined “worker” to also include any employees, interns, volunteers, and contractors.”

2022 Healthcare Recap and 2023 Healthcare Check-Up

As the country begins to return to a new “normal” following the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many healthcare rules changing on both the federal and state levels as a result. Thus, it is important for healthcare providers and their employers to be aware of these changing rules, and any implications they may have on their practice. Look back on healthcare in 2022 and find a checklist for 2023.

Direct Support Professional Retention Payments

On December 15, the Ohio Senate and House passed House Bill 45, which authorizes the Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD), in conjunction with the county boards of developmental disabilities, to launch their initiative to issue retention payments to Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). These retention payments will be distributed quarterly to participating home and community-based waiver providers to address the workforce crisis in the direct provider sector. Governor DeWine needs to sign the Bill to begin the payments, but he is expected to do so by the end of 2022.

Real Estate Investors Position for 2023 Opportunities

Real estate investors weathered another year in a post-pandemic world, with the year closing with yet another interest rate increase coupled with both uncertainty and heightened interest carrying into 2023. Just last Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate 0.50 percentage points, shifting the target range to 4.25% to 4.50%. The new level is the highest the fed funds rate has been since December 2007 and marks the seventh rate hike this year. So what does this mean to investors, brokers, lenders, and others in the real estate world? Read a few perspectives below from stakeholders familiar with our BMD clients and the markets in which they do business.