Debate Continues on HB 2, the Employment Law Uniformity Act

On Tuesday, March 7, Ohio Chamber Director of Labor & Legal Affairs Don Boyd provided rebuttal testimony on HB 2, the Employment Law Uniformity Act. The testimony was in response to concerns levied by opponents of the bill. Highlights of the original bill are on our All for Ohio blog.

The purpose of HB 2 is to bring Ohio’s discrimination laws in line with their federal counterpart, Title VII. “Shaping Ohio law to mirror federal law, as much as possible, will create greater predictability for both employers and employees in matters of alleged workplace discrimination,” Boyd explained.

From previous versions of this bill and since the bill’s introduction, the Ohio Chamber has agreed to the following compromises:

  1. Removing non-economic and punitive damage caps that mirrored Title VII and are lower than under Ohio law.
  2. Re-instituting the availability of attorneys’ fees in certain age discrimination cases.
  3. Making it abundantly clear that employers will continue to be responsible for the acts of supervisors and managers.
  4. Altering the affirmative defense provided in the legislation to be available only in hostile work environment type harassment cases, similar to federal case law, rather than all types of discrimination cases.

“HB 2 seeks to maintain robust protection for Ohio employees from discrimination in the workplace while also increasing uniformity between state and federal discrimination laws and improving stability and efficiency for Ohio employers,” said Boyd. “We believe that we have made a good faith effort to craft language that is fair to both the employer and employee. It’s time to vote this bill out of committee.”

HB 2 is currently in the House Economic Development, Commerce & Labor Committee. The full language of the bill can be found here.

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