On Tuesday, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce testified in support of the Ohio Fairness Act. The legislation, House Bill 369 (HB 369), would amend Ohio’s discrimination statutes to prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation.
The Ohio Chamber’s testimony highlighted how a statewide anti-discrimination statute is preferable to a patchwork of local ordinances that currently exists. In Ohio, twenty-eight political subdivisions have already enacted laws that prevent discrimination based upon an individuals’ sexual orientation or gender identity. This patchwork of varying local ordinances is a compliance nightmare for employers operating in multiple jurisdictions because the employer may not be able to have a single uniform workplace policy that would apply to all their employees regardless of where the employee is located.
A single statewide discrimination standard – like the one proposed by House Bill 369 – would solve this compliance problem since the law will be the same regardless of where a business operates.
The enactment of a state anti-discrimination statute preventing discrimination in the workplace based upon sexual orientation or gender identity is also an important workforce development tool. According to research performed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 72% of full-time employees would leave an organization for another that they believed was more inclusive. Likewise, these protections will enhance mutual respect between employees and employers and will help Ohio companies recruit and retain talented employees from all walks of life.
In addition to the Chamber’s support of HB 369, we have also testified in favor of its companion legislation – Senate Bill 11. It is our hope that hearings for both bills will continue taking place so lawmakers hear how including anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ individuals will enhance Ohio’s economic competitiveness while assuring all Ohioans can benefit from the Buckeye State’s growing workforce.
You can read my other blogs on HB 369 and SB 11 here, here and here. Also, if your company wants to join the more than 800 businesses that are supporting HB 369 and SB 11, you can join Ohio Business Competes for free by following this link.