Ohio Chamber Priority Bill Leaves Committee with Bipartisan Support

The Ohio Chamber’s efforts to reform the state’s burdensome and confusing workplace discrimination laws took a giant step forward as the Ohio House Civil Justice Committee favorably reported House Bill 352 out of committee on Tuesday.

Also known as the Employment Law Uniformity Act, this important legislation will better align Ohio’s workplace laws with federal law and laws in other states. This reform is needed because, thanks to judicial activism at the Ohio Supreme Court during the 1990’s, Ohio’s anti-discrimination laws are an outlier that makes Ohio’s business climate less competitive.

Enacting House Bill 352 will shorten the nation’s longest statute of limitation for bringing workplace discrimination claims from six years to two years. The bill also requires all allegations of employment discrimination to first be filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) before civil litigation can commence. Furthermore, House Bill 352 amends the definition of employer, so that supervisors and managers are no longer personally liable for wrongful acts they did not commit.

You can read more about what is in HB 352 and the committee’s prior actions on the bill by reading my blogs here, here, here and here.

The reforms included in HB 352 will return the Ohio General Assembly’s control over Ohio’s employment laws because the legislature did not put in place Ohio’s six year statute of limitation nor did it make supervisors and managers personally liable for acts of discrimination. Instead, Justices who legislated from the bench of the Ohio Supreme Court enacted those decrees.

Reforming the Buckeye State’s employment discrimination laws will also have a positive impact on our business and legal climates. A strong business climate relies on a civil justice system that considers the needs of both parties in litigation, which HB 352 does by shortening the statute of limitation to align with the majority of other states.

HB 352 also balances the interest of both sides in an employment dispute by requiring these types of claims to start at the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. This process will benefit employees because it provides an opportunity for the individual to discover information and obtain employment records without the need to file a lawsuit or hire an attorney. For employers, requiring all claims to begin with OCRC creates a simpler process since they will no longer be asked to defend the same allegation in two different venues simultaneously.

Now, the Ohio Chamber will begin its work to pass HB 352 out of the Ohio House, so employers in the Buckeye State will no longer be subjected to Ohio’s messy employment discrimination laws.