What You Need to Know About Ohio Workplace Discrimination Laws

Understanding workplace discrimination laws in the state one works in is crucial. Here is everything you need to know about Ohio workplace discrimination laws.

Workplace discrimination laws were recently amended in Ohio after the Ohio Employment Law Uniformity Act (EULA) took effect on April 15, 2021. Employers need to comply with federal laws and state laws of Ohio that ensures employees’ rights regarding workplace discrimination.

Employment Law Uniformity Act (ELUA)

The act, signed as House Bill 352, is an update to the state’s existing law protecting individuals against workplace discrimination. The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of:

  • Sex
  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Military status
  • National origin
  • Age (40 or older)
  • Ancestry

Areas of practice in the workplace refer to direct and indirect actions related to employment, which may include :

  • Fringe benefits
  • Job training
  • Promotion
  • Hiring
  • Discharge
  • Wages
  • Hours
  • Physical and mental health

Related: Workplace Drug Testing in Ohio

Changes Made by the Ohio Employment Law Uniformity Act

Five major changes were made to the laws regarding workplace discrimination after the Employment Uniformity Act amended the Ohio Civil Rights Act.

1. Shortened Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is shortened for workplace discrimination lawsuits. Employees now have a two-year statute of limitations to file workplace discrimination claims compared to the previous six-year statute of limitations.

2. New Filing Requirement

Employees are required to file their claims with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) before filing a lawsuit in court. Employees may proceed to file a lawsuit in court after the OCRC has issued a “right to sue” notice or if the employee requested a right to sue notice from the OCRC and the OCRC failed to issue a timely notice after a period of more than 45 days.

3. Personal Liability Elimination

The act prevents managers from being held personally liable for workplace discrimination. Previously, managers could be subjected to personal charges regarding workplace discrimination. Managers will not be held personally liable now unless there is evident discriminatory practice that could be traced back to specific individuals.

4. Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment

Employers have the right to a defense against hostile environment sexual harassment if there is proof the employers took reasonable care in preventing or promptly correcting harassment in the workplace and if the employees failed to acknowledge the corrective exercises and make adjustments. The employer may not file a defense if the harassment has already led to termination, demotion, or other actions related to employment.

Related: What Are Examples of Retaliation in the Workplace?

5. Age Discrimination Claims Simplification

Filing an age discrimination claim has long been a delicate issue because as time passes the claimant’s age also changes. The new law, as seen above, provides a formal framework to file all age discrimination claims. Under the two-year statute of limitation, one must file a charge with the OCRC and wait to file a lawsuit.

Remedies for Workplace Discrimination

Remedies depend largely on the discriminatory practice’s effect on the employee.

Compensatory damages are given to the employee to relieve situations caused by workplace discrimination. These may include an offer to a prior position, medical expenses covering physical or emotional harm associated with the workplace, or a return of the benefits one should have received.

Punitive damages would be given to punish the employer, usually in the form of fines. The fine amount depends upon the size of the employer. Employers with less than 100 employees but more than 15 employees would face fines up to $50,000 while employers with more than 500 employees would face fines up to $300,000. There may also be liquidated damages, where the compensation paid to the employee equals the fines of the employer.

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If you or a loved one would like to learn more about Ohio Workplace Discrimination Laws, get your free consultation with one of our Employment Attorneys in Ohio today!