The Ohio General Assembly heard testimony on May 18, 2016, in support of pending Senate Bill 268 (S.B. 268), the Employment Law Uniformity Act. S.B. 268 seeks to amend Ohio’s employment discrimination statute, R.C. Chapter 4112, to make Ohio employment law more consistent with federal law and the laws of other states.

Ohio employment law is an outlier in many ways when compared with similar federal law and other states’ laws. For example, Ohio exposes employers to claims for up to six years and contains a byzantine structure allowing employee age discrimination claims in at least four different ways with different remedies and limitation periods. S.B. 268 seeks to shorten the six-year limitation period and to simplify Ohio age discrimination law by providing the same types of remedies and limitation periods as with other claims of discrimination. The current six-year limitation period allows for unnecessary skirmishes over faded memories and lost or misplaced documents, which could be avoided with a shorter limitation period that is more consistent with federal law and the laws of other states.

S.B. 268 proposes damage caps for noneconomic and punitive damages based on the size of the employer, consistent with federal law. The proposed legislation seeks to end judicially imposed individual manager and supervisor liability by clarifying that, like with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, no individual liability exists under Ohio law. This reform is designed to end the practice of plaintiffs’ attorneys suing individual managers as well as employers in an effort to avoid removal of the case to federal court. The legislation also seeks to establish an affirmative defense for employers that exercise reasonable care to prevent discrimination and harassment and to preclude concurrent claims by employers in court and before the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

BakerHostetler partner Scott McIntyre testified on May 18 before the Ohio General Assembly in support of the bill at the request of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Management Lawyers’ Association. McIntyre leads the firm’s Employment and Labor practice in Cincinnati and is a board-certified specialist in employment and labor law.