Ohio Employment Law Update: Employment Law Uniformity Act (HB 352)
22 Jan 2021
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed the Employment Law Uniformity Act (the “Act”) into law, resulting in important changes surrounding Ohio employment discrimination claims. The Act takes effect on April 12, 2021 and applies to discrimination claims filed on or after that date.
The Act impacts both employers and employees alike by amending the procedure surrounding employment discrimination claims in Ohio as follows:
- The Act shortens the statute of limitations for employment discrimination claims from six years to two years.
- The Act streamlines Ohio’s age discrimination statutes and eliminates the different statutes of limitations surrounding such claims. Now, all age discrimination claims are subject to the new two-year statute of limitations.
- The Act requires claimants to file with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission before bringing a lawsuit in state court. This requirement is consistent with the requirements for employment discrimination claims filed in Federal Court under Title VII.
- The Act provides an affirmative defense for Ohio hostile work environment claims, reflecting the long-established defense arising from the 1998 U.S. Supreme Court cases Faragher and Ellerth. Employers may raise this affirmative defense if:
- The employer exercised reasonable care to prevent or promptly correct any sexually harassing behavior.
- The employee alleging the hostile work environment unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventative or corrective opportunities provided by the employer or to avoid harm otherwise.
- The potential for the personal liability of supervisors and managers surrounding unlawful discrimination is limited by the Act. However, the Act does not abrogate other statutory or common law claims that exist against such individual.
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