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Important Changes to Ohio’s Anti-Discrimination Claim Procedures
Ohio’s new anti-discrimination laws as outlined in the Ohio Employment Law Uniformity Act (H.B. 242) (ELUA) reflect changes to the filing requirements, applicable statute of limitations, supervisor liability and a solid affirmative defense for employers. The changes to the anti-discrimination laws that go into effect on April 13, 2021 are summarized as follows:
Mandatory filing of charges with the OCRC prior to suit: To pursue a claim of discrimination in Ohio, employees must first file an administrative charge with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) within two (2) years of the alleged discriminatory act. Employees can file a civil suit only after receiving a Notice of Right to Sue.
An employee may request a Notice of Right to Sue 60 days after filing the initial charge with the OCRC that will allow the employee to file a lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Ohio DOES NOT recognize claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation; however, there are bills pending. As such, any claim must be brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act. There is an exception if the discrimination occurred in certain counties that have local ordinances. For those counties, the filing deadline is extended to 300 days. To error on the side of caution, it is recommended that the 180-day filing mandate be followed for all sexual orientation discrimination cases.
Damages: The new law places caps on non-economic compensatory damages at $250,000 or three times the proven economic damages up to a maximum of $350,000, whichever is greater. It also limits punitive damage awards to twice the amount of allowable compensatory damages.
No Liability for Supervisors or Managers: The new law states that individual supervisors or managers cannot be held personally liable for employment discrimination as long as the supervisor is acting within the course and scope of his/her employment. The new law does not bar claims for tortious conduct outside the scope of employment.
Age Discrimination: The new law treats age discrimination claims the same as any other claim of discrimination by placing the statute of limitations for filing with the OCRC for age-related claims to 2 years.
Employer’s Affirmative Defense: The new law provides employers with a complete defense to harassment claims if an accused employer can demonstrate that (1) the employer exercised reasonable care to prevent or correct a discrimination act from occurring (i.e. policies and procedures against harassment) and, (2) the aggrieved employee failed to comply with those policies and procedures, or the employer responded to the complaints and attended to the alleged harassment.
EEOC Charges: claims must be filed with the EEOC and employees must receive a Notice of Right to Sue prior to filing suit.
Statute of Limitations: 300 days to file with the EEOC for all discrimination claims other than SEXUAL ORIENTATION, which has a 180-day filing deadline.
Attorney Advertising. This information is designed for general information only and the information should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney/client relationship.
Reviewed and edited by Matthew P. Beringer. Esq. - 10/30/19
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