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Bill Seeks to Overhaul Employment Discrimination Laws

2.19.16

The article “Bill Seeks to Overhaul Employment Discrimination Laws,” featured in Akron Legal News, discussed a newly introduced bill, Senate Bill 268, which the Ohio Chamber of Commerce argues contains changes that will result in state law being more closely aligned with federal rules.

Sarah Moore provided her take on the new bill.

She said the bill focuses on three main changes: It places “more meaningful” caps on punitive and non-economic damages, reduces the time that an employee has to file a claim from six years to one year and keeps individual supervisors from being named as defendants.

“The proposed changes are very positive from a business perspective,” said Sarah. “If the bill passes as introduced, damages will be limited to between $50,000 and $300,000 depending upon the size of the company.

“As things stand now, there are no caps in place, other than limits imposed by Ohio’s Tort Reform Act,” said stated. “As a result, a business can potentially be hit with a six or seven-figure verdict. Depending on the size of the company, this can have a crippling impact.

“Plaintiffs who file federal discrimination lawsuits are held to a one-year statute of limitations so this change would align Ohio with federal law,” said Sarah.

She said excluding individual supervisors from being named in discrimination lawsuits helps to eliminate finger pointing among multiple defendants, which assists in keeping the focus on defending the specific allegations.

“Right now, individual supervisors can be held personally liable,” said noted. “If the bill passes only the company will be a named defendant in the suit.”

Sarah said she expects that there will be a number of amendments to the current Senate Bill 268.

“One area to watch is whether sexual orientation and transgender will be dealt with,” said Sarah. “Under Ohio law sexual orientation and transgender are not a protected class.  At the federal level, some courts have allowed discrimination cases based on sexual orientation or transgender status, while others do not. It is an area of the law that is quickly evolving.”

To read the full article, please visit Akron Legal News.

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