Work it Out Blog

Ohio Legislators Fight for Employer’s Rights

Feb 10, 2016

Saving more and spending less was the 5th most popular New Year’s resolution in 2016 according to ABC News. It seems our Ohio State legislators may have resolved to reduce their debt and make Ohio a more business friendly state in 2016. After returning from their holiday break a number of our state legislators initiated efforts to protect employers and encourage other businesses to operate in Ohio. Separate bills overhauling Ohio’s unemployment compensation system and the state’s employment discrimination laws are currently pending in the Ohio General Assembly.   If passed, both laws could have significant impacts on Ohio employers.

House Bill 394 seeks to restructure the state’s unemployment compensation system.  The bill stems from money borrowed by the state from the federal government during the Great Recession.  At one point, Ohio owed $1.6 billion but that sum is now down to $775 million.

According to the sponsor of HB 394, Rep Barbara Sears of Maumee, the bill seeks to make the unemployment compensation system fiscally sound and avoid the necessity of borrowing in the future.  Among other things, the bill would increase the taxable wage base for paying unemployment taxes from $9,000 to $11,000 until the fund is solvent and meets a “minimum safe level.”  It is estimated that this would occur in approximately 2025.  Additionally, if the fund is at or below 50% of the minimum safe level, the maximum weekly unemployment benefit will be frozen at the prior year’s level.  Finally, the bill would reduce the maximum number of weeks for receipt of benefits from 26 weeks to a range of 12 to 20 weeks, depending on the unemployment rate at the time.

The second significant piece of legislation is Senate Bill 268, introduced by Senator Bill Seitz of Cincinnati.  SB 268 seeks to change Ohio’s employment discrimination laws and eliminate discrepancies between Ohio and federal law.  The bill would address unique aspects of Ohio’s employment discrimination laws by establishing a 1-year statute of limitations on all employment discrimination claims, eliminating individual liability for managers and supervisors, and capping non-economic and punitive damages based on the size of the employer. 

While, if passed, this news is great news for employers, of course there are a number of opponents. Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to follow the progress of both bills and other legislation affecting employers in future editions of this newsletter.

The content of this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice for any purpose. This blog is not intended to present an exhaustive summary of all applicable laws, or to take the place of legal advice.  If you have any questions regarding the law, please contact us for assistance.