Employment Laws | State Legislation | Ohio CPA Firm | Rea CPA

Employment Laws Under The Microscope

Pending Legislation | Employment Practices | Ohio CPA Firm
Late last year Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 199, banning employer policies prohibiting concealed handgun license holders from keeping firearms and ammunition in their vehicles while on their employers’ premises. Read on to learn what this means for your business among a handful of other legislation to consider.

Ohio’s Senate and Congressional leaders are in the process of considering legislation that would alter the state’s employment and labor law landscape. This article will provide you with a better idea about what issues are coming down the pike and how changes will impact your current employment practices.

Department of Labor Overtime Ruling Status Still Pending

Last year, the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Overtime Extension Rule made a lot of headlines. And while the topic isn’t currently making waves, you can be sure that it’s still a major topic of conversation among legislators.

During the June 7 appropriations hearing, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta announced that the DOL will submit a request for information (RFI) to help determine the department’s next steps with regard to the proposed overtime extension rule. The rule, which was postponed by a federal court judge 10 days before it was set to go into effect late last year, was on track to more than double the current overtime exemption threshold and would have forced employers to make hard choices with regard to employee wages.

After all requested information has been gathered and processed, Acosta says he will decide whether to appeal the federal judge’s decision to halt enactment of the new overtime rule.

Read Also: Gone But Not Forgotten

Ohio’s Gun Law

Late last year Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 199, banning employer policies prohibiting concealed handgun license (CHL) holders from keeping firearms and ammunition in their vehicles while on their employers’ premises. The law, often referred to as the “parking lot carry law,” also extends regulatory authority over firearms and ammunition, to colleges and universities – a provision that didn’t previously exist.

The legislation states that, as of March 21, it’s now illegal for private employers to establish, maintain or enforce a policy or rule prohibiting, or has the effect of prohibiting, a valid CHL holder from transporting or storing firearms in a personal vehicle on the employer’s premises (including colleges and universities) when the following requirements are met:

  • The CHL holder remains inside the vehicle with the firearm and ammunition or the CHL holder locks the firearm and ammunition in an enclosed compartment or container within or on the personal vehicle when he or she leaves the vehicle.
  • The vehicle is in a location where it is otherwise permitted to be.

The law also gives private employers immunity from civil liability for damages, injuries or death brought about by another person’s actions involving a firearm or ammunition transported and stored in a personal vehicle and from theft of a firearm from the personal vehicle, unless the employer intentionally solicited or procured the injurious action.

Pending Legislation to Consider

While the following legislation is pending, employers should be aware of the following bills and how they could impact existing employment practices.

Employment Law Uniformity Act

  • The purpose of House Bill 2 is to bring Ohio’s discrimination laws relating to employment in
    line with Title VII, which bans employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. This particular bill would:

    • Limit the definition of an employer by excluding any persons acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer
    • Prohibit claimants from pursuing lawsuits and Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) charges related to unlawful discriminatory practices relating to employment.
    • Limit the time in which lawsuits related to discrimination in the workplace could be brought under the law to one year.
    • Prescribe an affirmative defense to liability for employers resulting from an alleged unlawful discriminatory practices related to employment.
    • Specify that remedies for unlawful discriminatory practice in employment included in the Ohio Civil Rights law are the sole remedies for aggrieved individuals.
    • Consolidates age discrimination lawsuits under the Ohio Civil Rights Law ensuring that age is treated similar to other protected classes.

House Bill 335

This bill would effectively extend many of the OCRC’s existing prohibitions against various unlawful discriminatory practices to also apply to discriminatory practices on the basis of “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.” Employers impacted by this legislation include businesses in the private sector with 15 or more employees, public sector employers and anyone acting directly or indirectly in the interest of such an employer. Additionally, the bill:

  • Replaces the term “sex” with the term “gender” in OCRC law and other provisions.
  • Creates an exemption for certain religious groups or religion-related activities.
  • Adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of covered characteristics specified in various provisions of current law outside of the OCRC law that already prohibit discrimination on the basis of most covered characteristics and requires certain documents to indicate the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to these lists.

Senate Bill 100

Similar to HB335, Senate Bill 100 seeks to expand the definition of protected classes and employment procedures within Title VII of federal employment law to include sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

Senate Bill 49

If passed, Senate Bill 49 would prohibit Ohio employers from asking job applicants whether they’ve plead guilty to or been convicted of a felony. That being said, employers will still be able to conduct criminal reference checks as part of their application process if otherwise permitted by law.

Our job, as trusted advisors, is to provide you with the information you need to effectively manage your business. Therefore, if you have any questions related to the legislation outlined above or any other regulatory challenges, let us know. Our team of industry professionals is always happy to help point you in the right direction.

By Renee West, PHR, SHRM-CP (New Philadelphia office) 

Check out these resources to learn more about current regulatory challenges and some possible solutions:

Podcast | The New Overtime Exemption Rule: Crippling Companies’ Ability To Hire

The Future Of Overtime Compensation

New Law Gives Small Employers Another Healthcare Option