Best Ways to Prevent Individual Liability for Ohio Discrimination Claims
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In 2021, Ohio passed the Employment Law Uniformity Act (“Act”) with the goal of better aligning Ohio’s discrimination laws with federal laws such as Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). One of the biggest shifts to come from the Act was the change regarding personal liability for managers and supervisors.

Prior to the Act, managers and supervisors could be held personally liable for damages if a jury decided to side with the employee on claims brought under Ohio law. Essentially, managers and supervisors could be on the hook for paying monetary damages out-of-pocket, rather than the employer. The Act revised Ohio law by replacing supervisor liability with individual liability for any person who aids, abets, incites, compels, or coerces discriminatory conduct. It is important to note this change was not written to function as a “catch-all” provision. Individuals must actively participate in the alleged discriminatory action to be found liable. However, this change does provide an avenue that anyone, including the employee’s coworkers, can be found personally liable. Individual liability is not limited to management.

Recently, we have seen an uptick in disgruntled employees naming individuals to bolster claims that their employer, or former employer, was engaging in unlawful practices. The best way to avoid these claims is to train your employees, particularly your managers and supervisors, on proper workplace conduct and procedures. You may have applicable policies in place, but if your supervisors are not trained on how to implement those policies, it is as if the policies do not exist. Bricker Graydon’s Labor & Employment team offers the following trainings to bring your staff up to date:

  • HR 101: Reviews employment law basics and teaches companies how to spot issues. Topics include: conducting annual reviews, what can and cannot be asked in an interview, how to properly hire and fire employees, and proper documentation procedures for personnel files.
  • Anti-Harassment/Anti-Discrimination Training: Training for managers and employees on appropriate workplace behavior. Training also includes reviewing procedures when a report of harassment or discrimination is made.
  • Managing Employee Leaves: Discusses common leaves of absence, such as ADA accommodations and the interactive process, FMLA leave, Workers’ Compensation, state required sick leave, administrative leave, employer provided leave and vacation or PTO time, and more.
  • FLSA: Covers the importance of understanding minimum wage, the overtime rule, “exempt” vs. “non-exempt” status, employee vs. independent contractor status, and more.
  • Hot Topics: Features updates on subjects such as Supreme Court decisions, annual employment law year-in-review, and EEOC guidelines. Our team has given several reviews of the upcoming implementation of the FTC's ban on non-compete clauses.
  • Labor Relations 101: Highlights the best practices for employers and supervisors to avoid committing unfair labor practices during union campaigns and collective bargaining.
  • Handbook Review: In addition to updating to your company’s handbook, we provide handbook training sessions to ensure your staff is aware of company polices and understands how to implement them.
  • Workers’ Compensation: Our team offers training over various workers’ compensation topics, including, effective use of post-accident drug testing, investigating and defending workers’ compensation claims, light duty job offers and transitional return to work programs, and controlling workers’ compensation costs.

We are also available to tailor training to the needs of your company, including creating new trainings that are customized to address your company’s specific workforce needs or any potential blind spots. For more information, contact Bricker Graydon’s Labor and Employment team today.

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