House Bill 352 slashes statute of limitations for employment discrimination claims and
requires plaintiffs to exhaust administrative remedies.
In January, Governor DeWine signed House Bill 352 into law. The Employment Law Uniformity Act, as the Bill is known, brings several changes to the way employment discrimination claims will be handled in Ohio.
Chief amongst the changes implemented by House Bill 352 is a shorter statute of limitations for workplace discrimination claims. The time period to file a workplace discrimination claim, which now expressly encompasses age-based discrimination, has been lowered from six years to two years. Consequently, plaintiffs now have substantially less time to file a workplace discrimination before their claims are barred.
Additionally, H.B. 352 imposes a strict requirement on workplace discrimination plaintiffs to exhaust administrative remedies before they may initiate a legal action. Prior to bringing a civil action, plaintiffs must now file a claim with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC). Plaintiffs may not initiate a civil action until OCRC has issued a right-to-sue letter.
Furthermore, the Bill codifies an affirmative defense to hostile work environment claims for employers. The affirmative defense is available to employers who can demonstrate that they exercised reasonable care to prevent or promptly correct the harassing behavior, and the plaintiff unreasonably failed to avail themselves of any preventative or corrective opportunities provided by the employer to otherwise avoid harm.
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