U.S. Senate Passes “ENDA”
On November 7, 2013, and by a bipartisan vote of 64 to 32, the U.S. Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 (ENDA). If enacted, this law would amend Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by including in its protections a prohibition against employment decisions based upon a person’s “sexual orientation or gender identity.” The bill defines sexual orientation as heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality. Gender identity is defined as “. . . gender related identity, appearance, mannerisms, or other gender related characteristics of an individual without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.”
This legislation has been introduced many times over the past decades, but was last voted on in 1996, at which time it failed to pass by a single vote. It now proceeds to the U.S. House of Representatives, where House Speaker Boehner has indicated his strong opposition.
Regardless of the ultimate success or failure of ENDA in Congress, Ohio employers should be aware that a very similar bill is working its way through the General Assembly in Columbus. Although employment related decisions that take into account a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity are not currently unlawful in Ohio, the day when such decisions will become unlawful appears to be approaching. We will continue to keep our clients advised as new developments in this area happen.
Mark your calendars for our upcoming Workers’ Compensation Seminar on March 6, 2014! Don’t Miss it!
OSHA Proposes New Rule To Publish Injury And Illness Data Online
On November 7, 2013, OSHA announced a proposed rule which, for the first time, will require employers to submit electronically injury and illness data currently recorded on OSHA Forms 300, 301 and 300A. If adopted, the rule would require employers with 250 or more employees to submit this information quarterly, and employers with 20 or more employees to submit the information annually. This information, minus the injured employees’ name and identifying information, will be made available to the general public.
OSHA claims that the reasons for requiring this reporting is to improve safer workplaces and better compliance with safety regulations, and will allow access to timely, establishment specific, injury and illness information. However, it seems unlikely that a significant reason for the proposed rule is to highlight good employer safety performance, because every employer already supports efforts to improve safety in the workplace. The main concern with the proposed rule is balancing the value of a better database for OSHA to more efficiently use its limited resources for safety enforcement against potential abuse and mischief presented by easy access to previously private data. Employers have until February 6, 2014 to submit written comments on the proposed rule. Please feel free to contact our office with any questions or concerns.