With election day fast approaching, Ohio employers should take time to familiarize themselves with Ohio's various voting leave requirements and other prohibitions on employer conduct.
The most important requirement is that an Ohio employer cannot discharge or threaten to discharge an employee for taking a reasonable amount of time to vote on election day. The law does not define what constitutes a "reasonable amount of time." Furthermore, although the statute itself does not specify whether the time off is paid, the Ohio Attorney General has stated that an employer does not have to pay hourly employees for time off to vote, but it cannot deduct hours from a salaried employee's pay.
Additionally, under R.C. Section 3599.06, an employer cannot:
require or order an employee to accompany the employer to a voting place on election day;
refuse to permit an employee from serving as an election official on any registration or election day; or
indirectly use force or restraint, of threaten to inflict any injury, harm, or loss, or in any other manner practice intimidation in order to induce or compel an employee to vote or refrain from voting for or against any person, question, or issue submitted to the voters.
A violation of R.C. Section 3599.06 carries with it a fine between $50.00 and $500.00 (and could also result in a wrongful termination lawsuit if an employee were terminated in violation of the statute).
R.C. Section 3599.05 provides further prohibitions on an employer's ability to influence the political opinions of its employees. Under that section, an employer cannot:
print or authorize to be printed upon any pay envelopes any statements intended or calculated to influence the political action of its employees; or
post or exhibit in or about the workplace any posters, placards, or hand bills containing any threat, notice, or information that if any particular candidate is elected or defeated that work will cease in whole or in part, or other threats, expressed or implied, intended to influence the political opinions or votes of its employees.
A violation of R.C. Section 3599.05 carries with it a fine between $500.00 and $1,000.00.
Employers with questions are advised to consult with their legal counsel regarding specific questions or concerns. If you have any questions, or need assistance, please feel free to contact Jeremy D. Iosue or Jason T. Hartzell at (216) 651-0451.
This Employment Law Alert may provide an overview of specific federal and/or state laws and regulations. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular situation or individual.
Copyright © 2020 Stefanik Iosue & Associates, LLC. All rights reserved.