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Navigating Ohio’s Municipal Employment Laws

by | May 15, 2024 | Employment Law

Employers and lawyers spend a lot of time focusing on state and federal employment laws. Still, we often forget that counties and municipalities also have employment laws that may impose different or additional business requirements. This is true in all states and is illustrated by several examples in Ohio.

Cleveland’s Wage Theft and Payroll Fraud Prevention Ordinance (WTPFP) disqualifies “any person or entity” from contracting with Cleveland that has practiced wage theft and/or committed payroll fraud in the last three years. Among its requirements, the WTPFP establishes that any wage-related claim, state or federal, that results in an adverse determination against an employer precludes the employer from contracting with the city. The WTPFP appears to include fairly inconsequential and/or technical violations of state and federal wage and hour statutes.  Cuyahoga County has passed similar legislation, granting the county authority to bar employers for up to five years for wage and hour violations. It also requires every contract receiving more than $10,000 in county funds to complete ethics training on wage theft.

The City of Dayton has adopted its “Living Wages” Ordinance, requiring employers doing business with the city to pay hourly wages equivalent to either 100% or 120% of the federal poverty level for a family of four, depending on whether the employee is eligible to receive single coverage health care benefits.

Columbus, Cincinnati, and Toledo have “salary history bans” designed to prevent pay discrimination. These ordinances generally prohibit pre-employment inquiry into salary history when making hiring decisions. All three municipalities’ ordinances apply to employers with fifteen or more employees in the city. Columbus also prohibits employers from relying solely on salary history when setting pay, benefits, or other compensation, except under specific and limited circumstances.

There are several takeaways here. First, inadvertent failure to comply with local employment laws can result in lost business and litigation. Second, the choice of law provisions should be carefully considered when drafting employment contracts, especially for remote workers who may live in—or move to—communities with such ordinances. Third, employment handbooks and manuals should be drafted to comply with applicable local requirements.

Contact Max Dehn, Madilyn Maruna, or Milica Prica with your employment questions at 216-621-7860.

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