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Minimum Wage Increase and Record Keeping Implementation Passes Legislature

December 20, 2006

Minimum Wage Increase and Record Keeping Implementation Passes Legislature

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The Ohio House formally accepted the Ohio Senate version of HB 690, which implements Ohio’s Fair Minimum Wage Amendment.  The final version has been sent to Governor Taft for his signature.  He is expected to sign the bill today, December 21.  The new legislation will become effective 90 days after the Governor signs it.  Until effective, the broad language of the Amendment applies and, in order to provide the most protection against liability, we recommend:

(a) paying all employees at least $6.85/hour (except those specifically listed otherwise in the Amendment) starting on January 1, 2007;
(b) requiring all employees to record hours worked for each day worked; and
(c) contacting counsel regarding any request for records under the Amendment.

Here is a brief overview of this important new legislation:

(1) Minimum wage is $6.85/hour effective 1/1/07 and future (possible) annual increases are tied to the Consumer Price Index.
(2) Those employees who are currently excluded or exempted from the minimum wage requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (e.g. certain executives, administrators, professionals, IT employees) will also be excluded or exempted from this legislation once it takes effect, and employers will not be required to keep records of their hours worked.
(3) With respect to the records employers are required to maintain, employers must keep those records for three  years from the date the hours were worked and for three years after the date the employee’s employment ends.  Practically, therefore, an employer may have to keep the last three years worth of an employee’s records for an additional three years after that employee’s last day of employment.
(4)  An employee, or person acting on the employee’s behalf, can request the particular employee’s records (but not records of other employees in the company without their express, written authorization).
(5) A “person acting on behalf of an employee” who requests an employee’s records is limited to (a) a certified or legally recognized collective bargaining representative, (b) the employee’s attorney, or (c) the employee’s parent, guardian, or legal custodian.
(6) Employers must provide the requested records in whatever form they maintain them within 30 business days after the employer receives the request, unless a different time period is agreed upon or unless the 30-day period would cause an undue hardship on the employer, in which case the employer must provide the requested records as soon as practicable.
(7) Employers will have an immunity defense for providing records requested under the Legislation.

The proponents of the Amendment have indicated that they intend to challenge the constitutionality of this legislation when it does become effective (or before).  For at least the next several months, therefore, there will be much uncertainty surrounding these issues and employers should continue to stay tuned.

Lawmakers Pass Health Care Mandate Bill

December 15, 2006

Lawmakers Pass Health Care Mandate Bill

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The Ohio House completed its work this week on a health care mandate bill(Senate Bill 116) that would require additional mental health care coverages for all employer-sponsored health insurance plans in Ohio. The OMA adamantly opposed the bill and worked hard to ensure that the message about the the impact of mandates to haelth insurance costs was clear with legislators. Even though the business community has been successfully fighting the implementation of health care mandates for years, other business groups including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce were (supportive/neutral) on the passage of the bill .

“Mandates raise costs, discourage benefit design innovation, hamper Ohio’s competitiveness, and force some employers to drop health care coverage,” OMA’s Kevin Schmidt said in a letter to legislators this week (12/11).   

The advocates of the proposal have argued that the bill contains a 1% opt-out provision allowing employers to opt-out of the additional coverages if their costs increase by more than 1%.

However, this is not how the 1% provision is designed.  Manufacturers may be faced with increases of up to 35% due to the new mandate since the 1% opt-out provision applies to an insurer’s overall costs and not just the individual company. 12/15/06

Related Files:
Letter to Legislators on Mandates
Related Links:
Senate Bill (Mental Health Mandate) Final Passed Version

Attention Ohio Employers: The “NO SMOKING” Sign is Lit

November 20, 2006

Attention Ohio Employers: The “NO SMOKING” Sign is Lit

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On November 7, Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved Issue 5, the ballot initiative to outlaw smoking in most public places in Ohio. What likely was lost on most voters, however, is that Issue 5, at its heart, is an employment law. The law is entitled the “Smoke Free Workplace Act,” and the use of the word “workplace” in the title was not accidental; the stated purpose of the law is to protect workers from the health hazards associated with second hand smoke.

The law enacts a new Section 3794 of the Ohio Revised Code, which will take effect December 7, 2006. Among other things, it states that proprietors of a public place or place of employment must prohibit smoking in all indoor areas and in adjacent locations of ingress or egress; and no individual can refuse to discontinue smoking in those areas when requested by the proprietor or an employee.

The law defines a number of key concepts and definitions. First, smoking is defined as burning, carrying, inhaling or exhaling any lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or other lighted smoking device for burning tobacco or any other plant.

Proprietor is defined as an employer, owner, manager, operator, liquor permit holder, or person in charge or control of a public place or place of employment. Under the law, an employer is any individual or entity that employs or contracts for the services of one or more employees. Unlike other employment laws, which cover companies that meet certain size thresholds (like 4, 15, 100 employees), the Smoke Free Workplace Law covers all employers, regardless of size.

The law’s expansive definition of “proprietor” also covers persons like manager and person in charge. Especially in restaurants, bars and other service businesses, this places the burden of compliance with the law on personnel who could be fairly far down the organizational chart.

A public place is an enclosed area to which the public is invited or permitted. An enclosed area is an area with a roof and at least three walls. A place of employment is an enclosed area under the direct or indirect control of an employer that the employer’s employees use for work or any other purpose; the concept includes spaces such as offices, meeting rooms, sales, production and storage areas, restrooms, warehouses, garages, hallways, stairways and vehicles. In other words, the law prohibits smoking in all indoor areas of the workplace.

The law, however, does not stop at the door to your facility. The prohibition extends to areas under the control of the proprietor immediately adjacent to locations of ingress or egress — which means entrances and exits. Not only does the law push smokers outside, it pushes them away from entrances and exits. The days of the huddle of smokers right outside the door are gone — like it or not, smokers will have to move farther away.

The law does contain several exemptions, such that smoking still may take place in these places: private residences, but not when operating as a day care center or other business; family owned businesses in which all of the employees are related to the owner, but only if the enclosed areas of the place of employment are not open to the public; smoking rooms in hotels/motels; designated smoking areas of nursing homes, except that no employee can be required to work in the designated smoking area; retail tobacco stores, defined as retail establishments which derive 80 percent or more of their revenue from the sale of tobacco; outdoor patios; and private clubs.

The exemption for private clubs is curious — it applies only to clubs that have no employees — meaning most country clubs, athletic clubs, and dining and social clubs would not be within the exemption.

In addition to the complete ban on indoor smoking in any public place or place of employment, the law contains several other mandates. A proprietor or employer must ensure that smoke from areas where smoking is allowed, such as an outdoor patio, does not enter any area where smoking is prohibited. The law also requires “no smoking” signs to be conspicuously posted in every public place and place of employment, including at each entrance. No employer can retaliate against an individual for exercising any right under the law, including reporting a violation. Finally, the owner or operator of an establishment, facility or outdoor area that is not within the law’s ban on smoking may declare that establishment as a nonsmoking place, thereby bringing the place within the law’s power to punish persons who refuse to stop smoking when ordered to do so.

The law will be enforced by the Ohio Department of Health (DOH), or local departments of health designated by the state agency. There are two basic types of violations: (1) proprietor violations, i.e., a proprietor of a public place or place of employment who fails to prohibit smoking; and (2) individual violations, i.e., individuals who refuse to discontinue smoking immediately upon request. For both types of violation, the first offense will result in a warning letter from the DOH. Upon a report of a second and any subsequent offense, the DOH will conduct an investigation, and if it finds a violation, can impose civil fines under a schedule of fines to be set by regulation. In the case of repeat violations, the department may seek an injunction.

The effective date of the law is December 7, 2006. The DOH is promulgating regulations, which are expected to issue in six months. The law likely will not be enforced aggressively prior to the issuance of the regulations; nonetheless, employers should begin planning now to come into compliance on or close to the December 7 effective date. That planning should include — especially in the case of restaurants, bars and other places where smoking has been allowed up until now — training of managers and supervisors on what their obligations are under the law and how to meet those obligations.  Article from Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP

Ohio Increases Minimum Wage and Recordkeeping Burden On Employers

November 20, 2006

Ohio Increases Minimum Wage and Recordkeeping Burden On Employers

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On November 7, voters in Ohio said “yes” to an amendment to the Ohio Constitution that increases the minimum wage, sets the stage for annual “cost-of-living” increases, and grants employees new rights to access certain of their employment records. The new law affects the minimum wage in the following ways:

• Effective January 1, 2007, the Ohio minimum wage will increase from $5.15 to $6.85 per hour.

• On January 1 of each following year, the minimum wage will be increased by the percentage change of the Consumer Price Index for all urban wage earners and clerical workers (the CPI-W) in the year ending on September 30.

Under the new law, employers of the following classes of employees will be permitted to pay less than the established Ohio minimum wage:

• Tipped employees: employees who are paid tips, where the tips and wages combined exceed the established minimum wage, but the hourly wage must be at least 50 percent of the Ohio minimum wage.

• Family Members: family members who are employees in a family owned and operated business.

• The Disabled: individuals with mental or physical disabilities if the employers have a state issued license to do so.

Ohio’s heightened minimum wage will not apply to all Ohio workers. The federal minimum wage, currently at $5.15, still will apply to the following employees:

• Employees under age 16.

• Employees of businesses whose previous year’s gross receipts are $250,000 or less. The gross receipt figure would be adjusted at the same time each year and by the same percentage as would the minimum wage.

The new law also requires employers to maintain a record of the name, address, occupation, pay rate, hours worked each day and each amount paid to an employee. Those records must be obtained for three years. Interestingly, the law makes no distinction between exempt and non-exempt personnel. Despite the federal Wage and Hour law rules, which prohibit tracking worked hours for exempt employees, the new law purports to mandate the tracking of daily hours worked for all personnel.

Perhaps the greatest change brought about by the amendment is the area of records request. Unlike many states, and with the limited exception of medical records, Ohio previously has not had any law granting employees any right to access their personnel records. With respect to the records employers are now required to keep, the new amendment states: “Such information shall be provided without charge to an employee or person acting on behalf of an employee upon request.”

That language in the new amendment is anything but clear, and raises more questions than it answers. Who is a “person acting on behalf of an employee?” That probably includes a lawyer, but does it include a union representative or union organizer? Can the employee, or person acting on his/her behalf seek only his or her own information, or can information for other employees or all employees be requested? Does the employee have a right to take the records off-site? As originals, or copies? Or is the employee merely allowed to review the records and take notes, but not take originals or copies off the employer’s premises? What form must the employee’s request take — written or oral? To whom must it be directed? How long after said request does the employer have to respond? When the employer supplies the records to the state during an investigation, what measures should the employer take to ensure the privacy of employee information? Will such records be exempted from disclosure under Ohio’s Public Records Act? Will “persons acting on behalf ” of an employee be able to gain personal information like home address and pay rates for all personnel at the employer? Hopefully, some or all of these questions will be addressed through legislation or regulations that will implement the amendment.

The new law will be enforced in two ways: filing a complaint with the state, or filing a lawsuit in common pleas court. With respect to the first avenue of relief, an employee, any person acting on behalf of one or more employees, or “any other interested party” may file a complaint with the Ohio Department of Commerce (DOC). The DOC will conduct a prompt investigation, and during that investigation, the employer must provide any records related to the investigation. If the employer is found to have violated the law, the department may award the employee back wages, damages (calculated as an additional two times the back wages), the employee’s costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

As to enforcement through the courts, the state, or an employee or person acting on behalf of an employee may file a lawsuit in the county of the employee’s residence. If the employer is found to have violated the law, the court may award the employee back wages, damages (calculated as an additional two times the back wages), the employee’s costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees. Such a lawsuit shall be filed within three years from the date of the violation, or within one year after final disposition by the DOC of a complaint first filed with the state. There is no requirement that the employee exhaust administrative remedies; thus, filing a complaint with the DOC is not a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit in court.

The amendment includes a non-retaliation provision that prohibits an employer from firing or otherwise discriminating or retaliating against any employee for exercising any right under this law. If the state or a court finds a violation of the anti-retaliation provision of the law, they may award compensatory and punitive damages. The absence of any apparent limits on an employee’s right to request the pay records mandated by the new law, combined with the anti-retaliation provision, could make an employer vulnerable to employees (or their representatives) who abuse the rights granted by the amendment by making frequent records requests solely for the purpose of annoying and inconveniencing the employer.

Prior to November 7, Ohio’s minimum wage law frequently was overlooked by employers and employees. That is all about to change beginning January 1.
Article from First Alert, a publication of  Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP  From Calfee, Halter & Griswold

Avian Flu and the Workplace – Are you Ready? – Part 1

November 15, 2006

Avian Flu and the Workplace – Are you Ready? – Part 1

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Ohio’s New Minimum Wage and Record-Keeping Requirements: What Employers Need to Know

November 15, 2006

Ohio’s New Minimum Wage and Record-Keeping Requirements: What Employers Need to Know

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On November 7, 2006, Ohioans approved a new Amendment to Ohio’s Constitution that (1) raises Ohio’s minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $6.85 per hour; and (2) ties the minimum wage to the rate of inflation based on the consumer price index. The Amendment also imposes new record-keeping and disclosure requirements for the vast majority of employers in Ohio.

The following are basic answers to some initial questions employers should be asking about this Amendment:

I. Effective Date

When does the Amendment become effective?

• The increased minimum wage goes into effect on January 1, 2007.
• The new record-keeping and disclosure requirements appear to become effective once the Amendment is officially certified by the Secretary of State, which could be as soon as early December 2006.
 
II. Record-Keeping Requirements

What are the new record-keeping requirements?

• Employers must maintain records of the following information for nearly all employees:
o – Name,
o – Address,
o – Occupation,
o – Pay rate,
o – Hours worked for each day worked, and
o – Each amount paid to an employee.

Are all employers subject to the new record-keeping requirements?

• Nearly all public and private employers in Ohio, regardless of size, are likely subject to the new Amendment.
• The Amendment also applies to out of- state employers who employ individuals in Ohio.

Are any employees excluded from the Amendment’s record-keeping requirements?

• There are only two limited exceptions to the Amendment’s record-keeping requirements. Employers are not required to maintain the above records for:
o Individuals employed “in or about the property of the employer or individual’s residence on a casual basis;” or
o Employees of a “solely family owned and operated business who are family members of an owner.”

• Certain salaried employees currently exempt by regulation from minimum wage and record-keeping requirements (e.g., executive, administrative, and professional employees) are no longer excluded. Thus, an employer must keep the above records for its upper management, including CEOs.

How long must employers maintain the required records?

• The Amendment requires employers to maintain the above records “for a period of not less than three years following the last date the employee was employed.”
• The Amendment does not appear to contemplate a rolling 3-year period such as the Fair Labor Standards Act. Thus, employers may have to maintain such records for an employee’s entire period of employment and then keep those records for 3 years following the employee’s termination.

Does an employer have to create records for any time period prior to the Amendment’s effective date?

• No. The Amendment is prospective in nature.
What information must employers disclose upon request?
• Upon request, employers are required to provide, without charge, an employee’s name, address, occupation, pay rate, hours worked for each day worked, and each amount paid to an employee.
To whom must employers disclose requested information?
• Employers must provide the information listed above to a requesting employee or person acting on behalf of an employee.
o It is not clear whether the disclosure pertains only to the wage information specific to the person making the request or whether an employee can obtain coworker information as well (even without authorization from that coworker).

What other information must employers provide to employees?

• At the time of hire, an employer must provide an employee with the employer’s name, address, telephone number, and other contact information.
• Employers must update such information when it changes.

What protections are afforded an employee asking for information under the Amendment?

• The Amendment prohibits employers from terminating or otherwise discriminating or retaliating against an employee who exercises any right under the Amendment.
 
III. New Minimum Wage

Which employers must pay the new minimum wage?

• Nearly all public and private employers in Ohio, regardless of size, are likely subject to the new Amendment.
o The Amendment also appears to apply to out-of-state employers who employ individuals in Ohio.
o Limited Exception: Employers with annual gross receipts of $250,000 or less are exempt from paying the $6.85 per hour minimum wage, but they must still pay the federal minimum wage, which is currently $5.15 per hour.

What is the new minimum wage?

• Effective January 1, 2007, Ohio’s minimum wage is $6.85 per hour.
• Each year thereafter, the minimum wage will increase based on the rate of inflation according to the consumer price index.

Which employees are eligible for the new minimum wage?

• “Employees” is defined broadly to include many individuals previously exempt from minimum wage requirements (e.g., salaried executive, administrative, and professional employees, outside sales employees, the newspaper delivery boy or girl, domestic service/companionship employees, and possibly many others).

• Limited Exceptions:

o Employees Employed on a Casual Basis— Individuals employed “in or about the property of the employer or individual’s residence on a casual basis” are excluded from the minimum wage requirements.
o Family Business Employees—Employees of a “solely family-owned and operated business who are family members of an owner” are excluded from the new minimum wage.
o Employees under 16 years of age—Employees under 16 years of age are excluded from the new minimum wage but must still be paid the federal minimum wage, which is currently $5.15 per hour.
o Tipped Employees—Employees who receive tips may be paid as low as $3.43 per hour (½ the new minimum wage), so long as the aggregate of the tips and wage paid is equal to or greater than the minimum wage rate for all hours worked.
o Mentally or Physically Challenged Employees—Employees with mental or physical disabilities may be licensed by the State to work below the new minimum wage if the new wage would otherwise adversely impact their employment.

IV. Enforcement.

How are alleged violations of the Amendment enforced?

• Complaints to the State: An employee, a person acting on behalf of one or more employees and/or any other interested party may file a complaint with the state for a violation of any provision of the Amendment or any law or regulation implementing the Amendment.
• State Initiated Investigations: The state may on its own initiative investigate an employer’s compliance with the Amendment and any law or regulation implementing its provisions.

• Civil Actions: The attorney general, and/or an employee or a person acting on behalf of an employee or all similarly situated employees, may bring a court action for equitable and monetary relief against an employer.

 What remedies are available to employees aggrieved under the Amendment?

• Where an employer is found by the state or a court to have violated any provision of the Amendment, the employer must pay the employee (1) back wages, (2) damages, and (3) the employee’s costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.

• “Damages” are to be calculated as an additional two times the amount of back wages.

• In the case of a violation of the Amendment’s anti-retaliation provision, an employee may recover $150 for each day that the violation continued, or a greater amount as the state or a court determines is sufficient to compensate the employee and deter future violations.

• An employer is required to make such remedy payment(s) within 30 days of the finding by the state or a court.

• Such payment will not be stayed pending any appeal by the employer.

The foregoing overview discusses the most significant changes imposed by the new Amendment to Ohio’s Constitution. For a further discussion of the Amendment’s potential impact, see our earlier client bulletin entitled, “More on the Proposed Ohio Fair Minimum Wage Amendment: A closer look at the fine print.”

Given the Amendment’s general language, it is anticipated that the Ohio Legislature will be implementing laws to clarify the Amendment. In the meantime, however, employers should consult with legal counsel about how the Amendment will impact them. In particular, employers should seek guidance before responding to requests for information under this Amendment.

If you have any questions about the new Amendment, or any other employment matter, please contact a member of the Employment Law or Government Relations Group.

This document has been prepared as a general reference document for informational purposes. The information contained herein is not intended to be and should not be construed as legal advice. Each circumstance should be considered and evaluated separately, and possibly with involvement of legal counsel.   Article from Employment Client Bulletin a publication of  Bricker & Eckler LLP.  From Bricker & Eckler LLP

Ohio’s Smoke Free Workplace Act: What Businesses Need to Know

November 11, 2006

Ohio’s Smoke Free Workplace Act: What Businesses Need to Know

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On November 7, 2006, Ohio voters enacted a law to ban smoking in public places by approving the SmokeFree Workplace Act. The measure establishes a statewide smoking ban that applies to almost every public place with a few exceptions for places such as family owned and operated businesses, retail tobacco stores, outdoor patios, private homes and cars, among others.

The SmokeFree Workplace Act goes into effect on December 8, 2006. Although rules detailing the ban and enforcement of it will be issued by the Ohio Department of Health within six months, Ohio businesses should be prepared to start implementing the new law on December 8, 2006. This bulletin provides some basic information about the new law and answers some of the most frequently asked questions.

Where will smoking be banned?
 
The statewide ban prohibits a proprietor of a public place or place of employment from permitting smoking in enclosed areas directly or indirectly under the control of the proprietor and areas immediately adjacent to locations of ingress or egress to the public place or place of employment.

The term “enclosed area” is defined as “an area with a roof or other overhead covering of any kind and walls or side coverings of any kind, regardless of the presence of openings for ingress and egress, on all sides or on all sides but one.” This includes outdoor areas of a public place or place of employment, excluding an outdoor patio.

A “public place” is an enclosed area to which the public is invited or permitted.

The term “places of employment” is defined as “an enclosed area under the direct or indirect control of an employer that the employer’s employees use for work or any other purpose, including but not limited to offices, meeting rooms, sales, production and storage areas, restrooms, stairways, hallways, warehouses, garages, and vehicles.”

Are there any exceptions?

Exceptions include:

• private residences, except during hours of operation as a child care or adult care facility for compensation;
• designated rooms in hotels and motels, except that no more than 20% of sleeping rooms may be designated as smoking rooms;
• separately enclosed areas within nursing homes;
• retail tobacco stores under certain conditions;
• physically separated outdoor patios;
• certain not-for-profit, private clubs under specific circumstances;
• the burning of incense in a religious ceremony;
• family-owned and operated businesses.
 
Can I have a separate smoking room within my building?

No. The SmokeFree Workplace Act bans smoking in all enclosed areas of a public place or place of employment, except for specified exempted areas.

Does the new law require me to allow smoking in the unenclosed areas on my property?

No. An owner, operator or manager may declare an entire facility or area nonsmoking, even if smoking would be prohibited in such area if smoking would otherwise be permitted in the area. Signs prohibiting smoking in those areas must be posted.

Do I need to ban smoking in my company-owned vehicles?

Yes. Smoking is prohibited in all “places of employment,” defined as “an enclosed area under the direct or indirect control of an employer.” The examples listed in that definition specifically include an employer- owned vehicle.

What is a family owned business?

The SmokeFree Workplace Act permits smoking in family-owned and operated places of employment, which is defined as a business in which “all employees are related to the owner.” However, smoking is only permitted in such facilities if (1) the enclosed area of the place of employment is not open to the public, (2) is in a free standing structure occupied solely by the place of employment, and (3) smoke from the place of employment does not migrate into an enclosed area where smoking is prohibited.

What will Ohio businesses need to do to comply with the SmokeFree Workplace laws?

Once the new law goes into effect, Ohio places of employment and public places will need to prohibit smoking as outlined above. In addition, they must:

• Post “No Smoking” signs in public areas;
• Remove all ashtrays from any area where smoking is prohibited;
• Take steps to ensure that tobacco smoke does not enter enclosed areas through doors, windows, ventilation systems or other means.

Do businesses need to do anything before December 8, 2006?
Business establishments may begin planning for implementation of the new laws by reviewing existing company policies on smoking and revising them as necessary. Companies may also wish to notify employees about the pending changes as soon as possible to make implementation smoother.

What are the penalties for violating the SmokeFree Workplace Act?

The first violation of the smoking ban would draw a warning letter. Subsequent violations within a two year period could draw a fine ranging from $100 to $2,500 against a proprietor and up to $100 against an individual for each violation. Each day of violation is a separate offence. There are no criminal penalties.

How are alleged violations of the statewide smoking ban enforced?
 
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is responsible for establishing a system for receiving reports about violations, defining its investigatory duties, and beginning to enforce civil penalties for violations of the smoking ban. ODH has six months after December 8, 2006 to develop regulatory provisions to help proprietors and individuals comply with the statewide smoking ban.

Every proprietor or individual is entitled an opportunity to present in writing any statement or evidence or request a hearing pursuant to Chapter 119 of the Ohio Revised Code to contest a report of violating the statewide smoking ban. Any proprietor or individual against whom a finding of a violation is made may appeal the finding to a court of proper jurisdiction.

For more information regarding the new law, and how it could help your business, please contact Betsy A. Swift at 614.227.8850 or bswift@bricker.com, Jim Petrie at 614.227.2373 or jpetrie@bricker.com, Maria J. Armstrong at 614.227.8821 or marmstrong@bricker.com, or Oyango A Snell at 614.227.2349 or at osnell@bricker.com.

This document has been prepared as a general reference document for informational purposes. The information contained herein is not intended to be and should not be construed as legal advice. Each circumstance should be considered and evaluated separately, and possibly with involvement of legal counsel.  Article from Bricker & Eckler Bulletin.  From Bricker & Eckler LLP

Ohio and U.S. Employment Situation

October 27, 2006

Ohio and U.S. Employment Situation

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News Release
Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
30 E. Broad Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215-3414

Bob Taft
Governor 
Barbara Riley
Director 

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 24, 2006

Ohio and U.S. Employment Situation (Seasonally Adjusted)

Ohio’s unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in September, down from 5.7 percent in August, according to data released this morning by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Ohio’s nonfarm wage and salary employment decreased 2,500 over the month, from 5,457,000 in August, to 5,454,500 in September.

“The decline in unemployment was due primarily to individuals leaving the labor force and returning to school in September,” said ODJFS Director Barbara Riley.

The number of workers unemployed in Ohio in September was 316,000, down from 341,000 in August. The number of unemployed has decreased by 32,000 in the past 12 months from 348,000. The September unemployment rate for Ohio was down from 5.9 percent in September 2005.

The U.S. unemployment rate for September was 4.6 percent, down slightly from August.

Total Nonagricultural Wage and Salary Employment (Seasonally Adjusted)

Ohio’s nonfarm payroll employment fell 2,500 over the month, from 5,457,000 in August to 5,454,500 in September, according to the latest business establishment survey conducted by ODJFS.

Service-providing industries, at 4,403,100, were down 4,800 from August. The largest decline occurred in government (-3,800). Decreases also occurred in trade, transportation, and utilities ( 3,400), other services (-1,700), educational and health services (-700), and financial activities ( 300). Leisure and hospitality advanced 2,700 over the month. Professional and business services rose 1,800, while information added 600 jobs. Goods-producing industries rose 2,300 to 1,051,400. Gains occurred in manufacturing (+1,600), construction (+600), and natural resources and mining (+100).

Over the past 12 months, nonagricultural wage and salary employment rose 17,700. Service-providing industries were up 21,300 from September 2005. Notable increases were seen in leisure and hospitality (+11,600), educational and health services (+9,800), and professional and business services (+9,300). Also up were financial activities (+600) and government (+500). Trade, transportation, and utilities dropped 9,300. Information was down 800, while other services slipped 400. Goods-producing industries fell 3,600 over the year. Declines of 6,100 in manufacturing and 800 in natural resources and mining were partially offset by a gain of 3,300 in construction.

Ohio County Unemployment Rates (Not Seasonally Adjusted)

Among the state’s 88 counties, the September 2006 unemployment rates ranged from a low of 3.3 percent in Delaware County to a high of 9.0 percent in Monroe County. Rates decreased in 85 of the counties. The comparable not seasonally adjusted rate for Ohio in September was 5.0 percent.

Seven counties had unemployment rates at or below 4.0 percent in September. The counties with the lowest rates, other than Delaware, were: Mercer, 3.5; Holmes, 3.6; Auglaize and Geauga, 3.8; Shelby, 3.9; and Union, 4.0 percent.

Seven counties had unemployment rates above 6.5 percent during September. The counties with the highest rates, other than Monroe, were: Meigs, 7.9; Pike, 7.6; Morgan, 7.2; Scioto, 6.9; and Jackson and Vinton, 6.8 percent.

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For more information contact ODJFS Communications, (614) 466-6650.

EDITOR’S NOTE: All data cited are produced in cooperation with the U. S. Department of Labor. Data sources include Current Population Survey (U.S. data); Current Employment Statistics Program (nonagricultural wage and salary employment data); and Local Area Unemployment Statistics Program (Ohio unemployment rates). More complete listings of the data appear in the monthly Ohio Labor Market Review. Unemployment rates for all Ohio counties as well as cities with populations of 50,000 or more are presented in the monthly ODJFS Civilian Labor Force Estimates publication. Updated statewide historical data may be obtained by contacting the Bureau of Labor Market Information at (614) 752-9494.

A calendar of 2006 release dates is available at http://lmi.state.oh.us under “Labor Force, Employment & Unemployment – Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS).” October unemployment rates and nonagricultural wage and salary data will be released by ODJFS on Tuesday, November 21, 2006. This information and the monthly statistical summaries it is based on are also available at http://jfs.ohio.gov/releases.

Choose this link to view the table on the Ohio and U.S. Employment Situation. 
Choose this link to view the table for the Nonagricultural Wage and Salary Employment Estimates for Ohio.  
To view the county unemployment rates in Ohio, please choose one of the following links:
Table of county unemployment rates.  
Color map of county unemployment rates.  
Grayscale map of county unemployment rates.
 

Dems Respond to DeWine Ad, Start War of Words

October 20, 2006

Dems Respond to DeWine Ad, Start War of Words

Homepage » Communities » Human Resources Management » Archive » 2006 » Dems Respond to DeWine Ad, Start War of Words

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The negative advertising in the U.S. Senate race is going full force with nearly four months to go to the election.

The Ohio Democratic Party unveiled its response to a recent ad by U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine that attacked his opponent, U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown, for being “weak on national security.”

The new ad criticizes DeWine for using 9/11 images in his advertisement and tries to paint him as being weak on security.

The party also put out a statement criticizing DeWine for his negative ad, saying negative campaigning is not new to DeWine and highlighting a series of ads he ran against former U.S. Sen. John Glenn when he ran in 1992.

“Mike DeWine should be ashamed of exploiting the hallowed ground of 9/11 for his partisan purposes,” said party Chair Chris Redfern in a statement. “When you look at his own voting record, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, his exploitation of 9/11 and attacks on Sherrod Brown show how out of touch he really is with his own responsibility for homeland security issues.”

The Ohio Republican Party responded by releasing excerpts of media stories about Brown’s voting record on national security.

“The Democrats are trying to paint over a rusty bucket,” Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett said in a statement. “Sherrod Brown can gloss over his pathetic record on national security, but the truth will eventually eat its way through. Brown has done more to leave our country vulnerable to terrorism than nearly anyone in the U.S. House. Anyone who looks at his record on national security knows it’s toxic, even his fellow Democrats.”

The preceding article is an excerpt from The Hannah Report, Ohio’s daily legislative newsletter providing independent, timely and comprehensive coverage of state government. For more information, please contact Hannah News Service at 614.228.3113.  From Hannah News Service

Strickland’s Running Mate Criticizes Blackwell Turnpike Plan

October 20, 2006

Strickland’s Running Mate Criticizes Blackwell Turnpike Plan

Homepage » Communities » Human Resources Management » Archive » 2006 » Strickland’s Running Mate Criticizes Blackwell Turnpike Plan

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Over the past few days Ted Strickland’s campaign has been targeting gubernatorial opponent Ken Blackwell’s plan to lease the Ohio Turnpike for criticism.

Strickland’s running mate Lee Fisher issued press releases this week highlighting a study and media reports that found tolls on privatized roads have increased.

“Expert analysis of other toll-road privatization schemes confirm what we’ve feared all along — leasing off our Turnpike will increase tolls, plain and simple,” Fisher said. “Selling off one of our state’s most valuable assets that was built by Ohioans and has been run by Ohioans to a foreign company and tying our hands for the next 99 years is incredibly short-sighted. It’s just one more of Mr. Blackwell’s quick-fix, short-sighted political gimmicks.”

Fisher cited stories from the Houston Chronicle, which said privatization studies in Harris County found officials would have to give up control of toll prices if an 83-mile toll system were privatized, and from a Toronto Star story in which officials said a privatized highway had become “a privately run vacuum cleaner for sucking money out of commuters’ pockets.”

Fisher also noted that truckers left the Ohio Turnpike and were traveling on local roads to avoid high tolls.

The preceding article is an excerpt from The Hannah Report, Ohio’s daily legislative newsletter providing independent, timely and comprehensive coverage of state government. For more information, please contact Hannah News Service at 614.228.3113.  From Hannah News Service