COLUMBUS, Ohio—Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday signed two bills: one setting up state regulations for electric scooters, the other reducing the amount of time people have to file employment discrimination lawsuits.
House Bill 295, which passed the Ohio legislature with little opposition, is a compromise reached between scooter rental companies such as Bird and local governments. Under the new law, scooters can be used on bicycle paths and lanes, though local governments and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources have the power to regulate their use.
The law, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Jim Hoops of Napoleon, sets a statewide 20 mile-per-hour speed limit for scooters, and riders must yield to pedestrians and use a front light and rear reflector when riding at night.
Scooters cannot be rented by or for people younger than 16 – violators can be fined up to $150. The law also requires scooter rental services to maintain liability insurance up to $1 million per occurrence and $2 million in total.
“This is exactly what Ohio does with bicycles,” said Edward Fu, senior regulatory counsel for Bird, during legislative testimony in October 2019. “The state defines what a bicycle is, and that it’s not a car – but doesn’t take away the authority for local communities to determine to how bicycles must operate or how to run a bikeshare program.”
DeWine also signed House Bill 352, a culmination of a two-decade effort by employers and defense attorneys to overhaul the state’s workplace discrimination laws.
Under the new law, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Jon Cross of Kenton, employment discrimination lawsuits must be brought within two years, rather than six years under previous state law.
Steven Loewengart, regional managing partner of Fisher Phillips, an employment law firm, said Ohio’s six-year statute of limitations was the longest of any state in the nation.
Six years “is too long to have claims languishing while evidence disappears, memories fade – all that,” Loewengart said.
But Camille Crary, director of legal services and policy for the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, testified last year that only allowing two years for a workplace discrimination lawsuit to be filed can be very harmful.
“Survivors may not fully have time to process and make decisions about workplace sexual harassment claims in two years,” Crary testified.
The law further requires people to file a grievance with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission before they can file a workplace discrimination lawsuit. And it excludes managers, supervisors, and employees from personal liability for employment discrimination, unless they’re personally accused of retaliating or obstructing a person from complying with civil-rights law.
HB352 also allows employers to avoid liability in sexual harassment lawsuits if they can show they took reasonable steps to prevent or correct sexually harassing behavior or if the employee “unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer.”
HB295 and HB352 will each take effect in 90 days.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated, in error, that HB352 made changes to Ohio’s contract law. For a time, HB352 contained such proposals, but the language was left out of the final version of the bill signed into law.
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