Tort Liability Protection Offered to Ohio Businesses Who Hire Ex-Criminals

December 12, 2014

In the latter part of 2012, the Ohio legislature passed Senate Bill 337, providing tort liability protection for businesses choosing to hire rehabilitated ex-criminals. According to Senate Bill 337 (now codified as Ohio Revised Code Section 2953.25), if an Ohio business hires a job applicant who possesses a Certification of Qualification for Employment (CQE), then the business is entitled to immunity from negligent hiring claims. While the legislation is now two years old, it has garnered recent attention because more and more Ohio employers are taking advantage of the immunity protection and are choosing to hire rehabilitated ex-criminals. 

A note of caution, however, for employers – after a job applicant with a CQE is hired, immunity protection is lost if the employer discovers the employee is demonstrating dangerousness in the workplace, or if he/she obtains another criminal conviction. In other words, employers must take care not to willfully retain employees who resort back to criminal behavior. 

What is a CQE? A CQE is issued by the local Court of Common Pleas and allows an ex-criminal to “prove” he or she is now qualified to obtain employment, and in some cases, obtain necessary occupational licenses. Without a CQE, many ex-criminals are barred from working in a significant portion of the overall workforce. 

The intent behind Senate Bill 337 is clear – provide rehabilitated ex-criminals with increased opportunities to enter the workforce. And, a potential upside for hiring someone with a CQE – the employer can demonstrate to the EEOC it is not categorically excluding job applicants based on criminal records. (According to the EEOC, employers should not categorically exclude all job applicants with criminal records because doing so has a discriminatory impact upon certain racial groups).

If you have any questions regarding Senate Bill 337, or the protections it provides Ohio businesses, please contact an attorney in RCO Law’s Labor & Employment Group.

By Lisa L. Nagel, you may contact her at lnagel@rcolaw.com or 419-249-7900.

 

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