The State of Ohio has passed new laws that will offer protections for employers hiring job applicants with criminal records. The law, Senate Bill 337, which takes effect September 28, 2012, is an extensive reform of the collateral sanctions that impose employment restrictions and limitations on over 2 million Ohioans with misdemeanor and felony convictions. With SB 337, Ohio joins states such as Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and North Carolina in offering protections for employers that hire and employ rehabilitated ex-offenders from tort liability for negligent hiring and retention claims. The text of Senate Bill 337 is available at http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=129_SB_337.
The law includes a provision for the sealing of one felony and one misdemeanor conviction, or two misdemeanor convictions. It also provides for the creation of a Certificate of Qualification for Employment that lifts automatic disqualification for certain state-issued occupational licenses and provides some protection for employers from negligent hiring lawsuits.
By giving employers some degree of protection, the new law aims at putting ex-offenders back to work. According to one of the bill’s authors, State Senator Shirley Smith (D-Cleveland), quoted in a news article from the Call & Post:
“I have long advocated for expanding Ohio’s record sealing laws, and for giving ex-offenders a second chance when finding employment. Senate Bill 337 accomplishes these goals and creates a dimension of redemption in Ohio to complement our justice system. It will benefit thousands of rehabilitated citizens who have paid their dues to society and want to move on with their lives. This legislation eliminates barriers to employment and it reminds society that ex-offenders have a place among us.”
Smith also stated: “I have no doubt that people across the state will come to realize that ex-offenders want financial stability, employment, opportunity, a secure home, and the ability to support their loved ones. This legislation is another step in the right direction, and I hope that Ohio’s business leaders and policymakers can continue this momentum.”
The Call & Post article is available at: http://www.callandpost.com/index.php/news/politics/2401-kasich-signs-legislation-to-reform-collateral-sanctions.
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