Changes to House Bill 81 in September 2020

House Bill 81 Changes Announced in Ohio

On June 16, 2020, Governor Mike DeWine signed into effect a new law. The ripple effects of the passage of this law will affect Ohioans seeking to claim Workers’ Compensation. The changes set out by House Bill 81 will go into effect on September 14, 2020.

The bills set out number of changes. Firstly, the bill codifies the voluntary abandonment doctrine. Under the voluntary abandonment doctrine, an employee who abandons employment for reasons unrelated to the work injury is not entitled to temporary total disability compensation or wage loss compensation. Additionally, House Bill 81 states that employers may no longer deny or withdraw consent to a workers’ compensation settlement application if the claim is outside of the period in which the employer’s Bureau of Worker’s Compensation rates are affected by the application, and if the employee is no longer employed by the employer.

Changes to the Standard

The standard for employees filing applications for additional awards due to a safety violation has changed as well. Applications for awards due to safety requirement violations must now be filed within one year after the date of the injury or disability. Previously, that standard was two years. Another specific section of the bill states that employees working in detention facilities, including corrections officers, are now covered by their employers for post-exposure medical diagnostic services. These are services that become necessary as a result of contact with blood or other bodily fluid, drugs or other chemical substance, and/or responding to an inherently dangerous situation while working. The bill also states that if an employee dies as a result of a workplace injury or occupational disease, the employee’s estate is entitled to $7,500.00 in funeral expenses. This is an increase from the previously allowed $5,000.00.

It’s noteworthy that these changes came on amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and likely are influenced by these events. The new coverage of employees working in detention facilities may be a response to the pandemic. Employers are now required to cover medical diagnostic services for illnesses that result for exposure to bodily fluid. COVID-19 is transmitted through bodily fluid- airborne droplet transmission- and the Ohio incarceration system has been surging with cases.

What Can I Do?

If you have questions, attorneys with Barkan Meizlish DeRose Cox, LLP, are available to help with Ohio workers’ compensation and personal injury cases in Columbus and across the state. You can schedule a free consultation online of speak with a lawyer directly by calling (614) 221-4221.

Severance Agreements and COVID-19

Severance Agreements Changes to Combat COVID-19 Related Economic Loss

In the era of COVID-19, many employers are attempting to lower their bottom line. Many employers turn to measures affecting workers, such as buying out employees close to retirement, mass lay-offs, and the issuance of severance agreements among all levels of companies.

What You Need To Know about Severance Agreement

Although workers often feel powerless during the discussions of a severance agreement with an employer, it is important to realize that often the employer is asking for something from the worker in return for the agreement. This makes it reasonable for the employee to attempt negotiation. Employers often want to ensure that they limit their future liability for lawsuits and other claims. This necessitates that most severance agreement to contain a waiver of such claims by the employee. While certainly the employer has the ultimate power- as a severance agreement is not legally required to terminate employment in an at-will employment setting- employees can also exert some power to negotiate based on their willingness to release potential current and future claims against the employer.

Another factor to consider is whether you will be subject to a Non-Compete Agreement upon the end of your employment. Non-Compete Agreements are typically upheld in Ohio and can be difficult to navigate when searching for your next position. This can often be a sticking point in negotiations of a severance package and can have broad implications for your future job search.

How We Can Help

The employers have attorneys on their side and you should too. Assistance in reviewing and negotiation your severance agreement can be incredibly helpful in protecting your future. Clarity on your responsibilities and on any potential non-compete issues is crucial. An attorney’s review can lead to additional items or an increase of the payment or other terms. Speaking with an attorney gives you the opportunity to discuss what is most important in the negotiation, and to make those goals a priority. Our office offers flat-fee severance review and advice to anyone facing a severance package. Contact us at 614-221-4221 for more information.

Jessica Doogan

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