Robert Frost once advised, “Thinking isn’t to agree or disagree. That’s voting.” One question that HR professionals are thinking of every election season is, “Do we need to provide employees time to vote?” In Ohio, the answer is likely yes.
Ohio Revised Code Section 3599.06 provides that no employer shall discharge or threaten to discharge an elector for taking “a reasonable amount of time to vote on election day.” Ohio employers are prohibited from interfering with, discriminating, or retaliating against an employee who seeks to vote or serve as an election official on Election Day. Does this require employees leaving work to vote to be paid for time spent voting? This has been interpreted by the Ohio Attorney General to mean that for salaried employees, hours may not be deducted for voting leave, however hourly employees must not necessarily be compensated for voting leave. Violations of this section could result in a fine ranging from $50 to $500.
But allowing for voting time is not the only potential pitfall for employers around election season. Ohio has for decades restricted the content of any materials employers may disseminate intended to influence employee political action. Employers, agents, and corporations are prohibited from printing upon any pay envelopes any statements intended or calculated to influence the political action of employees. Employers are further prohibited from posting in the workplace any “posters, placards, or hand bills” containing a threat, notice or information that if a particular candidate is elected or defeated work will cease in whole or in part. R.C. 3599.05. The law further prohibits “other threats expressed or implied,” intended to “influence the political opinions or votes” of employees. Violations of this section could result in a fine ranging from $500 to $1,000.
If you are faced with a question regarding your Election Day policies and procedures, please contact a member of the Coolidge Wall Labor and Employment Department.