Employee Health: Ohio
Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.
Author: Theresa Rogers
- Ohio prohibits smoking in the workplace. See Smoking in the Workplace.
- Ohio permits the use of medical marijuana by registered persons with a qualifying medical condition. See Medical Marijuana.
- Ohio has a Good Samaritan Law. See Good Samaritan Law.
- Employers may not require an employee to pay for preemployment medical examinations. See Preemployment Medical Exams.
Smoking in the Workplace
The Smoke Free Workplace Act forbids smoking in:
- Places of employment; and
- Areas directly or indirectly under an employer's control immediately adjacent to workplace entrances and exits.
An employer must ensure that tobacco smoke does not enter any area in which smoking is prohibited through entrances, windows, ventilation systems or other means.
Smoking means inhaling, exhaling, burning or carrying any lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or other smoking device for burning tobacco or any other plant.
Place of employment means an enclosed area under an employer's direct or indirect control that employees use for work or any other purpose (without regard to the time of day or the presence of employees), including but not limited to:
- Meeting rooms;
- Production and storage areas;
- Garages; and
Employer means the state or any individual, business, association, political subdivision, or other public or private entity, including a nonprofit entity, that employs or contracts for or accepts the provision of services from one or more employees.
Employee means a person who is employed by an employer, who contracts with an employer or third person to perform services for an employer or who otherwise performs services for an employer for compensation or for no compensation.
An employer must post "No Smoking" signs or the international "No Smoking" symbol in every workplace where smoking is prohibited, including at each entrance, and remove ashtrays. The signs must be of sufficient size to be clearly legible to a person with normal vision throughout the areas they are intended to mark. All signs must contain a telephone number for reporting violations. +ORC Ann. 3794.06.
The law prohibits an employer from terminating, refusing to hire or in any manner retaliating against an individual for exercising any right, including reporting a violation, or performing any obligation under the law. +ORC Ann. 3794.02.
The smoking prohibition does not apply to the following:
- Designated guest rooms (no more than 20% of rooms);
- Family-owned and -operated businesses in which all employees are related to the owner, under certain conditions;
- Designated areas of nursing homes;
- Certain tobacco shops;
- Outdoor patios that are physically separated from an enclosed area;
- Certain private clubs;
- Certain laboratory facilities researching the health effects of tobacco; and
- The burning of incense in a religious ceremony.
Ohio permits the use of medical marijuana by registered persons with a qualifying medical condition. +2015 Bill Text OH H.B. 523. A qualifying medical condition means any of the following:
- Alzheimer's disease;
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis;
- Chronic traumatic encephalopathy;
- Crohn's disease;
- Epilepsy or another seizure disorder;
- Hepatitis C;
- Inflammatory bowel disease;
- Multiple sclerosis;
- Pain that is either intractable or chronic and severe;
- Parkinson's disease;
- Positive status for HIV;
- Post-traumatic stress disorder;
- Sickle cell anemia;
- Spinal cord disease or injury;
- Tourette's syndrome;
- Traumatic brain injury;
- Ulcerative colitis; or
- Any other disease added by the state medical board.
Marijuana will only be dispensed to an individual (or a caregiver of an individual) who is registered with the state and has been issued a patient or caregiver identification card. However, before this registration can begin, Ohio must establish the Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP), which will establish procedures for registration and oversee the law. +ORC Ann. § 3796.02.
The law's employment-related provisions align with federal controlled substances law. Specifically, the Ohio law:
- Does not require an employer to permit or accommodate an employee's use, possession or distribution of medical marijuana;
- Does not prohibit an employer from refusing to hire, terminating, disciplining or otherwise taking an adverse employment action against a person because of the person's use, possession or distribution of medical marijuana;
- Does not prohibit an employer from establishing and enforcing a drug testing policy, a drug-free workplace policy or a zero-tolerance drug policy;
- Does not provide a cause of action against an Ohio employer for refusing to hire or otherwise taking an adverse employment action against a person related to medical marijuana.
In fact, an employee who is terminated because of his or her use of medical marijuana in violation of the employer's drug-free workplace policy, zero-tolerance policy or other policy regulating the use of medical marijuana is considered to have been terminated for just cause for state unemployment compensation purposes. +ORC Ann. § 3796.28.
Additionally, the state's workers' compensation statutes now prohibit an employee from receiving compensation or benefits when the employee's injury or occupational disease was caused by being under the influence of marijuana. +ORC Ann. § 4123.54.
While medical marijuana use may be legal under Ohio law, it is still a Schedule I substance under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, and is therefore illegal under federal law. The state law does not require an employer to commit any act that would put it or any of its agents in violation of federal law.
Managing Emergency Medical Situations
Good Samaritan Law
Any person acting in good faith who renders emergency care is not liable for civil damages due to personal injury because of rendering such care in Ohio. +ORC Ann. 2305.23.
Automated External Defibrillator (AED)
Ohio does not require an employer to provide an automated external defibrillator (AED). If an AED is present at the workplace, employees should be provided training on the use of the device.
Ohio law prohibits civil or criminal damages against anyone who uses an AED regardless of whether they have obtained proper training or not. +ORC Ann. 2305.235.
Preemployment Medical Examinations
Employers are prohibited from requiring prospective employees to pay for any medical examination required as a condition of employment. +ORC Ann. 4113.21.
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