City of Cincinnati Passes a Series of COVID-19 Ordinances
Lauren Christine Gonzalez and Loren VanDyke Wolff
On May 13, 2020, the Cincinnati City Council approved a number of COVID-19 ordinances aimed to assist businesses in re-opening. Also passed was an Ordinance creating additional penalties for businesses that fail to comply with order passed by the Governor or Mayor.
Ordinance No. 141-2020: Establishes that employers may not retaliate (demote, terminate, or take adverse employment action) against covered employees for obeying an order issued by the Mayor, the Governor of Ohio, the Ohio Department of Health, the Cincinnati Health Commissioner or the Cincinnati Board of Health. Further included are if the covered employee is following instructions by a treating healthcare provider to stay at home while experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or sick with COVID-19 or for staying at home to care for a Covered Employee’s dependent who has COVID-19 or has been ordered or instructed to stay at home. If an Employer does take retaliatory action in violation of this Ordinance, the Covered Employee may recover reinstatement of their job, damages equal to three times the full amount of wages the Covered Employee would have been paid had the action not occurred, any other damages directly caused by the retaliatory action, and costs and such reasonable attorneys’ fees. An affirmative defense for employers in violation is that upon learning of the violation of this Ordinance, curing such violation within 30 days. Here is Ordinance No. 141-2020.
Motion (adopted): Directing the City Administration to spend $500,000 in Cincinnati Access Fund (CAF) dollars to provide grants to minority-owned small businesses in the City of Cincinnati. You can find that motion here.
Ordinance (submitted, not yet voted on): Establishing a cap on the fee that third parties can charge to restaurants located in the City of Cincinnati for delivering food, which cap shall be no more than 15% of the total food cost charged by the restaurant to the customer, in order to protect the viability of restaurants which are essential to the health and well-being of City residents and the City’s economy. Here is the transmittal letter, and the ordinance.
Motion (adopted): As Ohio moves to “re-open” its economy, the demand for masks and hand sanitizer (among other things) will increase significantly. The administration is to leverage its purchasing power to help communities and small businesses with mask and hand sanitizer by looking for opportunities for Cincinnati businesses and communities to leverage the City of Cincinnati’s purchasing abilities. The administration is to provide a report by the week of May 18, 2020, as to how Cincinnati businesses and communities can leverage the City of Cincinnati’s purchasing power for such items in a way that does not undermine the City’s purchasing ability for its own employees and does not require City money to do so. You can find that motion here.
Ordinance No. 142-2020: Creates penalties for failing to comply with orders issued by the Ohio governor or mayor, with civil fines starting at $75 for minor violations and ranging up to $500 for more serious violations that present significant health or safety threats. Businesses are to enforce social distancing, have employees wear mask and provide hand sanitizer. Health inspectors from the City Health Department will be working to ensure businesses understand the guidelines and comply with them. Here is Ordinance No. 142-2020.
While businesses are beginning to reopen, the new operating requirements, laws, and guidance are creating a complex set of req-uirements and guidelines. The Graydon COVID-19 Task Force will continue to monitor COVID-19 orders and guidance so stay safe and know that Graydon is here to help you navigate the COVID-19 crisis. We can help with general advice, policies, forms or whatever your business needs. Our goal is to help you sleep a little better at night