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Laws must not restrict freedom in workplaces

For a year and a half now, countless Ohio businesses have struggled to make ends meet and remain profitable amid a worldwide health crisis that has taken its toll on the economy and financial stability of many.

During much of that time, they had no choice but to accept restrictions enacted by the governor and the Ohio Department of Health, trying to survive shutdowns, limits on number of visitors, bans on indoor service and much more. Sadly, a large number of those businesses were unable to weather the storm, and they closed their doors permanently.

During those months, this newspaper argued for a reduction in those limitations because we firmly believed that businesses should have the freedom to control the way they operate.

Now, new legislation, Ohio House Bill 248, known as the Vaccine Choice and Anti-Discrimination Act, is pending. If it passes, it will prohibit business owners from requiring mandatory vaccinations and vaccination status disclosures from their employees. This would apply to employers, schools, health care providers and any other private or public entities.

This law again would strip control from business owners to operate their businesses as they see fit. This time, however, instead of government imposing COVID-19 restrictions, this legislation would make it illegal for companies to impose their own restrictions on employees or customers entering their workplaces.

Lawmakers must stop overstepping in their attempts to dictate workplace policies that businesses should have the right to handle. Let’s face it, businesses must have the ability to protect the health and well being of their employees and customers. For that reason, this legislation must be defeated.

Expected to be reviewed soon by the House Health Committee, the Ohio Chamber opposes the bill and could testify to that point in committee.

Ohio Chamber President and CEO Steve Stivers said this: “Businesses continue to do the best they can in responding to the many challenges and consequences of the COVID crisis. They don’t need to be micro-managed by the government telling them how to best run their business.”

Well said!

The Ohio Chamber adds that the bill conflicts with Ohio’s at-will employment laws and infringes upon employers’ rights.

“It’s ironic that, since the beginning of the pandemic, many of the same lawmakers who have been pushing back against what they see as government overreach are the ones now calling for more government controls on business,” Stivers said. “No legislator can claim to be pro-business and at the same time support efforts to restrict an employer’s ability to manage their workplace free from government interference.”

We agree. Legislators must not support House Bill 248.

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