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The People Have Spoken, and It’s Time to Start Smokin’. . . Or Just Say No

It’s July 1, 2015, and Oregon law now allows adults to lawfully use marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes. Many employers have already faced questions from employees about the impact of the state’s new marijuana law, and many more will face such questions in the coming weeks and months. With that in mind, below is a brief Q&A (based on real questions from employers and their employees) to address some of the most common issues.

Oregon Paid Sick Leave Law Enacted

On June 22, Oregon became the fourth state (behind Connecticut, California and Massachusetts) to enact a paid sick leave law. Employers fortunately have time to become compliant as the law does not take effect until January 1, 2016, and most civil penalties applicable to employer violations of the law will not be assessed until after January 1, 2017. Penalties associated with provisions prohibiting retaliation and employer absence control policies will not be assessed until after January 1, 2016.

Oregon, NYC Criminal History Laws Would Affect Most Employers

Oregon appears set to become the 18th state with a "ban the box" law, assuming Governor Kate Brown signs HB 3025 as expected. The "ban the box" phrase refers to eliminating the criminal history box on job applications that prospective employees are often asked to check off if they have ever been convicted of a crime.

Oregon Enacts Paid Sick Leave

Oregon has become the fourth state, after Connecticut, California, and Massachusetts, to mandate that employers provide their employees sick leave benefits. Subject to certain exceptions, Senate Bill 454, signed by Governor Kate Brown on June 22, 2015, applies to all private-sector employers, regardless of the location of the employer’s primary place of business. The law goes into effect January 1, 2016.

Oregon's New Paid Sick Leave Law: An Overview

On June 22, 2015, Oregon became the fourth state to enact a statewide mandatory paid sick leave law, following California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The bill, signed into law by Governor Kate Brown, requires Oregon employers to provide up to 40 hours of sick leave to employees per year beginning January 1, 2016, and in most cases that leave time must be paid.

Oregon to Become the Latest State to Ban the Box

On June 16, 2015, the Oregon House passed an amended version of House Bill 3025, which will prohibit most employers from asking questions about criminal history on job applications or at any other point in the hiring process before the initial interview. Approval of House Bill 3025 follows closely on the heels of similar legislation enacted in New York City, Illinois, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties (MD), the District of Columbia and the City of Columbia, Missouri.1 Oregon Governor Kate Brown is expected to sign the bill into law, which would become effective January 1, 2016.

Oregon Tightens Restrictions on Noncompetition Agreements

Oregon strictly regulates the use of noncompetition agreements by statute, generally limiting them to (a) exempt employees earning more than the median income for a family of four (approximately $74,000 currently), and (b) conditioning enforceability on a “bona fide advancement” or an employer informing an employee about the agreement “in a written employment offer received by the employee at least two weeks before the first day of the employee’s employment.” Even when enforceable under current law, the statute places a two-year cap on the duration of the restriction.

Oregon Legislature Mandates Sick Leave for All Employees

On June 12, 2015, Oregon became the fourth state in the country to pass a statewide mandatory sick leave bill. Provided it is signed by Governor Kate Brown (which is virtually certain), the new law will require all Oregon employers to provide employees with up to 40 hours of legally protected sick time each year beginning January 1, 2016.

Trendsetter or Outlier? Oregon Adds New Twist to Password Protection Laws

Since early 2012, 21 states have enacted some form of "password protection" law. Although these laws vary substantially by state, their common thread is the intention to restrict employers' ability to access content in applicants' and employees' restricted online accounts. These laws effectuate that intent by varying combinations of prohibitions on the following types of conduct: (a) requesting an individual's log-in credentials; (b) asking to view restricted content when accessed by the individual, i.e., "shoulder surfing"; (c) requesting an individual to accept a "friend" or "connection" request; and (d) asking an individual to change privacy settings to permit access by an employer to an account. Yet, 99% of more than 400 senior HR executives and in-house employment counsel who responded to a survey conducted by Littler Mendelson in May 2012 and again in May 2013 stated they do not ask applicants for social media passwords.

Oregon Legislature Votes to "Ban the Box"

Oregon will soon join the ranks of states with “ban the box” legislation. Provided House Bill (HB) 3025 is signed by Governor Kate Brown (which is virtually certain), the new law will regulate when Oregon employers can ask applicants to disclose criminal convictions. The effective date for the new law would be January 1, 2016.