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Legislative Highlights for Oregon Employers in 2020

Oregon’s active 2019 legislative session has prompted the need for several policy and handbook updates for employers doing business in Oregon. This Insight provides an overview of the most notable recent employment law developments in Oregon.

Oregon Court Of Appeals Decides There’s No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

The Oregon Court of Appeals just held that employers may be held liable not only for failing to allow employees to take meal breaks, but also for failing to ensure that employees take meal breaks to which they are entitled. This significant decision handed down on November 14 clarifies that Oregon employers have a legal duty to police their employees to ensure that they take their full meal breaks – merely providing employees with the opportunity to take such breaks is insufficient. Pursuant to the Maza v. Waterford Operations, LLC decision, if you fail to force an employee who works six or more hours to take a duty-free meal period for a continuous, uninterrupted 30 minutes, you might be responsible for paying the employee for the full 30 minutes.

Oregon Court of Appeals Requires Employers to Pay Wages for Hourly Employees’ Failure to Take Full 30-Minute Meal Periods

On November 14, 2019, the Oregon Court of Appeals in Maza v. Waterford Operations, LLC, 300 Or. App. 471 (2019), addressed the question of whether an employer can be found strictly liable under Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) 839-020-0050(2) when an hourly employee takes less than the entire duty-free, 30-minute lunch break to which the employee is otherwise entitled, regardless of the circumstances.

Recent and Upcoming Changes to Oregon Pregnancy & Childbirth Accommodations Laws

Women with children are the fastest-growing segment of the workforce. Six in every ten new mothers are working. Against that backdrop, the Oregon legislature recently enacted two new laws, changing and clarifying the rules governing pregnancy and childbirth accommodations in the workplace. Some changes took effect September 29, 2019. Others become effective January 1, 2020.

Oregon Adopts New Broad Paid Family Medical Leave Law

On August 9, Oregon’s governor signed into law House Bill 2005, which establishes one of the most comprehensive paid family and medical leave programs in the country. Starting in January 2023, Oregon employees can apply for and receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave benefits for leave that qualifies as parental, medical, or safe leave (for victims of domestic violence). The law establishes a new benefit insurance fund, administered by the state’s Employment Department, to which employers with 25 or more employees must make joint contributions.

Oregon Governor Signs Paid Family and Medical Leave Law

Oregon’s paid family and medical leave law was signed by Governor Kate Brown on August 9, 2019. Eligible workers will be permitted to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave under the new law beginning January 1, 2023.

Just (Don’t) Do It: Oregon Supreme Court Warns Against Cat’s Paw Retaliation

The Oregon Supreme Court just revived a whistleblower retaliation claim filed against sportswear giant Nike by adopting for the first time a novel legal concept known as the “cat’s paw” theory. The July 18 opinion opens new avenues for employees to pursue retaliation and discrimination remedies against employers. By reading a summary of the case and gaining a better understanding of this theory, you can avoid running into similar legal trouble with your employees.

Oregon Requires Employers to Provide Notice to Employees Prior to I-9 Inspections

A new Oregon law will require employers to notify their employees when they (the employers) are contacted by a federal agency that intends to audit, among other things, employer records and employment eligibility documentation. Senate Bill (SB) 370 was enacted on June 6, 2019, but does not become operative until January 1, 2020.

Oregon Joins Growing Number of States Requiring Paid Family and Medical Leave

Just hours before the constitutionally-mandated end of Oregon’s state legislative session (June 30 at midnight), the Oregon Senate voted to pass HB 2005—which will provide paid family and medical leave to eligible employees beginning January 1, 2023. HB 2005 now heads to the desk of Governor Kate Brown, who has already said she intends to sign the bill.

Oregon Passes Paid Family and Medical Leave Law

Oregon has joined a growing number of states to require employers to provide their workers paid family and medical leave.
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