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.
Articles Discussing General Topics In Oregon Labor & Employment Law.
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.
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.
On June 12, 2015, the Oregon legislature passed Senate Bill 454, legislation that will require most employers with 10 or more employees in Oregon to provide employees with up to 40 hours per year of paid sick leave. As discussed below, Portland employers with six or more employees already must provide sick leave. Oregon employers with fewer than 10 employees (or six in Portland) will be required to provide up to 40 hours per year of unpaid sick leave. Once the new measure is signed into law by Governor Kate Brown as expected, Oregon will join California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts in enacting state-wide paid sick leave legislation.
Employers with operations in Oregon should ensure their policies and practices are in compliance with the state’s new employment laws going into effect on January 1, 2014. The new laws will affect the day-to-day operations of many businesses.
Effective January 1, 2014, Oregon’s domestic violence leave law (Or. Rev. Stat. § 659A.270) will apply to all employees who are victims of domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault or stalking, regardless of the number of hours worked per week or length of time worked for the employer. Previously, the law did not cover employees who worked 25 hours or fewer or had not been employed at least 180 days prior to seeking to take leave.
Effective January 1, 2014, Oregon will become the first state to require certain private sector employers to provide bereavement leave to their covered employees. The new law amends the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) and applies to employers and employees already covered under that Act.
Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber on June 13, 2013 signed into law a bill extending employment discrimination protection to interns. The new law grants unpaid interns legal recourse under Oregon’s employment discrimination laws for workplace violations including sexual harassment, unlawful discrimination, and retaliation for whistleblowing.
On May 22, 2013, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber signed into law House Bill 2654, making Oregon the tenth state to enact a law prohibiting employers from accessing employees’ private social media sites. The new law, which becomes effective January 1, 2014, makes it an unlawful employment practice for employers to compel employees or applicants for employment to provide access to their personal protected social media accounts.
On March 13, 2013, Portland’s City Council unanimously passed a sick leave ordinance that, effective January 8, 2014, will require private sector businesses with six or more employees to provide up to 40 hours per year of paid time off for sick leave. Businesses with less than six employees will be required to provide up to 40 hours per year of unpaid time off for sick leave. To qualify for this benefit, an employee must work at least 240 hours in a calendar year within the geographic boundaries of the City.
The City of Portland is considering an ordinance mandating that protected sick leave rights be extended to virtually all employees in the City. If passed, Oregon private-sector employers would join those in San Francisco, California, and Washington, D.C., in being required to provide employees with a minimum number of paid sick days each year. The proposed ordinance’s effect would be far reaching, potentially granting new sick leave rights to 40 percent of Portland’s workforce and creating new compliance requirements for private-sector employers with Portland operations.
Businesses constantly are challenged with correctly classifying workers as either employees or independent contractors. Of course, employers have good reason to be vigilant: misclassification can result in costly audits, assessments of back taxes, and stiff penalties. Under the Oregon independent contractor statute, the “independent contractor” must be engaged in an “independently established business.” This last term is interpreted restrictively and strictly by the state’s courts.
Since January 1, 2008, Oregon employers electing to use binding arbitration agreements with new employees have been required to give two weeksâ€™ written notice of the arbitration requirement before hiring a new employee. For current employees, employers have been required to obtain an employeeâ€™s signature at the time of a â€œsubsequent bona fide advancement.â€