New Drug Testing Rules in Oregon Follow OSHA

Employers are probably aware that OSHA’s new drug testing and anti-retaliation rule is now in effect. (See our post here discussing the rule.)  However, as we blogged previously, many states have their own reporting requirements, which are not required to track OSHA’s  rules precisely, but which must be “at least as effective” as OSHA’s rules.  While many states, like Washington, are still in the early stages of revising their regulations, Oregon’s new regulations will go into effect on May 1, 2017.

Oregon’s regulations follow OSHA’s and are summarized as follows:

  • Employers must have a “reasonable” procedure for employees to report work-related injuries or illnesses.  “A procedure is not reasonable if it would deter or discourage a reasonable employee from accurately reporting a workplace injury or illness.”  As we discussed in a prior blog, OSHA interprets “reasonable” to exclude blanket drug testing policies.  This means that policies mandating drug testing after all workplace accidents are probably not reasonable.   Instead, drug testing policies should be targeted to situations in which employee drug use is likely to have contributed to the incident.  For example, drugs or alcohol is not likely to contribute to the workplace injury of a bee sting, so testing in that situation would be unwarranted.  But drugs or alcohol may contribute to an injury caused by a worker stumbling down a hallway before falling down some stairs; thus, testing may be appropriate.
  • Employers must notify employees about the procedure.
  • Employers must inform employees that they have a right to report workplace injuries and illnesses and that they will not be retaliated against for doing so.

For more discussion about OSHA’s rule, see our blog posts here and here.  As always, our experts are happy to talk if you have any questions about the rule.

Another Setback for Student Athletes … or Is It?

On December 5, 2016, Berger v. National Collegiate Athletic Association brought a major setback for those advocating that “student athletes” deserve to be compensated for their contributions to the multi-billion-dollar industry of college sports.

The plaintiffs were two former “student athletes” at the University of Pennsylvania (“Penn”) who participated on the women’s track and field team.  Their lawsuit alleged that “student athletes” were employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and that Penn, along with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) and over 100 other Division I universities, was violating minimum wage laws by not compensating “student athletes.”  The district court dismissed their lawsuit, finding that the plaintiffs had no standing to sue any colleges other than Penn and that “student athletes” were not employees under the law.

On appeal, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the decision.  Briefly addressing the issue of standing, the court found that the plaintiffs’ connection with the NCAA and other colleges was “far too tenuous to be considered an employment relationship.”  Turning to the real issue—whether the plaintiffs are employees of Penn—the plaintiffs argued that the court should use the Second Circuit’s intern test to determine if they were employees.  Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Prohibits Employers from Implementing “On-Call” Rest Breaks

In Jennifer Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc., the California Supreme Court determined that employers are prohibited from implementing “on-call” rest breaks.  This holding led the Supreme Court to reinstate an approximately $90 million judgment against the defendant employer.

The plaintiff in Augustus worked as a security guard for defendant.  Plaintiff’s lawsuit alleged that defendant’s policy of requiring security guards to carry radios during their rest breaks in order to respond to emergencies violated California law requiring employers to provide employees with uninterrupted rest periods.  The superior court ruled in favor of plaintiff and awarded her and the class approximately $90 million in statutory damages, interest, and penalties. Continue Reading

Idaho Supreme Court Refuses to Modify the Workers Compensation Exclusive Remedy Doctrine

In order to provide near certain relief for employees injured in the course of employment, the Idaho Worker’s Compensation Act withdrew the common law remedies workers traditionally held against their employers. This compromise limits employers’ liability in exchange for providing sure and speedy relief for injured workers and is encapsulated in Idaho Code § 72-209, or the exclusive remedy provision. Recently, in two closely watched cases, Marek v. Hecla, Limited, 2016 Opinion 132 (November 18, 2016) and Barrett v. Hecla Mining Co., 2016 Opinion 133 (November 18, 2016), the Idaho Supreme Court provided guidance on a narrow exception to this provision under Idaho Code § 72-209(3). Section 72-209(3) allows an employee to pursue common law claims against an employer in a narrow circumstance: “where the injury or death is proximately caused by the willful or unprovoked physical aggression of the employer, its officers, agents, servants or employees.” Continue Reading

Breaking News: DOL Salary Rule Blocked By Federal Judge

The Department of Labor’s controversial rule that required “white collar” employees to be paid at least $47,476 per year in order to be exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act will NOT go into effect on December 1, 2016 as planned.  A Texas federal judge on Tuesday agreed with 21 states that a nationwide preliminary injunction was necessary to prevent irreparable harm to states and employers if the rule went into effect on December 1.

What does this mean for employers now? Continue Reading

Labor & Employment Law Under President-Elect Trump

In the wake of the election results, the question on everyone’s mind now is: What impact will President-Elect Trump have on employers?  Trump has thus far given few details on his thoughts on labor and employment.  But with Republicans maintaining control of Congress, employers could see a lot of changes in the next couple of years.  Our experts weighed in with their thoughts on how different areas of labor and employment law may be affected. Continue Reading

Are You Ready for the December 1 Deadline for New Salary Requirements?

The Department of Labor’s new rule that doubles the salary threshold for “white collar” exempt employees goes into effect December 1, 2016.  Under that rule, employees currently exempt under the FLSA as an administrative, executive, or professional employee must make a salary of at least $47,476 and meet the appropriate “duties test” in order to remain exempt after December 1.

See our previous post for more details about the rule and tips on how employers can ensure they comply with the rule after December 1.

The City of Portland Issues Rules for “Ban the Box”

We previously blogged about Portland, Oregon’s restrictive “ban the box” ordinance.  The City of Portland recently issued administrative rules for its ordinance.  The administrative rules are available here.  The key provisions are:

Excepted Employers

As explained in our prior blog, you are excepted from the ordinance’s timing restriction (but not its other requirements) if the position you are hiring for has been determined by administrative rule to present public safety concerns or a business necessity.  The rules define these positions to include: Continue Reading

Expanding Overtime to Farmworkers: Will California Start a Trend?

On September 12, 2016, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1066.  The bill, which is the first of its kind in the nation, will entitle California farmworkers to the same overtime pay as most other hourly workers in California.

California law defines employees “employed in an agricultural occupation” broadly to include any employment relating to the cultivation or harvesting of agricultural commodities; the raising, feeding, and management of livestock; or the maintenance and improvement of a farm and/or farm equipment.  Prior to the signing of AB 1066, such employees were entitled to time-and-a-half pay after working 10 hours in a day or 60 hours in a week.  This is substantially different from the overtime laws for other California employees, where overtime pay typically kicks in after eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. Continue Reading

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