Karen O'Connor

Karen O'Connor

Karen O’Connor focuses her practice on counseling and litigation on complex employment issues including leave laws, workplace harassment and discrimination, discipline and documentation, and drug and alcohol issues. She represents clients before Oregon and Washington state and federal courts and in administrative proceedings. Karen co-teaches in the human resources program at Portland State University and is a frequent speaker in the community.

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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.  … 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 … Continue Reading

OSHA Promotes Workplace Safety by . . . Limiting Drug and Alcohol Testing?

Employers that promote workplace safety by ensuring workers are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol after they suffer a workplace injury will soon face greater scrutiny from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”).  A new OSHA rule that goes into effect August 10, 2016 casts serious doubt on whether employers can lawfully … Continue Reading

DOL Imposes New Exempt Salary Requirement on Employers

We knew it was coming, and – while business groups fought hard against it – the much-anticipated Department of Labor Final Rule regarding “white collar” exemptions from minimum wage and overtime requirements is now a reality. The rule, announced by the White House on Twitter last evening, imposes a major increase in the salary threshold … Continue Reading

The Ninth Circuit Joins Its Sister Circuits in Ruling That an Employee Who Threatens Co-Workers with Violence Is Not “Qualified” Under the ADA

The Ninth Circuit released a precedent-setting Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) decision yesterday, and it’s a big win for employers.  The Court held that an employee who makes “serious and credible threats of violence toward his co-workers” is not a “qualified individual with a disability” and therefore cannot state a claim under the ADA or … Continue Reading

Legal Update: Transgender Employees Protected Under Title VII

On Friday, April 20, 2012, the EEOC issued a landmark ruling that intentional discrimination against a transgender individual is discrimination “based on … sex” and thus violates Title VII. Prior to this ruling, the EEOC generally declined to pursue discrimination claims that arose from transgender status or gender identity issues. What does this mean for … Continue Reading
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